The History & The Story of Nitro Express

The Big Five are Elephant, Rhino, Cape Buffalo, Lion, Leopard
Safari & Africa’s big five is the Nitro Express story fired by adrenalin.

In the early years on the dark continent, the ultimate adventure was to hunt Africa’s dangerous game, – the big five, on foot! Famous US author Earnest Hemingway went on safari to Kenya in 1933.

Hemingway was one of many that followed in the footsteps of US President Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1909, Roosevelt went on safari requiring over 200 porters to carry his safari. Roosevelt’s safari was famous due to newspaper reporters dispatching daily safari news home to the US. These were the early years. Today, volumes of stories describe dangerous encounters that took place on safari. With average tracking skills, they are easily tracked to the best book shelves across the globe.

Today in the 2020’s, up close and alive with the big five is still your best day on the African savannah.
At Nitro Express, we encourage outfitting your safari with a best quality .500mm telephoto lens attached to a best quality camera. As they say when heading out armed with just a camera, good hunting, get the shot!

At Nitro Express, we are passionate to keep all big five alive!

The History

1898 is the year Nitro Express came in to being. John Rigby, a best quality London gun maker, is recognized as the founder of Nitro Express. 1898 is the year the all new smokeless gun powder was invented. John Rigby took a common .45 caliber deer hunting cartridge of the day. It was loaded with a large measure of black powder. He replaced the black powder with the new smokeless powder. In one shot, John Rigby changed for ever, all rifles with this extraordinary new powder. An explosive increase in velocity over black powder, transformed a deer hunting rifle into an elephant hunting rifle.

At the very time of Rigby’s development, the British launched a sensational new steam train. So fast was this new train, it was named the Express Train. Record breaking runs made bold headlines in all the news papers. As the new smokeless powder was developed from nitroglycerine, John Rigby called his powerful new rifle, the “Nitro Express Train Rifle”. A short time later, the train rifle part was dropped, leaving Nitro Express as it stands to this day.

Nitro Express is double rifles, and the big cigar size cartridges they fire.
To stay alive when charged by dangerous game, man had to have a charge stopping firearm. On safari, hunters relied totally on the charge stopping power of the big heavy cartridges. An explosive charge by any of the big five had to be met head on with an equal force. Nitro Express became that force.

The British perfected the design of double rifles along with most of the famous cartridges like, .450 .470 .500 .577 during the mid 1800’s on into the 1900’s. Round the turn of the century, hunting Africa was huge for those that could afford the time and money to go on a real hunting Safari.

Kin George VI with the Queen Mother
On safari in Kenya, 1924

The history of safari records many famous names, including the royals.

The Duke of York, who become King George V1, (“The Kings Speech“) and the Duchess of York, to became the Queen Mother, went on Safari to Kenya in 1924.

Edward VIII On Safari in Kenya, 1924

Later in 1930, Edward, [the Prince of Wales to become Edward VIII,] was guided on safari by Denys Finch Hatton, (“Out of Africa“.)

Prince Edward, crowned King in 1935, abdicated his throne only 325 days into his reign in order to marry Wallis Simpson.

By engaging a good professional tracker such as Mr. Google, our rich history is easily tracked through the bushveld of time.

Today, we clearly see that man is become the destroyer of wild life

Without the big five, Africa would no longer be the dark continent creating the romance adventure and excitement found on those early safari years.

Which is why Nitro Express encourage hunting the big five by camera. It is time the big rifles retired to their oak and leather gun cases to sleep & dream of how it used to be.

Today, camera safaris get the best shot. The ultimate thrill, is one of the big five on a full dusty threat charge, straight down your lens!

CLICK HERE for “His Story” – the story of the Cape Buffalo Bull on our label

CLICK HERE to view our “Nitro Tough” shoulder bags – in both small and large sizes