The 404 Jeffery history and related information


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May 5, 2009
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New Zealand, Austaralia
There have been various threads on the this superb old cartridge that have bridged the divide between the dawn of rimless bolt rifle cartridges and the very modern continuity with upgraded capabilities with newer bullets and powders that allows it to perform at a greatly enhanced level compared to its very real widespread use back in the heyday safari and also its widespread use by game ranger. It is undoubtably the easiest of the medium heavy bores for the general hunter to master and so it continues to expand its popularity amongst the newer hunter gaining understanding of what may be needed to hunt the big ones. Gentle to use but devestating in use, it is capable of taking the largest and most dangerous of our land animals, and in light of todays hunting situations where it is the practicce to have a professional hunter backing up every hunter with experience and a heavier stopping rifle for those who ventures into territory where these grand old cartridges are most at home.
Many of you may have seen some of this material but this si a collation of all I have gathered so here it is all in the one thread for reference by those who may want to explore the 404 Jeffery for themselves.
This is the earliest oficial advertisment for the 404 Jeffery

I heard the following story from a Professional Hunter with years of experience in Zimbabwe and South Africa:[/paste:font]

“When a client shows up in camp with a .375 Holland & Holland, you immediately know that you have a practical and able chap as a customer, a wise and knowledgeable hunter who will listen to reason. When a client shows up in camp with a .458 Win Mag, you know that most likely the only experience the hunter has had is reading the pages of Outdoor Life magazine, probably 30-year-old editions. When a client shows up in camp with a Remington or a Weatherby in any caliber, you know the hunter’s experience probably does not extend past the clerk at the gun counter. When a client shows up with a double rifle, you know you have an elitist for a customer, much like the guy coming down the charter boat dock at the marina carrying a fly rod, and you approach him with caution. When a client shows up with a .416 Rigby, you know you have someone who has studied and respects the rich history and traditions of the sport of dangerous-game hunting. And when a client shows up in camp with a .404 Jeffery, you know this is someone who cares enough about said history and traditions to go to the immense trouble of building and loading a gun and cartridge long sacrificed to the gods of mass production and commercialism. You take a liking to this guy immediately.”

You might think a wizened old man with an albatross around his neck told me this story. Not so. This PH was 29 years old. He’d heard the story at the beginning of his hunting career more than ten years ago and has since confirmed its wisdom to the point of repeating it whenever he senses a sympathetic audience. The legend of the .404 Jeffery is alive and well indeed.

Ruger attempted to bring the .404 back into the mainstream a few years ago but, by all accounts, screwed up the chamber specifications and soon canceled the project as complaints mounted. The Ruger No. 1 seemed to work okay, but the Ruger 77 had a short chamber, which didn’t work okay at all.

CZ, in its aggressive stance of recent years, who already chambers its factory rifles in .375 H&H and .416 Rigby and converted its .458 Win Mags to .458 Lotts as it saw that wave coming, is now making rifles in .505 Gibbs and .450 Rigby as well as .404 Jeffery. You can bet that CZ will not screw it up. They are offering their own factory ammunition in all of these exotic calibers as well, and it’s likely that somebody like Hornady will soon follow. Thus the legendary .404 Jeffery returns to the commercial limelight. The relatively small, highly sophisticated and enormously influential market of dangerous-game hunters and rifle connoisseurs could not be happier, though many of them have been building .404s on existing or custom Mauser actions and loading their own ammo for years.

Somewhat shrouded in the London fog that seems to have blurred much of cartridge development in the first few years of the 20th century, the best authorities have it that the .404 Jeffery, whose actual bullet diameter is .423-inch, was introduced by W. J. Jeffery in 1905 to duplicate the ballistics of the popular cordite-loaded .450/400 double-rifle cartridge, namely a 400-grain bullet at a velocity of 2125 feet-per-second delivering 4020 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. Even in its original black powder incarnation, the .450/400 was highly acclaimed for its excellent straight line penetration on dangerous game. Using the new lower pressure, higher velocity cordite that was being introduced at the time, the .404 Jeffery could easily have achieved a velocity of 2400 fps with its 400-grain bullet, much as it is usually loaded today, though the standard back then seems to have settled on a more conservative 2200 fps.

