Ruger’s No. 1 Tropical 450/400 3″ NE Part II


OK, Joe, so why not show the entire rifle since it is such a nice example of a Ruger No.1 Tropical? I believe most people who have handloaded and shot… peppy cartridges such as the 450/400 3″ Nitro Express, that are intended for big and dangerous game, can understand how the buttstock of such a rifle would be at the forefront of my thinking.

Rather than repeat myself, even though I do love to repeat myself, readers are welcome to refer to Part I of this series for history and perspective on the cartridge.

The first notable upside to this big cartridge is that the cost to reload is inline with run of the mill smaller bore magnum cartridges. No add-on Safari fantasy tax here. This is something Hornady does very well when producing a new or resurrecting a classic cartridge such as this.

New Hornady brass runs $35/20 and comes in a nicely finished carton with insert so there is someplace to park loaded ammo. Jamison brass runs $48/20 and Bertram, the diva in the group goes for $95/20. A Hornady die set will set you back $68 while an RCBS full length Safari set runs $167. Hornady and Ruger have done a good job of making this combination viable even for practical minded individuals.

Bullets… a matter of some specificity

While the practice is probably expedient, it can lead to some confusion, resellers tend to lump together all jacketed bullets 0.408″ – 0.412″ in diameter. This takes into consideration bullets for the .405 Winchester, 450/400 3″ NE and the 450/400 3¼” NE which differ in diameter, length of ogive and location of cannelure. The best thing to do it to stick with those expressly labeled for this cartridge, even if that means checking the manufacturer’s site or calling their tech line.

Woodleigh makes five bullets for the 450/400, however, only two of conventional design,  400 grain soft nose and 400 grain FMJ intended specifically for the 0.410″ groove diameter 450/400 3″ Ruger. Woodleigh also make a hydrostatically stabilized 400 grain bullet for the 450/400 3″. Soft nose and solid pictured.

The shape of the Woodleigh solid material bullet is of significance. A while back, when we conducted big bore testing with solid material bullets, Barnes Banded Solid was the only one that stayed straight in a 12″ diameter ballistic medium target. The Woodleigh bullet did the same. What they share in common is a positive radius below the flat or convex nose. Solid material bullets that veered off would channel course quickly and acutely had a conical tip with uniform taper.

Hornady and Barnes offer expanding and non-expanding bullets for this 450/400 3″. I’ve used both with heavier 416, 458 and 500 caliber cartridges and all performed well. With a price of $3ea for the solid material Woodleigh, other than out of curiosity, I would have no compulsion to purchase them when the Barnes Banded Solid sells for one-third the cost, as do conventional copper clad steel, over lead FMJ bullets.

An easy round to handload

There is actually a good amount of handload data out there for this cartridge. Hornady, Barnes reloading manuals and “Any Shot You Want” are all good sources of instrument tested load data. Everything here is derivative so not much that is very creative.

Warning: Bullet selections are specific, and loads are not valid with substitutions of different bullets of the same weight. Variations in bullet length will alter net case capacity,  pressure and velocity. Primer selection is specific and primer types are not interchangeable. Powder selection is specific right down to cut length and not subject to untested substitution. These are maximum loads in my firearms and may easily be excessive in others. All loads should be reduced by 5%,  and developed following safe handloading practices as represented in established reloading manuals produced by component manufacturers. Presentation of these loads does not constitute a solicitation for their use, nor a recommendation.

Cartridge: 450/400 3″ Nitro Express

  Firearm: Ruger No. 1 Tropical   Max COL: 3.750″
  Bullet Diameter: 0.410″   Primer: CCI 250
  Barrel length: 24″   Reloading Dies: Hornady
  Max case length: 3.000″   Group: Distance 100 yards – Not recorded
Caution: Not for use in 450/400 3¼” Nitro Express chambers. “Case Grains Water” is a statement of case capacity, not a reference to a powder charge.

COL and Capacity   Load Data & Performance
Bullet Type Bullet
  Powder Charge
Energy Ft/Lbs
Barnes Banded Solid 40935 400 3.735 96.6   RE 22 94.0 2405 5139
Barnes Banded Solid 40935 400 3.735 96.6   H4831SC 90.0 2300 4700
Barnes Banded Solid 40935 400 3.735 96.6   IMR7828 SSC 92.0 2354 4923
Hornady DGS 4103 400 3.685 91.8   Re19 86.0 2341 4869
Hornady DGS 4103 400 3.685 91.8   H4831 88.0 2310 4741
Hornady DGS 4103 400 3.685 91.8   IMR7828SSC 90.0 2366 4973
Woodleigh RNSN W40B 400 3.715 95.6   *IMR7828 86.0 2228 4410
Woodleigh RNSN W40B 400 3.715 95.6   MagPro 96.0 2362 4957
Woodleigh RNSN W40B 400 3.715 95.6   Re19 89.0 2404 5134
Woodleigh RNSN W40B 400 3.715 95.6   IMR7828SSC 93.0 2430 5246
Woodleigh Solid H450/400 400 3.750 89.5   Re19 85.0 2369 4986
Woodleigh Solid H450/400 400 3.750 89.5   H4831SC 86.0 2308 4732
Woodleigh Solid H450/400 400 3.750 89.5   RS Hunter 85.0 2401 5122
* Not SSC powder – 39,000 PSI Avg Pressure Load. Good range Load

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

OK, so I’m a big girl in my not so golden years and I don’t think enough of you guys to beat myself profusely about the head and ears to note how this gun shoots, off of a bench rest with a 20x scope. You know, in a configuration and from a shooting position no hunter will ever see? But I did, for just a moment, imagine M’bogo was bearing down on me and only twenty five yards off… between the elm and oak tree. So I popped him twice through the gun’s flip up open sights, shooting from a standing position, not five second in between, with the results indicated below.

The gun faked me out. I think the target selected hints at my expectations going in and I didn’t feel particularly settled in when I began squeezing off shots. That said, it is a good shooting gun. Recoil isn’t shoulder killing, seventy six foot pounds by calculation, or about 50% greater than a 375 H&H. For anyone not wanting a “me too” gun, the Ruger No.1 Tropical remains an interesting gun to own. The 450/400 chamber makes it even a bit more special and if they keep that fancy wood and clean hardware coming the gun will remain an incredible value.

Ruger’s No. 1 Tropical 450/400 3″ NE Part I
Ruger’s No. 1 Tropical 450/400 3″ NE Part II

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