I have a Watson Farquharson circa 1902 chambered in .450/.400 3 1/4” N.E. This has been nitro proofed for the heavy 60gr. Cordite/.400gr jacketed loading. My concern is not so much for the strength of action/barrel...but for the stock. there is a reinforcing bolt thru wrist in back of action..very professional job..inletted engraved escutions both sides & engraved ends of bolt..looks to have always been there. Anyway, when I recieved rifle it was mid winter and very dry in house..after about a week a small thin crack opened up in side of wrist in the checkering. Professional stock making friend accraglassed threaded rods & “dog-bone” accraglass filled inlets across crack..alll work being done inside tang inletting..hard to tell where crack was unless you knew. Problem now is i'm gun shy..pun intended about shooting heavy recoil loads..even though wrist is probably stronger now than before. Cast bullets from 300-.400gr. both P.B. & G.C. Powders tried: SR4759, 3031, 4198, 5744, TraulBoss..all produced heavy..some severe even low start loads. Have read Wrights book on Dbl. rifle...was wondering if a light charge of fast pistol powder..say Unique, Red Dot, or 700X would work? But what about that huge case capacity? Not looking for hunting...just a mild shooting 50yd.-100yd. target loading. Any opinions or advice would be appreciated, Thanks!
Reduced loads for .450/.400 3 1/4" N.E.?
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Evaluate what you are really going to use the rifle for and tailor the load in foot pounds for the distance you will be taking game shots. example: for deer sized game, 1,000 foot pounds impact from a flat nosed cast bullet equals a power level humane for the harvest of deer size animals.
I hunt with a 350 gr cast bullet in 45 caliber so I have played with those numbers. You need a muzzle velocity of 1360 fps with that bullet to deliver 1,000 foot pounds at 100 yards. That is not a hot load for your rifle at all.
For larger dangerous game like Black Bear I shoot that bullet at 1700 fps for Bear harvest load level to 200 yards. That may be hot for your rifle, I don't know but I am shooting a Colt Sauer Grand African .458 WM with those load levels and the hotter Bear load has recoil less than a 30-30 with factory loads from my 10 pound rifle. My loads are well below .458 WM factory loads but tailored for the game I shoot at the ranges I hunt. I use 57 gr H4895 plus BPI Original filler for the Bear load. My bullet is the RanchDog 460 350 gr FNGC that I cast in Lyman #2 Alloy.
You can calculate foot pounds at any range from your load here with any starting muzzle velocity:
Pistol powder charges in your large capacity cartridge, I would expect to be very dangerous. H4895 reduces to 1/2 case full safely and needs no filler for ignition but I use filler to lower ES and that helps accuracy. I believe H4895 would be the ideal powder for your cartridge. No other powder has manufacturer reduced load recommendations like H4895 has from Hodgdon. Search “Hodgdon 60% rule” and read Hodgdon's PDF on the subject.
Opinion, having worked with some older US 40 caliber cartridges, I think you could get Unique to work. Since your are only interested in a “mild shooting target loading” consider only using the 300 grain .40 plain based bullet. These carry up just fine to 200 yards for shooting paper. The case volume is an issue. While I don't like wads of TP or kopek, that may be required unless you are willing to position the powder back against the primer prior to shooting. 2 3/4” is a long way to expect a primer flash to ignite even Unique. I don't have any experience with other powders for successful light loads in big cases. HTH, Ric
I have had good luck with Hodgdon's Tite Group in charges less than 20 percent the weight of full charges of slow powders. No ignition problems, excellent SD of MV, very clean, and doesn't seem to care about powder position -- 700X almost as good. But I don't have experience with such a large caliber and case. John
22-10-45: FWIW: If your haven't already, try the Nitro express forum. They also have a cast bullet thread there. I have the 4th edition of the Lyman Cast Bullet Manual. I has two pages of cast loads for the 45-120-31/4 Sharps, several different bullet weights and smokeless powders. Still not the same. But if you want I will copy and email. Trying to interpolate loads from our smaller modern cases would still make me a little nervous given what you have.
