The .416 Ruger - "New Standard for Dangerous Game"

By Chuck Hawks

.416 Ruger
Illustration courtesy of Hornady Mfg. Co.

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 .375 Ruger case, on which the .416 Ruger is based, is something of an oddity. It 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 or the even larger .416 Rigby.

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 (taken 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.

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 should be useful for Cape buffalo, hippo, rhino and elephant. For the largest and most dangerous North American game, the .375 Ruger and similar cartridges are more than sufficient.

Note: An expanded version of this article can be found on the Rifle Cartridges page.

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Copyright 2009, 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.