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Thread: 400 Whelen

  1. #1

    Default 400 Whelen

    I sold an encore I had in 405, but I really liked the cartridge. I am going to look for a 2nd hand 405 in a Ruger #1 and a 1895 eventually, but it got me thinking I really like the .411 caliber so "why not build a 400 something?"

    So I searched the net and some old books I had and of course like all answers, the first thing you should do is read your Elmer Keith books. So I did and came up with the 400 Whelan.

    Of course, the gospel on the cartridge is that it wouldn't work because of headspace. So I did more research and found out that a lot of work had been done on it recently and it was worth a try again, using the .458 shoulder.

    I have a couple actions lying around in a state of un-use but I decided that since I am doing this from scratch I might as well kill an unloved 270 (since Keith would approve) and look for a 2nd hand (discarded is that the right word?) CZ 550 or Ruger Hawkeye or Mark II in 270 to kill (make that raise up) to a proper cartridge.

    Why a Ruger Mark II or CZ? Because I think the claw extractor and CRF will help the small shoulder on the 400. I had thought about a pushfeed rifle on a Howa, but want to test this out first.

    The CZ beats the Ruger, although 2nd hand CZs are usually more expensive. As the CZ holds 1 more round. And why the CZ or Ruger over the M70 or Mauser 98?

    Simple, they have integral mounts. A feature I have come to love.

    As I start on this journey, I have a two ideas I need to pick between:

    House Rifle:
    18 inch barrel #8 contour (heavy) Shilen
    All metal cerakoted
    Trigger replaced/adjusted to be non single-set (in the case of the CZ) and replaced with 2.5 pound Timney
    McMillan Sako 75 "Hunter" stock for the Ruger (unsure for the CZ).
    Aimpoint 9000

    Field Rifle:
    22 inch barrel #6 contour Shilen
    All metal cerakoted
    Trigger as above
    Stock as above
    Swarovski 1.7-10x42 Z6

  2. #2
    Member Matt's Avatar
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    Do you have a goal on what you want your rifle to weigh 'all up' or that not matter to you? Either build with those components will weigh a minimum 10lbs.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt View Post
    Do you have a goal on what you want your rifle to weigh 'all up' or that not matter to you? Either build with those components will weigh a minimum 10lbs.
    Any time you strap a 30mm scope to a rifle, you are lucky if it weighs less than 10 pounds.

    I'll manage.

  4. #4
    Member 1Cor15:19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska_Seth View Post
    Any time you strap a 30mm scope to a rifle, you are lucky if it weighs less than 10 pounds.

    I'll manage.
    I'd think the primary advantage to using a .400 Whelen rather than a .416 Ruger or .416 Rem Mag is substantially less recoil so as to preclude the need for a rifle heavy enough to make it pleasant to shoot. I think about 8-8.5 pounds ready for the field would be about right for a .400 Whelen so any opinion I'd have about your suggestions will be very different than you're considering. Having said that, a #4 is as big as will fit in the Sako Hunter stock (check with McMillan, but they are not inletting a #8 or #6 in that forearm) and that is going to make it pretty thin in the forearm. I'd much rather do a #3 and even then you need a short shank for the Hunter stock. I love the Hunter stock, but thick contours are a no-go. The Remington Hunter is a different beast, but then you're using a 700 or a Savage--no Ruger or CZ inlet from McMillan in that stock. Personally, for a .400 Whelen I'd be thinking 20-22 inch #3 in a McMillan Hunter, but obviously we've very different opinions on hunting rifles...........
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

  5. #5

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    I was thinking that the advantage to the 400 was the amount of ammunition it would hold.

    Ruger has done a wonderful job with their 416 Ruger Alaskans, but to be handicapped by such a small number of rounds is to me a hard sell.

    The beauty of the 400 is maybe you lose a little velocity, but we aren't talking about 300 yard shots. But you still have 3 or in the case of a M70, Sako 85 or CZ 4 more rounds in the magazine.

    I'll have to spend more time researching barrel diameters available in .411.

