The pic of the bullets below was presented in P1 with identification of each along with a general description:
< A commentary on six of these, starting from the left, was also made in P1. They are a 175gr/ 7mm Nosler Partition, a 165gr/ .30-cal Nosler Partition, a 200gr/ .30-cal Nosler AccuBond, a 250gr/ 9.3mm Nosler AccuBond, and two 286gr Nosler Partitions – one with a damaged tip simulating recoil results in a magazine.
This time we begin with the seventh in line – a 286gr/ 9.3mm Hornady RP – and continue to the last, a 480gr Hornady DGX in .458″.
The 286gr/ 9.3mm Hornady RP: I finished off a bear with one of these that had been wounded by a young friend. In fact, these were the first bullets purchased and loaded for my new TIKKA T3 Lite in 9.3 x 62. After some minor initial work I settled on 58 grains of RL-15 for an MV of 2414 fps and sub-MOA. That became my hunting load for the bear hunt.
I’ve previously described that hunt in some detail, but it amounts to a young friend wounding a bear on his first shot at 130 yards and then wounding it again at 35 yards as the crippled bear ran toward us, rather than away, in its attempt to escape. I caught up, and it was finally killed going away with one shot to the short ribs that made exit taking out several vertebrae behind the neck. Bullet impact would have been more than 2300 fps, and not only did the bullet survive but it survived intact! That is, no pieces were left behind. It survived whole, probably retaining +90%. All from box no.1 were used up in developing a suitable load, and in practice and hunting. I count seventeen remaining of the fifty from box no.2, and I’d be more than happy to use them on big game.
As you can see from the pic, they have a “Recoil Proof” (RP) point that measures a mere 0.13″. They are not bonded, nor do they have a “partition” but they do have the Hornady INTERLOCK near the heel. From that “bear experience”, I’d feel confident in using them on moose or elk. And with a .400 BC they will fly flat enough for +90% of soft-skinned BG hunting when pushed out the muzzle between 2400 and 2600 fps. My current load is right at 2600 fps/ 4293 ft-lbs, and plenty accurate. That’s booted out the muzzle by 68 grains of RL-17, ignited by WLRM primers in Hornady cases at 3.37″ COL.
The 320gr Woodleigh Weldcore PP: This has a pure lead bonded core to a heavy guilding metal jacket (90% copper, 10% zinc). The lead point is “protected”. With a .457 BC it retains velocity and energy very well, but Woodleigh recommends a minimum impact velocity of 2000 fps for expansion and best performance. That means it should leave the muzzle around 2450 fps for adequate impact velocity around 250 yards. Starting at 2250 fps would mean a limit of about 150 yards for adequate expansion. I use an MV limit of 2460 fps/4300 ft-lbs That should be good enough for adequate expansion at 250 yards. And I’ve gone over 2500 fps without any signs of undue pressure but the accuracy is not what I want. The propellant is always RL-17. Having yet to shoot game with it, I’d have no concerns as to its positive effect on the largest of North American game as well as all soft-skinned African fauna. Typically, it shoots MOA from my rifle when COL doesn’t exceed 3.30″ and MV doesn’t surpass 2460 fps. At about 2425 it shoots sub-MOA, but I work for the best hunting load not the best target load. Based on Woodleigh’s recommendation of a 2000 fps impact limit for adequate expansion, it’s not really a long range bullet to begin with. Some others are much better for that purpose – the 286 Hornady and both the 250gr AB Nosler with a 493 BC and 286gr Partition with a .482 BC, as examples. And their recommended limit for expansion is 1800 fps. In my rifle, based on Nosler’s recommendation, either of those two would work well enough at 500 yards/ 457 metres for large game.
<Recorded at 15 ft from the muzzle of my 9.3 x 62 from the 320gr Woodleigh.
The 400gr Barnes X-Bullet: No longer in production, and not having been replaced by a 400gr TSX, it’s a moot point for the average .458-cal shooter. Nevertheless, I still have a few so will here discuss it with the motive of making Barnes feel guilty for abandoning their best .458-cal bullet in the cause of their bottom line! Their excuse was “We didn’t sell enough of those 400s”. Apparently, the saving of a few pennies matters more than the free promotions they received, and would get, from the likes of big name outfitters and writers such as Phil Shoemaker and other users on the .458 thread of the 24hour campfire forum! Instead, they’ve done a special run of a 400gr TSX for a proprietary outfit, ignoring pleas from individual users who would buy them by the thousands for handloading! Personally, I think they should hire a new financial manager, as the current one doesn’t seem aware of what .458 Win Mag users really want or need.
