To date, we’ve had a short overview of the following big-bore cartridges, and the machinery that fires them, in comparison to my favorite Big Bore, the .458 Winchester Magnum: .404 Jeffery; .416 Rigby; .500 NE; .458 Lott; .416 Weatherby Magnum; .505 Gibbs; .460 Weatherby Magnum and, last week, the .470 NE.
There are two more to be considered in this series: the .500 Jeffery and the .577 Nitro Express 3″.
Before we get too deep into other details, keep in mind (from previous blogs) our system of scoring: There are 10 criteria with a value of 10 points each that makes a possible 100. Of course, no cartridge-rifle combo (based on our set of criteria) can achieve a perfect score. Yes, ballistics for particular purposes is important, but only one factor among ten. I’ve settled on a score of 60 as minimum for any rifle-cartridge combo to be included in my locker, or even on my wish list!
To this point, only one has achieved that number and, somewhat predictably, that turns out to be the .458 Win Mag (in my CZ 550) with a total score of 74. The reasons have been amply supplied in previous blogs.
Do I have a bias toward the .458 Winchester? Yes, of course… and the rationale has been given… that just didn’t happen without reason, or because one of my three uncles designated Bob Mitchell to receive his .458 upon his decease! Actually, all of my uncles have passed on (if not, that would make them fit for entry somewhere in Ripley’s at ages of 110 to about 115!), and only one was a hunter, and I doubt he was even aware of the .458 Win Mag! So, my reckoning is largely rooted in a love for the .45-70 to begin with, and then wanting one in a bolt action! The next step was then a logical choice! But my affection for Big Bores isn’t limited to .458″. I’ve a longtime attraction to .358″ and .375″, though they aren’t true Big Bores. That affinity might also include the 9.3’s (.366″), except I find little motive–so far–to select one over .358″ or .375″.
Having laid bare my soul on these matters, I could further speculate that one might simply choose a modern 12-gauge with rifled tube and accomplish the same things using saboted copper slugs of 400grs–but I won’t. These pages are about big-bore RIFLES… period!
OK, so let’s get to work on the .500 Jeffery:
There’s been a VERY long, and mostly boring, recent discussion on one of the forums about the .500 Jeffery. I’ll spare you that endurance test! It’s a big bottle-necked, rimless case designed for magnum Mauser bolt-actions. The bore diameter is .510″, so it shoots the same size and weight bullets as the .500 NE, only at nearly +200 fps. Those are, for the uninformed, .510″ bullets (soft or solid) of 570grs at approximately 2350 fps! (6989 ft-lbs). Or, a traditionally loaded 535gr solid at 2450 fps (7130 ft-lbs). Those ballistics are VERY impressive, to state the obvious in the least possible definition of it. But so is the “equal and opposite reaction” VERY impressive! And all of it from a 26-incher. And, my calculator tells me no lies! That’s 92 ft-lbs of “equal and opposite reaction” from an 11-pound firearm!
Time to tally up points for the Jeff:
ammo availability= 1
cost of ammo=1
handloading components available=2
cost of handloading components=2
cost of rifles and availability=1
handiness + recoil=2
retained value= 8
spectrum of usefulness=1 (due to very limited bullets & rifles)
demand for product=1
Perhaps it would be great for some PH’s who specialize in elephants, but for the rest of us who live in our more restricted “real worlds”, it would be another excess in hubris that typically ends in frustration and letdown. It’s somewhat akin to owning a 500 hp sport-coup and being limited to 120 kph/75 mph on a super highway. For the professional who makes his living driving fast cars in circles, or 2.5 mile road courses, he can use all that power, and more… but for the commuter who is restrained by the speed cops, or urban gridlock, it amounts to no end of “frustration and letdown”.
I like fast cars and big guns… But how fast and big is enough to not only satisfy but give pleasure in using them is the question that can only be answered by the individual concerned. For me, enough is enough! And the .458 Win Mag is “enough” when measured by any sane set of criteria.
If someone out there demands hubris (Yeah, go look it up!) over “enough”, then enjoy the small company of those who will rarely grant the happy opportunity for another to boast… because they need all the attention they can buy in a super sport car or .500 Jeffery! Am I just jealous? Nah! My Ford van will do more than I care to push it… So will my .458 Win Mag!
‘Till next time…
In my hunting world I’ve discovered that larger-diameter, well-constructed bullets work better. It’s as simple as that!