The .416 Taylor

By Chuck Hawks

Robert Chatfield-Taylor invented this interesting wildcat cartridge in 1972. Mr. Taylor was a noted gun writer and hunter who used the cartridge on a variety of large African game. Others followed Chatfield-Taylor's lead and have successfully taken the African "big 5" dangerous game animals with the cartridge.

This is not surprising, as the .416 Taylor is simply the .458 Winchester Magnum case necked-down to accept .416" bullets. This is a very sensible way to create a .416 caliber big game cartridge that will work in standard (.30-06) length rifle actions and pretty much duplicate the ballistics of the long .416 Rigby elephant rifle cartridge. A-Square realized the value of the .416 Taylor and adopted the cartridge, producing both rifles and factory loaded ammunition in the caliber.

The actual dimensions of the rimless, belted .416 Taylor case include a standard magnum rim diameter of .532", a head diameter of .512", a small 25 degree shoulder, and a case length of 2.5". The overall cartridge length is 3.34". The maximum average pressure (MAP) is 53,000 cup or 63,800 piezo psi. A-Square .416 barrels are rifled with a 1 turn in 10" twist.

Naturally, for the same sectional density, .416 bullets are lighter than .458 bullets and can be driven to somewhat higher velocity. The A-Square factory loads drive a 400 grain bullet at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2350 fps with muzzle energy (ME) of 4905 ft. lbs. The figures at 100 yards are 2093 fps and 3892 ft. lbs., and at 200 yards the velocity is 1853 fps and the remaining energy is 3049 ft. lbs. These figures are only very slightly less than those produced by the much larger and more expensive .416 Rigby, which would seem to confirm the wisdom of Chatfield-Taylor's design.

A-Square trajectory tables show that the three 400 grain bullets offered in their .416 Taylor factory loads will hit dead on at 200 yards if zeroed to hit 3" high at 100 yards. This is a very practical trajectory for a powerful big bore cartridge.

With the right bullets the .416 Taylor has proven adequate for the world's biggest and most dangerous game, including the African elephant, Cape buffalo, and lion. A-Square just happens to make bullets recommended for all three, the 400 grain Monolithic Solid, Dead Tough, and Lion Load. All three are round nose bullets that share exactly the same .330 sectional density and .316 ballistic coefficient.

In addition to the A-Square bullet Triad, Nosler offers a 400 grain Partition spitzer; Speer has a 350 grain Mag Tip semi-spitzer, a 400 grain African Grand Slam, and a 400 grain Tungsten Solid; Hornady supplies 400 grain RN bullets in soft point and solid styles; and Barnes offers a selection of .416" bullets to the reloader in 300, 325, 350, and 400 grain weights. RCBS can supply .416 Taylor reloading dies. A-Square sells .416 Taylor brass, and cases are easily formed from .458 Win. Mag. brass. In other words, the .416 Taylor is a practical cartridge for the average reloader. Unfortunately, reloading data is a little hard to come by, as the most common reloading manuals do not list the cartridge. The best source of .416 Taylor data appears to be A-Square.

Any Shot You Want, the A-Square reloading manual, shows that 70.5 grains of Reloader 15 powder will drive the 400 grain A-Square bullets to a MV of 2254 fps. 75.0 grains of the same powder is good for a MV of 2394 fps, at a reasonable MAP of 48,800 cup. Load to a MV of 2350 fps and the trajectory will be identical to the factory load. These loads were developed using A-Square brass and CCI 250 Magnum primers.

These are African safari loads. But, just as the .458 Winchester Magnum can be handloaded with 350 and 400 grain bullets in reduced power loads for hunting the heavy game of North America, so could the .416 Taylor be loaded with 300, 325 and 350 grain bullets for the same purposes.

A 300 grain Barnes X-Bullet at a MV of about 2300 fps and ME of 3523 ft. lbs. would make an excellent reduced power load as well as a deadly elk load. A 325 grain Barnes X-Bullet at a MV of 2500 fps and ME of 4510 ft. lbs. would make a fine "Alaska" load for elk, moose and the great bears. Alternatively, a 350 grain Speer Mag Tip or Barnes X-Bullet at a MV of 2400 fps and ME of 4476 ft. lbs. would also give all the power necessary for most of the world's dangerous game, with less recoil than the full power factory loads.

Recoil, of course, is the major problem with any of the powerful big bore rifle calibers. And the .416 Taylor is no exception, although it kicks less than the .416 Rem. Mag. or .416 Rigby, and considerably less than a .458 Win. Mag. My "Rifle Recoil Table" shows that a 10 pound .416 Taylor rifle shooting a 400 grain bullet at a MV of 2350 fps rocks the shooter with 47.8 ft. lbs. of recoil energy.

The .416 Taylor has not become a popular cartridge. Even though adopted by A-Square, a SAAMI member, it has not been picked-up by other ammunition companies or chambered by the major rifle makers.

Frankly, it is hard to understand why. The .458 Winchester Magnum, designed to provide the power of the British .450 and .470 Nitro Express elephant cartridges in a package that would fit standard length repeating rifle actions, has been a great success. With the increase in popularity of .416 caliber cartridges in North America and the world, I would have thought that the success of the .416 Taylor, which does for .416 caliber rifles what the .458 Win. Mag. did for .45 caliber rifles, would have been assured.

Instead, Ruger built an oversize M-77 action specifically to accommodate the .416 Rigby, Weatherby necked-down their massive .460 Magnum case to accept .416" bullets, and Remington necked-up their long (.375 H&H Magnum length) 8mm Magnum case to accept .416" bullets and adapted it to their Model 700 African Rifle. Winchester chambers their Model 70 Safari rifle for the .416 Remington Magnum cartridge. (At the time of this writing, Browning and Savage do not chamber for any .416 caliber cartridge.)

None of these cartridges fit the many popular rifles with standard length actions, and the Rigby and Remington .416's offer only 50 fps advantage in MV over the .416 Taylor. It seems that these long cartridges give up a great deal of utility for very little gain in performance.

However, I detect among shooters an increased awareness of the .416 Taylor. It may be something of a "dark horse" among big bore rifle cartridges. I suspect that the major arms company bold enough to chamber a popular bolt action rifle in .416 Taylor caliber, advertise its virtues, and persuade one of the "Big 3" ammunition companies to offer both an "Alaska" load with a 325 grain bullet (as detailed above) and a full power "Safari" factory load with a 400 grain bullet, might find that they have an unexpected success on their hands.

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