Designed with big game hunting in Africa in mind, the 458 Winchester Magnum provided the United States’ answer to the English double rifle cartridges used in bolt action rifles (the 450 Nitro Express and the 470 Nitro Express). The 458 Winchester Magnum gained popularity amongst big game hunters, professional hunters very quickly, and became a caliber of choice for hunting on the African continent.
The 458 Winchester Magnum faced certain difficulties during the 1970’s regarding gun powder in the cartridges clumping together. This caused erratic, and therefor unreliable, burn patterns in the caliber, which affected its popularity for a while. To this day, however, 458 Winchester Magnum hunting rifles remain the big game hunting rifles of choice for many serious hunters.
The 458 Winchester Magnum was designed to carry a load of 510 grains at a velocity of approximately 2 150 f/s. This allows the caliber to penetrate deep into the tough, thick-skinned animal and lodge there, thus delivering a tremendous shock to the target and a fatal blow. Although no caliber is perfect at achieving a hunting kill shot all of the time, the 458 Winchester Magnum is considered a reliable, accurate and dependable hunting caliber when big game hunting in Africa.
Why the 458 Winchester Magnum is a popular hunting caliber
- Reaches high velocities: When handloading, the 458 Winchester Magnum is able to reach very high velocities. This, along with the size and mass of the caliber, allows for greater damage to the hunter’s target.
- Greater penetration through thick skin: The high density of the caliber allows for a really big force (and therefor greater penetration through thick skin) to be delivered to the target.
- Effective at stopping large, dangerous game in its tracks: This caliber was designed to be effective over the short range. As such, it is very effective at stopping a large, dangerous animal in close vicinity dead in its tracks and can thus be counted upon to be a life saver when a hunter is confronted in a threatening situation.