Apparently the most popular blog I’ve written, of about five hundred, is one of the oldest: The .450 Marlin vs the .45-70. Why that is still so, I don’t have many clues except these two: 1) The 450 Marlin is a pretender for the crown worn by the .45-70 since 1972 at least, and 2) It claims some advantages that the old, worn out .45-70 only wishes it had – that is according to its promoters. But Marlin doesn’t offer the .450 anymore, and at my last count the .45-70 was outselling it 10 to 1. At least that’s so in this part of Canada. I’ll not debate that here again; you will find it somewhere in my meanderings after the 450 Marlin had been around for at least a half-dozen years. But I mention it to prepare you for another contest: the current 6.5 craze vs 7mm cartridges. One is .264 caliber and the other .284 caliber.
It seems we like to quibble over minutiae. What possible difference could 1/50th of an inch diameter (or.500 mm) make in bullet holes through the heart or lungs of an animal? Just from the average hunter’s perspective, it would be nearly impossible to discern which would be the .264″ or .284″ if they were approximately equal in weight and shape, and were laid side by side. For example: Without prior knowledge, if you were handed a single 140gr Nosler Partition, and asked if it were a .264 or a .284, would you know with certainty? You’d have a 50% chance of being correct in guessing, but would you be 100% sure? I wouldn’t, unless I was very familiar with the two from handloading dozens of each! I don’t believe any game animal could detect any distinction if hit correctly, and at the approximate same impact velocity between a 140gr NP in 6.5 mm(.264″) or a 140gr NP in .284″.
< Who would be able to tell what caliber bullets these are without some reference point? A clue? 4 calibers are represented, and I purposely presented them as they are, without neatness or cleaning, so as to make it a bit more challenging. Oh! So you want another clue? Three are in .308 caliber… but which three? If you think you know, there are yet another 3 calibers to be identified!
So why then all this hoopla over the rediscovery of 6.5 cartridges, the Creedmoor in particular? May I suggest some likely reasons?
Firstly: We get bored with what we have and know. We must try something new to us or different than the usual.
Secondly: Covetousness or jealousy! We love to have what someone else has lest we’d be missing out on something… and it always looks better in someone else’s hand. “If they can have that, so can I, they are no more deserving than I am! So then, I can declare ownership of one of those too!”
“That new cartridge or rifle will make me happier than I am now… I don’t want to miss out on anything that SEEMS to make others happy!” And that’s just what promoters, salesmen and panderers count on! You’r a sitting duck… And so am I until, from experience and conscience, I know that ultimately “things” can’t satisfy the deepest longings of “the heart” that was made for God! And that’s not to condemn owning many things, or nice things — I’m speaking to motive. There are proper motives for owning nice clothes, a good home, good vehicles or several rifles, but covetousness or jealousy should not be among them!
But if I did choose one over the other, which would be my preference?
I favor 7mm as it does have some advantage over a 6.5 (assuming a common cartridge – not a magnum) and is fully the equal of a .270 Winchester for larger game –that being a 7-08 Remington for which I already have reloading dies, and I have a spare scope. A Savage in 7-08 would more than suffice, and would fit within most budgets.
I’d give it one good, accurate load of a 160gr Partition or AccuBond at 2800 fps and call it a day – never looking back! That would fly fast and flat to 400 yards. Recoil would be a mere 17 – 18 ft-lbs.
Yet the 250gr Hornady MonoFlex in .458″ at 2600 fps is very tempting for any thing that could bite with big teeth and rip with nasty claws, within most practical ranges of up to 250 yards with a relatively modest recoil around 23 ft-lbs. Think I’ll go with that, saving a bundle, and be content with what I can have from my #1 Ruger in .458 Win! Hummm… there ya go, the .458 Win, wins again! I don’t need more or less of anything for contentment!
So I ordered a box of 250gr Monoflex in .458-caliber from my longtime supplier and picked them up a few days later. That’s a Hornady product and available in this area. Made for either the 450 Marlin or .45-70 in lever actions, it appears perfect for anything to a good size elk. The box cover says: “Monolithic copper alloy won’t separate, and retains 95% of its weight”, and continues: “Patented Flex Tip design is safe to use in tubular magazines”. And finally: “Ultra tough medium and big game choice” – nice promotions. The reality of that is, of course, verified in testing for accuracy and in hunting results.
