How Large is an Elephant Gun?

Elephant gun sizes are measured by the cartridge size. The term itself is used for any large gun that can hold these cartridges. The term is also applied to the .600 nitro-express round.

The .600 Nitro Express

The bullet weighs 900 grains (58.3 g). The energy is 5,413 ft (1,650 m)•lbf (7.339 kJ) and has a velocity of 1646 ft/s (502 m/s). This is from a distance of 100 yards.

At 50 yards, the energy is 6,427 ft (1,959 m)•lbf (8.713 kJ) and the velocity is 1794 ft/s (547 m/s). At muzzle, the energy is 7591 ft•lbf (10.29 kJ) and the velocity is 1,850 ft/s (560 m/s) or 1,950 ft/s (590 m/s).

History and Development

This cartridge is part of the Nitro Express series. Since it came out in 1903, it has remained the second highest caliber in the series. It was developed for killing elephants. However, the elephant gun sizes was deemed too big and powerful that is was only used if the animal was attacking.

Because of the cartridge size, the guns had to be bigger and heavier. Back in the days when elephant hunting was legal, hunters often had someone carry the guns. They would only take it when required. The reason was the guns weigh 6.8 kg / 15 lbs or more.


Today the term is used for any large gun used for killing elephants. Even Ak-47s and other long firearms are used for hunting elephants. One of the most popular calibers is the 375 H&H Magnum.

Other rounds used are the 470 NE, .416 and .300 ultra mag. The .500, .600 and .700 Nitro Express can also be used. These are much bigger than the .4-5-8 Winchester Magnum and .375 H&H Mag.

Other Information

The elephant gun sizes are also used to denote double barrel shotguns. Guns with extra large rounds are also called by these terms. A 7.6 mm bullet cannot kill an elephant with a single shot. Hunters often apply the term to firearms that can load and fire .50 caliber bullets. The term is applicable regardless if it is a multi shot or single firearm.

These guns were also used by Germany and Britain during World War I. The British forces used the weapon to fight off the Germans who used snipers to advance. To counter it, the Germans used the Mauser 1918 TuF Gewehr to destroy light armored tanks. Variations of these weapons were used in World War II as well.

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