The 4th edition of Lyman's Cast bullet Handbook does have 40-70 Straight Sharps load data. That case is smaller than your 450/400 NE so may be of some help.
For some reason, try as I might..Nitro Express always rejects me from joining! Anyway, I came across some notes from few years ago when I last worked with this rifle. As luck would have it..(since it's being discontinued) SR 4759 prooved most accurate. 20.0grs.-22.0grs. under lyman 412263 gave 1” 50yd. groups. with moderate recoil. However..P.O.I. was 10-12” high. A start load of IMR3031 (50.0grs.) gave terrific recoil...but shot exactly to sights and cloverleafed 3 shots. I wonder how much IMR 3031 can be safely reduced? I tried an NEI 275gr. P.B. using 18grs. SR4759 and it again cloverleafed with nearly non-existant recoil..but again printing 10-12” high at 50yds. The front sight is an old hand made yellowed ivory blade with small bead filed at rear..looks like it was there forever and kind of neat looking..rear sights are wide shallow V express..1 standing two folding with dovetail in base for windage, I would really like to find a light load to shoot to sights..but might have to bite bullet & change out front sight. I did try that light bullet load out to 100yds. thinking it might drop to P.O.A. but surprise...it shot even higher! This is a real puzzler. I was thinking of going the other way & trying either 300gr. G.C. for greater bore resistance? or trying a 350gr. P.B. with light charge. That was why I was thinking Unique might work? What do you guys think?
Yesterday, I was able to take the .450/.400 Farqharson out to range again. This time I had various cast bullet loads from a 300gr. P.B. (Leeth nose-pour) to 300 G.C. (BACO) & 350gr.G.C.(RCBS). Powders were Trail Boss, Unique, & H4895. All loads tried were shooting about 12” high at 50yds. I was bench-shooting using a Bulls-Bag canvas/suede front rest..but switched to plain sandbag to rest hand only while gripping forend in normal way..this brought groups down 2-3” I am thinking of standing using a tripod rest next time out. I probably need a taller front sight..but this rifle has a very old ivory insert at rear of front sight that looks to have been there forever & I hate to change this. The H4895 loads, used the Leeth 300gr. P.B. were cutting small cloverleafs..these loads had a Kapok filler. The last time out, I had tried a start load using 50gr. of IMR3031..this produced very heavy recoil..but the 300gr. P.B. was hitting exactly to sights. I'm wondering if I reduce that 50gr. charge to a more comfortable level..I can live with a grouping a bit high..just not 1' I had thought the heaver 350gr. G.C. bullets would print lower but that is not the case. I am just looking for a comfortable shooting accurate 50yd. load..not for hunting. Do you guys think a standing position would bring groups down?
” Do you guys think a standing position would bring groups down?"
NO, you will have to work on the sights or you will get nowhere trying to move point of impact that much. Your hesitation to work on the sights is the problem. Pick a load that groups well and then modify or replace the sights to fit how the good load shoots.
An inexpensive temporary solution is possible. Glue a top extension on the front sight. It will need to be about 3/16” higher. A modification of the rear sight is possible too by cutting and dropping the notch then re-bluing the filed metal.
That type of sight modification is bread and butter for a gunsmith. They do this all the time. He can solder an extension front and cut rear as needed. You can really help the smith only when you decide on the load and bring him a fired target with a tight group and have the actual picture you see with your eyes drawn on the target of your sight picture at the hold you fire. He will do the math and modify your sight. They do this a lot! it is their job.
This will be best for you and your smith with a 2x2' target with a 1” bull @ 50 yards, a 6 o'clock hold with the top of the front sight touching the bottom of the bull in your sight picture drawn on the target. A good smith will put you right on no matter where your group was on the target.
