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Thread: .450 Alaskan problem

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Port Lions on Kodiak Island

    Angry .450 Alaskan problem

    At this point I will not mention the name of the one who sold me the rifle in question as the fellow may opt to do the right thing and step up to take care of the cost involved whatever they may be.
    I purchased ($$$$$$) a Browning M-71 recently that was supposed to be in .450 Alaskan. The short story is that it is NOT. I recieved a partial but adaquate set of forming and sizing dies, .348 Winchester cases. and some Remington 405 grain bullets.
    After fire forming the cases to "final" dimension I noted that the full lenth sizer stopped about .135" short of the fire formed shoulder. I called RCBS thinking the die was faulty. Sent the whole of the die sets to RCBS who wrote me back stating the fire formed case was unlike any they have ever made dies for and was not a .450 Alaskan.
    Generally the case dimensions are undersize (but for the neck which is correct as far as it goes) all the way around. Length is also good and leaves a little room for trimming to 2.145".
    So after all this the question is: Does anyone out there know a really good gunsmith who is intimately familliar with the .450 Alaskan or Akley Improved or even the .450 Fuller who could finnish the chamber reaming in this rifle which seems to be all it needs.
    Any feedback here would be very much appreciated.

  2. #2

    Cool Problem

    Before you do anything to the rifle !!! Have a gunsmith cast your chamber!!!. This will determine what caliber it really is and what caliber it can be made into. To just run WILLY-NILLY into the woods crying wolf won't work. A quality gunsmith might be able to help you at this point at minimal cost. SAVING YOU BIG BUCKS. GOOD LUCK
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

    On the road of life..... Pot holes keep things interesting !

  3. #3


    If there's a problem, for me it would be a tradeoff between rechambering or having a set of custom dies made by RCBS based on your fired cases. The prices are going to be similar if the GS can rent the reamer, more if he has to buy it.

    I've only handloaded for four of them, but there seem to be at least a couple of "families" of original 450's, and who knows what specs were used in chambering your newer Browning. My own 450 is a very early one, according to the friend I bought it from the second one that Johnson made. He was a close friend of Park's, so the claim may have some merit.

    Whatever the case, even though mine is really near the front of the line, it has a definite shoulder rather than the more or less straight taper I've seen on other early ones. Old PO didn't put his improved label on the barrel, but it sure as heck looks like an improved version to me. I read all I could on specs and finally sent three fired cases to RCBS and had them make me a set of dies. No looking back.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Default A New Wildcat...

    Interesting situation there.

    The dimensions of the 450 Alaskan in case you don't have them are as follows:

    Rim diameter: .6100"

    Base diameter: .5530"

    Shoulder diameter: .5200"

    Neck diameter: .4820"

    Length to the start of the shoulder: 1.7500"

    Length to the start of the neck: 1.7950"

    Overall length of the case: 2.1450"

    Shoulder angle is listed at 16 degrees, 32 minutes.

    These dims are taken from Dr. Ken Howell's book of cartridges. This is the only 45 caliber from the 348 case listed in the book. These dims correspond to the parent case dims except the length and shoulder forward. The original 450 Alaskan is a somewhat "improved" case. Shoulder diameter for the 348 is .4851".

    Are you dies marked 450 Alaskan? Are you able to load with these dies just by partial neck sizing? Is the barrel stamped with 450 Alaskan?

    Good luck and let us know how that goes.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?

  5. #5


    Hi Murphy. I started to post those #'s but hesitated because there seems to be several different versions of the "450 Alaskan" floating around, and that may be contributing to Ron's problem. Two I loaded for have a long tapered case kind of like a "super" 45-70, while others like mine have a distinct, if narrow shoulder that looks like it approaches 40 degrees or so much like PO's improved version of the 450. But as I state, my barrel doesn't say 450 Alaskan Improved like a couple of later versions I have seen. Brav01's suggestion to make a chamber cast or working from fired case samples may be the only way to get things absolutely right, short of rechambering as Ron was proposing. Dandy rifle and round, but lots of "personality" involved in setting one up.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    Hey Ron.
    I can't be much help here (you know that!) but it's good to see you found this place!!
    Just to let folks know Ron is new to Alaska but is a VERY accomplished custom muzzle loader builder with a national reputation, putting out highly functional works of art for those tha can afford them & making average guns shoot for poor folk like me!
    Of course he obviously doesn't know squat about about .450 Alaskan lever guns ;-)
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Port Lions on Kodiak Island

    Default Fire formed case dimensions

    First - Thanks Vance for the vote of confidence - lever gun commment notwithstanding =).
    For the initiated of you following this threat here are my fired case dimensions:
    This is for one fireing of reformed .348 Win brass using 61 grains of IMR 3031 under a Remington .458, 405 bullet seated to the crimp ring.