Excuse the rant, please! Back to the bullet in the photo: It had a great reputation on really big game, and part of that was due to an excellent BC of .457. I’ve pushed it to 2590 fps/ 5957 ft-lbs. If that BC is correct, that would mean 2744 ft-lbs at 500 yards! And at 1758 fps impact would suggest being adequate on BG up to about 2600 lbs… all else being right as in correctly placing the shot. Of course… 500 yards requires a steady hold, and in holding a 10 – 11 lb .458 steady when it’s booting you to the tune of 58 ft-lbs recoil (or in mine at 49 ft-lbs) requires fearlessness and physical strength… let’s not kid ourselves! So my practical advise would be to slow it down to around 2400 fps/ 5115 ft-lbs and limit range to about 300 yards. If I were to use it on a moose hunt next week, I’d limit MV to somewhere between 2350 and 2400 fps. Recoil would be very manageable at around 40 ft-lbs from my Ruger #1 in .458 WM with the Mag-na-ports.
< I could have used some of those 400gr X-Bullets on this trip to the far north of our province back in October, 2009. I was on a moose hunt with a friend 1000 miles/ 1600 kms from home. But I had about as many 400gr Xs as I have today in .458″ – I count eight in a lonely box every time I open it – no more, no less. So I wasn’t about to head that far NNW with five loaded cartridges — it would have taken two or three for sight-in. Yeah, I know that would have been enough, but you know how it is with us, we want more than ample. But still, they would have been better than the 350gr TSX’s I did take at 2700 fps. That would have been ample to 400 yards. But in returning home without a moose, I fired some of those 350s and they’d lost nearly 100 fps from the time I’d left till I returned. Why? Because the powder was RL-7 and the temperature had dropped by 10 – 12*C, about what it was in the far north. I immediately switched to H4198 with an increase of 50 fps to 2750. And that was maintained through several years to the present, whatever the season. And I did shoot a bear with that load from the same CZ 550 in .458 Win Mag the following year.
However, had I taken those 400gr X-Bullets on the 2009 moose hunt, at 2500 fps they would still have had plenty at 500 yards for expansion and about 2500 ft-lbs of energy. Let’s see, hmm… My “new” new formula makes that adequate for a REALLY BIG moose… but I only found tracks and scat – it doesn’t take much power to kill those!
The 450gr SWIFT A-Frame: This bullet has an excellent reputation from hunting large African fauna, such as Cape Buffalo. It has a bonded dual core separated by a wall of jacket material. Swift claims it will give some expansion down to 1650 fps impact. With a .325 BC and an MV of 2400 fps, that’s adequate for large soft-skinned game to around 375 yards/343 metres for expansion purposes in African temps of about 120*. For North America, in northern hemispheric conditions of the Fall, reduce the African limit by about 50 yards/45 metres.
A box of 50 was purchased at a sports store many years ago – at least a couple decades. And it seemed the price was astronomical at over $70 including tax… but I wanted to give them a try in my .45-70s, especially my first Ruger #1 in .45-70 (unmodified). But I also worked at reducing the weight to 440 grains for my 1895 Marlin by cutting of some of the nose. That worked quite well so I cut off more of the “nose”, down to about 400 grains, which worked better giving decent accuracy and good velocity. But the jacket was very heavy at that point, and getting nil expansion at around 1900 fps I abandoned that project. No record exists of ever firing any in my first Ruger No.1 in .45-70, but I did in my second (new) Ruger No.1 in .45-70 LT after the throat was lengthened by a very competent gunsmith. They were loaded over 75.5 graains of H335 at 3.2″ COL for +2300 fps.
Since then, I’ve fired a bunch in my Ruger #1 in .458 Winchester Magnum. I’m impressed with those results around 2400 fps. The propellant used was the same as in my former Ruger #1 in .45-70 LT, only more of it for about a 100 fps increase.
