458 Winchester tidbits

Riflecrank

New member
Joined
Oct 2, 2021
Messages
7
Reaction score
10
Also, the information about Wally Johnson ( Walter Johnson’s father ) eventually switching his .375 Holland & Holland Magnum caliber pre War Winchester Model 70 for a .458 Winchester Magnum caliber Model 70 is incorrect. This was a rumor that was perpetuated by Jack Lott in the January 1972 issue of “ Gun Digest”. Wally Johnson later allowed Peter Hathaway Capstick to interview him and write his biography in a book called “ The Last Ivory Hunter: The Saga Of Wally Johnson “. In that book, Wally flatly denies ever personally owning a .458 Winchester Magnum. We goes on to claim that ” I will always consider the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum to be the only gun “. This biography was written at least 14 years after Jack Lott wrote that article.

John Kingsley Heath too was forced to abandon his beloved .470 Nitro Express rifle once ICI Kynoch ceased to manufacture ammunition for this caliber in 1968. He too was forced to switch to a .458 Winchester Magnum custom rifle, which was built on a pre ‘64 Winchester Model 70 action with an extended drop box magazine. That rifle may be seen here : https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-1013119
Nowhere in the Capstick book does Wally deny ever owning a .458 Winchester Magnum.



On page 57 he did say this, circa 1987-1988, when he was 75 years of age:

"I still consider and always will consider the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum as 'the only gun.'
In fact, I shot many hundreds of buffalo with the 9.3mm Mauser to save .375 ammo. I had no problems, but I would have preferred the .375 if I could have spared the ammo."

The book mentions Walter Junior being a PH in Botswana about 1970, so about age 30 y.o., before Senior pitched up there maybe. The book (Wally) said Walter Junior was using his own .458 to stop charging hippos, etc., page 112.

So Askins said it was "Walter Johnson" with the M70 African .458 Winchester Magnum during the 1970 safari in Botswana.
Must have been Wally's son, most likely was. Askins can be sketchy.
But I cannot find Wally denying ever owning a .458 WinMag in his recountings within the Capstick book.

There is a passage about Wally guiding two Americans with their wives in Mozambique, no year specified, probably pre-1970 from the context.
One of Wally's trackers was carrying "a spare.458 Winchester Magnum caliber and I knew it was stoked with solid 500-grain bullets." So said Wally.
One of the clients wounded a cape buffalo. PH Wally and the two clients followed it.
It charged from the "long grass" at 20 yards and Wally yelled for all to fire. The clients shot once each then one's magazine opened and dumped and the other's rifle "had a lock-tight jam!"
Wally got off 3 shots before the buffalo hit him, all good shots,
and he had a misfire/dud for a fourth shot with muzzle pressed into the buffalo's face,
later attributed to dirty rifle, and old ammo, worked fine after cleaning thoroughly and with fresh lot of ammo.
No calibers specified for any rifles except the spare .458.
Wally was probably carrying his .375 H&H, tracker carried Wally's "spare .458" ?
Client Gerry Knight ("... to whom I owe my life" said Wally) took the spare .458 and shot the buffalo off of Wally. Pp. 169-173.
 

Riflecrank

New member
Joined
Oct 2, 2021
Messages
7
Reaction score
10
When starting out, youngster Wally Senior hunted lion with his trusty .30-30 WCF lever action, elephant with a .30-'06 Springfield and upwards in caliber.
From page 82 of the Capstick book of interviews with Wally:

"... I only had a .30-'06. Guns were hard to get and I was really broke. Later I was able to buy a Brennecke 11.2 X 72mm rifle, along with fifty cartridges. But it was such a weird caliberfor Mozambique, although a good one, that when I was out of ammo I was out of business."

I think Wally was kissing up to Capstick's penchant for the .375 H&H throughout that book.
I do not think he had any disdain for the .458 Winchester Magnum.
If guns and ammo were so hard to get, he would most likely have grabbed any .458 WinMag that came along, to have as a "spare" to be carried by his tracker while he carried his beloved .375 H&H M70 Winchester.

No, Wally did not literally trade in his .375 H&H for a .458 WinMag.
But the fact that his favorite rifle survived to be offered for sale by his family after his death,
that must mean that it had been sent ahead with his son Walter to Botswana,
during the Mozambican bush war of Marxist aggression.
When Wally finally got out of Mozambique he lost everything but the clothes on his back and a few bills in his wallet.
The cache of guns and ammo he had buried under a bush in his yard were dug up by the thugs.
The gold bars hidden in the butter pats in his home freezer were consumed at a forced lunch for the thugs too.

Wally used Jack Lott's .458 WinMag to save Jack Lott from a buffalo goring in 1959.
Client Gerry Knight used Wally's "spare .458" to save Wally from a buffalo goring a few years later in Mozambique.
Ironic.
I bet Wally Johnson had at least a little fondness for the .458 WinMag, even if he professed to love the .375 H&H more.
 

