The .416 Ruger

By Chuck Hawks

.416 Ruger
Illustration courtesy of Hornady Mfg. Co.

One of the first new cartridges announced for 2009 was the .416 Ruger, developed for Ruger by Hornady. It uses the .375 Ruger case necked-up to accept .416" diameter bullets. This case has the .532" rim diameter of normal belted magnum cases, but there is no belt. This allows the case body diameter and case capacity to be slightly greater than that of belted magnums, without the excessive case diameter and rebated rim of cases based on the British .404 or .416 nitro cases. Using the latest powder technology, the .416 Ruger manages to duplicate the ballistics of the longer .416 Remington Magnum and the even larger .416 Rigby.

Here is Hornady's introduction to their .416 Ruger:

"Whether it's a raging bull elephant or a vengeful cape buffalo, the 416 Ruger is the new authority on dangerous game. Based on the innovative and hard-hitting 375 Ruger, the 416 Ruger cartridge shares many of the same advantages. Designed from the ground up to function flawlessly in standard length actions and deliver hard-hitting performance, the 416 Ruger cartridge delivers the same performance as the fabled 416 Rigby, but does it in a shorter 20" barreled Ruger Hawkeye rifle that is extremely compact and easy to carry."

"The beltless design of the cartridge case provides smooth, flawless functioning that is demanded from a dangerous game cartridge. And, the standard length action provides less chance of 'short stroking' the bolt when things get hairy."

"416 Ruger ammunition will be available in two offerings: a 400 grain DGX (Dangerous Game eXpanding), and a 400 grain DGS (Dangerous Game Solid). Both feature a copper clad steel jacket with a high antimony lead alloy core."

"The DGX is designed to deliver VERY controlled expansion and deep penetration. The DGS will not deform under the most extreme conditions and is designed for situations where penetration is an absolute must, plus it provides the perfect follow-up bullet when hunting dangerous game."

"Over the past several decades, the names Hornady and Ruger have become synonymous with 'The Best.' The NEW 416 Ruger is no exception."

The new .416 Ruger seems like an excellent cartridge. Its commercial success will depend on whether the world needs yet another .416 dangerous game cartridge. We already have the .416 Remington Magnum, .416 Rigby, .416 Weatherby Magnum, .416 Dakota, .416 Rimmed, 10.57mm (.416) Lazzeroni Meteor, .416 Hoffman and .416 Taylor. All of these are as powerful as the .416 Ruger (some even more so) and all are available in factory loaded form from one source or another.

The advertised velocity/energy of the .416 Ruger with 400 grain DGS or DGX bullets are as follows (measured in a 24" test barrel):

  • 2400 fps/5116 ft. lbs. at muzzle; 2143 fps/4077 ft. lbs. at 100 yards; 1902 fps/3212 ft. lbs. at 200 yards; 1579 fps/2504 ft. lbs. at 300 yards.

Here is the published trajectory of that load, fired from a rifle with a scope mounted 1.5" over bore:

  • 0 at 100 yards; -6.1" at 200 yards; -21.9" at 300 yards.

Remember that these ballistics were developed in a 24" test barrel. The velocity from the 20" barrel of a Ruger Hawkeye "Alaskan" rifle will be reduced. The recoil and muzzle blast from firing such a powerful cartridge in a 7.75 pound rifle with a 20" barrel should be spectacular! For full velocity and less recoil/blast, consider the Ruger No. 1-H Tropical Rifle in .416 Ruger. This weighs nine pounds and is supplied with a 24" barrel.

There is no doubt that this is a very powerful load. So powerful, in fact, that it is unnecessary for any purpose except hunting dangerous CXP4 game, primarily in Africa, where it will be useful for Cape buffalo, hippo, rhino and elephant. It should be noted that, because the .416 Ruger is a new cartridge, it is unlikely to be widely available in Africa for years to come. Be sure to take all the ammunition you will need if you plan to use a .416 Ruger rifle as your dangerous game rifle on safari and understand that if your ammo is lost in transit, you will be out of luck.

For the largest and most dangerous North American game, the .375 Ruger, .338 Win. Mag. and cartridges of similar power are more than sufficient.

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Copyright 2009, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.