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155 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this is a little antique but what was defined as what? My impressions from reading are:

Small bore: up to 30 cal
Medium Bore: This ones a little confusing I have read .366 to .375, but I would assume the 30's and .333 had to be here also.
Medium Heavy: Did this really exist, did the .375, .416, 404 drop into this?
Big Bore: I have conflicting stuff on this, a 470 NE seems to qualify, but another source said .5 or above.

I know the system is a little archiac, as modern powders and rounds have changed the whole equation. For example a 378 Weatherby or a 458 Weatherby have as much energy as any of the old classic's. I your replies don't get into what should be today. I want to know what was in 1895-1920. Maybe the whole mess was never clearly defined at all, any answers?

443 Posts
Well what would you call my 788 Remington .44 Mag , that is a big hole in the barrel, and a G-d awful small ejection port! BTW I am using .44 spl rounds in it both Hornady 180 XTP and 200 Win Silver tip, which chrongraph about 1050FPS out of it's 22" barrel . The 2.5X scope delivers them EXACTLY to the brain of goat ,sheep and deer everytime at less than 50yds VERY quietly, like a standard velocity .22-sort of. I consider this a big bore rifle! 8)

155 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Was doing some research last night on this last night. Cartridges of the World listed the 425 Westley Richards as the upper end of the large-medium bore class. So with revision:

Small bore: under 30 cal.
Medium bore: .30 - .375 ??
Large-Medium Bore: .395 - .435
Large Bore: .440 up ????

I am sure it is not right still, still looking for input, but I think it closing, still troubled by the .5 or up on the big bore so maybe there is yet another class.

Gordon: Based on my very possibly incorrect chart above, I would say your 44 is in the LARGE BORE WHISPER CLASS. :D :D :D

3,831 Posts
Not that I would know, I just go by John Taylors original proclamations on African rifles.

Although he give a nod to a .577 and 600s as something "bigger".

Large bore-.45 and up
large mediums-below .45 to .40
medium-below .40 to .30
small- below 30

Not that it makes any sense today mind you.

Elmer Keith used a different explanation for North America.

Dangerious game- .400 and bigger
Brush and Timber- .405 to .270
Stalking- .33 down

O"Connor used:
heavy soft skinned
thick skinned dangerious

Bonnington copies a good write up with a modern version:

light: .22/.270
light mediums
.375, the medium
lower .40s
and then 45s
anything bigger than 45
577s and 600s go into another class altogether.

He also copies the format of matching gun to animal which I like.
Feel free to make up your own definitions. They did :)

Not that it makes any sense either.
My personal definition today is this:

above .45 is a large big bore
.45 is a big bore
below .45 and above 375 is a medium big bore
.375 to 333 is a medium
.318 to .30 is a 30 caliber
below .30 to .243 is a decent gun
below .240 is a small bore for squirrels

16 Posts
To a squirrel, my .223 appears to be a big bore.

To a deer, my .308 appears to be a medium bore.

To an elephant, my .375 appears to be a small bore.

So, with this in mind, where does my .45-70 1895 Marlin rank, respective to an average-sized ardvark (assuming a potent Garret Penetrator is pointing in his/her direction)?

These caliber rankings are so confusing.
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