AH senior member
Well after waiting months and months, I finally picked up the 404 Jeffrey today. I came home, and I immediately went out back and put some rounds down range. Much to my surprise, the recoil was very significant. “Much more than my 416.” After just three rounds, I was ready to put the rifle down. I went to the safe and got the 416 Rigby and shot it a few times. After shooting the Rigby and realizing the recoil was much less, I installed the muzzle brake that came with the new 404. I then shot 3 more rounds and the recoil was significantly less, I would say around 40% less.
“Both ammo was factory Hornady”
The 416 weighs 11 lbs and the 404 weighed in at 9.2.
I found the felt recoil of the 404 very surprising. What are all of you guys think?
Bear in mind Hornady ammo in the 404 is way up in the performance spectrum of the 404. They do 2350-2400fps. Bring the load down to 2200fps and you will be fine. But another 1lb of weight in the gun won't hurt!
Back in 2011, when I received my .404J rifle (a custom build by Wayne @ AHR), I immediately thought the same thing after the first range session with Hornady's 400grn ammo.
Then I realized Hornady had loaded it to over 200fps faster than Jeffrey's original specs for a 400gn bullet. In fact I'd studied the history of the cartridge before getting the rifle and several sources mentioned that the .404 had, by design, the mildest felt-recoil of any of the 400-class of African DG cartridges, even in the trimmer, lighter rifles. Supposedly no worse than the .375 H&H with 300grn bullets.
So I've tried to handload to the original specs with a 400grn slug. Depending on the source you're looking at, that's between 2000fps on the low-end and not more than 2150fps on the top-end.
Why Hornady felt the .404 cartridge required a boost of 200fps+ to be 'effective' on dangerous game, I'll never understand. Even with modern propellants, 'can do it' doesn't entail 'should do it.' At the original Jeffrey specs, the better bullets we now enjoy will certainly put down what they hit, proper shot-placement being the hunter's main concern.
They were certainly killing the Big Stuff all over Africa without problems for decades with a milder, more recoil-friendly cartridge, as Pondoro Taylor recounts.
Just my opinion ...