Don't be fooled depending on a heavier bullet dropping point of impact with a 45 cal rifle. Recoil and butt plate angle have a significant effect on big caliber rifles. My .458 WM Colt Sauer shoots 14” high at 100 yards with a 500 gr bullet compared to a 300 gr bullet. That is normal. The difference in recoil does this.
A couple of times now you have asked about reduced 3031 loads. Reducing 3031 below recommended START can cause seriously dangerous disasters. The only really safe rifle powder recommended by the maker for reduced loads is H4895. Search Hodgdon 60% Rule and reduced loads are explained there for H4895.
From reading that Hodgdon stuff carefully you will verify that 1/2 case full of H4895 is the lowest you can go and maintain safe reliable ignition. That will be a very mild load with any recommended bullet weight for your cartridge. MAXIMUM recommended load down to 1/2 case full is the range of loads you have with H4895.
That is a wide range of loads, usually with several high accuracy nodes for long range shooting.
If you are resting the barrel on a bag try resting your hand on the bag and gasping the forearm while pulling the rifle back into your shoulder as hard as you can without disturbing the rifle. Your rifle was designed to fired standing with a hard hold during the recoil phase, give it a try, your point of impact should drop, good luck
I think I will try your suggestion Premod70..only I plan on using a camera tripod standing with hand resting on that for stability.
I think I will try your suggestion Premod70..only I plan on using a camera tripod standing with hand resting on that for stability.Hang on tight, the bullet is in the barrel for a long time so don't let up on the hold until well after the bullet is gone!, I hope it works for you.
The faster powders mentioned; Unique/ Red Dot/ 700X, should work very nicely with the 300 gr cast bullet. Were it mine I would start with 8 gr of the Red Dot or 700X and work up 'till the velocity was around 1050 fps. With the Unique I would start at 12 gr and work up to the same 1050 fps. I wouldn't use any wad or filler but raising the muzzle to position the powder at the rear of the case may prove beneficial to accuracy if shooting past 50 yards.
Concealment is not cover.........
Not looking for hunting...just a mild shooting 50yd.-100yd. target loading. Any opinions or advice would be appreciated, Thanks!
I know what I would do, but it's not my rifle. The powders required are either discontinued or the manufacturers present method of making it does not give the same results as the older stuff does. If you have old lot WW 231 (metal can) or SR4759 PM me and I'll tell you.
Hodgdon data has 45-120 Sharps data that is relevant to your .450/.400 3 1/4” N.E. and lists 350, 405 and 500 gr bullets with IMR3031, H322, Varget, IMR4064, IMR4895, H4895, Benchmark, H4198 and Trailboss.
You have no problem locating loads, the only recommended powder for reduced loads below these START loads and no filler is H4895 with the 60% rule as I mentioned. You can safely start at 50% density of H4895 and go up to the maximums listed at Hodgdon. The recommended Trailboss loads there go down to ~1100-1300fps too. The danger of pistol powders and the need to tip the rifle for consistent ignition are completely eliminated with recommended loads from Hodgdon.
The Sharps cartridge case is so close in length at 3.2” to your 3.25” that this data is valid load recommendation from Hodgdon.
Thanks onondaga..that Hodgdon site sure helps. I was looking thru the load data for .45-70 Trapdoor loads..and their start load using a 300gr. cast bullet was 51.7grs.of 3031. I was using a 50.0 gr. charge of 3031 and it shot to sights...but recoil was severe..or so I thought shooting off bench..but I was hunkered down. Maybe I'll try that load again standing with rest and see if I can stand it a bit better. I am going to work with H4895 some more..this seemed to group well..only shot high..perhaps an increase in charge would up velocity and bring groups down. Last night I had a brain storm..I have been paper-patching for black powder loads in a .40-63 Ballard. Years ago, I had Tom Ballard make a .40 adjustable paper-patch mould. I had sworn off black at the time, and had him cut it oversize for smokeless..bullets drop out at .402 using 20-1 alloy. The bore (land-land) on that Farqharson just happens to measure .402! Patching with .0025” 25% tracing paper gave a .4115” dia. over dried patch..groove dia. of bore is .411". The only thing holding me back from trying P.P. before was the grooves are lightly frosted and dark from that Hot Cordite burn..I managed to shine up tops of lands with tight patches & JB. I was afraid the patch would be torn..But if it works..that just might do the trick..P.P. have higher velocity and less pressure than G.G., I wonder if this would lower P.O.I. while decreasing recoil somewhat? Lots of work ahead.