< My “all-around” rifle “loaded for bear”. Those are 405gr Remingtons at 2100 fps. Pic taken Oct 13/21.
Come to think of it… that 250gr MonoFlex load could be “big bear medicine” too, or for those wild hogs to a couple hundred yards at least!
Let’s see now: I tested two of the loads I put together of the 250gr MonoFlex on Wednesday, 10- 27-21. I’d actually loaded four groups of three each: 1) 69 grains of H4198; 2) 73 grains of H322; 3) 75 grains of H322; and 65 grains of AA5744 (Thanks to Dr Ron Berry for suggesting that load.) Because Wednesday was the first dry day of the week, I decided to go despite knowing the range would be extra busy. I usually go on Mondays or Tuesdays. And the weekend is nearly hopeless in finding a free table until you wait for someone to leave! So I go early anyway to set up Chrony, targets and rifle. But on Wednesday I would have shooters at tables on each side of me and every time one of them squeezed off a shot my Chrony would register “ERROR”! However, I knew most of the guys, who were younger than I, but not young! So, they went into the club house for coffee and chat while I finished my shooting. But to save face, I didn’t shoot all four loads, but two that I was most interested in – and that went very well!
In the pic above, I mentioned the “bear load” at 2100 fps. I knew all of the 250gr MonoFlex loads were much faster and would shoot over the target (at 50 yards) if I aimed dead center, so the first shot of the 250 MonoFlex was from the first load of 69 grains of H4198 aimed at the bottom of the target exactly below center, and it hit exactly 10″ above POA at 2″ above dead center on the target! I almost shouted “Praise the LORD!”, but I did under my breath! That’s the hole in the target below at 2″ above center. I then adjusted the reticle to dead center and fired the remaining 2 of the 69 gr H4198 load into 0.57″ at about +1″. Perfect! That load recorded a corrected to muzzle of 2709 fps/ 4073 ft-lbs, and I could load up a bunch and go hunting with that!
But wait! I fired another load (“Riflecrank” Ron’s load – 24hr campfire/ ” The great 458 Winchester Magnum…”) using 65 grains of AA5744, without any scope adjustments, (Nikon 2 – 7 x 32mm) set at 4.75X, and voila!
< The pic says it all! 3 into 0.45″ (measured center to center). At a corrected to MV of 2610 fps/ 3781 ft-lbs. This will be my hunting load with the 250gr MonoFlex for the rest of the fall season! In fact to the end of 2021. I’ll load up another 10 or so for bear, deer or wolf.
Here’s the data on that load:
BC = .175
SD = .170
MV = 2610 fps/ 3781 ft-lbs. Recoil = 23 ft-lbs from my .458 Win Mag rifle.
Environment: +1200 ft; 42*F/ +5*C; RH @ 58%
Zero @ 150 yards
50 = 2363 fps/ 3099 ft-lbs/ +0.68″
100= 2130 fps/ 2519 ft-lbs/ +1.28″
150= 1911 fps/ 2027 ft-lbs/ +0.01″
200= 1707 fps/ 1618 ft-lbs/ -3.65″
250= 1521 fps/ 1284 ft-lbs/ -10.3″ (adequate for up to an approximate 800 lb soft-skinned animal with a hit to the vitals)
Hornady claims this 250gr will expand down to 1400 fps, so we’re good to 275 yds for critters that might bite! So, it looks like my .458 could qualify as a varmint rifle after all!
It could be pushed out the muzzle of the 24″ barrel at 3000 fps/5000 ft-lbs, but I’ll use ’em for the critters mentioned so no need for anything like 3000 fps…. but just maybe… I might give that a try anyway as “a scientific research” project!
MV @ 3000 fps/4995 ft-lbs/ Recoil = 36 ft-lbs from my rifle at 10.5 lbs ready with Mag-na-ports.
*All matters considered, the 250gr at 2610 fps is the better load for my purpose in a light bullet load for smaller game to 250 yards or so. The same MV ballistics could be attained from a typical .35 Whelen, but a 250gr in .358″ is longer and thinner, therefore with a much higher BC that translates to longer effective ranges – with significantly greater recoil! There’s no pretence here in trying to make a .458 WM 250gr load into a .35 Whelen but, rather, to show its utility for most game that I hunt at practical ranges than thought “normal” for a Big Bore .458 WM.
