Loading up a .405 Winchester

RolandtheHeadless

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I've found only two loading manuals by different bullet makers, which seem to be the only ones still making bullets for a .405 Win (.411-inch diameter).

I also own a Marlin 45-70. The two manuals (Hornady and Barnes) give several different, progressively hotter loads for the .45-70, depending on what type of rifle you're using. The old trapdoor Springfield gets less powder than the Marlin 1895, which in turn maxes out with less powder than the loads developed for a Ruger No 1. The No. 1 has a stronger action that can withstand greater pressure.

My new .405 Win is a Ruger No. 1. All of the .405 data by Barnes and Hornady were from testing a lever-action, specifically a Winchester 1895, which I don't believe is even as strong as the Marlin.

It seems to me that the stronger Ruger action should be able to withstand greater pressure than a Win 1895. Yet neither bullet-maker has published any enhanced loads for .405 fired in the Ruger No. 1.

Wouldn't it be possible to safely develop enhanced .405 loads to take full advantage of the Ruger's strong action? I am thinking of using the .45-70 variations as a rough guide for how much more powder to add, while of course keeping alert to the usual signs of excessive pressure.
 

CAustin

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Roland you are doing something that I have no skill in. However, your logic makes sense to me. Be careful sir as I'm sure you will.
 

ChrisG

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Hi Roland.

I wouldn't go above Winchester 1895 pressure specs. The old 95 was chambered in some hot cartridges including .30/06 (60,000psi)and the Russians ordered a model in 7.62X52R. It is almost as strong as the bolt guns of the day and way beyond the strength of a Marlin 1895 (about 45,000psi)

That being said... if your looking for a great single shot for short range North American game or African plains game, it's a great old classic and fits the bill nicely... if you ever want to take it to Africa for heavy boned, thick skinned DG, you can always have the chamber reamed to .450/400!
 
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ChrisG

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Just as an addendum to my last post, unlike the .45/70, the .405 was developed from the beginning as a smokeless cartridge. You might be able to push it slightly past it's original factory specs but I don't think adding 100 FPS is going to take it from a medium bore, short range rifle to elephant gun status.
 

RolandtheHeadless

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Ah, I didn't realize the 405 was developed originally as a smokeless cartridge. And looking again at my Barnes manual, I see their max loads are at or near 100 percent density. So there's not much room to load it up.

I wonder if a totally different, faster class of propellants would hot rod the .405? If so, such experiments are above my grade.

I guess my dreams of a hot-rodded .405 go up in smoke. Oh, well. I'll still have fun with it.
 

ChrisG

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The .405 is generally loaded with faster rifle powders anyway... If you want a hot rodded .405, they make one. It's called the .450/400 Nitro Express! Your .405 is going to be a lot of fun! You could also load up plinking rounds using .41 magnum handgun bullets and trailboss powder. I used trailboss in my .416 with 375 grain cast lead and it was so much fun it should be criminal. All you do is measure where the base of the bullet sits in the case and fill the case up to just shy of that point. Thats your max load.
 

wswolf

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It seems to me that the stronger Ruger action should be able to withstand greater pressure than a Win 1895. Yet neither bullet-maker has published any enhanced loads for .405 fired in the Ruger No. 1.

Wouldn't it be possible to safely develop enhanced .405 loads to take full advantage of the Ruger's strong action? I am thinking of using the .45-70 variations as a rough guide for how much more powder to add, while of course keeping alert to the usual signs of excessive pressure.

I wouldn't try that route. The "usual signs of excessive pressure" don't show up well in the #1 action.

Having had similar ambitions for my Ruger #1 in .405, I had a reamer made and lengthened the chamber throat by .28”. This allowed 300 TSX to be seated at 3.500” and 400 Woodleigh to be seated at 3.520” overall length and still leave .020” of clearance before the bullets touched the rifling. Using “The Rules” by John Barsness, I calculated the potential velocity increase over the loads in the Hodgdon Manual.

The 300 TSX was worked up to 2500 fps using Benchmark or 8208XBR.

The 400 gn Woodleigh (.411”) went to 2150 fps using 8208XBR, TAC or Reloder 15.

No indications of excessive pressure were found. Accuracy was excellent and loads of normal length shot as well as they did before the surgery.

Exceeding these velocities would not be advisable. The recoil of the 300 gn bullets was on the verge of objectionable while the 400 gn loads were not unpleasant. No doubt the Decelerator recoil pad helped.

Oddly enough, 400 gn Hornady bullets at .410" diameter would not stabilize and those that hit the target at all made seriously oblong holes.

True Shot .41 caliber 265 gn cast bullets loaded to 3.09” overall length over 12 gn of Unique made cloverleaf groups.

The reamer is now in the custody of gunsmith Doug Wells in Huson, Montana. If he is terribly busy he might just rent you the reamer. His number is (406)626-4152.

Cheers
 

fsrmg1

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I was out playing with my chronograph this weekend testing my accuracy loads. I was using an original Winchester 95 (circa 1922) with a .413" groove dia. I swapped out the the original front sight (.363" height) with a .375" height Williams Fire Sight, which is a lot easier on the eyes. Being taller, it's calculated to drop the point of impact down about 2.6". But, being a slightly larger bead, caused it to sit a bit higher in the rear sight notch, which only translated to her shooting about an 1-1 1/2" lower when shooting in the real world. With the larger groove dia., this rifle did not like the 300 gr Hornady .411" projectiles and threw them all over the place. None key holed, but groups were 6-8" large.

I had worked up two loads for optimum accuracy which shot to precisely the top to the new front sight bead at 100 yds. Benched, both loads with shoot inside 1 1/2", which is as good as I can do these days with irons. Especially when using the original Winchester Express rear sight.

The rifle was originally off an African plantation in Tanganyika, so was likely regulated with Kynoch brand ammo, which would have been a 300 gr pill going a little under 2200 fps with a 24" barrel. The rifle regulated perfectly with the original front sight at about 2160-70 fps, so that's what the original load likely did out of the old girl.

The following loads were based upon the Woodleigh .412" 300 gr RN, and the Hawk .416 350 gr RN that was lubed and shoved twice through a Lee .413" bullet sizing die, then cleaned of course. Brass was new Hornady, primers were CCI Large Rifle. After bullets seated, cartridges were crimped with a Lee factory crimper.

300 gr Woodleigh, H4895 - 57.0 grs, OAL: 3.145", 2226 fps, 3300 fpe, 38.2K psi (seated to cannelure)
350 gr Hawk, VV N530 - 56.5 grs, OAL: 3.185", 2236 fps, 45.5k psi, 3885 fpe (seated .015" off lands)

This is a good combination, since both loads shoot to the exact same point of impact at 100 yds in my rifle. Next time I take her out for buffalo, I'll be using the 350 grainers, otherwise she'll be on a 300 gr diet.

Lessons learned, hang on tight to the forearm, if it slips out of your grip, it will throw the shot about 7" high!
 

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