Which big game cartridges to include?


I’ve only just joined, and am wanting to build a display box with glass lid, showing big game cartridges used in Africa during the “Golden Age” of the White Hunter (now referred to as Professional Hunters). My questions are:

  1. What years constitute th “Golden Age”?
  2. Do I include any BP cartridges, or just the Nitro Express?
  3. Do I include any Continental or American cartridges?
  4. What about the 458 Winchester or other cartridges introduced in the 1950’s?
    Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated.
    I also intend to make an accompanying display of cartridge information (booklet), stamps and currency showing artwork styles emanating from the interwar years.


I’d personaly consider having (at least a couple) samples of the larger BPE (Black Powder Express) rounds in your display.
Some examples of the larger “bore” cartridges would also add interest


Just some of my thoughts:

  1. Golden years were between WW1 & WW2
  2. Include BP & Nitro Express
  3. Yes
  4. No

Big Game/Dangerous Game:
12 Bore Explora
.505 Gibbs
.500 Jeffery
.475 No 2

Cheers, Simon


We collectors can always find excuses to justify adding more cartridges to a collection. However, delineating the boundaries of a collecting goal is a great idea. In this case, I would suggest the collection be structured to include examples of the calibers mentioned in some of the classic stories of hunting African game. Some spouses might even fall for the idea of a shadow box mounting of a copy of a book (Roosevelt, Ruark, Hemingway, etc) or an illustration from same with the author over a big cat or lifetime supply of elephant stew and an example of the cartridge used. This gives an excuse to do some reading, and gain an appreciation that selection of the proper gun and ammo was a big deal, and that the different configurations of primer, powder and projectile stuffed in a case were done for specific reasons. Some old catalogs (or reprints) from H&H, etc would also fit into the theme. Might even be a nice display to take to SLICS. If that is fun, then you could see if the spouse will allow you to get a gun to go with each of the cartridges!


A good guide would be the book “African Rifles and Cartridges” by John Taylor. He was a professional ivory hunter who lived in Africa for over 30 years. The book was published in 1948, reprinted in 1977 by the Gun Room Press.


From everyone’s helpful suggestions, I think I will need to do two displays: one based around British Big Game Cartridges, and another around Other Big Game Cartridges.
Ideas on the construction of the display have also been taken on board. Once again, thank you.