Please note that I’ve slightly changed the title from “How that might be done” to “How that can be done”. “Can” is more explicit whereas “might” is more suggestive.
As an example of “can” let’s go along with noted author, rancher and gun guru, Brian Pearce who claimed in an article that the .44 Rem Mag in a rifle was as effective on elk (not being specific as to sex or size — but assuming he meant same sex and size) at 150 yards as a .30-06 (again assuming he meant appropriate loads in each). Since Brian has been both a student and user of multiple firearms (both rifles and pistols) for testing and hunting purposes, I have confidence he wasn’t blowing “hot air”. If any writer can be trusted in their statements and analysis of firearms in the field, I’d personally put Brian Pearce near the top of that list.
His statement was not a suggestion, but a statement of fact, a bold declaration based not on theory but experience. So what I want to do here is test that by my formula and based on my knowledge of both cartridges having handloaded each.
< In scouting with my Ruger 96/44, I came across these fresh tracks in wet mud!
For the .30-06 I’ll choose a standard profile 180gr NP at 2750 fps with a BC of .474 which I’d consider a “normal” or average load for any elk. And for the .44 Remington Magnum I’ll go with what I have experienced from my former Ruger 96/44 lever action with an 18″ barrel. A 300gr Hornady XTP at 1650 fps with a BC rating of .245. (I’m aware of Hornady’s MV for the Ruger Carbine of 18″, but that was a semi-auto, not the lever action). I also attained a maximum of 1700 fps from both the 300gr Hornady and Speer 300gr but 1650 was more accurate. Though I considered the Speer a better choice for tough game, the Hornady has a better BC rating and I shot a couple of crows with that bullet giving better accuracy.
I think we all should be aware by now that the famed .30-06 Springfield is more than adequate for a mature bull elk of 700 – 800 lbs at up to 400 yards with a good hit from a good load. We’re not comparing a .44 Rem Mag with that but, rather, at 150 yards which could be somewhere close to average for a mature bull elk. Apart from Brian, how many elk rifle hunters would choose a .44 magnum? There’s little doubt that many American hunters have done so with a handgun in .44 mag… but in a rifle? At 150 yards? Well, it’s obvious to me that Brian has.
< My friend Roger’s elk from N. Alberta.
The point of these analyses and comparisons is to confirm that a large-bore rifle shooting a heavy bullet at modest velocity can be as effective within most realistic hunting ranges, or more so, than more modern high-velocity cartridges in use today for most common big-game hunting.
Without giving the data for the .30-06 load, which we’ve already assumed to be more than adequate for elk at 150 yards, what about Brian Pearce’s claim for the .44 Rem Mag? In reading the piece, the first thing I did was to test it by my formula… or maybe to test my formula by Brian’s claim.
Rifle: Ruger 96/44
Cartridge: 44 Rem Mag
Bullet: 300gr Hornady, .245 BC
MV = 1650 fps/ 1813 ft-lbs/ 61 TE/ -1.6″
50 yds = 1524 fps/ 1547 ft-lbs/ 52 TE/ +1.1″
100yds = 1408 fps/ 1321 ft-lbs/ 44.4 TE/ 0.0″
150yds = 1304 fps/ 1132 ft-lbs/ 38 TE/ -5.5″
I multiply TE (terminal effect) by the following values to get an estimate of animal size/weight: 12.5 for going away shots; 18.5 for quartering shots away or toward; 20 for heart-lung shots; and 25 for shoulder and CNS hits.
Kenitic Energy at Impact x Sectional Density x Cross-sectional-area in sq-in = TE (KEI x SD x CSA = TE)
Assuming a heart-lung shot on an elk at 150 yards, 38 TE x 20 = 760 lbs; a CNS/shoulder shot, 38 x 25 = 950 lbs.
I claim no magic for this as there are many variables, but it has been tested against many reports where adequate detail has been provided, and my own experiences as well as similar formulas – notably by the late John Wootters — and it therefore seems a reasonable concept in preparation for field work and analysis.
Based on these concepts, I’d have to agree with Brian Pearce’s claim that “a .44 Remington Magnum is as adequate for elk at 150 yards as a .30-06.”
The end result is kinetic energy modified by bullet cross-sectional-area and sectional density. John Wootters used classes of game and nominal bullet diameter. I use animal size and cross-sectional-area of bullet instead of bullet caliber.
In terms of momentum, a 300gr at 1500 fps is equal to a 150gr at 3000 fps. And a 500gr at 2000 is equivalent to a 250gr at 4000 fps. In the rush for kinetic energy figures (velocity squared), momentum (force= velocity x mass only) is regarded as irrelevant. However, in practice, it has been proven too many times that momentum is a vital factor that can’t be ignored, especially in big-bores with heavy bullets. Of course, bullet construction must match the desired effect whether in high velocity or low and anything between.
Let’s take two more rifle cartridges having different kinetic energies (KE) at impact at the same distance on a 2200 lb bison, and decide which of the two we’d choose for the job, and why. The two are: a Ruger #1 in .458 Win Mag firing a 475gr cast bullet (#2 Alloy) at 1623 fps. Range to the bison is 200 yards. SD = .322, and BC = . 477. Those numbers are from Lyman’s 48th Edition and 40.5 grains of 5744 at very low pressure. – page 296. The test rifle was like mine on the header.
The other choice is a typical .338 Win Mag with a 26″ barrel. Its ballistics are a 250gr NP at 2750 fps from the muzzle. SD = .313, and BC = .474.
We assume that accuracy is adequate for the task in each.
The .338 Winchester Magnum (based on the .458 Winchester Magnum necked down to .338-caliber.)