    Overall (unloaded) case length; 2.152"
    Rim diameter; .606" New Winchester .348 case
    Base diameter; .546"
    Diameter at bottom of shoulder; .514-5"
    " " " " Neck; .484"
    " " Case mouth OD; .482"
    Case length from top of the rim to bottom of the shoulder; 1.635"
    " " " " " " " " top " " " ; 1.665"
    Case length from the top of the rim to where the RCBS .450 Alaskan marked full lenth sizing die stops the neck sizing process/top of the shoulder; 1.795"

    This final measurement corresponds to a .450 Alaskan Technical Drawing I found at:
    As you can see most the measurements of the fire formed case are smaller than the tech drawing.
    Thanks for a reminder to do a chamber casting. Almost forgot that.
    Final question: Once having a good chamber casting in hand - I could use some good recommendations on a competent gunsmith to send it along with spent cases to. I want the full case capacity of the 450 Alaskan. This one off thing I have is something shy of that.
    It just "feels" like the smith who did the work on the gun I have did not run the reamers in to finish lenth. But this, as Vance noted, is not my area of expertise=)
    Thanks Ron

  8. #8

    Default correct chamber?

    I guess two ways to approach the situation. Either leave the gun alone and have a die company ream a new sizing die to specs of your chamber based on fire formed cases- maybe the least expensive if you are confident in the alignment and concentricity of your chamber OR re-ream to normal (standard) 450 specs then use the normal 450 dies you have... I assume the RCBS dies are normal (standard). For peace of mind if you do a chamber cast you might also do a chamber cast of the die then have the smith who does the re-chamber cross check the die measurements against his reamer measurements. I does seem like it was simply short-chambered in the beginning. Good luck.

  9. #9
    Member alaska bush man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Thumbs up 450 Ak-71

    I have one of JKR with the Bumiller barrel and dies that date back to the gun.....sweet little rifle!

  10. #10


    Hi Ron,

    I got my 450 along with 20 boxes of Rem UMC cases (in the red boxes, no less), so that tells you how old my case collection is. I just grabbed a once-fired case, and I'll measure it as I type this.

    OAL= 2.193"
    Rim= 0.608"
    Base= 0.550" but my mike isn't thin enough to reach inside a very narrow groove just ahead of the rim.
    Diameter at bottom of shoulder= 0.523-4"
    Neck= 0.486"
    Case Mouth OD= 0.482"
    Case Length from top of rim to bottom of shoulder= 1.679"
    " " " " " " " top of shoulder= 1.722"

    Looks like the shoulder on mine is 0.063" or so ahead of yours, but 0.073" behind the shoulder on the spec sheet you linked as well as the RCBS die.

    I'm not sure that my measurements did more than add another set of numbers to the confusion, but it does add to the range of possibilities in anything labeled "450 Alaskan," especially when you factor in the early ones I've seen with virtually no shoulder at all. Matters get worse when you look in John Donnelly's "The Handloader's Manual of Cartridge Conversions," which lists a shoulder length of 1.75".

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default gunsmith gary junk

    try this link for a smith in fairbanks


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Port Lions on Kodiak Island

    Default 450 Alaskan - not

    After talking with a new aqcaintance on the phone this afternoon and comparing notes we think we have come up with one answer to my mystery.
    The case measurments I gave him compared to a 450/348 Ackley Improved that he had.
    Gee - that's nice to know! But I bought (I thought) a 450 Alaskan and there is a fair difference. Feeding is reported to be potentially inferior to the Alaskan for one thing. No small consideration if you want to hang out in Brown Bear country.
    I will be sending the rifle and some fired cases to a competend gunsmith for professional look at it and see if I can have the chamber finish reamed to a more or less "standard" 450 Alaskan. RCBS list the dies in their special order group. They are not considered custom so there must be a standard of sorts.

    Thanks for all the help!

  13. #13


    Hmmm. Wonder where you acquaintance was getting his #'s for the 450/348 AI. Donnelly is listing 1.735" to the bottom of the shoulder, a shoulder length of .092" for a total measure of 1.827" to the top of the shoulder (my addition of the two). His shoulder diameter for the AI is 0.541", compared to his listing of 0.521 for the 450 Alaskan, your 0.514-5" and my 0.523-4".

    Sounds like a good gunsmith with lots of reference material is certainly the order of the day, as you suggest.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Kodiak, Island



    Did you ever get the .450 problem ironed out? I have a hundred rounds of the Ackley version setting here all loaded up.



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