Trisha Shetty (Editor)

.450 Black Powder Express

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Bullet diameter
.458 in (11.6 mm)

Place of origin
United Kingdom

Case type
Rimmed, straight

Neck diameter
.479 in (12.2 mm)

The .450 Black Powder Express also known as the .450 3¼-inch BPE was a popular black powder cartridge in the late 19th and early 20th century.



In 19th century Britain there were a large number of straight .450 cartridges developed of varying case lengths up to the 3¼-inch version. The .450 3¼-inch Black Powder Express was developed in the 1870s and quickly became a very popular black powder sporting cartridge, manufactured in the UK, France, Germany, Austria and Canada.

The cartridge was readily available in both BP and Nitro for Black versions well into the 20th century, and second hand rifles can still be obtained quite easily.

The cartridge has survived to the current day as the .450 Nitro for Black, the same cartridge loaded with mild loadings of modern smokeless powder, carefully balanced through trial to replicate the ballistics of the Black powder version.

Parent case

Around 1880 this cartridge was necked down to .405 inch to make the .450/400 Black Powder Express which in turn, when loaded with cordite, became the .450/400 Nitro Express which was further developed into the .400 Jeffery Nitro Express.

Nitro Express loadings

In 1898 John Rigby & Company loaded this cartridge with smokeless cordite to create the .450 Nitro Express, the first Nitro Express cartridge.


The .450 3¼-inch Black Powder Express was one of the most popular cartridges ever devised, it was widely used to shoot deer and other medium-sized game. Frederick Selous and John "Pondoro" Taylor both used this cartridge to shoot elephant, but this is considered a stunt.


.450 Black Powder Express Wikipedia