The Stopping Rifle is an oddity today, a hang-over from the Golden Days of trophy hunting in the deepest, darkest parts of Africa and the sub-continent.
The stopping rifle is still part of the (now much rarer) expedition through dangerous game country. When dealing with large and dangerous animals such as the hippopotamus, lions, elephants and tigers, you need a gun that is capable of not only killing the animal quickly, but dropping it on the spot mid-charge.
While many conventional rifles may be capable of killing an animal at range, if an animal is close enough to your party to make a charge such projectiles can go clean through even a critical area, with the animal not realising it is dead until it has mauled you.
As a result stopping rifles fire heavy, slow bullets. A typical 7.62 NATO bullet is 10-11g, a .450 Nitro Express bullet on the other hand is closer to 32g. .700 Nitro Express at 65g is another level entirely.
So, why two barrels? Well, given the need for a quick follow-up shot has been around since before the invention of the modern cartridge a second barrel was the only option. However this design classic has survived through not only the bolt-action era but even beyond semi-automatics.
Firstly, you can switch between triggers very quickly, far faster than operating a bolt. Although modern semi-autos could handle the pressure of these large cartridges, they are far more prone to being affected by the dirt and dust which on long expeditions is a fact of life: especially for a gun that has to be carried ready to fire at all times under severe pressure.
So this hold-over from the Victorians still has its uses and these rifles are still some of the most beautiful examples of private and custom gunsmithing around.
I will be building my own stopping rifle for airsoft use of course, for a safari-type load out, probably paired with the Webley MkVI.
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