.275 Rigby?

I just finished an article where I learned that the .275 Rigby is nothing more, or less, than the 7X57. I find it rather interesting that a major gun maker would mark their weapons in such a confuseing way, since I don’t recall anyone labeling ammo as .275 Rigby.

  1. Was this done for other calibers?

  2. Is there a known reason why Rigby did this?

The article was centered around the accomplishments of W.D.M. Bell with this caliber in his professional ivory hunting days and mentioned that Bell preferred military ammunition because commercial rounds of 7x57 were less reliable, due to splitting cases. Since Bell was hunting in areas I presume were controled by Great Britain, what would have been his most likely supply of military ammunition prior to WWI? (I don’t recall GB ever using the 7X57 for military use.)


I do not know of any other British cartridges, but our 280 Remington was transformed into the 7 m/m Express. There may have been a different rifling twist for different bullet configurations.

The 7x57mm was a popular cartridge with British gunmakers and several adopted proprietory names for it as well as Rigby. It was also known as the .275 Bland and .275 Cervorum. Ammunition was both packaged and headstamped as .275.

Thirty or more years ago I bought a large quantity of Kynoch made .275 Rigby in 10 round Rigby boxes that I shot in a Mauser M1895 carbine I had then. A similar box is shown on page 154 of Hoyem Volume 3.

I do not know which military ammunition Bell used, but there would have been plenty of round nosed military 7x57mm in Africa at that time, left over from the Boer War. Also both Eley and Kynoch were probably making military FMJ rounds at that time. I have WWI 7x57mm made by Eley for a British military contract with a spitzer FMJ bullet.


There are some other British calibers that are European cartridges.
The 256 Rygby (also used by Bell, 6,5 Mannlicher).
The.303 Fraser identical to the 7,65x53mm Mauser.
A .375 (I do not remember wich one) was the 9,5 Mannlicher.

The 9,5 x 57 Mannlicher Schonauer was called “375 Rimless NE 2 1/4” " in England…although Kynoch listed them as distinct cartridges since they had a slightly different loading ( they were fully interchangeable, anyway)

The cartridge was originally named the 280 Remington but sales lagged far behind expectations. It was renamed the 7mm Express Remington but the change only hurt sales, so it reverted back to the original a year or so later. Rifles stamped 7mm EXP REM are not often encountered so may someday demand a premium. I’ve had one for years and I haven’t won the lottery yet. It’s for sale. ;) Likewise the ammunition, for any of you out there who collect such things.

Mr. Ray Meketa

I recall Bell’s statement that he used ordinary 7 m/m military ball ammunition in his elephant hunting from, probably, his Karamojo Safari. That was a half-century ago & at that time I assumed he meant the DWM 11.2 g. (173 gr.) round-nosed load. This had, of course, a steel jacket and would probably have offered some advantage in penetration over bullets with cupro-nickel jackets. Jack

You must understand that elephants were much easier to kill in those days. ;)

Mr. Meketa

Bell was an enigma, I have never understood why he stayed with the 7mm.There must have been better, and safer calibres, available to him.

Thanks to all of you for the wealth of information. It’s been very educating.
Am I correct in concluding that the proprietory names only succeeded in bolstering a given company’s name-recongnition or was it an attempt to bolster the sales of ammunition marketed by them?

Ray, I doubt it is any difference in killing an elephant today from the dynamics of actually dealing the death blow than it would have been a hundred years ago. Now, since there are far fewer and the regulations are far more strict today, the opportunity to do so may be far more difficult. Bell killed over 1,100 elephants with the 7x57 and 173gr FMJ bullets yet today most countries allowing the taking of elephants require a minimum of .375 caliber rifles for the task. After his retirement in the 1920’s from professional hunting Bell is quoted as saying that a .30 caliber, 250 gr FMJ bullet moving at 2500 FPS would be a preferred elephant round. This, of course, is still smaller than todays minimum caliber.

Vince, I think he was just very good at what he did, could do it cheaper with the 7x57 than other calibers and was in the business of making money at killing elephants for ivory. The surplus ammunition was cheap, readily available and did the job to his satisfaction. It was all about making money and he was apparently very successful at it.

You are right about the British gunmakers. It was all about their self image.

