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WDM Bell on Small bores and Big bores
      #369342 - 18/09/22 06:35 PM

Article at bottom.

WDM Bell, on rifles, by Shaiaz Shah

Ivory hunter , war hero and fighter pilot , the great W D M " Karamojo Bell " tells us about small bore rifles and big bore rifles . This is the final article written by this great man before he passed onto the happy hunting grounds in '54 . Mr. Bell achieved celebrity status in the hunting world , even during his time for using small cal rifles to take out six ton elephant tuskers and 1500 pound Cape Buff . His success is mostly associated with a 757 mm Mauser ( Which the Englishmen would call the .275 Rigby ) M-98 action magazine rifle built by John Rigby and Co. This was at a time when the standard DG rifle used by most hunters , was a Double in either .577 NE or even ( less commonly ) .600 NE .

I believe that if you really want to get the accurate information about anybody/anything , you should always look straight at the original source material . A lot of gun writers have written articles online about this gent , frequently using information which is half true or completely false . That's why I decided that the only way someone can get accurate information about Mr. Bell's choice of rifles , is by looking ONLY at Mr. Bell's own writings .

Having extensively read all of Mr. Bell's books and articles , I wanna clear up some common myths people often have about Mr. Bell .

Myth 1 - " Bell Killed hundreds of elephants with a .256 Mannlicher Schoenaur and 168 gr FMJ cupronickel jacketed solids "
Fact - Bell only used a .256 Mannlicher Schoenaur rifle ( made by Daniel Fraser ) to kill exactly 12 elephants . No more . No less . And he killed those 12 on one day . He was about to kill a 13th . But the rifle jammed due to a misfire . Bell never used the .256 Mannlicher Schoenaur on DG ever again . And all of these 13 kills were made with side brain shots ( where an elephant's skull is the thinnest ) . Even then , after recovering the bullets from the skulls , Bell noticed how all of the bullets were badly bent into " long hook like shapes " .
Source : " Karamojo Safari "

Myth 2 - " Bell killed a herd of 23 Cape Buffalo with a .22 Savage HP cal M-99 rifle . "
Fact - Bell NEVER killed ANY African game with a .22 Savage HP . He saw ANOTHER HUNTER pull off this stunt . But even then , there's a lot of things to consider . To start with : The Buffalo weren't even Cape Buffalo , but rather West African Forest Buffalo . These critters are FAR smaller than a Cape Buffalo . Secondly , the hunter took out a herd . Herds consist mostly of cows and calves . So , virtually no big bulls . Thirdly , the bullets weren't what killed those buffalo . The shooter wounded the buffaloes with lung shots . This caused blood to spill out of their mouths . The sight of blood drove the other buffaloes mad , and they all started goring each other to death . The last ones standing when it was all over , were so weak by then ( from blood loss and getting gored ) that the shooter just had to empty out his rifle into the ( already dying ) animals and finish them off .
Source : " The Neck Shot " Article on American Rifleman - 1950 .

Myth 3 : " Bell always preferred the 757 mm Mauser cal for putting down tuskers " .
Fact - Bell did kill the bulk of his tuskers with the 757 mm Mauser cal ( Using 175 gr D W M FMJ round nosed solids ) , but he lost many elephants after wounding them with this cal . He used it only because he was unable to find proper , reliable ammo for any other cals . And by 1913 , he upgraded to a .318 Westley Richards after he finally got a reliable cache of ammo for the .318 . By his own words , he stopped losing elephants once he switched to a .318 WR and 250 gr FMJ round nosed solids .
Source - " Small Bores Vs Big Bores " Article on American Rifleman - 1954 .

Myth 4 - " Bell Preferred Rigby Mausers his entire life " .
Fact - Bell ( Towards the end of his life ) actually preferred the American pre 64 Winchester Model 70 in .308 Winchester , over any English made rifle .
Source - " Small Bores Vs Big Bores " Article on American Rifleman - 1954 .

Finally , I wanna address a common belief shared by people who were critical of W D M Bell . Some people believe that Bell was lying about his success with small cal rifles against elephants and Cape Buff . This is just wrong . Bell was telling the truth . Even when Bell was alive , there were other hunters who were writing about Bell and his success with small cal rifles ( Such as Dennis D Lyell ) . Bell's exploits are even recorded on " Big Game Shooting Records " - A book which was published by another author , while Bell was STILL AN ACTIVE HUNTER . The late Harry Selby's daughter ( Gail Selby ) also took out a six ton elephant with a single side brain shot from a 757 mm Mauser ( and a 175 gr Kynoch FMJ round nosed solid ) . Retired Tanzania PH , the great Terry Irwin wrote me a letter about how he once ( as part of a bet ) took out a bull elephant with a .22 Hornet .

But it must be remembered that Karamojo Bell wasn't a PH . He was an ivory hunter . The requirements of a PH's backup rifle is VASTLY different from the requirements of an ivory hunter's rifle . A PH's job is to shoot game when it is either CHARGING , or GETTING AWAY . No perfect shots are guaranteed . So , you need cals large enough to floor the animal even with less than optimal shots . An ivory hunter's job was to creep up upon UNSUSPECTING elephants and then take them out with perfectly placed shots . Bell NEVER faced an elephant charge in his life ( Source : Big Game Shooting Records ) . He would stand on a ladder , and hide in the elephant grass which taking brain shots at unsuspecting elephants.

Also , a little known fact is that Bell also owned a .416 Rigby Mauser and 410 gr Kynoch FMJ steel jacketed round nosed solids in his battery. This was presumably his " charge stopper " in case any of the elephants or buffalo he shot , tried to charge him .

If anybody wants a larger size copy of this article , don't hesitate to ask . If anyone would like a copy of any of the sources that I quoted , don't hesitate to ask , either .

On a personal note , look at the level of foresight the guy had ! In 1954 , he predicted that one day the monolithic solid would COMPLETELY replace the old school FMJ solid . In 2020 , we're finally realizing how correct his prediction was ! Damn .

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Re: WDM Bell on Small bores and Big bores [Re: NitroX]
      #369354 - 18/09/22 10:51 PM


.....actually preferred the American pre 64 Winchester Model 70.....

A very astute hunter he was.

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Re: WDM Bell on Small bores and Big bores [Re: LRF]
      #369355 - 19/09/22 12:06 AM

Article added.

John aka NitroX

Govt get out of our lives NOW!
"I love the smell of cordite in the morning."
"A Sharp spear needs no polish"

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Re: WDM Bell on Small bores and Big bores [Re: NitroX]
      #369358 - 19/09/22 02:03 AM

Thanks for this

For his choice going forward - a Winchester, running the 308 with mono solids

Says he would have hand a *barrel* for the 318, fitted for the same stock, for using the 250 grain bullets if it was going to appear necessary

Also says he likes the thumb cut on Mauser action rails and misses the feature on the modernized actions

--Self-Appointed Colonel, DRSS--

"It IS a dangerous game, and so named for a reason, and you can't play from the keyboard. " --Some Old Texan...

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