Due to the comparatively soft lead and jacket, I’d not hesitate to use it on any big game from about 2250 fps to “whatever”. But I think if I were to use it for my hunting conditions, it would leave the barrel around 2100 fps, and that would be adequate for expansion purposes to a little over 200 yards/ 190 metres. And I’ve yet to shoot big game beyond that. Energy at 200 yds is around 2750 ft-lbs and 1660 fps. That’s more than enough for a big bull moose and anything more or less. Recoil from my Ruger in .458 Win would be a “middle-of-the-road” very manageable 37 ft-lbs.
The 450 grain Barnes X and TSX: Since the 450gr X is no longer in production, and has been replaced by the 450gr TSX, I’ll focus on the latter while mentioning that the BC has changed rather dramatically from a high of .488 for the “X” down to a very modest .369 for the TSX! That’s due to a number of factors: a more honest evaluation and the fact of a larger cavity in the TSX as well as adding four grooves. But the various grooves (or cannelures) do provide alternate places for crimping making it possible to seat the bullet further out of the case allowing space for more propellant. That’s possible due to the long throat of all .458 Winchester Magnums. I don’t need to crimp loads for the single-shot Ruger #1, but I could for a possible more consistent start pressure. When that bullet is crimped into the bottom cannelure (groove), farthest from the nose, it allows a 3.68″ COL which is greater than the .458 Lott. If I don’t crimp in that cannelure, I can seat the bullet even longer to a COL of 3.75″ as in the pic below. The .458 Lott can’t begin to match that. The only constraint to COL in either the CZ550 or the Ruger #1 in .458 is bullet length. Regardless of bullet weight or length, all were seated (as in my Ruger #1 in .45-70 LT) in the CZ550 to 1/4″, and also now in my #1 Ruger in .458. Some bolt actions will not allow that without some modifications, but all do have the long throat unless they are custom made for a client who want’s a shorter throat, not knowing the benefits of the original Winchester (and SAAMI) design.
Barnes advertises expansion capabilities down to an impact of 1600 fps. If so, that means expansion (which is important for destruction of tissue and vital organs) to 400 yards/ 375 metres when started at 2400 fps. That’s enough for very large North American game of one and one-half tons (3000 lbs)! In African heat that range may be increased by about 50 yards/ 45 metres. Since no one is likely to shoot at large or dangerous game at 400 yards, the load could be tempered to around 2200 fps for less recoil and adequate effect to 300 yards/ 275 metres. In my rifle, recoil would be about 42 ft-lbs. If I were to use that bullet for hunting, that’s what I’d do, ~ 2200 fps.
The Hornady 480gr DGX: Though this bullet was made by Hornady for the historic 450 Nitro Express 3 1/4″, it works great in my Ruger #1 in .458. A box was originally bought for my Ruger #1 in .45-70 LT, and I tested that bullet in tough media in 2017. Eight bullets in .458″ were tested and the 480gr came through with flying colours! I was impressed to put it mildly! It went completely through the test media and left a .458″ impression on a granite ledge behind! To put that in perspective: A 500gr Speer GS with a duel core was defeated at 6 inches penetration and lost its front core, retaining 62% of initial weight. At approximately the same MV as the 500gr Speer, the 480gr DGX penetrated 15.5″ of very tough media, made exit, impacted a granite ledge behind leaving a clear .458″ imprint! And it was lost! Never found! Should I be impressed? I would use that bullet on ANYTHING, including whitetails to Cape buff! With it’s flat tip of 1/4″ it will kill any deer or bear even if it never expands. Eight remain of the box of fifty, and when or where they can be found for sale on this side of the border, another box or two will be on my shelf! If I could have only one bullet for my .458 Win Mag, this one could well suffice from 1300 fps to 2350 fps. My “best” load to date in MV was on June 11, 2019 at a corrected to muzzle of 2353 fps/ 5900 ft-lbs.
This chronograph result was at fifteen feet from the muzzle, but not of the 480gr DGX, which recorded 2338 fps (I didn’t take a pic of it but it was recorded in my journal). This was from a 400gr Barnes SP for illustration purposes.
Visual impressions? Though I never retrieved that 480 DGX, I was very impressed with the visual results!
That’s all for this time…