At one time Kynoch loaded 300-grain copper-capped bullets at 2600 feet-per-second, reportedly a devastating load on thin-skinned game and widely used in India and Ceylon. The less ballistically sophisticated hunters of the time, however, too often used this light, rapidly expanding bullet on thick-skinned game and failures predictably occurred. Kynoch soon discontinued the load in the face of its misuse but, as new factory .404 Jeffery ammo becomes available again it certainly might be worth reviving.

Conventional wisdom says that Jeffrey developed the first .404s on ex-military Mauser K-98 actions, mostly because the exclusive commercial Mauser distributor in Britain at the time was Rigby. However, I have it on excellent authority that the very first rifles offered by Jeffery were in fact built on single square bridge magnum Mauser actions with Krupp steel barrels. In either case, the military actions worked fine, as the original case length of the .404 was a little shorter than it would become around 1911 when longer actions were required to accommodate the new .375 H&H and .416 Rigby cartridges.

Even in the beginning, Jeffery did not attempt to keep the .404 proprietary but released it to the trade. With Jeffery and all the other London makers using Mauser actions and Krupp barrels, the heart and soul of the .404 Jeffery was German, and Mauser built its own .404s, with the European designation of 10.75x73mm Mauser, as early as 1908. The cartridge was sometimes referred to as .404 Jeffery Rimless or .404 Rimless Nitro Express as well. With all the London makers involved, there was some typically British fiddling with the specs for the .404 Jeffery, which may account for Ruger’s recent confusion, and it is actually the 10.75x73mm Mauser specs that should be used today.

The original 404 Jeffery cartridge was shorter in case length than it is today. In 1911 Kynoch changed the name to 404 Kynoch and this case was .007 inches longer than the original Jeffery, indicating that the ballistics of the .416 are achievable in certain rifles.

Ballistics expert Keith Luckhurst ran some trajectory tests comparing a .404 Jeffery loaded with 400-grain bullets at 2280 fps, a .458 Winchester Magnum loaded with 500-grain bullets at 2090 fps, and a .375 H&H leaded with 300-grain bullets at 2550 fps, all sighted in at 100 meters. According to Luckhurst, “At 250 meters the .375 Magnum has dropped 11 inches, the .404 has dropped 13 inches and the .458 has dropped 18 inches. But at 150 meters there is a spread of only one inch between these calibers, and at 200 meters it is four inches. Most gunwriters would describe the .375 Magnum as flat shooting and the descriptions of the .458 tend to include words like ‘rainbow trajectory.’ In reality, the point of aim for any of the rifles is virtually the same out to 150 meters.” Luckhurst concludes that the .404 Jeffery, with better penetration and less recoil than the .458, a trajectory almost as flat as the .375 H&H, and overall performance similar or equal to the .416 Rigby, is a particularly well-balanced rifle for the largest and most dangerous game.

There are all kinds of ways to bring home the buffaloburger these days, including the latest short-fat-ugly cartridges that, on the rare occasions when they decide to feed from the magazine into the chamber, spit bullets at ungodly velocities out of lackluster stainless steel barrels cradled in the same kind of hardened chemical concoction you might use to wrap the handle of your hammer or float your boat. I wonder why nobody has any romantic stories to tell about those kinds of guns?



