Since at least the late 1800s there has always been a faction in the world of making hunting rifles that has believed and advertised that lighter bullets, coupled with higher velocity, produce faster kills on game. I have studied this in passing over time, mostly running across an old advertisement or story in some of my readings of vintage material. Until the last couple weeks I had really never given it too much thought. But after I procured an interesting bullet mould it set me to thinking about the concept.
I believe it was Rigby who is credited with coining the term, naming his specially proofed, slow twist, high velocity (for the time) rifles after the Express Trains in London. These muzzleloaders used a short conical bullet with a larger than normal powder charge, and were advertised as hitting light a speeding locomotive and suitable for all manner of game.
The BPE cartridge rifles followed shortly after the self contained cartridge came into common use. And were followed by the Nitro Express offerings when cordite came on scene. All of the major British gunmakers were participating now, with Westley Richards among others, using all kinds of "trick bullets" to initiate expansion, and if most contemporary accounts are to be believed they generally expanded WAYYY too much.
Meanwhile across the pond here in the US, Winchester had at least two "Express" cartridges that I'm aware of. The 45-90 had an Expess loading, which contained a 300 grain bullet at elevated velocity, some of the old adds quoting the flattened trajectory are a little funny today when you plug the figures into a ballistics calculator to find that trajectory was improved by a couple of inches at best. They also had the 50-110 Express, with special sights regulated for the load. The 50s were also twisted for a 300gr bullet that was available as a HP, talk about low BC, aerodynamics of a heavy button from a watchcoat. I cannot imagine that penetration was very good either. Strangely the same case loaded with a heavier bullet at lower speeds never caught on, try finding a 50-100-450 chambered Model 1886, I believe that less than 500 were built even though it would seem that anyone should be able to see which was the better loading for large game. The heavier bullets were not suited to the Express rifles as the rifling twist was too slow.
A few years later we had the Savage Arms company pushing first the 22 Savage HiPower and later the 250-3000. Both were designed by ballistics genius Charles Newton, and both were cited as giving unbelievable results on all manner of game imaginable. They even ran an add claiming that the 22 HiPower was great medicine for Indian tigers of all things, I guess the odds of someone trying it and living to say they were wrong were slim.
About the same time as Savage was pushing their mega velocity cartridges, the English were back at it again. My favorites from this era were the BSA designed cartridges, if one reads the descriptions for them in Taylor's African Rifles and Cartridges it is plain to see that speed was the goal, at all costs to effectiveness on game. The 33BSA used a 130gr bullet of light construction if I remember right. Holland and Holland had some scorchers in their lineup during this time as well.
This whole whirlwind of research and rereading was prompted by my recent procurement of a rather odd bullet mold. It is an old Cramer two cavity for 45 caliber rifle bullets. One cavity drops the mundane and steadfast old Lyman designed 405gr RFP for the 45/70. The other cavity, the one that caught my interest, drops a hollowpoint. I had initially thought it was the Gould 330Gr HP, designed for deer hunting and a mold I've always wanted to try. But after casting a few I thought the cavity looked awful deep so I weighed one, imagine my surprise when instead of 330ish it tipped the beam at 248 grains! I had to rezero the scale and weigh some Sierras to make sure it wasn't broken. And then a lightbulb flashed, I had a mold for an Express bullet, one I've never heard of or found mentioned in text, but the concept is certainly the same or so it seems to me.
I know the incredibly light for caliber plus high speed thing never really took hold, even the Weatherby cartridges use normal weight bullets most of the time. But this is something that intrigues me and think I may try to use one of the bullets from my mold for a blackbear this spring. I just thought the forum needed a new topic that was a little less serious, so come on fellas tell me I can't possibly kill a bear with such a light bullet with a low sectional density.