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Thread: .400 Whelen for bison. What alloy and what weight?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    .400 Whelen for bison. What alloy and what weight?

    My 21 yr old son has applied for a Utah bison tag. This is on a free ranging wild herd.
    If he is successful he wants to use my .400 Whelen.
    I am open to any and all replies.
    Mike Venturino, if you are still on this board please offer your insight as to my knowledge, you have shot more bison with cast bullets than anyone I know.
    I have a 325 gr mould from Accurate Arms. It is the 41-325 B and the 41-325BG.
    I kind of wondered about a 1:20 or 1:30 alloy or even 50/50 WW pure lead.
    I am open to going heavier as in 350-400 gr bullets.
    This is clear out of my league.
    I teased my son saying he better have an army to help him. All the fun is gone when those big critters hit the ground dead.
    Thanks,
    Blkpwdrbuff
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither Liberty or Safety. "
    Benjamin Franklin

  2. #2
    I'm watching this thread. My big bore cast shooter is a 375 H&H. I use a 283 grain cast w GC. flat nose design. I use a reduced 4895 powder charge/plus some filler & it will do to 200 yards. Tell us about your rifle & that bullet. unclemikeinct

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    looks like a sledge of a boolit, more about the gun please. wouldn't hurt to give us what you got on the hunt either.
    Good Judgment comes from Experience, Experience comes from Bad Judgment !

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
    dk17hmr's Avatar
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    Everyone that I know that has had a bison tag general shot them at close range sub 100 yards. If you can get 50/50 to shoot well I'd opt for that.
    Doug
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master clintsfolly's Avatar
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    Never shot a buffalo but have used my 9.3x62 on many deer and would shoot a buffalo with it with out a second thought. I use a NOE 368-285 cast from a home mixed Lyman#2 driven to 2100.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    Most people would be suprised at how little it takes to kill a bison. The early frontiersman, trappers and pioneers did it with round balls in muzzle loaders.
    Work up an accurate load with a fairly soft boolit (9-12 BHN) and I'd say you'd be good to go.
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  7. #7
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    I'm also interested in this as I'm experimenting with various cast from 300gr to 400gr in my .416 Ruger
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    How long does it get to get a tag there on average? Aren’t those a once in a lifetime tag drawings? I never shot a buffalo but I’d tell you what ever boolit that shoots most accurate in that gun would be my choice. I’m sure with 50/50 alloy you would at least get some expansion for energy transfer instead of just blowing right through it like an arrow. I watched a few YouTubers shooting them with “hard” cast and the buff just stands there after a few shots like nothing happened. Softer is better imo.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    Oh, boy........

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Thanks for all of your replies.
    Tripplebeards, yes the tag is a once in a lifetime, but several people I know have drawn out at 3 years lately.
    I think I may stick with my 325 gas checked going around 2000fps at around 12-16 bhn.
    Petrov was getting 2300+ with 300 gr jacketed.
    As far as being hard to kill, a trucking company rep we deal with at work had a guy kill a bison right off the road in the Book Cliffs area with a 1894 Winchester .30/30 in 2 shots so that eases my mind a bit.
    We will know at the end of May if he drew out.
    I need a little work done on the feed ramp and rails, so that is my next step.
    The rifle is built on a Savage 110 long action, has a Shilen barrel, the groove is .411 same as the .405 Winchester, as designed by Whelen himself, courtesy of Michal Petrov's article.
    PTG made the reamer and headspace gauges.
    Hornady made me a form die because for some reason the CH4D reloading dies wouldn't form the Quality Cartridge brass so it would chamber. No problem loading the fireformed cases though.
    A friend in New Mexico chambered the barrel for me, then my gunsmith near me rechambered it when we thought the chamber was the problem.
    I fireformed the cases first using 18 gr Bullseye, COW, and a crayon stuffed in the /06 case neck, then used 235 gr .41 mag cast bullets with 45 gr of 3031 to fireform to the best fit.
    It wears a Boyd's Laminate brown stock with a Decelerator pad and a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9 scope.
    And if anyone is curious it gets our attention when shooting off of the bench. LOL
    Thanks for everyone's interest.
    Please keep the information coming.
    Blkpwdrbuff
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither Liberty or Safety. "
    Benjamin Franklin

