Friday, April 9, 2010

.450 Watts built on a Mauser M98 action

Dear Cal:

I've been offered a .450 Watts built on a Mauser M98 action. As a hunter in Zimbabwe, hunting a fair number of elephant and currently using a .404 Jeffery, I am very interested. There seems to be confusion as to exact dimensions of the case. Should I rechamber to .450 Ackley? Comments/advice please.

Mark J., Zimbabwe

The .450 Watts has a place in my heart due to my friendship with James Watts and the subsequent book on his life I wrote. James was the first to blow out the .375 H&H case to a straight dimension to hold a .458-inch bullet. The length of the case is 2.850”. 22 years after James developed this round (in 1949) Jack Lott shaved .050” off the case to place his name on it. He gets the credit as he was a well-known writer and hunter and James was not so well-known; as well as a very quiet and unassuming man. The .450 Ackley is the Watts case with less taper and a very slight shoulder. You will get small increase in case capacity but no buffalo will ever know the difference. The advantage of the Watts is that you can fire the Lott round in it as well as the shorter .458 Wincherster (which is also a Watts invention--he called it the .450 Watts Short and released it to Winchester in the mid-1950s). Dies and brass are readily available but not so with the Ackley version. Getting the Ackley round in the states is a bit of a hassle but I would guess a major headache in Zimbabwe. Go with the Watts and let me know how it works for you.

Good shooting,