The Jeffery .450-400 Nitro double rifle with which Jim Corbett put out the lights of something like 33 man-eating tiger or leopard in India early in the 20th Century sold at auction last month for a whopping $264,500.
The rifle had been in the collection of another legendary gun-man, the late Elmer Keith.
The Jeffery, made in 1909, was powerful medicine for dangerous predators: Two quick shots with a cartridge that would put its target down. While it is hard not to feel a twinge of regret at the death of these magnificent cats — especially now that the tigers are so threatened by loss of habitat — it needs bearing in mind that these maneaters were a natural catastrophe for Indian villagers. The cats Corbett slew were responsible for 1,200 or more killings. The Champawat Tiger alone killed 436 villagers. Corbett got him in 1907 before he acquired the Jeffery, using a .500 double rifle using “modified cordite” in what had been a black-powder firearm.
There’s a nice piece on Corbett’s several rifles here.
Corbett was the finest kind of English gentleman hunter: Brave, resourceful; a sensitive naturalist and a lovely writer — and a hero. I can see why someone would pay big bucks for the rifle with which he took a hero’s most fundamental part — slaying monsters.
That rifle has mucho mojo.