The 150-year-old .45-70 has retained its popularity with a variety of new ammunition and reloading components available. Hornady’s newest jacketed hunting bullet is a big one! The 410 grain Sub-X is a large bullet intended for a specific hunting niche. Let’s take a closer look!
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About the Hornady .458 410 Grain Sub-X
Hornady’s Sub-X line has six different bullets designed for hunting medium game at modest, even subsonic, velocities. The bullets tend to be heavy for caliber, which makes them easier to load at subsonic velocity. Lightweight bullets go fast from any given cartridge. Heavyweight bullets go slower. This 410 grain .458” is the largest of the Sub-X bullet line. They’re particularly well-suited for suppressed hunting rifles.
Sub-X® (Subsonic — eXpanding) bullets deliver big results without a big bang! Designed to provide deep penetration below the speed of sound, Sub-X® features a lead core. Long grooves in its gilding metal jacket combine with its flat profile and the patented Flex Tip® insert within the bullet’s hollowpoint cavity to help it expand reliably at low velocities. Cannelures provide positive case crimp, making Sub-X® ideal for semiautomatic weapons.
- Expands at Subsonic Velocities: Patented Flex Tip® technology aids in expansion at velocities as low as 900 fps.
- Proven Performance: Meets FBI protocol for terminal ballistic test requirements.
- Positive Case Crimp: Lead core bullet with cannelured jacket provides positive case crimp for use in semi automatics.
- Wide Range of Guns: Designed to fit, feed and function in a variety of firearms, including gas system guns.
- Caliber: .45 cal. .458
- Sectional Density: .279
- Ballistic Coefficient: .285 (G1)
- Weight: 410 Grain
- Application: Medium Game (50-300 lbs.)
Intended for medium game such as deer, wild hogs, and most black bear at modest range, these 410 grain bullets are right at home in a lever action .45-70 rifle. The cannelure is located in the correct position and can be firmly crimped. This bullet will stabilize in any standard 1:20 twist .45-70 rifle. Seth Swerczek at Hornady mentioned that though this bullet would work on elk, there are better choices in Hornady’s lineup for the animal. I’m partial to their 350 grain round-nose interlock bullet for that task.
It’s also important to note that this 410 grain bullet is intended for the .45-70 and has a .458” diameter whereas the 395 grain Hornady Sub-X bullet has a .452” diameter and is suitable for the 450 Bushmaster cartridge.
Fellow hunters have told me stories of hunting wild hogs with their suppressed rifles. They mentioned that sometimes they can drop multiple hogs before the others figure out that something is amiss and flee. This bullet, and all the bullets in Hornady’s Sub-X lineup, are specifically intended for hunting with a suppressed rifle, which makes it harder for the animals to pinpoint the threat. Hornady also offers this bullet in their line of factory Subsonic ammunition.
Designed to expand on game with an impact velocity as low as 900 fps, the 410 grain Sub-X bullet is also strong enough to handle impacts at 1600 fps, and probably beyond that. Hornady’s load data for this bullet goes up to a muzzle velocity of 1650 fps, which is within the strength limitations of popular lever action .45-70 rifles.
Once again, I used the Lyman Brass Smith All-American 8 turret press for this project along with an excellent Hornady three die set and Lee factory crimp die. (I prefer to seat and crimp the bullet in two separate steps.) I manually threw powder charges with the Lyman powder measure and seated CCI 200 large rifle primers in new Hornady cases with the Frankford Armory Perfect Seat Hand Primer.
Hornady has released load data for the 410 grain Sub-X bullet featuring eight different rifle powders with a velocity range from 1300 fps to 1650 fps. These loads are “Trap Door” level loads, suitable for any .45-70 rifle in good repair.
I chose to use H4198 for our ammo as I’ve often used it for powerful .45-70 loads.
Hodgdon released new subsonic load data for six different rifle powders.
I chose to use two of them: IMR 4895 and Accurate 5744.
IMR 4895 is known to be good for reduced level loads. Accurate 5744 is well respected by many 45-70 handloaders.
