Reloading the .416 Ruger with Somchem powders and South African bullets.

    • The rifle is a Ruger Hawkeye Alaskan in .416 Ruger caliber.

      The objective was to try and duplicate some of the original ballistic properties of the .404 Jeffrey, namely 400gr bullets at 2150 fps, using locally manufactured monolithic bullets and Somchem powders. This equivalency being determined by the BASA power factor alone.

      You ask why ? For a few reasons. Because the .404 Jeffrey was for most of five decades the reference or de-facto round for Africa's large and dangerous game. The animals are not any bigger now than they were then, so it is still a very usefull measure to have. Because .404 Jeffrey rifles are scarce, usually expensive, and the reloading components are not readily available. Because I don't have a .404 Jeffrey, but at least a rifle that shoots like one.

      In South Africa, the local bullet suppliers do not make bullets specifically for the 416 Ruger. Bullets for other 416 calibers are available, such as the 416 Rigby, 416 Remington Magnum and 416 Taylor. Because they all share the same bore size, it was decided to try various 416 bullets to see which could be used for the 416 Ruger.

      The 330 grain GS-Custom is included here to illustrate the expansion and weight retention of GS-Custom HP bullets.

      The 245 grain GS-Custom is included here to illustrate the medium range capability of the Ruger Alaskan with a scope.

  • Using the BASA Power Factor

      The objective was to duplicate certain attributes of the original .404 Jeffrey ballistics. Strictly speaking it was not a direct caliber comparison. The Ruger is a true .416, while the Jeffrey is a .423 caliber.

      By that fact alone the purists may draw the conclusion that a ballistic equivalency is not possible, hence the use of the power factor as used by the Big Bore Association of South Africa. The test was to load the 416 Ruger to the same power factor as the original .404 Jeffrey with 400gr bullets, using Somchem powder and South African monolithic bullets.

      Below is a BASA power factor chart. This is drawn up using the formula

      • Power Factor = ((bullet weight / 7000 ) * velocity * velocity )/64.32

      It looks similar to the Taylor KO Factor formula

      • ( grains * velocity * bullet diameter ) / 7000

      The Taylor formula favors bullet diameter, the larger the bore for a given weight and velocity, the higher the KO value.

      The green column per velocity is the Taylor KO Factor, for comparison. The TKO factor uses caliber as a variable, whereas the BASA power factor does not. The TKO values on this chart are for a .416 caliber bullet. Note the TKO of 51 for a 400gr bullet at 2150fps. Keep in mind the TKO value is caliber specific, the BASA power factor is not.

      To get the same BASA power factor using

      • 380gr GSCustom FN requires a velocity of close to 2250fps[ this is the primary test objective ]
      • 350gr Frontier Spartan HP requires a velocity of 2300fps [ this is the secondary test objective ]

      From the chart above, the 404 Jeffrey in original factory form had a BASA power factor of 4107. The TKO value for a .423 is as per the chart below.

      To equal the TKO value of a 400gr .423 bullet at 2150fps, a 400gr .416 caliber bullet must move at 2200 fps. This information is provided for interest sake, the test was based on the BASA power factor only.

      Velocity and power factor don't have any direct relation to performance in the field. Bullet type and construction are very important factors to consider with bullet weight and velocity, for any practical application.

      Points to note are

      • One of the original 404 Jeffrey factory loads was a 300gr soft bullet at 2600fps, and it was reported as being inadequate for big game hunting in Africa, but well suited to the longer ranges on soft-skinned animals in India.
      • The famous elephant hunter W.D.M (Karamojo) Bell took most of his elephant with a 175gr solid from a 7x57 Mauser. As a caution on the last point, Townsend Whelen (1877-1961) commented " ... and the consensus of opinion among present-day [early 1950s] African professional white hunters is that it would be extremely dangerous for present-day sportsmen to follow his [ W.M.D Bell's ] advice on the caliber of weapons for use on the larger African game ..." .

      Between those two points lie a lot of lessons that can be learned.

  • 416 Ruger Reload Data

    Bullet Case Primer Powder Charge AOL Velocity
    380 GS Custom FP Hornady PMP LR Magnum S335 Batch 682 71.7 gr 85.1 mm 2265
    350gr Frontier Spartan HP Hornady PMP LR Magnum S335 Batch 682 71.7 gr 84.0 mm 2311
    330 GS Custom HP Hornady PMP LR Magnum S335 Batch 696 69.4 gr 2283
    330 GS Custom HP Hornady PMP LR Magnum S335 Batch 696 71.3 gr 2315
    330 GS Custom HP Hornady PMP LR Magnum S335 Batch 696 72.4 gr 2374
    245gr GS-Customer Hollow Point Hornady Federal 215 S335 Batch 706 81.0 gr 87.12 mm 2850
    245gr GS-Customer Hollow Point Hornady Federal 215 S355 Batch 007 80.0 gr 87.12 2550

      The batch numbers on the powder have been included for reference. Somchem powders do vary in density from batch to batch. I have personally found a 5% difference between sequential batch numbers.

