CARTRIDGES - .458 LOTT

SA Jagter Hunter - - INHOUD -

Du­ring a hunt in the Zam­be­zi Val­ley in the 1960s, the la­te Jack Lott, a wel­l­kno­wn A­me­ri­can gun jour­na­list and hunter, was tos­sed by a buf­fa­lo which he had fai­led to kill with his .458 Win Mag. Jack im­me­di­a­te­ly set out to de­sign so­mething bet­ter and the re­sult was the .458 Lott, ba­sed on a full-length .375 H&H ca­se blo­wn out to ha­ve straig­ht walls which ta­per very s­lig­ht­ly.

In ot­her words, the .458 Lott is sim­ply a .458 Win Mag with a lon­ger ca­se to pro­vi­de gre­a­ter po­w­der ca­pa­ci­ty. A .375 H&H ca­se is 2.85” (72.39mm) long, but phy­si­cal­ly blo­wn-out .375 ca­ses (as dis­tinct from o­ri­gi­nal fac­tory­ma­de .458 Lott ca­ses) shor­ten by just o­ver a mil­li­me­t­re in the for­ming. ‘Of­fi­ci­al­ly’, the Lott’s ca­se length is 2.8” (71.12mm).

Our lo­cal­ly-ma­de Lott ca­ses (Sa­bi, etc) are PMP .375 H&H ca­ses which co­me off the pro­ducti­on li­ne pri­or to the fi­nal for­ming (bo­dy ta­per, shoul­der/ neck, etc) i.e. the walls are sim­ply left straig­ht. The­se ca­ses co­me a tad lon­ger than 71.12mm, but in most .458 Lott cham­bers, need not be trim­med – the ex­tra length af­fords a smid­ge mo­re po­w­der ca­pa­ci­ty (the .458 Lott he­adspa­ces on the belt.)

Why the Lott? Ex­pe­rien­ce has taug­ht PHs and ga­me ran­gers (who cull lar­ge num­bers of dan­ge­rous ga­me un­der ad­ver­se con­di­ti­ons) that their task be­co­mes su­rer, quic­ker and sa­fer if they ha­ve at le­ast 2 100fps from a 500gr FMJ bul­let to pro­vi­de a­de­qua­te pe­ne­tra­ti­on in the lar­ge­st ga­me shot from any an­gle. The Lott fits the bill and is a che­ap, sim­ple con­ver­si­on (just ex­tend the cham­ber of an ex­is­ting .458 Win Mag), and .375 ca­ses are free­ly a­vai­la­ble and re­la­ti­ve­ly che­ap. Furt­her, the po­pu­la­ri­ty of the .458 Win Mag and .460 We­at­her­by en­su­res a wi­de ran­ge of top-qua­li­ty .458 bul­lets which are che­a­per than ot­her si­mi­lar lar­ge-bo­re ca­li­bres. Fi­nal­ly, if you run out of Lott am­mo, stan­dard .458 Win Mag am­mu­ni­ti­on can be u­sed with no or litt­le loss in accu­ra­cy.

In­tro­du­ced as a wil­d­cat in 1971, the Lott du­pli­ca­tes and bet­ters the .470’s bal­lis­ti­cs wit­hout any po­w­der com­pres­si­on. With South A­fri­can po­w­ders this car­trid­ge a­chie­ves an ho­nest 2 150fps with the 500gr bul­let. So­me stalwarts get it up to 2 300fps, but this re­qui­res a com­pres­sed lo­ad, which is not re­com­men­ded in cartridges in­ten­ded for dan­ge­rous ga­me in hot A­fri­can cli­ma­tes.

Most of tho­se who know, say that a 500 grai­ner at 2 150fps is all you need for Africa’s ‘me­a­nies’, so the­re is no need to ‘mag­nu­mi­ze’ the Lott. This car­trid­ge al­so pro­du­ces su­perb per­for­man­ce on lar­ge dan­ge­rous ga­me u­sing 550gr bul­lets – both softs and FMJs. Mo­no­li­thic bul­lets, being lon­ger for ca­li­b­re, are be­st kept at 500gr or lig­h­ter to a­void po­w­der com­pres­si­on.