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Grandpaw’s Jeffery

It rested between the Ivory
That hung on Grandpa's wall
It's finally checked and yellowed
Like the tusks it helped to fall

It's barrel smooth and polished
From a hundred bearers hands
It reflected the light warmly
Like campfires flickering brands

The stock of English walnut
Chewed and clawed a bit
It still showed a trace of checkering
an a dent where a horn had hit

Stamped on the barrel lightly
Was a name and not much more
A single word "Jeffery"
"Jeffery .404"

If that rifle could only talk
And take us back once again
With grandpa in Africa
A time of Buffalo, Elephants and men

But that day has set it's sun
And the rifle speaks no more
"Oh what I'd give for one last time
To hear that baby roar

Grandpa's Jeffery
His Jeffery 404"
Some load information although IU found that the 400gn bullet over 84gn H4350 with Fed 215 mag primer to be a very good load these were offered up on another forum
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 450 gr SN Bell Brass Federal 215 Hodgdon H4831 SC 87 / 2160 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 450 gr SN Bell Brass Federal 215 Reloader 22 87 / 2125 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 450 gr SN Bell Brass CCI 250 Hodgdon H4350 82 / 2160 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 450 gr SN Bell Brass Federal 215 ADI 2213 SC 87 / 2160 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 450 gr SN Bell Brass CCI 250 ADI 2209 82 / 2160 fps

404 JEFFERY Northfork IMR-4831 95 / 2,653 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 400 gr Bell Brass Federal 215 Hodgdon H4350 82 / 2200 fps

404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 350 gr Bell Brass IMR 4064 80 / 2500 Fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 350 gr Bell Brass Hodgdon H4350 80 / 2500 Fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 350 gr Bell Brass IMR 4350 80 /
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 350 gr Bell Brass Hodgdon Varget 80 / 2500 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 350 gr Bell Brass 75

404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 400 gr Bell Brass CCI 250 IMR 4064 71 / ?
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 400 gr RWS IMR 4831 93 / 2450 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 400 gr Norma/RWS Federal 215 RL-15 75 / 2262 fps
404 JEFFERY IMR 3031 63 / 2100 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 400 gr Kynoch Federal 215 IMR 4831 93 / 2280 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 400 gr Norma IMR 4320 80 / 2300 fps
404 JEFFERY NorthFork 380 gr IMR-4831 83 gr
404 JEFFERY Barnes 400 gr SOL RL-19 & IMR-4831 84 gr
404 JEFFERY Barnes 400 gr TSX FB Norma Federal 215M IMR-4320 68.5 / 2091 fps
404 JEFFERY Barnes 400 gr TSX FB Norma Federal 215M IMR-4064 67 / 2100 fps
404 JEFFERY Barnes 400 gr TSX FB Norma Federal 215M RL-15 68 / 2107 fps
404 JEFFERY Barnes 400 gr BND SLD Norma Federal 215M Accurate 4064 73 / 2277 fps

404 JEFFERY Hawk 300 gr Soft Point Norma CCI 250 AA 2520 89 / 2,460 fps
404 JEFFERY Hawk 300 gr Soft Point Norma CCI 250 IMR-4064 91 / 2,698 fps
404 JEFFERY Hawk 300 gr Soft Point Norma CCI 250 RL-15 91 / 2,665 fps
404 JEFFERY Hawk 350 gr Soft Point Norma CCI 250 RL-15 88 / 2,622 fps
404 JEFFERY Hawk 350 gr Soft Point Norma CCI 250 IMR-3031 79 / 2,516 fps
404 JEFFERY Hawk 350 gr Soft Point Norma CCI 250 IMR-4895 84 / 2,544 fps
404 JEFFERY Swift 400 gr A-Frame Norma CCI 250 IMR-4064 84 / 2,506 fps
404 JEFFERY Swift 400 gr A-Frame Norma CCI 250 IMR-4895 83 / 2,495 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 400 gr RN SP Norma CCI 250 IMR-4064 84 / 2,416 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 400 gr RN SP Norma CCI 250 IMR-3031 77 / 2,382 fps
404 JEFFERY Woodleigh 400 gr RN SP Norma CCI 250 IMR-4895 83 / 2,480 fps

404 JEFFERY 380-400 gr RL-19 & IMR-4831
404 JEFFERY 300-350 gr REM MAG RL-15 IMR-4064 VV150
As one of our resident experts on the 404J, thanks for amalgamating much of your information under one heading!
It might be appropriate to add this in here as well.