In a discussion of this on the 24hr campfire forum, one poster said he uses the 250gr MonoFlex at 2000 fps from his 22″ M70 in .458 WM for deer in the Northeast! “Devastating” of deer was how he described that experience.
<This is the 250gr Hornady MonoFlex to the left of a 350gr Speer loaded for the #1 Ruger in .458 Win.
In terms of Hornady’s manual for that bullet, recoil would be about 29 ft-lbs from an 1895 Marlin load at 2500 fps (and as mentioned, the .458 Win Mag load at 2610 fps is 23 ft-lbs recoil in my #1 Ruger) and 31 ft-lbs for the 250gr Barnes’ load at 2609 fps for the 250gr TSX FN from an 1895 Marlin in .45-70.
The real point of this is, again, to show the .458 Win Mag’s adaptability. It can quite easily be handloaded to match ballistics of a BP front loader, a Marlin in .45-70, or even do most of the work of a 6.5 Creedmoor or 7-08 Rem. But the 250gr MonoFlex load in the Ruger would be relatively slow in recoil – like a push of 13 fps, about identical to the 6.5 and 7mm.
At this point I’d also like to acknowledge a longtime friend: Dan Schindler of Paragon School of Shooting. We’ve corresponded over the years since I’ve been a blog writer. Some of that correspondence has been intimate, some casual, and some instructional both ways. Over a decade ago, Dan asked my opinion on a .458 Win Mag load he intended to use on a black bear hunt in Alaska. I told him I didn’t think a 265gr Cutting Edge bullet was the best choice when heavier bullets were available and, in my opinion, would do a better job. With that 265gr CE bullet leaving the muzzle of his .458 at little more than my load of the 250gr MonoFlex, he killed a good size black bear with one shot at 90 yards! I did the math, and congratulated him! He was right in his choice to minimise recoil and at the same time achieve his goal with plenty to spare from the “great” .458 Winchester Magnum.
I’m still learning – though being the father of a son who is a grandfather himself!
Of course, I understand that not everyone likes, or even wishes, to carry a rifle of two extra pounds. Yet, it’s quite extraordinary what those insignificant couple of pounds can do. With field experience of only one season of hunting in challenging conditions they can transform our habitual attitudes, physical balance and strength to that of well conditioned outdoors men! I’m not kidding!
In just three day trips to my hunting grounds on Crown Land in the Haliburton Highlands – in consideration of minimal activity due to the Covid crisis and four months of a debilitating arthritic attack over last winter – and in addition to recently spending time away with our family in New Brunswick, where I got a good workout with my son in tramping through prime deer country, I progressed from a somewhat weak and stumbling 85 year old to a strong, well balanced hunter like I was at 65! And I consciously chose to use my 10.5 lb Ruger No.1 in .458 Win for that transformation! My 9.3 x 62 is a mere 7.7 lbs and ready with handloads, but I took the heavier rifle. The terrain was a newly logged out area with debris, mud, rocks, branches, tree tops and steep climbs everywhere! That first trip was with some trepidation as to where to place my feet without stumbling… The last trip was given to toting the 10.5 lb rifle (ready to shoot) in my right hand, gripped just forward of the action for perfect balance with one in the chamber and two in a stock holder. I could swing that rifle with one hand wherever and whenever needed to miss entanglement with branches, ledges, etc. Not boasting, just facts! And I intend, by God’s grace, to keep at it til the end of hunting seasons.
< And what did I find here on that third trip? Yes! A fresh deer track about two inches right of the sling! It wasn’t there a few days prior.
A heavier, more powerful rifle will indeed confront a timorous nature – it can become a very good workout means that gets us off the easy and customary ways and onto alternative thinking that challenge routine methods as well as muscles.
Speaking of hunting seasons… our eldest son, during the last week of October – the first week of deer season – took this nice buck not far from their new residence on Deer Island, N.B., with whom his Mom and I vacationed during the last week of September. For perspective, he’s 6′ tall, plus boots. The bullet was a 220gr Speer, .358 caliber at ~2200 fps from a .356 Winchester. Range was 75 yards. The buck was in top shape, he said.
The .356 Winchester