< These six are (from L to R): 400gr Barnes Buster; 400gr Speer; 405gr Remington; 402gr A-Frame; 400gr Colorado Custom; and 400gr Hawk. I modified the 402gr A-Frame from a 450gr so I could use it in my 1895 Marlin. Four of them appear in the following photo.
< All of these were tested in a vise at the same pressure. They are, from left to right: 400gr Colorado Custom; 400gr Hawk; 350gr Speer; 400gr Speer; 405gr Remington; 465gr hardcast; 500gr semi-hardcast. All of those are .458-caliber. The two on the far right for comparison are a .338 250gr Speer GS and a 300gr .44 Speer for the .44 Rem Mag.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that the 400gr Speer has been flattened the most – far more than any other including the 300gr/.44 Speer. The 400gr Speer is the 2nd from left in the top pic. According to results from a consistent pressure applied by a vise, it’s estimated that the results from the .458-calibers simulate an impact velocity into soft media (simulating medium size, thin-skinned game) of less than 1700 fps.
In comparison with the pic above of the flattened 400gr Speer, see the following pic of the same bullet retrieved from a trophy black bear at about 1535 fps at impact. It encountered some bone (hence the shearing on one side) but was found in the opposite armpit when skinning. MV was 1865 fps from my 1895 Marlin.
The 400gr Speer obviously worked well enough in killing the bear at that impact velocity, but I wouldn’t push it faster than 1700 to 1900 fps MV in the pursuit of big game.
Below are four photos of .458″ bullets I’ve fired in my .45-70s and/or in .458 Win Mags.
Pics 1 & 2 are of a 600gr Barnes Original on the left to a 300gr Hornady on the right.
Pic 3 shows 300gr TSX’s loaded for my Ruger #1 in .45-70 LT at 2650 fps. That was my favorite load for that rifle.
Pic 4 is identified below.
< On the left is a 400gr Barnes Original SP, and on the right is a 450gr Barnes X-Bullet. One soft for deer, etc, and the other tough for moose or even Cape buffalo. The 400 grainers could make 2400 fps, and 2300 fps from the 450gr in my former Ruger #1 in .45-70 LT.
I know of no caliber (or cartridge for that matter) with such diversity of bullet weights and/or versatility.
< 2198 fps from a 500gr Hornady RN Interloc from my former Ruger #1 in .45-70 LT. Corrected to MV =2210/ 5422 ft-lbs. This was a max load from the 22″ barrel using H335. My 24″ Ruger #1 in .458 Win Mag makes about 100 fps more using seven grains more of H4895. Pressure? I don’t know for certain in either case, but the .45-70 LT showed less pressure on the Remington .45-70 cases than before the throat was lengthened and bullets seated 0.26″ further out of the case. Previously (before extending the throat) a 500gr Hornady load was lab tested using my former load of 60 grains of AA2015 at 2096 fps from a 24″ test barrel at 63,200 psi (average). After the throat was lengthened, I used 75 grains of H335 at a 3.19″ COL for the 500gr Hornady which gave the above results at less psi (according to the same Remington cases) than the former lab test of 63,200 psi. And their test was at 2.83″ COL that increased both psi and MV in their setup (Accurate) rather than 2.93″ that I was using prior to lengthening the throat. So there are several takeaways from all that: 1) The psi was less in my unmodified #1 Ruger than in their 24″ test barrel that constrained COL to 2.83″, and 2) After modifying the throat making it at least 0.30″ longer (perhaps more), My #1 Ruger in .45-70 LT could handle a COL of 3.19″ for both the Hornady 500gr and 450gr Swift, and somewhat more for the long 400 and 450 X-bullets. Because all bullets were seated to 0.25″, or slightly more, 75 -76 grains of H335 could be used for the above results which showed less stress on the Remington nickel-coated brass than prior to lengthening the throat. What gunsmith would have believed it? At the time, it was in fact a surprise to the head ballistician at Accurate, Bill Falen Jr. who called me with the results, and 63,200 psi was of no concern to him.
< 2305 fps from a 450gr Swift A-Frame from my former Ruger #1 in .45-70 LT. Corrected to MV = 2317 fps/ 5364 ft-lbs.
In general, however, if I had to, or wanted to choose one bullet weight (not just one bullet in that weight, however) for either the .45-70 or .458 Winchester Magnum it would be in 400 grains, give or take 5. Why? Just because nothing more is needed for anything with four legs, and nothing less is its equal given adequate construction in each.
I recently had agreed with a fellow shooter on the 24hr campfire forum, .458 Win Mag thread, that a 400gr flat-tip solid and a 400gr expanding monolithic bullet is all one really needs for a .45-70 or .458 Win Mag. Sadly, of the six that appear in the first photo at the top, only one qualifies as a solid flat-tip 400gr – that being the 400gr Barnes Buster. Four of the other five are either custom, unavailable or too soft. The 400gr Speer is too soft as an all-purpose 400gr expanding bullet, and it has a poor BC. So what most of us are wanting and hoping for is a 400gr TSX type bullet. I have a mere handful of the original 400gr X-Bullets from Barnes with a .457 BC. A 400gr TSX type cannot match those BC numbers. Hammer Bullets looks promising in 400 grains, but when will they ever be available, especially up here in Canada? In the meantime, I’ll use what I have on hand: the 400gr Busters and 405gr Remingtons. The Remingtons are a very decent bullet for soft-skinned game to moose size if impact on game is kept under 2000 fps (In the photo of those tested in a vise, compare the 405 Remington with the 400gr Speer on its left. That may help you understand why I’ve often written that the 405 Remington is much tougher than the 400gr Speer. Plus the fact that a 405 Rem went completely through a bear from left flank to just behind the right shoulder, dropping it on the spot). The Buster? Well, it will go through just about anything if my results in tough media can be transferred to game, which I think it can. With that flat point it will kill any big game with an impact of 1200 fps or more – pending bullet placement of course.
I’ve sold my 350gr Hornadys and 465gr hardcasts to a long-time friend who purchased one of my reloading journals on the .45-70s many moons ago. Still, I’ve kept the 350gr Speers as they are a proven bullet and I’ve several loaded in my .458 ammo box.
Those I would prefer to have around are more 300gr TSX’s, the 400gr Busters, a hoped for 400gr TSX type and the 480gr DGX.
But, truth be told, at this stage of matters, I have to be more sensitive to the recoil issue, and don’t really need a lot more testing or more bullets. I can do all my hunting activities with what I currently have: 350gr TSX’s, 405gr Remingtons, 400gr Busters, 450gr Swift A-Frames and 480gr DGX’s (I don’t think that bullet needs bonding for anything up to Cape Buffalo – it went completely through the media and never expanded, without bonding!). I also have some 450gr TSX’s that can fly from my Ruger #1 Tropical in .458 Win Mag at 2400 fps, but they’ve yet to be tested in media for expansion purposes. I think they’re a little too much for any hunting I’ll be doing from here on in. Yet, I entertain no doubts they’d be great on a Cape Buffalo!
Til the next…
“This I declare of the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him.” – Psalm 91: verse 2 (New Living Translation. A great Psalm for those who believe in a time of crisis.)