MV = 2750 fps/ 4197 ft-lbs/ -1.60″/ 118 TE
50 = 2656 fps/ 3917 ft-lbs/ +0.75″/ 110 TE
100= 2565 fps/ 3652 ft-lbs/ +1.85″/ 102 TE
150= 2476 fps/ 3402 ft-lbs/ +1.64″/ 95 TE
200= 2388 fps/ 3165 ft-lbs/ +/- 0.0″/ 89 TE (Estimated maximum weight = 2225 lbs – rounded to 2200 lbs)
The .458 Winchester Magnum
MV = 1623 fps/ 2778 ft-lbs/ -1.60″/ 148 TE
50 = 1557 fps/ 2556 ft-lbs/ +2.64″/ 136 TE
100= 1493 fps/ 2352 ft-lbs/ +3.27″/ 125 TE
150= 1433 fps/ 2165 ft-lbs/ +/- 0.0″/ 115 TE
200= 1375 fps/ 1994 ft-lbs/ -7.50″/ 106 TE (Estimated maximum weight = 2650 lbs – rounded to 2700 lbs)
** This is not an endorsement of that particular cast bullet, as its hardness and actual diameter are both critical to its accuracy and performance — and that depends on the knowledge and skill of the one who casts them, as well as the mould itself.
It is to show the potential of a BIG BORE, notably the .458 Win Mag, in using a relatively cheap, low-pressure, heavy cast-bullet load for large game at practical ranges. Of course, the same has been accomplished in generations past by the 1873 Springfield (.45-70) using BP.
The .338 Win Mag would be marginal for a 2200 lb bison at 200 yards from a single maximum load fired. Recoil from an 8.5 lb rifle = 40 ft-lbs. In a case of needing a second shot, that’s 40 ft-lbs recoil x 2 (or more).
The .458 Win Mag load would be more than adequate for a 2200 lb bison at 200 yards from a single very mild load fired. Recoil from a 10.5 lb rifle = 23 ft-lbs. With Mag-na-ports = 19.5 ft-lbs (Mine is Mag-na-ported) or about 1/2 the physical recoil of the 8.5 lb .338 Win Mag.
The pros and cons:
Cons: – The .458 is 2 lbs heavier but 6″ shorter. It’s a so-called “single-shot”, though multiple cartridges can rest in a buttstock holder making it a “repeater” of sorts.
Pros: – It’s obvious to aficionados that the .458’s potential ballistics are superior on both the high end and the low end. Try loading a .338 Win down to about 35,000 psi for a bison hunt at up to 200 yards and we’ll soon realize why Big Bores have the upper hand in versatility! That is ONE Big Bore in particular, being the .458 Winchester Magnum due to the great proliferation of ready made component bullets, and myriads of moulds to make your own.
Cartridge comparisons? That’s for losers to bet against the .458 Winchester Magnum! It’s versatility has yet to be fathomed. 250 grain projectiles to 600 grains — at MVs from 1000 fps to 3000 fps! What other nominal cartridge can boast that kind of performance for the dedicated handloader?
From my Ruger #1 in .458 Win I’ve attained approximately 3000 fps from the 300gr Barnes TSX, though I load it to about 2750 fps for hunting purposes. That load shoots into sub-moa. The Ruger has a 24″ barrel that about equals a 26″, .378 Weatherby firing a 300gr, but using only 2/3rds as much propellant. On the other end, a bullet that weighs twice the 300gr can attain 2100 fps. I’m quite sure of that from my former Ruger #1 in .45-70 LT with a 22″ barrel easily attaining 1900 fps from the 600gr Barnes Original without any appearances of undue stress on the rifle or cases.
< Yes, from this rifle the 600gr Barnes made 1900 fps.
Hey, I know that I’ll never get to use all that a .458 Win Mag can deliver other than in range testing, but that experience has had its own rewards in its uniqueness… sort of like the finding of a rare gem. To a gemologist that would be the experience of a lifetime. Again, similar to a unique piece of art to an artist. In either case, the joy is in the finding and possession of something rare and beautiful in their eyes, not just the potential monetary value. For myself, the personal discovery of the .458’s potential, without and before the findings of others that I was aware of, has been like an astro-scientist discovering secrets of the universe that hadn’t come to light previously! Especially is that so when so much denial and negativity falsely surrounded the history of the .458 Winchester Magnum so that lies were manufactured to justify the creation of “new” Big Bores such as the .416 Remington and .458 Lott. Not only so, but a resurrection of “old” Big Bores were flooding the market, such as the .404 Jeffrey and .416 Rigby that were said to be The Answer to the failure of the .458 Winchester Magnum. Talk about a rush by authors to deal a death blow to the .458 WIn, as well as digging holes to bury it! Ross Syfried, noted gun guru and author, predicted it’s demise as soon as the .416 Remington was announced! Not that there’s much wrong with the .416 Remington, which I’d prefer over the Rigby, but it isn’t a .458 Win Mag in versatility!
Then there are those spokesmen and authors who have done harm to the perception of the .458 WIN with faint praise, and in making excuses for it! If anyone NEEDS more than 5000 to 6000 ft-lbs of muzzle energy from a 300gr to 550gr/.458-caliber for any earthly creature, then they need to be excused!
.458 Winchester Magnum owners are now coming out of their closets, no longer needing to be embarrassed for owning one! Rather, they can hold their heads high knowing they have the finest of all BIG BORES!
Check out the 24hour campfire forums: Express Rifles and Big Bores Only/ The great .458 Winchester Magnum. Dr. Ron Berry (Riflecrank) is now the chief “scientist and engineer” in demonstrating the greatness of the .458 Winchester Magnum. And all that in full colour with a dash of Irish wit!