Top-grade British double-barrelled rifles were handmade to fit the personal physique and requirements of the owner. Key factors for use by big game hunters were balance, “pointability” and reliability, and most importantly, the ability to fire two shots in quick succession for stopping a sudden charge from very close quarters.
In June 1963, I was eighteen years old and newly licensed by the Kenya Game Department as a restricted (junior) professional hunter. On the day I received my licence, my mentor, veteran John (Cookie) Cook, to whom I had been apprenticed at Ker, Downey and Selby Safaris, gave me my first double rifle. It was a Jeffery box-lock in .450 No 2, complete with its original leather case and accoutrements, and a supply of long cordite cartridges loaded with 480gr bullets, mostly solids. I was ecstatic to receive such a generous gift to start me off on my career.
In 1964 I joined Tanganyika Wildlife Development Cor- poration, the newly independent Tanzania’s parastatal hunting company. My first season involved five months of hunting with clients in the Selous Game Reserve which had been opened to safaris, and some croc culling on the Kilombero River, after which I received my full PH licence.
For five years I used my Jeffery double in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, and loved it, but, as .450 No 2 ammo became increasingly difficult to obtain, I was forced to rethink. I sent the Jeffery to Ferlach in Austria to be rebarrelled to .458 Win Mag, but was never happy with the result – the balance and handling were completely changed and the extractors often failed on the rimless cases. With regret, I sold the Jeffery and for a while hunted with a bolt-action .458, but felt inadequate not having that second quick backup shot in thick cover.
In 1968, I rejoined Ker, Downey & Selby Safaris (KDS). I was second PH with Tony Archer, one of their top hunters, a gentleman, highly experienced and one of Kenya’s foremost ornithologists. He kindly lent me one of his two .470s – a William Evans box-lock with 28-inch barrels and I immediately fell in love with it. At the end of the safari, Tony generously offered me this rifle at a price that was half its actual worth, saying he preferred using his other .470. I gratefully accepted.
Read the full article in the November 2017 issue of Magnum.