The Lott is pri­ma­ri­ly in­ten­ded for lar­ge dan­ge­rous ga­me at c­lo­se ran­ge, but can be tur­ned into a very ver­sa­ti­le bushveld car­trid­ge. With 400gr bul­lets, it du­pli­ca­tes .416 Rig­by velo­ci­ties, wor­king won­der­ful­ly well on non-dan­ge­rous ga­me and cats, but the­se 400 grai­ners pe­ne­tra­te less than the he­a­vier 500 and 550gr bul­lets. The 450gr Bar­nesX works very well as an al­l­roun­der to in­clu­de buf­fa­lo.

The Lott kicks! W­hen hun­ting, most pe­op­le ba­re­ly no­ti­ce re­coil, but re­coil-sen­si­ti­ve pe­op­le tend to re­mem­ber (con­s­ci­ous­ly or subcon­s­ci­ous­ly) the pain they felt at the shoot­ing bench, and of­ten flinch in an­ti­ci­pa­ti­on w­hen shoot­ing at ga­me. Lig­h­ter bul­lets (350 to 400gr) would ma­ke the Lott mo­re u­ser friend­ly, but ple­a­se no­te that Sier­ra’s 300gr .458 bul­let, Hor­na­dy’s 350gr bul­let, and S­peer’s 400 grai­ner are too fra­gi­le for c­lo­se-ran­ge shoot­ing in the Lott – they we­re de­ve­lo­ped for the slo­wer .45-70 Go­vern­ment.

Kyn­och has a­dop­ted the .458 Lott as a fac­to­ry car­trid­ge but our ai­ling rand ma­kes this British am­mo ex­tre­me­ly ex­pen­si­ve. Ho­we­ver, lo­a­ded am­mu­ni­ti­on is now a­vai­la­ble from Fe­de­ral, Hor­na­dy, Nor­ma, Nos­ler and Bar­nes. Pro­specti­ve .458 o­w­ners can al­so neck up .375 H&H brass by me­ans of a cou­ple of ta­pe­red, ex­pan­der plugs or by fi­re-for­ming them with 12gr of MP200 pis­tol po­w­der with the ca­se fil­led with dry ri­ce and a tis­sue pa­per wad at the mouth. That is a bit of a schlep t­hough, so I would stick to pro­per .458 Lott brass.

As far as I know on­ly one or two ma­jor rifle ma­nu­fac­tu­rers mar­ket rifles in .458 Lott, so if you want one, it’s of­ten quic­ker to get a cu­s­tom-built rifle or a con­ver­ted .458 Win Mag. Qua­li­ty bul­lets are re­a­di­ly a­vai­la­ble in South Africa and our S321 and S335 po­w­ders are suit­a­ble. A 400gr Bar­nes-X bul­let with 82gr S321 le­a­ves a 21"- bar­rel at 2 320fps, whi­le 80gr of the sa­me laun­ches Wood­leigh’s 500gr RNSP at 2 145fps. Wood­leigh’s 550gr FMJ in front of 80gr S321 is good for 2 115fps and the sa­me bul­let with 78gr S335 does 2 075fps at the muz­z­le. Eig­hty grains of S335 pro­pel Hor­na­dy’s 500gr FMJ at 2 150fps with no com­pres­si­on problems. As with all he­a­vi­ly re­coi­ling ca­li­bres, ca­se mouth crim­ping is im­pe­ra­ti­ve. The bul­lets ta­ke a bat­te­ring a­gainst the front wall of the ma­ga­zi­ne du­ring re­coil, and can in­tru­de dee­per into the ca­se, cau­sing fee­ding problems and rai­sed pres­su­res.

As a short-ran­ge dan­ge­rous ga­me crun­cher, the .458 Lott is an im­pro­vement o­ver the .458 Win Mag. Ac­cor­ding to one ent­hu­si­ast, it is “a litt­le lon­ger, a Lott bet­ter”.

Il­lus­tra­ti­on: Copy­rig­ht Pier­re van der Walt

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