What is it about 404 Jeffery?

RStien321

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I have to ask - what is it about the 404 Jeffery that has lead to such a cult-like following? From what I can see, there is little to no factory availability on rifles (sub $4k) and factory ammo and reloading supplies are in sparse supply as well compared to other options.

416 rem, ruger, and Rigby are readily available as are brass, factory ammo, and reloading gear. They offer greater SD using a 400grain bullet, and seem to shoot flatter (if only slightly).

I know I’m probably stirring the pot a bit, but I’m honestly looking for the answer. Would also be nice if at least ONE manufacturer could build a 404 Jeff for south of $2k!
 

ActionBob

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There is history with the 404, as there is with the Rigby, Gibbs, etc. So it trumps the 416 Rem mag and Ruger on that part of the cool factor. It has a somewhat unique case that has been used as the parent for others. The loaded cartridge has a somewhat different look to it. Back to it's history, it has a reputation of getting the job done! And doing so without undue punishment in recoil to the shooter. I've seen claims that ot hits an animal like a 416 but with recoil more like a 375.

Beyond that all, I am convinced that the general difficulty of obtaining one is the biggest drawing card;)
 

Wheels

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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 it's mighty roar

author unknown
 

tomahawker

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It’s another way to spell African Big Game Hunting. Nobody shoots targets with it, never a topic of ballistics, not a marvel for sheer size, as said before it gets the job done. I lucked into a lefty 404J, give $2500 for it. Haven’t hunted it yet, but it is nice to shoot
 

tarbe

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...but it is nice to shoot

Part of the magic of the .404J is in the case volume to bore diameter - it is just right.

Unless you plan to shoot 400gr bullets over 2400 ft./s, you don’t need the case capacity of the 416 Rigby. That “excess” capacity results in larger powder charges and more recoil at a given power level.
 

tarbe

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So let’s say the 416 Rigby was uncommon and the 404 Jeffery was as easy to obtain as the 416 Rigby is today. Would the nostalgia/point of view change?

Appreciate the feedback!

Likely!
 

mdwest

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If the 404J were easy to obtain... for me at least, it wouldnt matter how common or uncommon the 416 Rigby was.. It wouldnt change the nostalgia factor.. any more than there is more or less nostalgia associated with a late 60's mustang and a late 60's camaro.. (competitor cars from the same era that were largely built for the same purpose, etc.. both are hard to come by.. which one you like/dislike is largely about you as an individual..)..
 

IvW

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Why the 404 Jeff? Well it is a very cool cartridge that comes with only good things said about it by even the earliest users. It far outstripped the actual use when compared to the 416 Rigby that actually shadowed it due to media and books.

It is more effective than the 375 H&H on DG and is probably the all time best cartridge for use on DG, especially buffalo.

Not as versatile or flexible as the King of the medium bores but undoubtedly more effective on DG. With modern bullets and reloading components it can easily be loaded to higher velocities.

If you plan on hunting some of the bigger species and DG it is probably a better "all-rounder" than the King.

Don't forget that the 404 Jeffery took the Chadwick ram, the world record stone sheep taken in British Columbia in 1936 by Dr. Chadwick.

It has very manageable recoil when compared to the 416 Rigby. The case design with the long neck and sloping shoulders makes for easy and smooth feeding.

The case design is also more efficient than the Rigby.

The same rifle in 404 Jeff will hold 1 more cartridge in the mag when compared to the 416 Rigby.

Any books you read will tell you that no matter who used it nobody has anything but praise for its effectiveness on all manner of African game.

The 404 Jeff and its double rifle brother the 450/400 NE are classic African calibers, capable of taking all animals on earth with mild recoil but devastatingly effective on the front end.

Any big game hunter would want a 404 Jeffery in a bolt or 450/400 NE in a double. They both are just such classic and well used and proven calibers for Africa.

Between the 404 Jeff or any of the 416 calibers available, I would choose the 404 Jeff, hands down.