    Recoil isn't so much a feature I had thought of, but it is an added bonus as the wife should be able to handle it on trips to the wood pile. Where a full caffeine 416 or 458 isn't so manageable by a non-shooter.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    I'd think the primary advantage to using a .400 Whelen rather than a .416 Ruger or .416 Rem Mag is substantially less recoil so as to preclude the need for a rifle heavy enough to make it pleasant to shoot. I think about 8-8.5 pounds ready for the field would be about right for a .400 Whelen so any opinion I'd have about your suggestions will be very different than you're considering. Having said that, a #4 is as big as will fit in the Sako Hunter stock (check with McMillan, but they are not inletting a #8 or #6 in that forearm) and that is going to make it pretty thin in the forearm. I'd much rather do a #3 and even then you need a short shank for the Hunter stock. I love the Hunter stock, but thick contours are a no-go. The Remington Hunter is a different beast, but then you're using a 700 or a Savage--no Ruger or CZ inlet from McMillan in that stock. Personally, for a .400 Whelen I'd be thinking 20-22 inch #3 in a McMillan Hunter, but obviously we've very different opinions on hunting rifles...........
    Thanks I was thinking #3 was pretty whippy.

  7. #7
    Member GD Yankee's Avatar
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    I think the link will work if you're not a member, but there have been quite a few threads on the 400 over on Accurate Reloading:

    http://forums.accuratereloading.com/...481#4181010481

    http://forums.accuratereloading.com/..._scope=4711043

  8. #8
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    A .400 Whelen sounds kinda interesting - please keep us up to date on how it all works out. My .400 / 338 WinMag wildcat has been interesting to play with but I still need to do a lot more with it. It is different from the .400 BJ Express but not sure who dreamed it up. My .375 AI -06 has also been interesting, it has the possibility of becoming my favorite shot range heavy caliber. I've got a couple of .35 Whelens but I need to get the barrels turned down to make them more portable - they hold a lot of promise.

    My thoughts on the .400 Whelen:

    Definetly go with the claw extractor action - the claw will hold the case tight enough against the bolt face to fire regardless of headspace issues. My 03 Springfields will fire primed cases in an unbarreld action if I hold the case with slight pressure on the side - all this came up in a previous thread about the .35 Whelen and how excess headspace could result in misfires.

    I'd try military '06 US GI or Match cases due to their thicker and tougher construction - I've necked them up to my .375 AI with no problems even without annealing them. I can send you some to try when you get to that stage. If I get time I'll neck some up to .40 cal.

    Use Lee or Hornady dies with the long tapered extractor plug to neck the cases up - those have worked well for my .400 Wildcat even necking cases up from 7mm Rem mag to .400. I've used the Lee sizing lube with good sucess and it washes out with hot water.

    Consider the use of cast bullets when you select your twist and throating. Cast bullets allow for a lot of cheap practice and you can get wome repsectable loads with heavy bullets. They are also great for fire forming cases and sighting -in etc. There is a nice variety of .40 cal molds available from all the old .40 cal rounds like the .40-82 etc. I've got a .40 cal RCBS mold but i don't recall the weight.

    Modifing the action to feed the straight cases could be interesting but it can be done. My .375 AI will feed empty cases fine; if I neck some up to .400 I'll try them. My .375 AI is build on a FN Supreme action; I was told a gunmith in Juneau built it but no names or way to verify anything.

    Again, keep us up to date on how it all works out.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
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  9. #9
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    There's no reason for the rifle to weigh 10 pounds. I have two different 400 wildcats and both weigh slightly less than 8#, no scope, but with iron sights. Both ballistically out perform the 400 Whelen and have no headspace issues due to case diameter. One is based on the 376 Steyr case using Hornady brass and the other is based on the 300 WSM case. They use .411" bullets and push the 350 grain bullet to 2300 and 2400 fps. The reamers are available for loan and I know a good gunsmith in Fairbanks who can chamber a barrel and build a rifle right. I've used both in the field and they are very good bear and moose rifles. One of these rifles is built on an FN Mauser action and is cerakoted O.D. green. It is for sale with brass and dies.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  10. #10

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    Thanks, I'll keep up the information search before I order a reamer.

    A friend of mine in Switzerland has a 10.3x65 Wildcat or .411 based on the Brenneke 9.3x64 case. I have a 9.3x64 reamer, and had thought about building a .411 on that cartridge.

    Lots of fun big bores around isn't there?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska_Seth View Post
    I was thinking that the advantage to the 400 was the amount of ammunition it would hold.

