Robert “Bob” Chatfield-Taylor was a test pilot for the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation during World War II. He later flew for a commercial airline company headquartered in Massachusetts. Bob was also an experienced big-game hunter, and occasionally wrote about his adventures. In 1960, he booked with Ker & Downey Safaris, Ltd., in East Africa, during which both he and his professional hunter, Harry Selby, used rifles in .416 Rigby. He came away from the hunt with visions of a .416-caliber cartridge in a smaller package.
The idea was later a topic of discussion during a luncheon at the famous 21 Club in New York. In attendance were ChatfieldTaylor, Jack O’Connor and Bill Ruger. Also, there was African professional hunter John KingsleyHeath who, along with business partner, Lionel Palmer, owned Safari South Ltd., in Botswana.
Jack O’Connor had bagged his first Cape buffalo in 1953 with a custom rifle in .450 Watts. It was formed by necking up .375 H&H Magnum brass for .458-inch bullets made in England for the .450 Nitro Express 3¼ inch, and fireforming to a straight body taper with no shoulder. The .450 Watts was introduced by James Watts in 1948, and with the exception of a .050-inch longer case, it is the same as the .458 Lott, which came along about 23 years later. O’Connor had long been friends with Chatfield-Taylor and suggested that a case for his proposed .416-caliber cartridge could be formed in the same manner as the .450 Watts. He also pointed out that since the Winchester Model 70 was available in .375 H&H Magnum, it could rather easily be re-barreled for such a cartridge. Bill Ruger mentioned necking down the shorter .458 Winchester Magnum case, most likely because it could be squeezed into the .30-06-length action of his Model 77 rifle. Ruger’s idea held, and so was born the .416 Taylor.
Chatfield-Taylor had friends in high places at Winchester, and since the company did not make .416 barrels, the barrel of a Model 70 in .458 Magnum was replaced by a Douglas barrel chambered for his cartridge. When notified of its completion, he went to the factory to pick up the rifle and to develop a load for it. A Winchester technician was on hand to check velocity with the company’s chronograph. Using a custom die set reamed by Fred Huntington at RCBS, Chatfield-Taylor necked down .458 Magnum cases for 400-grain soft nose bullets made by Colorado Custom and solids made by the British firm, Kynoch. The recipe he settled on for Africa, 64.0 grains of IMR3031, generated a muzzle velocity of 2,250 feet per second (fps).
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