Capo- Do you use any of the large express cartridge guns? Those large caliber guns were always interesting. Fired a 458 once (not that big comparitively) and it rolled me backwards. Have also fired a 50 cal single shot, and that one shakes you all the way to your shoes, but not as much kick because it weighed 28 lbs.
The 458 is popular with apprentices, cheap ammo, sufficient KO power but slightly low on penetration and no long range precision of course. It is very smooth to shoot.
My favourite guns are a set of three nitro express doubles I had made bespoke in London. They are my babies. I have hunted it all with them and they have indeed saved my bacon on a couple of incidents.
#1: .375 Flanged Magnum Nitro Express, Smallest legal cal for ele. Extremely good long range for a double since I had the barrels regulated at 100 yards (standard being 50 yards). If I zero the detachable scope at 180m I can smoke any plains game from zero to 200m, gun well rested. The penetration of this cal is impressive.
#2: .500/416 Nitro Express, now we're talking big cals. This is a .500 3"1/4 necked down to .416. It is a true star. KO is impressive but oddly, so is long range precision and even more so penetration. Barrels regulated at 80 yards and detachable scope make for a very versatile double. I'd say that this double in my spec; no double out there beats it on versatility and over all efficiency.
#3: .500 Nitro Express, this is the big boy. The trackers call it the makuru mbobo, the big double. I have no scope for it as I think it is aesthetically wrong. It is made for close encounters which is what I always strive for no matter which double I use. KO power is naturally very good and so is penetration. Long range precision is out of the question due to the rough safari V-sights made for instinctive shooting at close range.
The biggest cal I've shot is the .700 H&H Nitro Express. It shoots a record 1000 grain bullet, enormous. The recoil is ok because the double weighs 11kg!! I have yet to hear of a hunter who can carry it all day long, seven days a week for a month's time. The extremely few hunters I know of who have used it, all had a tracker carry the gun. That's against my principle. I will always carry my own gun and ammo. The day I can't do that any longer is when it's over. My doubles are light weight yet shootable since they are very well made and fit me like a dancing partner. The .500 is only 4,9kg. I had both barrels go off at the same time accidentally and that was interesting... I was sitting down ready to fire, awaiting a magnificent Southern Cape Buffalo to graze past in thick jezz. It would show any second in a gap in the dense jezz only 20 yards away. The gap was small but big enough to see the whole buff briefly.
First enters the head, then the shoulder, then ba-baaang!! My camera man was right behind my shoulder filming and as I rolled my 100kg body backwards from the recoil of a double tapped .500, my shoulder punched that camera straight into the face of the poor guy... The buff got it straight in the boiler room and pulled up the landing gear 50 yards into the jezz, stone dead. Later by the evening fire it was all happy days and another good story was being forged by the warmth of the burning mopani lugs...
I always hunt with a camera man, for two reasons: Firstly, what you experience for real in the wild bush can sound too incredible to a European city crowd. The camera proves what's what. Secondly, I have so far always stood my ground when being charged. The day I lose a charge I will still have stood my ground, you absolutely must to stand a chance. The camera will show what's what...