Monday, August 10, 2009


Please read before you watch!

This video is basically a "show and tell" of a custom built Thompson Encore (fancy version of the Thompson Contender).

The Caliber . . . 600 Nitro Express.

That's right . . . an elephant gun round in a handgun - or rather; a handgun built around an elephant round.

The story goes that the guy who built it is some kind of custom gunsmith, and built this as an exhibition piece.

He takes it to the range with him just to show it off, and the big guy in the video bugged the gun maker to let him shoot it.

Until only recently, the 600 Nitro Express was hands down the biggest, meanest nastiest, hardest hitting, and heaviest recoil weapon you could buy.

It was designed for one simple purpose . . . to knock an elephant flat on its ass . . . consider this: the 600 Nitro Express round can go clean through a 1/2" steel plate at 35 feet like a hot knife through butter.

This specialized handgun was really built as an exhibition piece for guys "compensating" . . .

The 600 Nitro Express cartridge is known for breaking collarbones, arms, shoulders . . . of the shooter!

In the gun world they use what is termed "recoil index" to measure what kind of kick to expect out of a gun.

A 30-06 has a rating of 1.0, which for many people is about the limit of what they can shoot multiple rounds thru comfortably.

A 243 BR is rated at about 0.4, a 270 is about a 0.8, etc.

The 600 Nitro Express is rated at 9.4.

9.4 times more punishing power than a 30-06.

Now watch the video . . . you may have to watch the recoil twice. Try to follow the gun; a 60 cal. pistol.


  1. Sorry but I'm going to have to V-22 you here, as My Friend Mike Bellm and I have collaborated on a number of T/C based Cape Buff/Elephant pistols including an 18.5" barrel .458 Lott that's one handable with most medium loadings and a 15.5" .375 H&H Mag that's also one handable. These are useful brush hunting guns and eminently controllable. I had a marginal controllable 17.5" .375 TC custom shop barrel, and the current favorite barrel of mine is the .375H&H that was a Bellm/Tom production. Bit of a steep learning curve but we know how to do them.

    There is no "compensating involved" on my part. I found I could easily shoot unbraked hot .30-30 and warm .45-70 loads in Contenders and have been pushing ever since to see just how far you can go and stopped at .458.

    I went to a proper (one of two in the world worth a damn at the time, not mailorder BS) gunsmith college as well as and after going to normal college. I've been tinkering with mechanical things, especially engine type things (and a gun is just a internal combustion engine where the piston doesn't have to come back, if you look at it on that level) for as long as I can remember. Used to sideline in pro pyrotechnician work too. Not too different from your spec ops explosives training, no doubt, and I'd guess well ahead of you on firearms. Not bragging, fact. I'm ~40 and have been at this since I was about 6. I had/have understanding parents that encourage(d) me.

    A: The Encore is not a "fancy version of a Contender", it's structurally and dimensionally larger and stronger.

    B: This pistol was done wrong on many levels as to recoil management and muzzle control.

    This person used a modified version of the T/C arms "Muzzle Tamer" muzzle brake and they SUCK as I found with that TC cussed 'em shop .375 H&H Mag that wasn't very shootable or accurate.

    One of the primary reasons they suck and he lost control of the firearm is that they have porting below the horizontal midlines of the barrel. This means that they do not control muzzle flip, well, worth a flip, just somewhat moderate recoil.

    Bellm and my porting arrangements, (executed by Bellm as he's better at it than I am both in number of jobs done, has a better machine shop and all the fixtures already made up, and has much more time in grade than I with T/C projects as well as the general principles of his port braking system are HIS invention that he/I modified some of the ideas to suit my ideas better and some larger calibers than he'd ever done before) do not have any ports below the midline. The midline ports are angled significantly back and not much up at all from the expansion chamber to reduce felt recoil. The topside ports are less inclined towards the rear and a bit more vertical to de-fang muzzle flip. Works very well, is a clean design aesthetically too, compared to bulbous ineffective stupid brakes on the end f your barrel that allow you to look foolish on the internet. Target crowns on both the end of the rifling in the expansion chamber and at the end of the counterbored expansion chamber. If you want to know more tech details, order machine work. Even have a system worked out for field expedient removal of a stuck cartridge from the chamber with a dime, pocket knife, or screwdriver that doesn't reduce chamber structural integrity.

  2. ...C: The Encore was a bad choice of platform for this project as the cartridge dimensions of the .600NE are stretching the limits of the Encore platform as to how much steel is left around the chamber, not because of pressures or bullet size. Encores were designed dimensionally to be useful up to .45-70 hot loads and they sell factory .45-70 barrels. One of them became a .458 Lott barrel in my case. still leaves plenty of meat around the chamber even though it runs higher chamber pressures than .600 or .700NE with a steeper pressure curve too. Eminently shootable, one hand or two, loading dependent. Like I said, these aren't stunt guns, I hunt with them. A number of other hotrod pistol actions would have been a better choice for a .600. I don't know this man who built this pistol, I had seen the video before, and I had noted what I saw wrong with his methods at the time. He should have started with something more appropriate than an Encore, such as some of the falling block and swing block, and artillery breeched designs people have developed for such purposes over the years for such pistols.

    The choice of the non-wood furniture for the fore stock shows ignorance also, as even in normal-ish hot Encore FACTORY pistols, if you try to use them as a actual point of holding the firearm, they have a habit of ripping off the barrel. FACT. With me it's irrelevant because I've found any method of shooting hot Encores other than both hands on the grip to be pretty uncomfortable/useless/inaccurate.