Hunter-Habib

AH veteran
Joined
Jul 8, 2021
Messages
212
Reaction score
479
Media
24
Hunted
Zambia , Namibia , Kenya , Mozambique , Zimbabwe
When starting out, youngster Wally Senior hunted lion with his trusty .30-30 WCF lever action, elephant with a .30-'06 Springfield and upwards in caliber.
From page 82 of the Capstick book of interviews with Wally:

"... I only had a .30-'06. Guns were hard to get and I was really broke. Later I was able to buy a Brennecke 11.2 X 72mm rifle, along with fifty cartridges. But it was such a weird caliberfor Mozambique, although a good one, that when I was out of ammo I was out of business."

I think Wally was kissing up to Capstick's penchant for the .375 H&H throughout that book.
I do not think he had any disdain for the .458 Winchester Magnum.
If guns and ammo were so hard to get, he would most likely have grabbed any .458 WinMag that came along, to have as a "spare" to be carried by his tracker while he carried his beloved .375 H&H M70 Winchester.

No, Wally did not literally trade in his .375 H&H for a .458 WinMag.
But the fact that his favorite rifle survived to be offered for sale by his family after his death,
that must mean that it had been sent ahead with his son Walter to Botswana,
during the Mozambican bush war of Marxist aggression.
When Wally finally got out of Mozambique he lost everything but the clothes on his back and a few bills in his wallet.
The cache of guns and ammo he had buried under a bush in his yard were dug up by the thugs.
The gold bars hidden in the butter pats in his home freezer were consumed at a forced lunch for the thugs too.

Wally used Jack Lott's .458 WinMag to save Jack Lott from a buffalo goring in 1959.
Client Gerry Knight used Wally's "spare .458" to save Wally from a buffalo goring a few years later in Mozambique.
Ironic.
I bet Wally Johnson had at least a little fondness for the .458 WinMag, even if he professed to love the .375 H&H more.
Very interesting observation. I just looked at my own copy of “ Last IvoryHunter”. All the references which you point to, are definitely there. But what strikes me as odd, is that there is not even ONE reference in the book to Wally Johnson ACTUALLY USING a .458 Winchester Magnum to hunt ANYTHING.

He mentions using the .303 British, the .30-30 Winchester, the .30-06 Springfield, the 11.2x72mm Schuler, the .318 Westley Richards, the 9.3x62mm Mauser and ( of course ) his .375 Holland & Holland Magnum. And also a shotgun which he uses to shoot a snake. If he was using the .458 Winchester Magnum to any degree, then I’d think that the book would make at least one reference to it.

Observe Wally’s choice of words. “ A spare .458 Winchester Magnum. “. Not “ My spare .458 Winchester Magnum“. Perhaps, it could be one of the spare rifles of his clients ?

So far, I’ve only been able to find one documented instance of Wally Johnson ACTUALLY using a .458 Winchester Magnum to hunt ANYTHING. That was in 1959, when he saved Jack Lott from a wounded Cape buffalo by using Jack’s pre’64 Winchester Model 70 in this caliber. I have, however found a reference to Wally Johnson speaking critically about how the Winchester brand .458 caliber 510 Gr soft point bullet is well known all across Africa for severely distorting whenever used against large game.

Col. Askin’s white hunter was without a doubt Walter Johnson ( Wally Johnson’s son ). At the time, Walter Johnson’s backup rifle of choice was a pre ‘64 Winchester Model 70 in .458 Winchester Magnum. However, if the following article is any indication ( https://www.outdoorlife.com/big-boomers/ ), then Walter Johnson eventually preferred a .458 Lott to a .458 Winchester Magnum.
 
Last edited:

Forrest Halley

AH elite
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
1,425
Reaction score
2,465
Location
VA, USA
Media
28
Sir, I resemble that remark.
However The Mission at a certain Arab-owned website became The Crusade at another forum.
Now, the war is over. The .458 Winchester Magnum is truly victorious. The WinMag won. Now we celebrate The Brotherhood of the .458 Winchester Magnum. Honorary Knighthood in this Brotherhood is part of that celebration.
Like a proverbial moth to a flame...Llamar el Diablo...haha...too easy.
 

Riflecrank

New member
Joined
Oct 2, 2021
Messages
7
Reaction score
10
THE MYTH:”I’ve never seen a charging animal get hit in the chest and knocked off itsfeet,” says Walter Johnson, an African-born professional hunter who startedhis guiding career in the early ’60s. “I think it’s a lot of bull to saythat a bullet will knock an animal over because of its impact. It’s aboutplacement.” Johnson’s experience shooting lions with 510-grain softpointsfrom a .458 Lott–a thumping cartridge by anyone’s yardstick–illustrates thefolly of “impact” as a factor in killing game, let alone stopping acharge. “I like that bullet because it won’t exit the animal. You’d thinkthat with all that energy it would knock the animal over, but it doesn’t. Agood shot will put the animal down, but a bad shot will send it runningoff.”

THE REALITY: JoeCoogan, who has guided in Africa for 25 years, agrees with Johnson’sassessment. “The thing that stops an animal is killing it, meaning to takethe brain out and turn off the lights,” he says. “Hitting whatever itis that’s charging in the right place is the key.” Of course, the caveat isto fire a bullet that can penetrate well enough to hit that”switch.”

