The .577 Nitro Express is a large caliber hunting rifle cartridge originating in the United Kingdom.
Design Details[edit | edit source]
It is based on the .577 Black Powder Express cartridge with cordite-based loadings made in the 2¾ inch, 3 inch, and 3¼ inch case lengths.
2¾ inch[edit | edit source]
The 2¾ inch cartridge is based on the 2¾ inch .577 Black Powder Express case, firing a 750 grain (49 grams) bullet at a muzzle velocity of 1,800 feet per second with a muzzle energy of 5,400 ft-lbf.
3 inch[edit | edit source]
The 3 inch cartridge is based on the 3 inch .577 Black Powder Express case. Like the 2¾ inch cartridge, it fires a 750 grain bullet, but this time at a muzzle velocity of 2,050 feet per second with a muzzle energy of up to 7,010 ft-lbf.
3¼ inch[edit | edit source]
The 3¼ inch cartridge is based on the 3¼ inch .577 Black Powder Express case.
As a parent[edit | edit source]
The .577 Nitro Express was also used as the parent case for the .585 Nyati cartridge, by blowing out the casing's straight walls to allow formation of enough of a shoulder for headspace purposes, making it essentially rimless.
History[edit | edit source]
Following the successful development of the .450 Nitro Express cartridge by John Rigby & Company in 1898, similar conversions of Black Powder Express cartridges to Nitro Express were made, including the .577 Black Powder Express' case lengths.
The 3 inch version of the cartridge proved to be the most popular for African elephant hunters and was a standard caliber in the early 20th century, until Mauser's Gewehr 98 bolt-action rifles offered cheaper alternatives to the expensive double rifles required by the Nitro Express cartridges.
Service in WWI[edit | edit source]
Even though it was designed predominantly as a hunting cartridge, the .577 Nitro Express had seen military service in the British Army during World War I.
In 1914 and early 1915, German snipers were engaging British positions from steel plates that could not be pierced through by .303 British ball rounds. To counter this threat, the British War Office had purchased sixty-two big game hunting rifles, two of which chambered in .577 Nitro Express, and were then issued to regiments of the British Army.
The large-bore hunting weapons proved particularly effective against the German snipers' steel plates, penetrating them "like butter", as was stated in Sniping in France 1914-1918 by Major H. Hesketh-Prichard, DSO, MC.