Original British 1889 Cased Double Barrel Holland & Holland Dominion .500 Express Big Game Rifle - Serial 12339

Item Description

Original item: One-of-a-kind. Fully cased in a fabulous wood case this is the ultimate Victorian Gentleman's BIG GAME RIFLE! .500 Black Powder Express was a series of Black powder cartridges of varying lengths which emerged in the 1860s. The .500 BPE was considered an ideal cartridge for medium to large sized game and can still be used for such. It was a popular cartridge in India, considered a good general purpose rifle cartridge popular for hunting tigers. Jim Corbett was a user of a .500 BPE rifle prior to switching to a .400 Jeffery Nitro Express double rifle, shooting cordite Nitro for Black loadings this rifle was used to dispatch the first man-eater he shot, the Champawat Tiger.

This particular big game rifle was manufactured by HOLLAND & HOLLAND, as marked on both of the rifle’s side plates. They were one of London's very best known makers of the period and are still in business today. The wood case still retains its original paper HOLLAND & HOLLAND trade label on the inside, which gives some nice information on the company.

In 1889 this was considered the premium caliber, .500 BLACK POWDER EXPRESS, a massive cartridge capable of bringing down any Elephant, Lion, Rhino or Tiger. This Double Rifle has 26" barrels with double folding sights of 200 and 250 yards. Like almost all top break shotguns and rifles, the gun breaks down into three pieces for storage in the case. To retain the clean external lines and appearance, all of the markings are inside he barrel joint and under the fore stock.

This rifle bears serial number 12339 on both sides of the receiver inside the joint, forestock, and on both of the barrels.  Each barrel also is marked 500EX, as well as the London Proofhouse CROWN / V viewed proof and the CROWN / CP black powder proof for barrels. There is also an additional marking of H1398 on the barrels, which is most likely an assembly number. The receiver side is also marked with CROWN / V viewed marks. Top lever action opening, both bores are mostly bright and shiny with crisp lands and grooves, showing very little use.

Action wise, the rifle is fully functional. The extractor works when the top is broken, and both sides dry fire correctly. In true high-end fashion, the rifle has a very nice slide safety, which is automatically engaged whenever the action is broken and the chambers opened. A nice gilt "SAFE" marking is under the sliding safety, to let the owner know that the rifle is safe to handle.

The rifle is beautifully housed in the original case, which measures 32 ½” x 10 ½” x 3”, and is lined with green fabric. Inside are many compartments with accessories, including a Greenfield Improved bullet mold, screw diver, and pull through bore brushes. Also, there are two original 5 round Kynoch boxes each full of live rounds, ten rounds in total. These cases utilized NITRO propellant, but are designed for rifles that take the 3 ¼” .500 Black Powder Express, such as this rifle. There is even a pair of original snap caps included.

This is a MAGNIFICENT set comes complete with a printed email from the makers in London regarding this rifle and when it was manufactured. Offered in wonderful condition.


Year of Manufacture: 1889
Caliber: .500 Black Powder Express double Barrel
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 28 Inches
Overall Length: 43 Inches

Action type: Internal Hammer
Feed System: Top Break Single Shot (per barrel)

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