    Ruger has done a wonderful job with their 416 Ruger Alaskans, but to be handicapped by such a small number of rounds is to me a hard sell.

    The beauty of the 400 is maybe you lose a little velocity, but we aren't talking about 300 yard shots. But you still have 3 or in the case of a M70, Sako 85 or CZ 4 more rounds in the magazine.
    .375/.416 Ruger holds three down in the Ruger action. How many rounds do you expect to need?
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

  12. #12

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    I really want 5. To me the only dissapointment in the Ruger Alaskan is the 3 round capacity.

    Bear fight at the back door when your kids are in the yard rifle, how many rounds would you want?

  13. #13
    Member GD Yankee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska_Seth View Post
    Thanks, I'll keep up the information search before I order a reamer.

    A friend of mine in Switzerland has a 10.3x65 Wildcat or .411 based on the Brenneke 9.3x64 case. I have a 9.3x64 reamer, and had thought about building a .411 on that cartridge.

    Lots of fun big bores around isn't there?
    Well if that's the case, just go for the 9.3x64. That is an awesome round and equals the .375 H&H. Cheaper than the a wildcat and more bullets available.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska_Seth View Post
    I really want 5. To me the only dissapointment in the Ruger Alaskan is the 3 round capacity.

    Bear fight at the back door when your kids are in the yard rifle, how many rounds would you want?
    Lack of shooting back is not normally a problem for me, but if you need 5, you need 5............
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

  15. #15
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    Seth, there's a guy who lives right here in Eagle River who has a 400 Whelen, and has been doing some load development with it. I don't think he's a member here, but he posts on 24 hr. campfire.com. You might want to do a search there for 400 Whelen - some good info to help you with the build.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

    Noone has a more intimate understanding of, or deeper appreciation for freedom, than a soldier who has fought for it in a country where it does not exist.

  16. #16

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    Thanks all,


    I'll do some more digging.

    5 shots allows you to miss a couple times. Adrenalin isn't a good factor for precise shots.

    The Wiebe bottom metal for the Mauser 98 would allow for 6 in a 30-06 based rifle.

    Thanks for the contact, I'll try and dig him up after I do some more research.

  17. #17

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    Found this,

    http://www.z-hat.com/411%20Hawk.htm

    411 Hawk, I knew Fred when he was a gunsmith in Casper.

    Probably just stay with the original 400 Whelen. And send the barrel and action to Fred to chamber with his reamer.

    Until we get moved up there and I get a lathe and mill I am ill equipped to do anything.

  18. #18

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    Seth,

    I'm normally right on top of any 400 Whelen threads but I rarely check the gunsmithing section so I missed this thread.

    I built a 400 Whelen 2 years ago on a left handed model 70. I think I am the guy AKsoldier is referring to but I live in Wasilla. I have posted much of my load development on the 24 hour campfire and on Accurate Reloading. It has been the most fun project I have ever done as far as rifles go. It handles bullets from 300-400 grains, my favorite being the 400 grain Woodleigh but I am still working up loads for several 350 and 300 grain bullets. My wife took her caribou with last year with a 400 grain Woodleigh. It's entirely adequate for caribou.

    My rifle wears a 24 inch Shilen #4 barrel. The rifle weighs right a 8 pounds. It is still in the white, something I intend to correct this winter. I want to get a barrel band swivel and front sight sweated on, drill and tap for a Lyman 48 and have it duracoated/cerracoated. I put it back in the original stock but also have a nice English walnut semi inlet blank to marry it to eventually.

    You won't regret the choice of the 400. The "headspace" issues that seem to follow this grand old wildcat are myths that Michael Petrov soundly squashed in his excellent research. I have over a thousand rounds down range in fire forming and load development and have never had a failure to fire due to any "headspace" issue. Had one dud primer but that was the only failure to fire.

    As for powders, H4895 has been the stellar performer. Unfortunately I've not been able to find any and am down to my last half pound. I do have several pounds of AA2495 which I will be testing this winter as a replacement. Reloader 15, 4064, and 4320 are all too slow. IMR 3031 is a good performer in it as well. Some of my 400 Whelen friends on AR have had good luck with H322, TAC and Varget. I have yet to try any of them, mostly because of the current powder shortage.

    Contact me if you have any questions.

    Mart

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