    In my incorporated partnership with a person other than Mike, we are working to develop a single shot pistol or rifle quick-take-down and/or switch barrel action (your choice) that in magnum form is 50 BMG capable and in ultra-magnum form will be capable of handling 20mm Vulcan based wildcats for long range metal animal shooting purposes. Those numbers are not typos and the magnum action alone, less barrel and furniture weighs 5.1lbs. A brake my business partner developed for his .50 BMG prototype (I'm building mine as a .700AHR) is so efficient when carried to it's full potential, he had to throttle it back a bit on reducing muzzle flip because with some loadings as it was dinging the projectiles on top as they left the brake and zoomed to the target...not so good for accuracy.

    D: With proper shot placement, the .458 Lott nails elephant brains as well or better than .600 and .700 NE because of a better ballistic coefficient in the monolithic solids available and it's more comfortable to shoot in Either rifle or pistol form.

    This was a stunt gun, most likely. Mine aren't.
    I refrain from passing judgement on the person's motives, only on his poor execution of the project idea.

    I am not compensating when I build hot rods, it's what I like to do. Aren't you the one who said an old ex-SF man once said to you in a post the other day, hell, I'll just quote you:
    A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away another mentor of mine, an old retired Green Beret, full-blooded Ute Indian who made Sergeant Major - explained to me that after retirement, for him the word adventure involved fast cars and motel rooms . . .


  3. Some of us like to design and build firearms that "go fast" both on a commercial level, as we aren't retired yet, and on a personal level for hunting purposes.

    I'll admit that the .458 Lott pistol did have a minor element of "You call THAT a Forty-Five????? THIS is a FORTY-FIVE!!!!!" but it is also usable as a practical hunting firearm. With 300 grain Barnes TSX or solid projectiles zooming along in front of 70 grains of RL7, it's not uncomfortable to shoot and ele capable. It uncovered a new twist (pardon the pun) of the braking, flip and porting portion of the show, though: The torque of bullet vs. rifling effect is quite noticeable, especially with heavier bullets. Mk II will incorporate some variations again in our variant of the Basic Bellm porting design to try to compensate for this as it's weird to have a pistol try to twist itself out of your hand on firing. I'm sure it's solvable.

    So, in summation, this guy built a ele pistol wrong, it is possible to do it properly. I haven't broken any bones in the process and have only had one pistol pinwheel more or less straight up that I had to catch like an outfielder. God was punishing me for showboating with sweaty hands in the rain in the presence of a friend who is literally a man of the cloth, parsonage and all. :-)

    Happy Shooting,

    If anybody is interested in such things on an "I want one" basis, Theo has my contact info. I don't affiliate my business dealings with my personal web commenting because I'm sometimes a combative asshole on the internet when I think somebody is seriously wrong about something and it would not be fair to my various partners and associates for them/us to lose sales because I'm sometimes a prick on the internet.

    There's two ways to play on the internet:
    A: Don't say what you really think and allow people to connect your internet postings with your corporation.

    B: Keep your private feelings about things un-related to companies you are part owner of or work with unless you have permission of those said people to link to them.

    I picked B.

    P.S.: Nothing feels like shooting 235 grains of bullet controllably at over 2800fps instead of that measly 230 grains at 7-950fps of 1911s and such. It's exhilarating.

    FWIW: My wedding tackle is statistically average for a white male of my physical build and I've never gotten a complaint about it's performance though I'm sure I'm reaching the age where that might be a possibility, but it won't be because of size :-)


    The T/C Contender and Encore switch barrel rifle systems both have a rather weak system for attachment of a stock. Remember, the Contenders and Encores were designed so the same action could be used with a stock and rifle/shotgun/black powder legal barrel lengths for a long arm [unless you pay the tax stamp money to add your action(s) to the NFA SBR/SBS/AOW/DD NFTR Registry (Short Barrel Rifle/Shotgun/ANY OTHER WEAPON/DESTRUCTIVE DEVICE).... As you could use a basic T/C action to make any of the above I am not sure how the BATFE Tech Branch would want you to classify it.)] or as a pistol with any length barrel you want.

    Important Caveat HERE:

    The attachment system for Contender and Encore Rifle Stocks is QUITE WEAK relative to the recoil forces that can safely be generated in the actions. Make that Contender or Encore stock a thumbhole and you're about Gare-un-teed to break it, probably in the first shot or two, right about where the stock attaches to the action. With a stock non-thumber stock you'd likely break it just as fast with .600NE, so it was safer for this fellow to do what he did wrongly as a pistol than to do what he did wrongly but using it with a stock as a rifle/AOW/DD.

    I told you I've fiddled with these things for a LONG TIME and I was gonna "V-22 Osprey" you on this post like I did last week with the 22.

    I wonder if I can get the O.E.D. to add "V-22d, or Ospreyed" to their lexicon...

    "Osprey" or "V-22", Noun, to thoroughly debunk misguided web posts with extended comments split in multiple comment form due to comment post length regulations to the point they eventually may as well be an essay in and of themselves.

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  6. Typo of URL above:

    I made a Photo Essay (CLICK HERE) for you of some of my projects that are eminently shootable as referenced above related to "interesting" T/C chamberings and how to go about doing it.

    Just because some people do things wrong doesn't mean things can't be done properly.

  7. Damn, I actually read that whole thing. Good stuff.

  8. That is a very good machine. Works smoothly, you even won't feel recoil with it. Fire bullet like butter.