"For my own use I am quite contented with one '577, a '400, and a No. 12 Paradox"
- Sir Samuel White Baker, "ADVENTURE WITH A TIGER"
We are often asked about the effectiveness of Paradox bullets on various types of game. In days past, Paradox guns were used for virtually every big game animal in Africa and Asia. But only the 10 bore and 8 bore Paradox guns were considered proper for the biggest of the big five, the "thick skinned" game. Paradox guns do not shoot cartridges loaded with steel or solid brass bullets. Standard Paradox bullets are lead and tend to flatten out when they hit something extremely hard like buffalo boss or an elephant skull. Therefore, it is recommended that 12 bore Paradox cartridges be used for "thin skinned" game. Fortunately, that leaves 99% of the world's big game animals as fair targets for a 12 bore Paradox.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Paradox guns were considered by some to be the weapon of choice for tiger, leopard, and lion. The animals haven't changed and a Paradox would surely do just as well on them today. And, since interest in Paradox guns has increased, shooters are again using their 12 bore guns to slay an assortment of African plains game and to shoot deer and wild boar in North America and Europe.
Shooters like to compare cartridges in terms of velocity and energy. But looking at charts of feet-per-second velocity and foot-pounds energy doesn't tell us much about the performance of Paradox bullets on game. Paradox bullets don't travel very fast and don't deliver as many foot-pounds of energy as higher velocity cartridges. But what the Paradox bullet lacks in speed it more than makes up for in mass and momentum. In fact it seems that once Paradox bullets get moving they just don't want to stop. Paradox bullets usually pass through big game animals and leave a large exit wound. Animals that don't immediately succumb usually leave a profuse and easily identifiable blood trail.
Shooters also inquire about the maximum effective range of the Paradox gun. We consider the practical range of any big bore double gun, Paradox included, is a little over 100 yards. Within that distance, the trajectory of the 740 grain Paradox bullet is well accounted for by using just two folding sight leaves, 50 yards and 100 yards. Beyond 125 yards a steep arching trajectory makes it difficult to properly engage a target with a Paradox gun, especially when the exact distance to the target must be estimated.
The chart above mentions a calculated "point blank range" for a 7.8 inch "vital zone". We arbitrarily chose that "vital zone" because it matches the diameter of the target we shoot at our facility. Sierra's bullets tables, for example, provide values for a 10 inch "vital zone" but we think 7.8 inches is a more reasonable standard for deer, bear, and elk.
There are very few shooters who can shoot a tight group beyond 100 yards using standard open sights regardless of the caliber or the rifle they are using. So, compared the the open sighted rifle, the open sighted Paradox gun is at no disadvantage within that range.
Some people suggest the use of a telescopic sight on the Paradox gun but, aside from getting a better view of the target, little would be gained. For those times when the hunter anticipates a need to shoot animals across wide canyons, or if he cannot get close enough to make out game without binoculars, or if he just prides himself on making long shots, then we suggest he will do better carrying his scoped rifle instead of his Paradox gun.
For a complete and in depth study of Paradox guns we recommend the book PARADOX - The Story of Col. G. V. Fosbery, Holland & Holland, and the Paradox