The .404 Jeffery is a hot button topic on the various Internet hunting/shooting forums of late. It dates to 1910 and was the product of the famed gun making firm of Jeffery. The intent was to duplicate the ballistics of the .450/400 NE in a bolt-action magazine rifle. Original ballistics were a 300-grain SP at 2600 fps and a Kynoch solid 400-grain at a nominal 2125 fps. The 300-grain was intended, of course, for thin-skinned plains game and the 400-gr solid for the thick-skinned DG. It was used successfully up into the ’70’s on DG, such as elephant, rhino and buff.
The nominal bore diameter is .423-inch, and has recently been reintroduced by CZ and even a few Ruger No.1’s. But, for some unknown reason to me, it’s no longer cataloged by Ruger. Perhaps there are just too many old/new cartridges that have been brought to market in the last few years for the economical downturn to sustain. Anyway, it makes great fodder/debate for those who have little else to do (seemingly) but dream of a “by-gone era”!
Yet, there’s no question that it will do whatever it has successfully accomplished in the first half of the 20th century in Africa. And in a strong action, with today’s powders and bullets, a couple hundred more fps can be safely added to its muscle by handloaders.
Hornady produces a DGS and DGX load (soft and a solid). You would need to phone for the ballistics as they are not yet published on their website. Those are 400-grainers, by the way. And, of course, you can also purchase the brass and bullets wherever Hornady’s products are sold (hopefully). Barnes makes a 400-grain TSX and Banded Solid. The thing with the Barnes TSX and Banded Solid is that they are very long and eat up a lot of powder space, so the potential MV will usually be less than if a lead core soft or solid is used. Norma of Sweden and Kynoch also manufacture ammo for it.
I notice, to this point, that there hasn’t been much traffic re the oddball stuff on this site, so I have to assume the interest isn’t out there (much anyway) for the likes of the .404 Jeffery or .450/400 NE, and others of their ilk. On the “forums”, some will debate/ discuss these kinds of cartridges ’till the cows come home, but, in the stark reality of things, few actually purchase new rifles that shoot ancient-obscure big-bore cartridges that were not born in “America”. Of course, the .45-70 is the sole exception to that, and that will be coming up shortly when we get into Heavy Big Bores. I fully expect much more interest and response when I suggest that the .45-70 qualifies to be included in the Heavy Big Bore section! That, without doubt, will prove to be an understatement!
To make things clear: I’m not negative of someone using an “obscure” cartridge and rifle, if that is their reasoned choice in the pursuit of DG. I think we have to give the benefit of the doubt, without being too critical or negative, if someone chooses a rifle and cartridge that is reasonable for the task at hand even though it may not stir our own passions.
That said, it is clear that there are certain rifles and cartridges that I would not choose (or will not) for all-around hunting in North America if bears and moose are included. And, I have personal preferences for those two challenging game animals under less than ideal conditions. My hunting career well surpasses one-half century and my decision to use Big Bores for most of my personal hunting is well reasoned… I think! But if I were hunting Africa for the first time where DG are involved, NO WAY would I use an obscure, borderline cartridge, or rifle, to prove a point, either to myself or others, that doesn’t in the least need proving!
So, for the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at Heavy Big Bores, .458″ to .475″ calibers. Most of my rifles live there!