404 Jeffrey - Oh Boy, another project!

Rez Exelon

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So hot on the heels of my deciding that a 416 Taylor should be in my life, and while still in the struggle to find things like "dies" and "bullets" and such, apparently I couldn't help myself and decided that another one needed a new home:

1709752033228.png


It came up at auction and the call of "404 Jeffffffffrey" was calling out to me. I mean, hopefully. The auction listed it as "416/404 Jef" It's built on a 1917 Eddystone, scope is apparently and old school Tasco, and it comes with a case of some sort.

So I'll just kind of open this up --- now that I'm committed to actually, buying this thing, what should I know about it? How bad of a ride am I in for when it's "search for 404 components" time? Why would the caliber be listed as "416/404Jef" like that?

1709751977676.png
 
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Components and loaded ammo have been difficult and expensive to source over the last few years. Hornady just released some solids and DGX Bonded loaded ammo so that should help some if your good with shooting that ammo. Sorry, I cannot be of any help with the different caliber descriptors on that rifle. I will say that the 404 Jeffery is a great caliber for DG hunting. Best of luck with yours.
 
416/404.... It could well be that you have bought yourself a wildcat of some sort (i.e. a non-standardized cartridge). The name suggests that the base cartridge is one of the 416's (Rigby, Remington, Taylor, Hoffman, Weatherby, Dakota etc), but necked up to 404 (which is actually .423 calibre).

Usually the parent cartridge is named first, but that is not a strict rule. It could also be a 404Jef that has been necked down to 416 calibre. This actually seems more likely, as 416 bullets are usually easier to come by.

If you have a set of calipers to take measurements, or post som pictures of any loaded cartridges or empty brass, the community might help figuring it out. But if I were you, I'd ask the seller, or at least take it to a gun smith who can make a chamber cast to determine what cartridge the rifle is chambered for.

If it is such a wildcat (either kind), you will not find any factory ammo, but have to load your own. Depending on what the actual measurements are, you might be able to make do with a mix of reloading dies (one for forming the body of the case, and another to form the neck), but it would probably be best to get a custom die set made.
 
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@Rez Exelon - Do you have any pictures of the stamping on the barrel? If not, you may have to wait until you get it to figure it out.

In truth, you can always rebarrel it to whatever chambering fits the bolt face...or at least saw off that muzzle brake.
 
Nah, the Tembo uses (used?) a 'true' .400 cal bullet. And I think only a handful of rifles were ever made, so the chance of this being one them is slim. But since they were a bit 'experimental', any markings on the action a/o barrel may not mean anything.

And this is certainly true for any other wildcat as well. The numbers could mean nothing or anything, e.g. it might be a 505 Gibbs case, necked down to .416, firing a 404gn bullet. Or a 4.04in long rimmed, straight case, firing a 41.6 gram bullet. There is just no way of telling for sure.

If it is not a 'proper' 404 Jeffery, and I were to guess, it is a rifle that was originally a 404 Jeffery. At some point in time a .416 barrel was installed instead. Perhaps the owner wanted something different from everybody else, or perhaps there was a severe shortage of .423 bullets.
 
Negative.... unfortunately I don't have as much information as I would like to. Since the auction closed today I figure if I get it in next week I'll be having a good week, and at that point I can inspect a bit better. From the auction this is the information as posted:
1709766696042.png


The pictures only allow so much zoom but it doesn't look like there's much on the right:
1709766888215.png


And on the left there is definitely something, but it's really indiscernible to me:
1709766966910.png
 
There was a guy named Bo Kromann Nielsen that did a wildcat he called the .416 Tatanka, a 404 Jeffery necked down to .416, with no other changes to parent case:


Also listed at Ammoguide is the .416 Dakota, a 404 Jeffery "Improved" (sharper shoulder) necked down to .416


Multiple loads for the .416 Dakota there, all for 400-gr bullet at 2600 fps with different powders.

By American convention your .416/.404 Jeffery is probably a .416 on the 404 Jeffery case.

I have a .416 Dakota made from an M70 RUM action.

I also have a "404 RIP" which is the .416 Rigby with 20* shoulder, the only improvement, necked up to .423-caliber.
Full name is .423/.416 Rigby Improved Plus, aka 404 RIP.
It is done on a Dakota M76 African action, McGowen .425-caliber barrel, MPI stock,
with Talley 30mm rings and bases and peep sight, NECG front sight.
Don't ask me why.

I might be able to help with your load data whatever one you decide you have.
 
Congratulations on your winning bid.
I was exceptionally surprised that I think I was not just the winning bid, but I think I was the the only bid. Maybe other people saw the caliber and knew better or didn't want to mess with it.

Personally, I have another 1917 (IIRC a Winchester varietal) that was converted to 375H&H in a similar fashion. So that adds a layer of fun to this --- working to get a cool pairing going on.
 
I am starting to think that I need to buy the stuff to do a chamber cast. Probably would be good to have around anyways though.
I would with some of these older rifles chambered in a wildcat cartridge. I'd have a qualified gunsmith check it out and possibly do the chamber cast.
 