:W A Rifle: 404 Jeffery

:S Kneel:
 

Shawn.54

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The 404 Jeffery was made in much larger numbers than the 416 Rigby.
The Jeffery was a working rifle in game departments while the Rigby was made famous in novels.
The fame of the 416 made the difference between survival or obscurity.
The 404 has started to work it way back in the past few years with its balance of power and recoil being rediscovered by hunters and shooters.
Shawn
 

Wheels

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So let’s say the 416 Rigby was uncommon and the 404 Jeffery was as easy to obtain as the 416 Rigby is today. Would the nostalgia/point of view change?

Appreciate the feedback!

The 404 was common. At one point, used by most of the British Colonial Game Departments. (Uganda comes to mind as an exception. .425wr) Occasionally you may still find an antique in the field being carried by a member of a game department. Usually with a handful of polished 60+ year old Kynoch.

The 416 was uncommon. Less than 200 were made pre WWII if I recall correctly. Then, Robert Ruark goes on safari with Harry Selby. Selby damages his 470 and has to replace it immediately. A 416 is available in the store so Selby purchases it. Ruark writes a couple of books where a 416 is heralded as a fantastic dg machine, (which it is) and presto, everyone has to have a 416 for their African Safari of a lifetime. The trend continues to this day.

A few of us are either old or possibly just nostalgic and prefer the 404. Here is mine. According to Jeffery's Ledger, she turned 111 years old this past June. She is older than any 416, and more affordable than a preWWII 416 if you can find one.

 

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Wheels

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The 404 Jeffery was made in much larger numbers than the 416 Rigby.
The Jeffery was a working rifle in game departments while the Rigby was made famous in novels.
The fame of the 416 made the difference between survival or obscurity.
The 404 has started to work it way back in the past few years with its balance of power and recoil being rediscovered by hunters and shooters.
Shawn

Great minds.......:D

You obviously type faster.(y)
 

matt85

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It is old, different, scarce.

this is the best way to sum up the reason the 404 has such a following.

the difference in perceived recoil between most of the 416s and the 404 today is more likely attributed to guns chambered in 404 being of better quality (typically custom guns) then guns chambered in one of the 416 cartridges. if loaded to the same speeds the 416 Ruger, 416 RM, and 404 Jeffery all generate such similar recoil that you wont feel the difference if fired from similar rifles. the 416 Rigby will generate more recoil due to its larger case capacity needing more powder to do the same job.

personally i prefer the 416 RM, its got sufficient case capacity to make it easy to hand load and uses readily available bullets and brass. if 416 RM brass ever becomes scarce its easy to make it from 375 H&H brass.

-matt
 

bruce moulds

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my memory suggests that the 404 was , in the day, considered as a dual purpose round, similar to the 375 h&h today.
it had a light bullet load and a heavy bullet load for different jobs.
probably not as good for dangerous game as 45 and 470 rifles, but could do the job, while possibly being more suited to plains game than the above.
for professional culling more economical than the 45/470 group.
modern bullets have altered this to some degree.
the strength of the 375 is its ability to put a 300 gn dead on at say 100 yds, with a 270 gn a little higher and a 235 a little higher again.
the lighter bullets then have a longer point blank range, and suit lighter game in more open country with the 300 ready to go on nastier things in closer, all with the same sight setting.
change ammo, not the sight.
can't say how the 404 and 416s are in this respect, as have never owned them.
bruce.
 

colorado

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I have always wondered why H&H didn't simply neck their 375 H&H cartridge up to .423 without blowing the case out like in the 416 Rem. I think it would've been a hit. Their 400 H&H is too little too late in my opinion.
 

Von Gruff

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C&P from the internet and is just one of the links I have on the wonderful 404 Jeffery.

The following story from a Professional Hunter with years of experience in Zimbabwe and South Africa:

“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 buffalo burger 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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