.600 Nitro Express

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.600 Nitro Express
.600 Nitro Express, Kynoch.jpg
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1915–1916
Used byBritish Army
WarsWorld War I
Production history
DesignerW.J. Jeffery & Co
Case typeRimmed, tapered
Bullet diameter.620 in (15.7 mm)
Land diameter.606 in (15.4 mm)
Neck diameter.648 in (16.5 mm)
Base diameter.700 in (17.8 mm)
Rim diameter.810 in (20.6 mm)
Rim thickness.065 in (1.7 mm)
Case length3 in (76 mm)
Overall length3.70 in (94 mm)
Case capacity211.4 gr H2O (13.70 cm3)
Primer typeKynoch No. 40
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
900 gr (58 g) 2,050 ft/s (620 m/s) 8,400 ft⋅lbf (11,400 J)
900 gr (58 g) 1,950 ft/s (590 m/s) 7,600 ft⋅lbf (10,300 J)
900 gr (58 g) 1,850 ft/s (560 m/s) 6,840 ft⋅lbf (9,270 J)
Test barrel length: 28
Source(s): Barnes,[1] Kynoch[2] and C.I.P Data[3]

The .600 Nitro Express is a large bore Nitro Express rifle cartridge developed by W.J. Jeffery & Co for the purpose of hunting large game such as elephant.


The .600 Nitro Express is a slightly tapered walled, rimmed, centerfire rifle cartridge designed for use in single-shot and double rifles.[4]

The cartridge fires a .620 in (15.7 mm) diameter, 900 gr (58 g) projectile with three powder loadings: the standard being 100 gr (6.5 g) of cordite at a muzzle velocity of 1,850 ft/s (560 m/s); a 110 gr (7.1 g) loading which generates a muzzle velocity of 1,950 ft/s (590 m/s); and a 120 gr (7.8 g) loading which generates a muzzle velocity of 2,050 ft/s (620 m/s).[1][5]

Because of the recoil forces generated by this cartridge, rifles chambered in it typically weigh up to 16 lb (7.3 kg).[1][5]


600 Nitro Express dimensions sketch.jpg


The .600 Nitro Express was developed by London gunmakers W.J. Jeffery & Co. Sources vary about the date of its introduction,[note 1] although it would seem in 1900 the first .600 Nitro Express rifle was produced by W.J. Jeffery & Co, a 15 lb (6.8 kg) double barrelled hammer rifle. Jefferys produced around seventy rifles in .600 Nitro Express in four actions, double barrelled hammer break-open, single barrelled break-open, falling block and double barrelled break-open with and without ejectors.[4]

Until the introduction of the .700 Nitro Express in 1988, the .600 Nitro Express was the most powerful commercially available hunting rifle cartridge in the world. Aside from W.J. Jeffery & Co, several gunmakers have and continue to offer rifles chambering this .600 Nitro Express, although in 2009 it was estimated by Holland & Holland that only around one hundred .600 Nitro Express rifles had ever been produced to that time.[1][6]

WWI service[edit]

In 1914 and early 1915, German snipers were engaging British Army positions with impunity from behind steel plates that were impervious to .303 British ball ammunition. In an attempt to counter this threat, the British War Office purchased sixty-two large-bore sporting rifles from British rifle makers, including four .600 Nitro Express rifles, which were issued to regiments. These large-bore rifles proved very effective against the steel plates used by the Germans. In his book, Sniping in France 1914-18, Major H. Hesketh-Prichard, DSO, MC stated they "pierced them like butter".[7][8][9]

Stuart Cloete, sniping officer for the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, stated "We used a heavy sporting rifle - a .600 Express. These had been donated to the army by big game hunters and when we hit a plate we stove it right in. But it had to be fired standing or from a kneeling position to take up the recoil. The first man who fired it from the prone position had his collar bone broken."[10]


The .600 Nitro Express, along with the .577 Nitro Express, was a specialist backup weapon for professional elephant hunters. Too heavy to be carried all day and used effectively, it was usually carried by a gun bearer. It was used when in thick cover and when an effective shot at the heart and lungs was not possible.[6]

In his African Rifles and Cartridges, John "Pondoro" Taylor says the shock of a head shot from a .600 Nitro Express bullet is enough to knock out an elephant for up to half an hour.[5]

Prominent users[edit]

In the course of his career, Taylor owned and used two .600 Nitro Express double rifles, the first was regulated for 110 gr (7.1 g) loadings, the second was a W.J. Jeffery & Co double rifle that weighed 16 lb (7.3 kg) with 24 in (610 mm) barrels and was regulated for 100 gr loadings. He states he was very fond of his Jeffery .600 which he used as a second backup rifle to a .400 Jeffery Nitro Express, and with it he killed between 60 and 70 elephants.[5]

Bror von Blixen-Finecke, Karl Larsen and Major Percy Powell-Cotton all used W.J. Jeffery & Co .600 Nitro Express rifles extensively.[5][11][12]

Parent case[edit]

In 1929 Holland & Holland produced the .600/577 Rewa by necking down the .600 Nitro Express to accept a .582 in (14.8 mm) bullet.[13]

The .50 British ammunition used in the Vickers .50 machine gun was initially a necked-down .600 NE.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1997 film The Lost World: Jurassic Park the character Roland Tembo carries a Searcy Double Barrel Rifle chambered in .600 Nitro Express.[15]


  1. ^ The majority of W.J. Jeffery & Co's records were lost or destroyed during World War II.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Frank C. Barnes, Cartridges of the World, ed 13, Gun Digest Books, Iola, 2012, ISBN 9781440230592.
  2. ^ Kynoch Ammunition, "Big Game Cartridges", www.kynochammunition.co.uk, archived 18 January 2017.
  3. ^ C.I.P. 600 N.E. (online-PDF 97 KB))
  4. ^ a b c Paul Roberts, “Nitro big game rifles”, ezine.nitroexpress.info, archived 1 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e John Taylor, African rifles and cartridges, Sportsman’s Vintage Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-940001-01-2.
  6. ^ a b Terry Wieland, Dangerous-game rifles, ed 2, Down East Books / Shooting Sportsman Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-89272-807-7.
  7. ^ MAJ H. Hesketh-Prichard, DSO, MC, Sniping in France 1914-18: With Notes on the Scientific Training of Scouts, Observers and Snipers, Helion & Company, Solihull, 2013, ISBN 1-874622-47-7.
  8. ^ Imperial War Museums, ".600 3 inch Nitro Express & Kynoch", iwm.org.uk, retrieved 14 September 2017.
  9. ^ Douglas Tate, "Sporting guns that went to war", The Field Magazine, Vol 324 No 7321, August 2014, pp 100–103.
  10. ^ Ian D. Skennerton, The British sniper: British & Commonwealth sniping & equipments 1915-1983, I.D. Skennerton, Margate Australia, 1984, ISBN 9780949749031.
  11. ^ Sarah Wheeler, Too Close to the Sun: The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton, Random House, London, 2006, ISBN 9780099450276.
  12. ^ Edgar N. Barclay, Big game shooting records: together with biographical notes and anecdotes on the most prominent big game hunters of ancient and modern times, H. F. & G. Witherby, London, 1932.
  13. ^ The Spanish Association of Cartridge Collectors, ".577 Rewa", municion.org, retrieved 15 July 2018.
  14. ^ ".5 inch Vickers".
  15. ^ Searcy, B. "B. Searcy & Co". Searcy & Co - Double Rifles. BLS Ventures. Retrieved 18 February 2022.

External links[edit]