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Case Histories

Case Histories

It’s easy to look at the name Rigby and associate it with many of those cartridges (and rifles) that found fame and fortune in the days of the big game safari from the late 19th century to the beginning of WWII. Indeed, there’s a gap of over eight decades from their well known .416 to today’s subject, the .450 Rigby Magnum Rimless, aka the .450 Rigby of 1995 - and almost a century since the introduction of their unrelated .450 Nitro Express.

Family tree

The family lineage is simple; the .416 Rimless of 1911 providing the parent case for this necked up .458” calibre rimless, bottleneck offering. The development history of this relative newcomer is equally well known. In 1993 Paul Roberts, the then owner of Rigby, was on an elephant hunt in the Zambezi Valley. He took a cow with his .416 Rigby Rimless but the lung shot failed to achieve a clean kill, prompting his decision to develop something more substantial. Their capacious .416 was the obvious parent choice since it required a minimal amount of work to create both the new cartridge and suitably chambered, magazine fed rifles or traditional doubles.

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Performance is huge, but developed to use Cordite the necked up .416 case does not make the best use of modern propellants. Most reviewers made the comparison with the .458 Lott, which delivers comparable performance from around 20% less powder. In its defence, the .450 does the job at a lower chamber pressure and can therefore be stoked well beyond its peers. It also makes the cartridge more resilient to wide changes in climatic conditions. The initial factory offering drove a 480-grain Woodleigh SP at 2370 fps for some 6000 ft/lbs. Pushed to its 6500 ft/lbs (approx) CIP limit the Rigby will hurl a 500-grain Woodleigh at over 2420 fps but be prepared for some discomfort. Doing the maths, we get a stout, free recoil from the 10+lb rifle of well over 80 ft/lbs!

Technical limitations

As a reloading project the problems are not the most common ones. Dies and other tools, data, magnum rifle primers, .458 cal bullets and propellants are all widely available. Cases are listed by Norma at about £4.00 each. Case life is limited, but then, how many rounds will you use in your life time? However, the impediment will be load development and zeroing. You will require access to ranges approved for HME ammo… forget your local miniature rifle club, or even Bizzers. A trip to the home of Kynamco in Mildenhall, Suffolk, may be your best option. They have an enclosed tunnel range and all the necessary measuring kit. However, the thought of letting one of these go in their enclosed, tunnel range is a bit daunting, as both blast and pressure will be apparent!

As for an application? Well, Big Five or Big Five are really the only sensible options. I remember, many years ago, dreaming of a ‘Paper Safari’ competition using life size big five paper targets with reactive kill zones. However, until my dream is realised you’ll just have to take your £10k Rigby on a flight to Africa or the amazing Kamchatka Peninsula.

 

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