        • The 380gr GS-Custom rounds as loaded fitted into the magazine. Rounds were crimped to a 1/8 turn worth of crimp applied with a Hornady seating die. Do not use any of these reloads in your 416 Ruger if they are not crimped. The recoil will knock the bullet back into the case.

          This round feeds as long as there are only 2 rounds in the magazine. It seems that the pressure of the magazine spring with 3 rounds in it, when closing the bolt, pushes the nose of the top-most bullet too far past the bore axis, and it will not feed. Two rounds in the magazine work fine. It needs to be determined if a competent 'smith can sort this out, because I think these bullets are ideal for open-sight hunting with the caliber.

          The reloads met the velocity criteria.

          • The 380gr monolithic objective was 2250 fps, 2265 was achieved.

          Pressure differences between all the rounds was not obvious from examining the primers, and all rounds extracted easily.

          The rounds as loaded fitted into the magazine. Rounds were crimped to a 1/8 turn worth of crimp applied with a Hornady seating die. Do not use any of these reloads in your 416 Ruger if they are not crimped. The recoil will knock the bullet back into the case.

          The 350gr Frontier Spartan HP feeds flawlessly.

          The reloads met the velocity criteria.

          • The 350gr monolithic objective was 2300 fps, 2311 was achieved.

          Pressure differences between all the rounds was not obvious from examining the primers, and all rounds extracted easily.

        Two bullets were recovered from the backstop, distance from muzzle around 15 meters, backstop was sand.

        The bullet on the left retained 99.33 percent of it's weight. The bullet on the right retained 99.27 percent of it's weight.

        Feeding with this bullet is perfect.

        The brass that is clean had the 69.4 load.

        The brass marked green had the 71.3 load.

        The brass marked black had the 72.4 load.

        Hornady brass, Federal 215 primer, 80gr S355 batch 009, AOL 3.43 inches, this is 0.1 inches over the cartridge AOL, but chambers perfectly.

        The magazine holds 3 rounds. When 3 rounds are loaded, the second round does not feed, this is because the AOL is too long. If there are 2 rounds in the magazine, the second round feeds without a problem.

        Distance 100 meters, shot from the bench. Recoil is stout, but not uncomfortable.

        Scope is a Leupold VX1 3-9. Rifle is fitted with a slip-on recoil pad.

        This is with the load using 81gr S335, velocity is 2850 fps, shooting to the zero point of the previous load.

        The brass with the stripe was loaded with S355, the other with S335.

  • 416 Ruger Reload Results

      These are the primers from the rounds tested. None show signs of excess pressure. All cases extracted easily. One PMP Large Rifle Magnum primer was a dud, and not the first time in PMP. Since then, the preferred primers are Federal 215.

      All rounds were crimped to a 1/8 turn worth of crimp applied with a Hornady seating die. Attempting to increase the crimp buckles the shoulder of the case.

      Do not use any of these reloads in your 416 Ruger magazine if they are not crimped, the recoil against the inside of the magazine will knock the bullet back into the case.

      It's clear that bullet shape is very important for the chamber of this rifle. This exercise has shown what bullet shapes work, which ones give problems, and why.

      The twenty inch barrel on the rifle is not a velocity handicap.

      Acceptable velocity was obtained with medium-slow extruded powders [ S335 and S355 ]. S355 is the ideal test powder for first loads in this caliber. Take any bullet, estimate the remaining case volume with the bullet seated, then fill the case to 95% of the remaining volume and you have a good idea of what is achievable at a minimum.

      Faster burning powders were not considered, because maximum velocity was not the goal. There is no practical advantage to increasing the speed of a 350 grain monolithic from 2300 fps to 2500 fps. The difference in bullet drop at the ranges this caliber is used for, without a scope, is irrelevant.

      The range of monolithics available makes the 416 Ruger a bit more versatile when hand-loaded. It is possible load to relatively heavy bullets at lower velocities for close range hunting in thick cover, and lighter bullets to higher velocities for confident shots on larger antelope out to 200 meters, and beyond - for more skilled marksmen.

      Accuracy with S355 powder and 245 GS-Custom was astonishing. Astonishing because this is supposed to be a close range big game rifle, and even more astonishing because I am not an accomplished rifle shooter by any means.

      This group size works out to 0.58 inches at 100 meters.

      After mounting the scope with the Ruger rings supplied with the rifle, and dialing the scope back down to it's 0-0, the two sighting shots at 40 meters were close enough to the point of aim to sight on the 100 meter target. The first two shots on the 100 meter target printed six inches high and three inches left in overlapping holes. Adjusting for six down and three right, everything was literally spot on.

      All with locally manufactured components, except for the brass.