The S&W .460 Magnum
By Chuck Hawks
Smith & Wesson has done the obvious by introducing a .45 caliber cartridge for their X-Frame 5-shot revolver. Hornady and Cor-Bon did the cartridge and load development.
The new cartridge is a lengthened version of the .454 Casull, itself a lengthened version of the .45 Long Colt. So both of those cartridges can be fired in a revolver chambered for the .460 Magnum.
The basic dimensions of the new .460 Magnum are as follows: bullet diameter .454", rim diameter .520", case diameter .478", overall case length 1.800", cartridge overall length (COL) 2.300". The official SAAMI maximum average pressure (MAP) is 65,000 psi!
The .460's COL is too long to permit the cartridge to be chambered in existing Colt, Freedom Arms, Ruger, and Taurus revolvers, so its popularity is automatically limited to those consumers with memories so short that they are willing to do business with Smith & Wesson.
Forsaking all common sense, which would indicate the heaviest pistol bullets available in the caliber for such a large case, the basic factory specifications call for a 200 grain bullet at a MV of 2330 fps and ME of 2400 ft. lbs. A 200 grain bullet in such a big case is just about the poorest possible choice for what is, realistically, a moose and elk gun. Fortunately, there are many heavier and more suitable hunting bullets from Hornady, Speer, Sierra, Nosler, and Barnes available to the reloader.
Here is some .460 reloading information from the 2007 Hodgdon Annual Manual. 45.0 grains of H110 or W296 powder behind a 240 grain Hornady XTP-Mag bullet will get you a MV of 2084 fps at 43,600 psi. A maximum load of 48.5 grains of H110 (or W296) increases MV to 2254 fps at 52,100 psi.
Use the heavier 300 grain Hornady XTP-Mag bullet and 38.0 grains of H110 or W296 will get you a MV of 1825 fps at 43,200 psi. Increase to a maximum powder charge of 42.5 grains of H110 or W296 and the MV climbs to 2034 fps and the MAP to 56,100 psi. These loads would make far more sense than the factory loads when using the .460 Mag. for hunting the largest North American antlered game.
Note: Another article about the .460 Smith & Wesson Mag. can be found on the Handgun Cartridge Page.
Copyright 2005, 2007 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.