I have three main interests in life: cars, food and shooting. I’ve been lucky enough to have some great experiences, many of them through this magazine but in each case there is one seemingly distant item on my wish list which, as much as I would love it, I will probably never get to do. As a keen hunter and someone with a lifelong passion for rifles, one of those dreams is the .700 Nitro Express Holland & Holland double rifle.

Famous amongst those in the know, only twelve of these guns have been produced since its inception twenty years ago. Well, ten days ago, it happened; I held the gun in my hands and prepared to pull the trigger. Back in 1903, a cartridge was developed which, for almost 100 years, stood at the top of the pile for English double rifles makers; the .600 Nitro Express was the last line of defence for the well-to-do Great White Hunter against a charging buffalo or elephant. But in the 1980s, Holland & Holland sold a rifle to a customer, along with a guarantee to him that his would be the last .600 ever made.

A few years later, in 1988, a wealthy American gun collector, called William Feldstein, got in touch with Holland & Holland to see if he too could buy a .600 rifle. When the answer came back as a No, there was only one option; make something bigger. And so, the .700 Nitro Express was born.

The .700 Nitro Express Holland & Holland rifle is all about the numbers. It costs almost £150,000 for the gun and 75 per bullet, each of which leaves the barrel at 2,000 feet per second, with 8,900 foot pounds of energy. Compare this to the standard rounds fired by our army which produce just over 1,000 foot pounds and you can see why I got so excited.