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Dream Shot - One Shot
© 1999 Galen L. Geer
~Lynn “Doc” Greenlee’s Jeffery’s .450/.400 double rifle was 100 years old last April 6 (1999). In it’s century of existence the rifle has, no doubt, been privy to some grand adventures. Memories of long ago hunts - with good shots and bad - are surely imbedded in the wood fibres of the gun’s stock.~

Lynn 'Doc' Greenlee with his elephant. His one shot kill was proof that a handloader's dream shot can become reality.
Lynn “Doc” Greenlee with his elephant. His one shot kill was proof that a handloader’s dream shot can become reality.

Last September, “Doc” Greenlee added more memories to the rifle’s fibre when he took it on an African elephant safari. When Doc’s bull elephant stepped into the open, and put his head down to feed, Doc began to raise the rifle. Three years of Doc’s life were being funnelled down to the moment of the hunt - that mystical time and place when hunter and hunted are alone, yet converged, and the outcome is not predictable. In the mystics of guns and hunting the rifle’s memories were reaching out to touch Doc’s hands and steady his aim. There were also the many weekend mornings when Doc measured off fifty yards and practiced shooting offhand. It is comforting to believe that the rifle’s memories helped steady Doc’s aim while the spirit-eyes of past owners watched, waiting, for Doc to join their circle.

“You don’t think about how many times you have dreamed about the shot,⃡ Doc said. “You don’t think about how long it took to get the rifle and the ammunition working together, how many rounds you’ve reloaded. Everything becomes blurred. But because it’s a load you perfected on your reloading bench and you know what is going to happen when you pull the trigger, you have the true hunter’s confidence.”

In the world of hunting and reloading, Doc Greenlee follows the same maxims as other dedicated big game hunters who load their own ammunition - precise, precise, precision. He spent three years preparing the rifle, the load and himself for that African hunt. His odyssey from dream shot to one shot opportunity in the Zimbabwe bush is a reloader’s hunting tale. “After I started hunting in Africa,” Doc said. “I wanted a double rifle. More important, I wanted to hunt in Africa with a double rifle.”

Article continues below.

The opportunity to own a big bore double rifle came in August of 1995, when Doc found an ad for the Jeffery’s .450/400 with an extra barrel, in Gun List. ”I called about the rifle, the owner sent me some photos and other information. I sent him a cheque. He sent me the rifle and extra barrel. Before the gun arrived, I was researching loading data. I wanted to be sure and get the best performance from the gun.”

As an experienced reloader, Doc turned to the standard reloading sources, but much of what he would be able to do would depend on how the gun was first regulated. With the gun in hand, he learned it had been regulated for 55 grains of cordite with a 400-grain bullet. Armed with that information, Doc’s research on loading for the .450/400 Nitro Express led him to Double Gun Journal magazine and an article on converting cordite loads to modern powders.

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African Hunter Vol.5 No.6 December 1999
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