Gunco Forums banner

1 - 2 of 2 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,341 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Stump the C&R Guys - What guns were used to kill "The Ghost and the Darkness?"



Val Kilmer played Colonel John Patterson in the movie, "The Ghost and the Darkness." What firearms did the character he played, John Patterson, use in real life?

Stump the C&R guys! What firearms were used to kill the Lions of Tsavo?

This is a tough one. I've read Patterson's book and have my own conclusions.

Anyone who saw the movie, ?The Ghost and the Darkness,? starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas, is familiar with the story. Two lions attacked and killed over 130 people during a three month period during 1898-99, halting construction of a bridge over Tsavo River in British Uganda. Ironically, the word "Tsavo" means "place of slaughter" in Swahili. Michael Douglas played a fictional character, but Kilmer played John Patterson, the Irish Engineer who actually hunted down and killed both maneaters which seemed to kill for sport. You can read Colonel Patterson?s account at the following link ? THE MAN-EATERS OF TSAVO AND Other East African Adventures. I downloaded the novel (it's free) and did a word search to determine what firearms he used. Unfortunately Patterson was not specific. He mentioned his .303 "magazine rifle," a 12 bore shot gun, and a "Martini" rifle. He also mentioned a "heavy rifle," and once borrowed a double barreled rifle, which I believe was an Express Rifle. I was astounded to read that one of his colleagues called his .303 magazine rifle a "popgun!"


This is the first man-eater killed by Patterson

By the way, the movie shows Patterson firing a pistol, but there is no account of that in his book. So, can you identify any of the rifles used to kill The Ghost and the Darkness?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,341 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Here is some help.

Yeah, this is a tough one.

I'm not sure we can get precisely the right answers. Here is are descriptions of firearms he used to kill the two lions:

(1) A borrowed double barrel rifle, which wounded Ghost. This is the rifle which "misfired" in the movie and in real life. I believe it to be an Express Rifle. I'm not sure of the make or model, but I have suspicions about what round it fired, probably .450 rounds, both hard (steel) and soft (lead). This may have been a 12g rifle?

(2) A .303 magazine rifle. He may have used this one to finish off Ghost with "blaze" of gunfire. He also shot Darkness with this gun, at least three times. Was this an Enfield, or could it have been a British Martini Henry rifle bored for .303 rounds, which were very popular at the time? One possibility is it was a Lee Speed rifle.[/i] The .303 was seen as an improvement over the larger Martini .577/450. What probably attracted Patterson to the ".303 rifle" was that its cartridges were loaded with smokless powder, had jacketed bullets, flat trajectory and excellent penetration. Older rifles, such as the Martini-Henrys, Sniders and 11.2mm Mausers packed an impressive clout on small and medium game but, they had strong recoil, a rainbow-like trajectory, and were too soft to give the desired penetration on big-game. See, African Hunter.

(3) A Martini Carbine. If you look into this rifle, you will find that there were .303 Martini rifles, but none had magazines. I suspect this rifle fired the Martini .577/450, one big honkin' bottle necked round! Probably, this was the "heavy rifle" Patterson mentioned. My bet is it was a British Martini-Henry Carbine. It was "the universal rifle" in eastern Africa, until about 1895, where it was temporarily replaced by the .303s. However, by 1900, the Martini-Henry again reclaimed prominence in hunting, because of the "terminal clout" of its rounds. It remained prominent until the 9.3X62 Mauser was introduced circa 1905.

(4) 12 bore shot gun. Patterson shot Darkness at least once with this weapon, ten days before he killed it with 3 shots from his .303, and another three from his heavy rifle. I'm not sure what this weapon fired, or what it was. One Lion Hunter reported that Patterson tried both a 12g shotgun loaded with "slugs" and a 12g rifle loaded with "solids." The slugs penetrated "just under the skin." His first shot with a 12g rifle was a "solid" which went in under the lion's eye and lodged in the his back leg. The second shot, a "soft," failed to penetrate the muscles of the chest. See, African Hunter.
 
1 - 2 of 2 Posts
Top