A chamber cast will be great for ballpark on the throating and bore & groove diameters also.
You will want to slug the bore with a soft lead slug, even just a .45" to .47" diameter round ball will do.
You might be surprised like me to find a .425" groove like I was by the CZ-USA-made .404 Jeffery 550M.
They used McGowen barrels so I just kept using them on an M70 .404 Jeffery "custom" and my 404 RIP.
They seemed to work very well with all .423-caliber bullets I tried, North Fork mainly.
 
I would think that is a .404J necked down to .416, not the other way around... keep us posted as to the funkiness of what you just bought... lol.
 
Oh for sure... I hope I'll have it in hand Monday. Surprisingly the auction house didn't send me a tracking number.
 
I would bet on a 0.416” diameter bullet based on a 404 Jeffery case, if American wildcat designation convention was followed.

Although you probably won’t find 404 cases at your local Cabela’s, Hornady produces them and also loaded ammo. I have a long term supply of 404 cases, both Hornady and BELL, so haven’t kept up with current supply of cases. Quality Cartridge (qual-cart.com) makes 404 cases sporadically, when sufficient orders pile up. I use a supply of 375 RUM cases - sourced pre-cataclysm - necked up to 0.423” for my practice loads in my 404 Jefferys or when correct headstamps are not an issue. They work well and because they are not at the top end of chamber pressure, annealing gets me many reloads. Same can be done with a 416-404 wildcat.

Proper monolithic solids in 0.422” are available from CEB, and lately from Hammer in 2 weights, if it turns out your bore is 0.422” or 0.423”. Softs are quite a bit harder to source IME. It is rumored Swift A-Frames were once manufactured in this caliber, but given their currently mythical status, I’m hoarding my last 16 400 grain bullets in this great caliber. Maybe some animal sacrifices to the bullet gods, with a couple of these relics, will get Swift presses back stamping these unicorns out again!! LOL. We can only hope.

As already pointed out, 0.416” diameter bullets are more readily available, though I don’t shoot them much so I’m not as familiar with sources. Again, that diameter is available from CEB, and as Shock Hammers in 4 weights..

As you probably already know, classic oldies and wildcats are always most enjoyable by reloaders who enjoy practicing this rifle loony art.

The 404 case IMHO represents a seminal moment of inspired design which has become immortal, both in its original state and through its prolific progeny. Cheers!!!
 
I would bet on a 0.416” diameter bullet based on a 404 Jeffery case, if American wildcat designation convention was followed.

Although you probably won’t find 404 cases at your local Cabela’s, Hornady produces them and also loaded ammo. I have a long term supply of 404 cases, both Hornady and BELL, so haven’t kept up with current supply of cases. Quality Cartridge (qual-cart.com) makes 404 cases sporadically, when sufficient orders pile up. I use a supply of 375 RUM cases - sourced pre-cataclysm - necked up to 0.423” for my practice loads in my 404 Jefferys or when correct headstamps are not an issue. They work well and because they are not at the top end of chamber pressure, annealing gets me many reloads. Same can be done with a 416-404 wildcat.

Proper monolithic solids in 0.422” are available from CEB, and lately from Hammer in 2 weights, if it turns out your bore is 0.422” or 0.423”. Softs are quite a bit harder to source IME. It is rumored Swift A-Frames were once manufactured in this caliber, but given their currently mythical status, I’m hoarding my last 16 400 grain bullets in this great caliber. Maybe some animal sacrifices to the bullet gods, with a couple of these relics, will get Swift presses back stamping these unicorns out again!! LOL. We can only hope.

As already pointed out, 0.416” diameter bullets are more readily available, though I don’t shoot them much so I’m not as familiar with sources. Again, that diameter is available from CEB, and as Shock Hammers in 4 weights..

As you probably already know, classic oldies and wildcats are always most enjoyable by reloaders who enjoy practicing this rifle loony art.

The 404 case IMHO represents a seminal moment of inspired design which has become immortal, both in its original state and through its prolific progeny. Cheers!!!
So...me not being a wildcat person --- let's say that this is correct in that it may be a 416 based on a 404 case --- what the heck am I supposed to do for dies on this one?? It'll be quite the pickle. My best guess would be that I'd have to have a chamber cast done and then find a custom die maker that could make one off that?
 
So...me not being a wildcat person --- let's say that this is correct in that it may be a 416 based on a 404 case --- what the heck am I supposed to do for dies on this one?? It'll be quite the pickle. My best guess would be that I'd have to have a chamber cast done and then find a custom die maker that could make one off that?
John Whidden can make dies from your chamber cast, but generally they prefer three fired brass. You should be able to mock up three pieces of brass by necking down the .404J to .416 and shooting off three 60% H4895 loads with junk .416 bullets (if there is such a thing). Good luck.
 
There are several sources for wildcat dies. Dave Manson at Loon Lake Precision can also make a reamer to cut a sizing die from a blank. A competent gunsmith can help you figure it out once the chamber case defines what you’re dealing with.

A significant issue will be whether this is an unmodified 404 Jeffery case - no change in body taper, shoulder angle, OA case length - and simply necked down to 416. In that case a 404 J body die or full length sizing and a custom 416 neck die would work.

Custom dies are a difficult proposition today with long lead times in most cases.
 

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