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    I was pushing a lee 300 grain GC out of pure CCOWW alloy and tried both WQ and AC out of my Ruger American 450 BM at 2075 FPS the summer before last and I got some expansion from a rock with the WQ boolit. lol It would belt me even with the factory brake on it. The WQ alloy was around 15.4/16 BH abs the WQ was around 14. If it were me I’d want to be closer to 10BH with 50/50 COWW and pure lead. All in all from what I’ve seen when buffalo are shot they just stand around not going anywhere and eventually fall over dead after a few second to a few minutes. So what ever you can poke through it I’m sure will work. As stated above I don’t think they are very hard to kill either and also don’t go anywhere or very far after being shot if they don’t go down right away. I’m guessing what ever alloy or boolit you choose will work just fine as long as he hits his mark.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 03-07-2020 at 04:38 PM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    Thanks for all of your replies.
    Tripplebeards, yes the tag is a once in a lifetime, but several people I know have drawn out at 3 years lately.
    I think I may stick with my 325 gas checked going around 2000fps at around 12-16 bhn.
    Petrov was getting 2300+ with 300 gr jacketed.
    As far as being hard to kill, a trucking company rep we deal with at work had a guy kill a bison right off the road in the Book Cliffs area with a 1894 Winchester .30/30 in 2 shots so that eases my mind a bit.
    We will know at the end of May if he drew out.
    I need a little work done on the feed ramp and rails, so that is my next step.
    The rifle is built on a Savage 110 long action, has a Shilen barrel, the groove is .411 same as the .405 Winchester, as designed by Whelen himself, courtesy of Michal Petrov's article.
    PTG made the reamer and headspace gauges.
    Hornady made me a form die because for some reason the CH4D reloading dies wouldn't form the Quality Cartridge brass so it would chamber. No problem loading the fireformed cases though.
    A friend in New Mexico chambered the barrel for me, then my gunsmith near me rechambered it when we thought the chamber was the problem.
    I fireformrd the cases first using 18 gr Bullseye, COW, and a crayon stuffed in the /06 case neck, then used 235 gr .41 mag cast bullets with 45 gr of 3031 to fireform to the best fit.
    It wears a Boyd's Laminate brown stock with a Decelerator pad and a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9 scope.
    And if anyone is curious it gets our attention when shooting off of the bench. LOL
    Thanks for everyone's interest.
    Please keep the information coming.
    Blkpwdrbuff
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither Liberty or Safety. "
    Benjamin Franklin

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Hide hunters shot them with 45/70 and really soft boolits at trap door velocities. Everyone here is talking about a lot more gun. I would like to shoot one. May have to buy a single shot Sharps or a reproduction. Have other guns that would defineately kill a Bison but that is not the point. Good luck to your son and keep us posted.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

    swheeler's Avatar
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    Bison is some fine eating meat. I shot one with 8mm mauser, 250 Lee maximum, ww plus 2% tin 14 bhn surplus wc 846 powder, chugging along at 1800 fps DRT 1 shot.
    Hell, I was there!

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold
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    I too am hoping to draw out for bison in Utah this year. But after years of disappointment I'm starting think that I may to old for that much work. I started putting in off and on for bison in 1980. I was alternating years between moose and bison. I wish your son luck. But, I think he will have plenty of time to think about loads. If I finally draw I'll be using my 45-70. Hope to see you and your son in the Book Cliffs.

    Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master



    M-Tecs's Avatar
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    1-16 alloy would be my starting point. It's worked superbly for me but the fastest I pushed it was just over 1900 FPS.


    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...-to-1-lead-tin

    https://www.rotometals.com/1-to-16-b...94-lead-6-tin/
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 03-08-2020 at 05:53 AM.
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hickory View Post
    Most people would be suprised at how little it takes to kill a bison. The early frontiersman, trappers and pioneers did it with round balls in muzzle loaders.
    Work up an accurate load with a fairly soft boolit (9-12 BHN) and I'd say you'd be good to go.
    The Indians did it with bow and arrow!

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy Randy Bohannon's Avatar
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    Better yet the Indians ran them over cliffs called pishkins .

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy
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    Back when I still worked for a living, one of my coworkers had an uncle with a bison herd. His experiences with shooters made him set a minimum of 45-70 or 338 Win Mag. Neither of those rounds made for a 1/2 day chase of a wounded bull.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check