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Old March 2, 2013, 11:03 AM   #35
Mike Irwin
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Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,074
"Bell shot 1,011[10] elephants during his career; all of them bulls apart from 28 cows. He was noted for using high speed, smaller calibre bullets[11][12] rather than the slow speed, larger calibre bullets that were popular with other big game hunters.[13] Around 800 of his kills were made with Rigby rifles manufactured on the Mauser action in .275 Rigby(Also known as the 7x57mm Mauser"

I wondered if someone would bring up Mr. Bell and his exploits.

One simply can't say that he whacked a lot of elephants with small caliber rifles and leave it at that. It's out of context, and it leaves out some very significant information.

Bell didn't simply walk into the local "Bwanas 'R Us" outfitters and ask for a box of 6.5x54 or 7x57 cartridges...

"What bullet style do you want, Mr. Bell?"

"It doesn't matter, I'm hunting elephants, and we all know that they're easy to kill with anything!"

It didn't work like that.

Bell chose the 6.5x54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer and 7x57 cartridges based on several VERY important considerations.

He used either military loadings, or loads that emulated the military loads. In other words, he chose full metal jacket round nose bullets.

The jackets on these early rounds were known for being very sturdy, which allowed them to penetrate heavy bone without breaking up or riveting (bending).

He also selected them because they had VERY high ballistic coefficients, which was derived from their heavy weight (160 grains for the 6.5, and 175 to 180 grains for the 7x57). The weight made these bullets VERY long for their diameter.

Those two factors, the ballistic coefficient and the sturdily constructed bullet, meant that they would penetrate literally FEET through the target without yawing or tumbling. That's very important because in some aspects an elephant's skull is well over a foot thick before the brain starts.

Bell also had an uncanny knowledge of elephant anatomy, based on his study of the skulls of elephants that he killed. The story is that he often had his bearers section the skulls with a crosscut saw so that he could see what the bullet did.

Bell also chose his shots extremely carefully. He realized that he might only have one shot, and if he didn't get it right the first time, he might have a couple of tons of very irate elephant trying to squish him.

Finally, and what most people don't know, is that while he apparently didn't use it much, Bell had, at all times, a gun bearer with a .450 double rifle standing beside him in case things did go wrong.
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