What works?During the royal colonial era in Kenya, regulations stipulated a bore size ofat least .40 caliber for thick-skinned game, a “sensible” minimum inCoogan’s estimation. Johnson prefers .458-caliber cartridges for dangerousgame, though he can’t argue with the results his father, Wally Johnson, and hisfather’s partner, Harry Manners–both renowned ivory hunters and safariguides–had with their .375 H&Hs. “We tried to get them to take biggerrifles, but they wouldn’t put down their .375s,” Johnson says. “Theirsuccess says a lot about that cartridge.”

**********************************************************************************************************

OK, Walter Johnson might have been using handloads in his .458 Lott with 510-gr RNSN.
I do not know if any factory loads existed of such.
A-Square offered 465-gr Triad bullets in the late 1980s and post SAAMI loads of late 1990s were 500-grainers.
Handloading was illegal in Botswana when I was there in 2001, but my PH was using handloads done in RSA and brought in for his .475 No. 2 and .375 H&H.

Nowadays, If one can handload, one can get within 50 fps of the .458 Lott with 500-grainers, and do it at lower pressure (60,000 psi instead of 62,500 psi) and with COL of 3.340" instead of 3.600".
It is all about throat.
If one uses same higher pressure and same longer COL as the .458 Lott, with bullets long enough to do that in the .458 WinMag,
one can outperform the SAAMI .458 Lott (2.8" case) with the non-SAAMI .458 Winchester Magnum (2.5" case).
It is all in the throat.
Physics cannot be denied.

**********************************************************************************************************
The Big Hurt .458 Lott: Yes, this cartridge hits hard at both ends of the rifle, but withthe stock in your shoulder you can be sure that whatever you tag downrange willfeel a lot worse than you. And if what you’re shooting is big enough, you won’tfeel it at all, which is why you use the Lott in the first place.
| BULLET| MV (fps)| ME (ft./lb.)| | 500-gr. SP| 2,300| 5,872| RUGER MAGNUM
This rifle has many of the features sought in afirearm for dangerous game: controlled-round feed, oversize claw extractor,integral quarter rib with scope bases and a bedding system reinforced withcrossbolts. It doesn’t hurt that it has good looks and a well-deservedreputation for accuracy. Available in .375 H&H, .416 Rigby, .458 Lott.($2,200; ruger.com)
**********************************************************************************************************

If the short-and-tight-throated SAAMI .458 Lott at 3.600" COL and 62,500 psi will do 2300 fps with a 500-grainer,
then the long-leade-zero-parallel-sided-free-bore-throated SAAMI .458 WinMag at 3.340" COL and 60,000 psi will do 2250 fps with same 500-grainer.
Do I hear an "amen?"
 
Last edited:

Riflecrank

New member
Joined
Oct 2, 2021
Messages
7
Reaction score
10
The .458 Lott Protective Association is all about commercialism.
I recommend reaming your SAAMI .458 Lott with a SAAMI .458 Winchester Magnum reamer to correct the throat.
Then it will be just like the .458 Lott that Jack Built.
Then it will be on par with the .458 Winchester Magnum.
Any load safe in the .458 WinMag will then be safe in your .458Lott like Jack Built.
 

Riflecrank

New member
Joined
Oct 2, 2021
Messages
7
Reaction score
10
OK, Wally Johnson and his pal Harry Manners were stuck on the .375 H&H.
They were old-timers from the tail end of the ivory hunters.
The next generation of bigtime elephant hunters were game wardens culling for conservation purposes.

Ron Thomson (MAHOHBOH author) and Richard Harland (NDLOVU author)
were both stuck on the .458 Winchester Magnum, wanted nothing else in their hands
when attacking a herd that had to be eliminated so that fewer elephants eventually died of starvation.
A couple more "unrepentant sinners" in the eyes of greenie weenies.

I would guess Thomson to have had the highest total bag. Reportedly, he estimated his own personal take at about five thousand, and "shared" with other hunters the shooting of another thousand elephants, as backup of game department trainees mostly.
He said:
"And I have been involved in hunts and in culling operations when many thousands of elephants have been killed by other hunters, too, without any contribution from me.
"Anyway ... what does it matter? What's a few thousand elephant between friends."

Thomson started as a cadet game ranger in Rhodesia in 1959 at age 20 y.o.
He got his first .458 WinMag, a Browning FN Mauser, in 1960.
He stuck with it.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
40,425
Messages
790,491
Members
73,621
Latest member
viaskjfyg
 

 

 

Latest profile posts

when is my donation due?
trstallone wrote on HUNTROMANIA's profile.
I've Hunted So.Africa, love to try Romania
Clifford Johnson wrote on Mark A Ouellette's profile.
Mark, How did your hunt go with Wayne in Zimbabwe?
Cliff
Spartan2473 wrote on tnshooter's profile.
Hey buddy,
Have a great hunt in West TN. Looking forward to planning this next safari with you.

we’ll talk soon!
 
Top