This is an artical I have C&P from another forum so the authorship is by Tileyman of Australia

I originally wrote this article for our club magazine, pulled together from a few sources including Ludwig Olsen's Mauser Bolt Rifles and De Haas' Bolt Action Rifles... hope you find it useful!

Many thousands of Mauser 98’s have been rebarrelled to a multitude of modern cartridges very different to the original 7.92mm German military chambering.

While some of these conversions feed reliably from the magazine, many do not!

The fault often lies with the magazine and follower profile if it is left unaltered from the original layout.

Paul Mauser was a gifted firearms designer who carefully designed each magazine of his M98 rifles for a particular cartridge.

Box and follower dimensions were predicated on case dimensions... Paul figured that a staggered column would enable more cartridges to fit into a given magazine well than a single vertically stacked column.

In order to feed correctly from a staggered magazine, each cartridge needed support... from the magazine box on one side and a cartridge or the follower on the other side and underneath. With a stacking angle of 30 degrees, three stacked cartridges in contact would form the corners of an equilateral triangle:

By multiplying the Cosine of 30 degrees ((0.866) by the case head diameter, then adding the diameter to the product of the equation, the correct magazine box width could be determined.

For example, a 9.3x62mm case measures 11.95mm across the rim.
So 0.866 x 11.95 = 10.35 +11.95 = 22.3mm
Theoretically, that is the correct inside rear magazine box width for any cartridge deriving from the 9.3x62mm case.

However, all cartridges taper, and so must the magazine.

The same formula yields the proper box width at the point of shoulder contact:
The shoulder diameter is 11.45mm
So 0.866 x 11.45 = 9.92 + 11.45 = 21.4mm

A magazine box for a 9.3x62mm cartridge must therefore theoretically taper from 22.3mm to 21.4mm. Adding an extra 0.07mm ( 0.003") or so for dirty or oversized cases makes practical sense.
So a practical magazine box for the 9.3x62mm cartridge would taper from 22.4mm to 21.5mm

A magazine box designed for one cartridge works for others ONLY with the same identical front and rear diameters and the same span between them. Triangles between cartridge centrelines get steep when the box is too narrow, and rounds tend to cross-stack.

Paul Mauser also relieved the box sides slightly, from just ahead of the cartridge base to just behind the shoulder, so there would be no increase in friction between the case body and the box wall.

He lavished equal attention on the magazine follower, which on an original M98 mirrors the box taper.

The width of its lower shelf matches that of the case, with a 61 degree step between the upper and the lower shelf.

The top shelf is high enough to touch the next-to-last cartridge without lifting it off the last round in the stack (its half a diameter above the lower shelf at base and shoulder) The follower has a slope to follow case taper and keep the cartridges level in the box.

Side clearance of the follower to box is also critical.

Followers should be about 1.5mm (0.060") narrower than their boxes so they can wriggle a bit... especially important for the last cartridge.

A magazine follower for our 9.3x62mm example cartridge must therefore theoretically taper from 20.8mm to 19.9mm.
A magazine follower to fit the practical box above would taper from 20.9mm to 20.0mm

Floor plates that have been machined to hold the magazine spring tightly won't feed properly either... the springs are supposed to shimmy back and forth!

If the spring can't shuffle a bit as the bolt strips a round, it twists and the follower tips or ends up sideways... sometimes both!

Follower length is not as critical, but one that is too short will tend to 'dive' in the magazine box and cause misfeeds.

Many temperamental-feeding custom rifles have had some attempt at magazine alterations, often made on trial and error rather than based on sound engineering principles.

Getting a custom M98 rifle to feed flawlessly with a new chambering is the mark of a top-notch gunsmith who fully understands the ‘elegant simplicity’ of Paul Mauser’s original design.



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