Monday, November 22, 2010

Cost Effective Big Bore Cartridges

Cost Effective Rifle Cartridges Part 9: Big Bore Cartridges

The big bore cartridges, like the medium bores, count very few rounds with significant availability, making a selection of obvious winners easy.

Among the "African" big bores suited to any game worldwide, the clear winner is the 375 H&H Magnum (often classified as a medium bore), with broad general availability and a wide selection of SKUs to choose from. We were expecting to find good availability for the popular 416 Rigby, the 458 Lott, the 458 Winchester Magnum, and possibly the new 375 Ruger. None of them can be recommended on the basis of availability, in particular with the 375 Ruger being very difficult to find and with very few options. Of the other three, the 458 Winchester Magnum has the most availability, with a smaller number of choices, and presents a high price of $88 per box. The 458 Lott also counts fewer SKUs to choose from (too little to recommend), with spotty availability to boot, and a more reasonable price of $64. The 416 Rigby of African fame has still  fewer choices, with spotty availability as well. It price of $126 per box gives one severe sticker choice, only surpassed by the astronomical amount of $136 for the "ultimate" 460 Weatherby Magnum.

The big surprise of the African big bores is the 470 Nitro Express, fairly available with good selection, for a hefty but not unexpected price of $88 per box, almost double that of the 375 H&H Magnum. Of course, this is not a round that one would expect to find in a small country store in the middle of the US.

Among "American" big bores, the traditional 45-70 Government, ever popular, gathers the crown, with a box price of $47 (about the same as the 375 H&H) and broad cartridge availability. We were expecting to see some reasonable availability for the 444 Marlin. While its price, as that of the 450 Marlin, positively surprised us at $30, its availability is spotty, and there is little cartridge choice. The 45-70 is an excellent brush cartridge, but, despite its size and weight, does not provide the range or the power of the African-capable 375 H&H. As usual, this does not mean that you cannot take African game with it - it simply means that other cartridges are better suited to take very large, thick skinned, dangerous game of African size, in particular beyond 150 yards.

  • Best African/ overall big bore: 375 H&H
  • Best big bore for US game: 45-70 Government
  • More African/ overall big bore options: 470 Nitro Express, 458 Winchester Magnum (fewer choices, high price: we endorse neither of them)

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