.470 Nitro Express

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Type Rifle
Place of origin England
Production history
Designer Joseph Lang
Designed 1907
Produced 1907-Present
Parent case .500 Nitro Express 3¼ in
Case type Rimmed, necked
Bullet diameter .474 in (12.0 mm)
Neck diameter .504 in (12.8 mm)
Shoulder diameter .524 in (13.3 mm)
Base diameter .575 in (14.6 mm)
Rim diameter .655 in (16.6 mm)
Rim thickness 0.040 in (1.0 mm)
Case length 3.25 in (83 mm)
Overall length 3.98 in (101 mm)
Case capacity 156.65 gr H2O (10.151 cm3)
Rifling twist 1-20"
Primer type Berdan .254/ Federal 216
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
500 gr (32 g) SP,FMJ 2,150 ft/s (660 m/s) 5,140 ft⋅lbf (6,970 J)
Source(s): "Cartridges of the World"[1]

The .470 Nitro Express is a rifle cartridge developed by Joseph Lang in England for dangerous game hunting. This cartridge is used almost exclusively in single shot and double express rifles for hunting in the tropics or hot climate. It is in wide use in the Southern and Central-East African region, favoured by hunting guides, primarily while out for Cape buffalo and elephant.


The .470 NE was originally designed by Lang's as a replacement for the .450 Nitro Express, after the .450 NE was banned in several countries including India. This wasn't because the .450 NE was underpowered or inadequate, but because its bullets could be removed from loaded rounds for use by natives in stolen .577/.450 Martini Henry rifles. [1] Due to the heavy bullet and powder charge, the gun has significant recoil but this is mitigated by the low velocity, resulting in recoil being delivered as a strong push rather than a violent blow. Rifles chambered for this cartridge tend to be heavy double-gun style, and are typically quite expensive.[2]

The .470 NE continues to be the most popular of all the Nitro Express cartridges.[3] Ammunition and components are readily available.[1]


Like other 'dangerous game' cartridges, ammunition is expensive compared with standard hunting cartridges, often costing up to 10 times more per shell than typical cartridges such as the .30-06.[4] Because of this many shooters choose to handload the .470 NE.[1] Brass can be obtained from a variety of sources, and like most reloading components varies in quality. Lighter loads for practice can be created that are more enjoyable and cheaper to shoot.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Barnes, Frank C. (1997) [1965]. McPherson, M.L., ed. Cartridges of the World (8th ed.). DBI Books. pp. 89,92,334,341. ISBN 0-87349-178-5. 
  2. ^ "Twin-Tube Dreamin'" by Ted Hatfield, in American Rifleman
  3. ^ "The .450 Nitro Express" by Charlie Haley
  4. ^ a b "An Adventure with Lead Bullets In The .470 Nitro Express" by Leo Grizzaffi
  • Cartridge capacity: Donnelly, John J. (1987). The Handloader's Manual of Cartridge Conversions. Stoeger Publishing. p. 641. ISBN 978-0-88317-269-8. 

Nitro Express in Popular Culture[edit]

  • Author and adventurer James S. Gardner provides a realistic, detailed account of the capabilities of a Nitro Express during an ill-fated Safari, and again in a graphical account of a desperate firefight against men and a helicopter in his book, The Lion Killer. Seen here:
  • "The Lion Killer" from James Gardner

External links[edit]