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Now THAT’S An Elephant Gun!

Now THAT’S An Elephant Gun!

This episode of Curator's Corner features a gun with triple superlatives in the NRA Museums collection:

1. It is one of the most valuable modern guns in the collection.
2. It is an exceptional masterpiece of firearms engraving.
3. It is the most powerful rifle on exhibit at the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri.


(Photo courtesy/NRA Museums)

It is a classic Holland & Holland double rifle, chambered for the bone-shaking .700 H&H Nitro Express cartridge, with heavy relief engraving on an elephants theme by the late Philippe Grifnee.

The double rifle is the preferred rifle for heavy dangerous African game by many sophisticated hunters. It is powerful, durable, and offers a reliable and fast follow-up shot without having to manipulate a manually operated action.


(Photo courtesy/NRA Museums)

Let's double back to that "powerful" thing. The table below gives you an idea of how the .700 Nitro stack up in terms of muzzle energy compared to other more common firearms rounds:

  • .22 Long Rifle - 150 ft./lbs.
  • 9mm pistol - 400 ft./lbs.
  • .44 Mag., revolver - 1,000 ft./lbs.
  • .223 Rem. - 1,325 ft./lbs.
  • .30-06 - 2,800 ft./lbs.
  • .458 Win. Mag. - 4,700 ft./lbs.
  • .600 Nitro Express - 7,600 ft./lbs.
  • .700 Nitro Express - 8,900 ft./lbs.


Different loads will vary within the same cartridge, but these numbers quickly point out the authoritative power level of this round.


(Photo courtesy/NRA Museums)

An artifact of such power has a commensurate level of beauty. Grifnee is considered one of the finest firearms engravers ever to live, and this rifle is a masterpiece, featuring over a dozen elephants and related decoration hand-carved into steel in heavy relief.

This rifle is part of the Robert E. Petersen collection, which was donated to the NRA Museums by Petersen's estate - the largest single gift in the history of NRA. The bulk of the collection can be seen in the Petersen Gallery at the NRA National Firearms Museum at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, which has been called "the single finest room of firearms anywhere."

Check out this segment from Curator's Corner featuring the Holland & Holland .700 Nitro:



Check out this particular masterpiece on exhibit at the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri or online by clicking here! You can also tune into Curator's Corner on NRATV airing Thursdays at 3:35pm ET for more segments on historical firearms!

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