The .460 Weatherby Magnum

By Chuck Hawks

The .460 Weatherby Magnum is based on the huge .378 Weatherby belted case necked up to accept .458" bullets. These are the same bullets used by the popular .458 Winchester Magnum. It was introduced in 1958, no doubt in response to the unexpected popularity of Winchester's .458 and the laws of certain African countries which demanded bullets of no less than .40 caliber for use on elephant and rhino.

Weatherby's ultimate magnum had to be spectacular, and the .460 is. This huge bottleneck cartridge has a small, double radius Weatherby shoulder (equal to a conventional shoulder angle of about 28 degrees.) The case itself is 3" long, and .604" wide at the belt. The cartridge overall length is 3.75" and it is loaded to 63,861 psi as transducer measured (the C.I.P. figure, since Weatherby factory ammunition is loaded in Sweden by Norma.)

At the time of its introduction it was alleged to be the most powerful big game cartridge in the world, a claim disputed by proponents of the .600 Nitro Express. Regardless, the .460 Wby. Mag. is one powerful cartridge. Just the thing to have if a T-Rex comes calling.

Weatherby offers factory loads with a 450 grain Barnes-X bullet at 2,700 fps and 7,248 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy. Also 500 grain soft point and FMJ bullets, both at 2,600 fps and 7,504 ft. lbs. of ME. The only other company to load .460 ammo is A-Square, who offers a trio (they call it a Triad) of 500 grain bullets at 2,580 fps with 7,389 ft. lbs. of ME.

Ballistics tables show that if the 500 grain Weatherby factory loads are zeroed at 200 yards, the bullet will strike about 2.5" high at 100 yards and 11" low at 300 yards. For those few who can shoot it accurately, the .460 is about a 250 yard big game cartridge.

According to the Hornady Handbook, Third Edition handloaders can push a 350 grain bullet to 2,950 fps with 115.5 grains of H380 powder or 123.2 grains of Winchester 760 powder. A 500 grain bullet can be driven to 2,600 fps with 120.8 grains of IMR 4350 or 124.6 grains of Norma 204 powders. All of these loads use Weatherby brass and hot Federal 215 primers.

It takes real nerve to touch off a round from a .460 Weatherby rifle. The Weatherby Mark V rifle in this caliber has a 26" barrel and weighs 10.5 pounds. Fire a 500 grain bullet at 2,600 fps and you are going to have to deal with about 96 ft. lbs. of recoil energy! Why anyone would want to do so is beside the point--like Mount Everest, the .460 Wby. Mag. is there.

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Copyright 2002, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.