Bell’s choice of caliber was based on his own skills as a marksman, his knowledge of elephant anatomy, and (I suspect) the realization every single cartridge he fired had to be brought hundreds of miles across East Africa by main strength and awkwardness. Jack

Or was he just inhumane and callous? He must have caused a lot of suffering. maybe he didn’t care as long as he got the ivory.

Though I have not read Bell’s books I have read portions. Based on what I have read, Bell was in business to collect ivory and in that respect he approached everything in a business-like way. 7x57 FMJ quickly killed elephants for him, cost little and was readily available. Doubt he cared why or how it came to him or if the elephant did or did not suffer but I doubt he wanted to spend much time following wounded animals. Time was money then as now.

Larger calibers cost much more money than the 275 Rigby and he found commercial ammunition, in other calibers as well, not to be reliable. All sound business sense.

You are not wrong on prices, contemporary big game cartridges could have been 50 times more expensive than 7x57

If you are a market hunter you will be shooting you rifle often and with elephant you will be carting it great distances. There for the recoil and weight of the bigger rifles also had a factor.

I was thinking more about getting trampled by an extremely annoyed elephant you just shot. The best ivory was found on the biggest (and hence meanest) examples. I would not fancy facing an enraged bull elephant armed only with a 7x57. Besides which, these people didn’t carry their own rifles anyway, they had bearers.

I would suspect that Bell had some feelings about wounded and suffering elephants and that he probably wanted a quick kill. I doubt that he wanted to constantly face wounded and suffering elephants. It did not improve their disposition. I would not want to face one, even armed with a 416 Rigby, or some other big rifle.

I go back to the famous video of Game Rangers shooting animals - a representation of how poachers do it. They seemed to fire two quick shots, if I recall properly, but every animal dropped like lightning - instant death. Rifles were FN-FAL types, undoubtedly in 7.62 x 51 NATO caliber. I suspect that an elephant is like any animal. If you have no fear of it, hence are willing to get close, and know precisely where to shoot it and have the skill and calm to produce those shots time and time again, that you need a lot less gun than most of us would, who are guarding against the condition of shooting a charging elephant, or one that tricked us because we didn’t know the nuances of its behavior.

I personally wish it was never desired or necessary to shoot one of those intelligent, magnificent animals, but I know that is not realistic from a Game Management standpoint, and I have nothing against legal hunting if the animal is used for food or other purposes, which I believe they are when given to local residents of the area after a trophy is taken. Just not my cup of tea.

From what I have read, I understand that the 275 Rigby was a high velocity loading of the 7x57 Mauser case. Here is a picture of the two cartridges, both by Kynoch to show the differences in length:

Here is a picture of both boxes, showing the difference in the cartridge length that they are designed to hold:

The 7x57 Mauser box states that the bullet weight is 173gr. THe Rigby box does not give the bullet weight so I pulled one and it weighs 9.1g or 140gr. Being a lighter bullet it can be loaded to higher velocities for the same pressures. This is the difference.

Regarding calibers having proprietary names:
500 Jeffery = 12.7 Schüler
30 Purdey = 30-40 Krag
223 Remington = 5.56x45
6.5-08 A-Square = 260 Remington
375 Hoffman = 375 H&H
256 Kings Norton Swift = 6.5x54
256 Fraser = 6.5x54
8mm BSA = 303 British or 8x50R Mannlicher
450 Rigby or Fraser Match = 45-90

Cases having different names:
243 Winchester = 6mm Winchester
9.3x66 Sako = 370 Sako Magnum
6mm Remington = 244 Remington
308 Winchester = 7.62x51 - there are many cartridges that have an imperial as well as metric designation.

Also 416 Rigby AKA 10,5 X 73 Miller & Greiss and 400 / 360 Westley Richards AKA 9 x 70 R mm

Thanks Will, I didn’t know that the 450 Rigby Match was actually the 45 - 90 ( Sharps or Winchester?)

Surely the cartridges that are in the proprietary box bear the "275"hds … are there commercial Kynoch boxes labeled “275 Rigby” and “7x 57 mauser” or was the metric designation commonly used by Kynoch?

My 275 Rigby sample has the “KYNOCH 7 m/m” hds