Guns are awesome

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African rifles are more than just wood and steel. The genre is rich in romance, tradition and history including several important milestones of firearms development. African rifles served as the primary test-bed for the introduction of nitrocellulose gunpowder—modern smokeless powder—to sporting arms. When the blackpowder era was supplanted with smokeless, cartridges like the .500 (3¼ inch) were loaded with cordite and rechristened as “Nitro Express” cartridges.

The term “Nitro Express” derived from the “nitro” in nitrocellulose and “express” from the designation of much faster trains—express trains—that speeded up travel in Victorian England. Of course the Nitro Express cartridges produced much faster velocities than their blackpowder predecessors.

With the increased velocity of Nitro Express cartridges came increased chamber pressures which prompted gunmakers of the day to develop stronger, more robust rifle actions. These were side-by-side rifles, doubles, destined for the far-flung corners of the British Empire in the hands of officers and gentlemen of the realm.

Full story: African Plains-Game Rifles