In a world that takes place during the Victorian era (1837-1901), how effective would period-accurate firearms be against something similar to a dinosaur? As a brief aside, I will accept weaponry from other parts of the world, not just Britain, but that is the time period I'm looking for.

Additionally, there are multiple types of dinosaurs, so for further specificity, let's say that I'm pitting Victorian era firearms against (in separate scenarios) a Tyrannosaurus rex, a pack of velociraptors, and/or an angry ankylosaurus.


  • Could Victorian firearms deal lethal damage to one of the above dinosaurs?
  • Would these weapons be the most effective way to kill said dinosaurs?
  • If there is no good solution to killing a dinosaur with Victorian firearms, what would it take (still within the capabilities of the time period) to kill a dinosaur?
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    $\begingroup$ What makes you think that an elephant gun wouldn't be effective against an animal the size of a turkey? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Mar 18, 2020 at 2:36
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    $\begingroup$ Similar worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/66488/… $\endgroup$
    – John
    Mar 18, 2020 at 3:07
  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean any Victorian era weapons in particular? Bolt-action rifles, Maxim machine guns, 12-inch naval guns? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Mar 18, 2020 at 3:09
  • $\begingroup$ Also similar worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/134962/… - the characteristics of some Victorian firearms meet the requirements in answers. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2020 at 3:26
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    $\begingroup$ are this also include cannon too ? considering how australian aborigin manage to beat giant komodo dragon to extinction only using fire and stick, outside of prehistoric human hunting wholly mammoth or elephant in general, i dont see why not, it just depend on how you applied it like formation,strategy/tactic,trap etc. or you will face failure like australian during great emu war despite using machine gun. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Mar 18, 2020 at 8:03

3 Answers 3


In general, dinos will be no problem for Victorian weaponry, although there will need to be two different weapons used.

Against large beasts, such as T. Rex and ankylosauri, the .450 Nitro Express should do the job, although bullet placement needs to be accurate. The Nitro Express was first produced in 1898, so it falls within the guidelines you've given. It fires a one-ounce jacketed bullet at 2150 fps. Here is a test of a .470 Nitro Express which is very close (slightly larger bullet, slightly lower velocity). Test medium is saturated wet newspaper. Penetration was about 40 inches. As such, unless a T. Rex is more than about 7 feet wide, a side shot is pretty much guaranteed to penetrate to the midline of the torso.

Ankylosauri are a slightly different problem since they are armored, but I'd guess that the jacketed bullets should handle this all right.

Velociraptors are a very different issue. While small, they presumably hunt in packs and are fast. Even a fairly modest caliber rifle should handle them adequately, but there weren't much in the way of magazine-fed, rapid-fire rifles at the time. Fortunately, machine guns such as the Maxim Gun had been developed decades earlier (the Maxim Gun was introduced to service in 1886. Granted, they were large and clumsy and not a good weapon for hauling around on a safari, but if they could be deployed then velociraptors should be handled adequately.

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    $\begingroup$ Pump action shotguns existed during the Victorian Era and they’d have no trouble killing a velociraptor. A mode 1898 Trench Gun would just sweep them $\endgroup$
    – user71781
    Mar 18, 2020 at 5:56
  • $\begingroup$ the great emu war flashback $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Mar 18, 2020 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ For velociraptor, you might be ahead to bring a few Winchester or Henry repeaters. The smaller critters will fall nicely to .45 Colt or .44-40, you have a long tube magazine (10+ shots, for the standard version) and the lever action allows fast repeat shots. Reloading is also pretty quick. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Mar 18, 2020 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ @LiJun: Ostriches are basically less motivated utahraptors... $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Mar 18, 2020 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs dont underestimate them, they are from the clever girl lineage afterall. look at the emu, the australian veteran soldier underestimate them and they face total defeat despite having better equipment, they never expect the emu use gorilla warfare, even manage to escape their entrapment, while sabotage their vehicle, and use their satanic honking scream as psychological warfare, with only 12 casualty. who know what ostrich can do if you start a war with them. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Mar 18, 2020 at 16:22

I see no reason that Victorian Era firearms would not be adequate to the task. By the mid 1800's we already had all sorts of brass cased self contained cartridges. At that point, it becomes a matter for just a little bit of experimentation for what will work.

If you were talking about Velociraptors from Jurrasic Park (Deinonychus, probably) as in roughly human sized Therapod, Most modern hunting rounds would easily work, as would Shotguns. I would recommend a shotgun and some really solid tactics to deal with them. In fact, the tactics are going to be more important than the weapon, because you are talking about pack hunters.

For the really Big Buggers, You may want to consider a combination of a few things. What you need is the ability to penetrate a long way into a large body. A simple ball of lead may not be enough, especially with the anklyosaur. For this, you might want to consider a Flechette type round fired through a really large bore rifle (with a Sabot). This Sabot technique was known at least as far back as the 1830's. It appears to have been used to fire sub-caliber (smaller than the bore of the gun) balls. It had the side effect of a much longer range from the same gun. So drop an big arrow shaped projectile in a casing to keep it steady through the barrel and to keep the expanding gasses behind it and you get a very high velocity impacting with a very small point and, most importantly, not deforming much. This will give you MUCH better penetration.

It would also be an excellent idea to develop the dino equivalent of a bear trap to help out with these. It would probably be a good idea to slow them down enough for you to get the shot in the first place. Not very sporting, I admit. Given that a hippo is terrifying enough, now add armor and a freaking war mace. That's something like your Anklyosaur, so anything goes.

  • $\begingroup$ A sabot-driven flechette has fabulous penetration, but not a great deal of damage. Flechettes stabilize in dense mediums (like flesh) just as well as they do in air, and their small cross-section makes them less than ideal when you need stopping power. $\endgroup$ Apr 10, 2020 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ @WhatRoughBeast Perhaps give the flechettes a barbed head with a slight angle to each fin to create a spiral and tearing action as it digs through? Humans are usually pretty inventive when it comes to causing damage. $\endgroup$
    – Paul TIKI
    Apr 13, 2020 at 13:45

Line up a bunch of victorian's, give each a small spoon and then let them go for it. I imagine you'll lose a few victorian's but I'm sure they'll kill their dino! People have brains - intelligence is a great X-factor.

  • $\begingroup$ A wooden spoon. An iron one would be too easy :-) $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2021 at 13:40

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