The .404 Jeffery
By Chuck Hawks
The famous .404 Jeffery (also known as the .404 Rimless Nitro Express in the UK) was introduced in 1909 by Jeffery of England to duplicate .450/400 (3 1/4") performance in a cartridge designed for bolt action rifles.
As originally loaded with cordite (British long strand smokeless powder), the .404 drove a 400 grain bullet at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2125 fps and muzzle energy (ME) of 4020 ft. lbs. This is the load that made the caliber's reputation. There was also a load for large thin-skinned game that drove a 300 grain bullet to a MV of 2625 fps with ME of 4595 ft. lbs., but this load was regarded as less certain on thick-skinned game.
.423" bullets are available from A-Square, Barnes, RWS, and Woodleigh. .404 Jeffery brass is available from A-Square, Bertram, Norma, and RWS. According to loads given in the A-Square Handloading Manual, reloaders can equal or surpass the modern factory loads. However, in deference to the age of many .404 rifles, A-Square suggests that handloaders limit MV to about 2170 fps. 71.0 grains of IMR 4064 will give a 400 grain A-Square bullet a MV of 2171 fps in an A-Square case using a CCI-250 primer. History has shown that a proper 400 grain bullet at that velocity is as deadly as it needs to be to take any game in the world.
Note: A complete article about the .404 Jeffery can be found on the Rifle Cartridge Page.
Copyright 2004 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.