I shoot some PPd bullets in my .458WM also. There has been a major advancement in PP technology you might not be aware of. Dampen the patch specifically with Lee Case Sizing Lube, then roll the patch on glass firmly and allow to dry before sizing. The Lee case lube is water soluble when wet and dries waterproofing the patch and increasing the integrity of the patch. This improved method bypasses the worst problem of the old method and makes the patches weatherproof and much more durable. PPd bullets cast of even pure lead and patched this way can be shot to factory load levels of jacketed bullets and leading is completely eliminated by the paper jacket with Lee Case Lube. Of course this works with the full load range too. The best PPd bullet finished size will have a sliding fit to the chamber upon loading and will shoot accurately. Undersized will dependably shoot all over the place.
An additional advancement with the Lee Case Lube PPs is to use a small scrap of chamois skin leather and a bit of powdered graphite to rub into the PP of the finished round. This provides additional weather proofing and lubrication.
The method works silly good and is superbly accurate but pretty time consuming. Open rain will not damage bullets PPd with this new technology. I have one mold that drops just the right size to apply patches, dry and size at .461", then graphite for a perfect fit to my .458WM chamber. It is my best shooting bullet but a pain in the butt just to make 10 of them and I routinely like to shoot 50 rounds a sitting.
Again, I will suggest, stop being consumed with POI. Get a load that groups well and is comfortable to shoot, then modify your sight to the POI. You then have a one load gun and your problems disappear, making the rifle fun.
do you use the Lee Case Sizing Lube straight..or dilute with water when dampining patch?
do you use the Lee Case Sizing Lube straight..or dilute with water when dampining patch?
Straight. Tip- I start with a little and add more after the initial roll to definitely dampen through both turns of the whole patch. You might develop a different routine but that works for me. Diluting the Lee case lube can be done as it is soluble, but for paper patches, diluting the lube dilutes the patch strength integrity and the reason for using the specific product. If I over soak the patch when rolling, I gently roll off the glass and on a paper towel......and that is more tedium to the job!
If a heavier bullet prints higher due to recoil, and the bore is .402, it might be possible to load the 180 to 200 grain bullets designed for 38-40 and similar - although I don't know where you would find any load data for this.
I can understand not wanting to change out that ivory bead sight, both from the point of view that it adds to the "Africana" aspect of the piece, and that if it has been on the job so long, it must be right for some load - but if nothing else works you can always put it somewhere that it won't get lost, and put on something different. A sight pusher is great for adjusting iron sights and for removing/replacing them.
Strongly recommend you heed the warnings given about some possibly unsafe loads, don't blow that fine old rifle up, and maybe hurt yourself in the process!
I nearly forgot about this post..thanks for reply. I did try a lighter 250gr. bullet..at 100yds. thought it would print lower..but it was still rising and shot even higher! I haven't had time to work out any more loads..but I am thinking of either making or purchasing a shooting tripod and this should reduce felt recoil as well as possibly lowering groups as compared to a bench rest. That 50.0gr charge of 3031 under a 300gr. cast did shoot to sights perfect..maybe the tripod would make things a bit more comfortable? Thanks again for reply.
It's interesting that your lighter loads are shooting higher than the 50 grains of 3031 with 300 grain bullet. Maybe the light loads have a longer barrel time, yet generate enough recoil to make the gun move enough to throw the bullet high.
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