Bill's Accuracy Shop
Bill Truitt - bill@billsaccuracy.com

 
Custom rifle: .450 Nitro Express

Photo of rifle - click for larger version

This rifle is a Ruger #1 single shot converted to .450 Nitro Express. (Click on the image at right to see a larger version.) It's remarkably accurate, and a blast to shoot, though its recoil can be a bit stiff. Here are some particulars:

 
cartridges for the rifle THE CARTRIDGE

The .450 Nitro Express is a large-caliber, "dangerous game" round, suitable for grizzly bear and African dangerous game (Cape buffalo, lion, elephant, etc.). The cartridge was originated in the 1890s by the legendary English gunmakers Holland and Holland. It uses a rimmed case 3.25 inches long and is based on an older black powder cartridge but strengthened for smokeless powder (modern cartrige cases are available from A-Square and Bertram). This caliber uses large amounts of slow-burning powder to push a heavy bullet very fast. Typical loads use up to 110 grains of VihtaVuori 560 powder to push a 500-grain Speer Grand Slam or Woodleigh bullet to 2500 feet per second. (Contrast this to the 1900 fps you get from a typical .458 Winchester Magnum rifle and you can see the difference is more than cosmetic.) It's easy to download to lower velocities for afternoon plinking; you can drop the bullet weight down to 300 grains and the speed down to 1700 fps to replicate 45/70 ballistics.

 
Closeup of rifle action - click for larger version

THE RIFLE

The rifle's Ruger #1 action is well suited to reliable feeding of large cartridges. The working parts of the action have received a general smoothing; this and a well polished chamber also contribute to reliable feeding. The Douglas barrel has a 1 in 14 twist, and there is a Leupold Vari-X 1.5 to 4 power scope, as well as back-up iron sights. (Click on the image at right to see a larger version.)

Targets shot with rifle - click for larger version

ACCURACY

"Dangerous Game" rifles are generally less accurate than their target or benchrest cousins, because of greater tolerances and because their bullets are designed more for their effect on game than for absolute accuracy. This rifle, however, has the best of both worlds -- it's one of the most accurate .450 Nitro Express rifles ever made, and it does it without sacrificing reliability.

How accurate? This rifle produces more than a little recoil -- let's face it, it pounds on the shooter's shoulder pretty good -- so "group shooting" to determine accuracy is limited to 3-shot groups. The groups shown in the targets at the left were shot with the rifle at 50 yards, a typical dangerous game distance and a distance well suited to its (wide-angle thus low-power) scope. (Click on the image to see a larger version.) The results speak for themselves.

 

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