The .416 Weatherby Magnum

By Chuck Hawks

The .416 Weatherby Magnum was introduced in 1989 to out perform the earlier .416 Rigby and the upstart .416 Remington Magnum. This it does, by a considerable margin, in true Weatherby fashion. The Mark V Deluxe rifle in .416 Wby. Mag. comes with a 28" barrel and weighs 9.5 pounds without sights. This is wise, as the .416 is based on a necked down .460 case, burns upwards of 115 grains of powder behind a 400 grain bullet, and kicks ferociously. It is interesting that the .460, .416, and .378 Weatherby Magnums are all based on a blown out and belted version of the .416 Rigby case, but operate at much higher pressure that the classic British cartridge.

This unique Weatherby case has a rim diameter of .579", a body with very little taper, and a double radius Weatherby shoulder approximately equivalent to a conventional shoulder with an angle of 36.8 degrees. The case length is 2.913" and the overall cartridge length is 3.750". The MAP is 63,861 psi.

A-Square offers their Triad of bullets in factory loads for the .416 Weatherby. These are all 400 grain RN bullets at 2,600 fps. The trajectory of the 400 grain A-Frame bullet looks like this: +2.2" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, -9.3" at 300 yards. At 300 yards it is still carrying 3,592 ft. lbs of energy!

Weatherby offers a 350 grain Barnes X-Bullet at 2,850 fps and 6,312 ft. lbs. of ME, a 400 grain Swift A-Frame bullet at 2,650 fps and 6,237 ft. lbs. of energy, and two 400 grain RN bullets at 2,700 fps with 6,474 ft. lbs. of ME, a soft point and a solid. The figures for the 400 grain solid bullet at 100 yards are 2,411 fps and 5,162 ft. lbs.

The A-Square reloading manual Any Shot You Want suggests, among other loads, 116.0 grains of IMR 7828 powder for a MV of 2632 fps, and 120.0 grains of IMR 7828 for a MV of 2742 fps, both with a 400 grain A-Square bullet. These loads were assembled using A-Square brass and CCI-250 primers, and were tested in a 26" barrel. The MAP of the maximum load was 61,000 psi.

The recoil of the .416 Wby. Mag. is much worse than the other commercially loaded .416's, about 74.7 ft. lbs. in a 11.3 pound Weatherby rifle. No one will find such a cannon pleasant to shoot. Very few shooters can face that amount of recoil and still put a bullet precisely where it should go.

The .416 Weatherby Mag. was designed for shooting thick-skinned dangerous game like elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo. It has been used in Africa and Asia on lion and tiger, and in North America on the giant bears of the far north, but is not necessary for these animals.

The .416 Wby. makes an awesome dangerous game cartridge for those who can control it, and offers a more powerful, flatter shooting alternative to the .416 Rigby and .416 Rem Magnum. If scientists ever clone enough Imperial mammoths to justify an open season, I predict that sales of .416 Weatherby Magnum rifles will soar.

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Copyright 2003, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.