Before getting deeper into our handloads, let’s take a quick look at the rifle, scope, and suppressor used for this project.
About the Rifle
I’m convinced that Henry builds a fine lever action rifle. This Model-X is particularly utilitarian. The threaded muzzle makes it easy to attach a suppressor. The synthetic stocks are highly weather resistant, unaffected by moisture or extreme temperatures. A light mount for either a weapons light or a laser adorns the front of the forend stock.
I’ve found that a weapons light is a wonderful thing to have on a camp rifle or any rifle being used to follow up wounded game in low light. I’ve shot this rifle quite a bit with standard, subsonic, and very powerful ammunition. It’s easy to shoot, reliable and accurate. If your rifle tastes are more traditional, Henry also offers their rifles in .45-70 and other cartridges with nice walnut stocks.
Admittedly, we over-scoped this .45-70 a bit with the Leupold Mark 5HD 2-10x. It is an Ultimate Reloader favorite and chosen because of the wide field of view offered at 2x, making it great for shorter range, fast-moving situations. A scope like this is a pleasure to use afield. The image is sharp and bright and it has good eye relief — important with a hard-kicking rifle.
Silencer Central’s BANISH 46 is perfect for this application!
It is large enough to accept a .458” diameter bullet and we’ve previously used it on both a .338 Lapua and on this .45-70 Henry rifle. This American-made suppressor is user-configurable and can be set up as either an 8” or 10” suppressor. We used the 10” version, which reduces the sound more than the 8”, which keeps the rifle more compact and handy.
First up was the IMR 4895 load. Though predicted to produce over 1,000 fps, it came in at a sedate 868 fps average.
The ES and SD figures were good and it provided a very comfortable shooting experience with only modest recoil. Hodgdon’s test barrel was 4” longer than the barrel on our Henry rifle, so that accounts for some of the velocity loss.
Our results with Accurate 5744 were not as consistent as I’d hoped for. The load reached the desired 1,000 fps — comfortably subsonic. I noticed that one shot in our string of fire was considerably slower than all the others, which dragged down the velocity average and contributed to the rather wide spread of the ES and SD figures.
I suspect that was my fault as a handloader, and want to try another string of these. Recoil was light and ringing the gongs shooting offhand at modest range was fun. This could well be a good subsonic suppressed hunting load.
H4198 is a powder I’ve used for significantly heavier .45-70 loads. This powder charge was predicted to generate 1600 fps from a 24” barrel. Our 19.8” barreled Henry rifle averaged 1490 fps. This is within the realm of “Trap Door” level loads, and fast enough to be a highly effective modest range medium game hunting load. Though considerably more powerful than either of the other loads used for this article, recoil was still mild.
Pine Board Penetration Test
Pine board tests were often used long ago to test penetration of big game hunting ammunition. I’ve seen some in the Cody Firearms Museum. We decided it would be fun, interesting and appropriate to test penetration in pine boards with this 150-year old-cartridge. We’d never done this before, and it must be noted that this test was in no way intended to simulate penetration in animal tissue. It did provide a consistent test media for our different level loads.
I built the box with replaceable 1” boards. We set up the high speed Edgertronic camera and I shot from close range. Surprisingly, both the 868 fps load and the 1490 fps load each penetrated eight boards!
We recovered both bullets.
The lower velocity bullet retained nearly full weight coming in at 409 grains. It had expanded to .63” diameter with very little lead showing. The higher velocity bullet shed some weight, ending at 372 grains, and expanded to .675” diameter with a lot of exposed lead.
The rifle was fun, easy, and quiet to shoot with all three handloads. Even the supersonic 1490 fps load was rather quiet and easy to shoot. I thoroughly enjoyed popping steel targets at modest range offhand.
Many who have hunted with the .45-70 mention that pushing the velocity upwards towards 2,000 fps is neither necessary nor desirable. They contend that “it’s a big bullet, let it do its work.” Also, really stout loads quickly become uncomfortable to shoot, producing considerable recoil and encouraging poor habits. These loads were all easy to shoot, and I’m convinced that they provide enough power to work well on medium game from either a suppressed or unsuppressed rifle.
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