Big Bore Compendium – .577 Nitro Express

05The 577 Nitro Express chambered in modern rifles today is the 3 inch smokeless powder version that pushes a 750 grain bullet at 2050 feet per second. It is an extremely good killer while still offering adequate penetration. Rifle maker Butch Searcy reports excellent penetration and stopping power when using the .577 for elephant head shots and buffalo body shots. The cartridge has a few downsides, however. The first is that the recoil is rather fierce. The second is that rifles built for this caliber (other than unsuitable single shot conversions) are as expensive as a low-priced new car. The third is that 577 Nitro Express rifles typically weigh 13-16 pounds, and are quite difficult to carry day after day on safari. However, for the person who must have a stopper, this is definitely one of them.

There is also a 577 Nitro Express 2 ž inch version. It pushes a 650 grain bullet at 1850 feet per second. Coming up short in both sectional density and velocity, penetration with this caliber will not be satisfactory on the more difficult head shots on elephant or quartering away shots on buffalo. There was also a 577 Black Powder Express which pushed a 520 grain lead bullet at 1700 feet per second. Those rifles, while fun novelties and great for pigs and cats, should not be considered an appropriate choice for thick skinned dangerous game.

Various double makers, including Searcy, Westley Richards, Holland & Holland and Heym make double barreled rifles in 577 Nitro Express. In addition, Hamrusch and Heym make bolt action rifles in this caliber.

Sample load data for the 577 Nitro Express 3 inch is as follows:

Cartridge Powder Primer Bullet Velocity Notes
577 Nitro Express 3″ 145.0 grains IMR4831 F215 750 Woodleigh 2050 f.p.s.
135.0 grains Reloader 15 Filler may be needed to avoid hangfires.