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American Handgunner March/April 2010 - Page 24
J.D. Jones HANDGUNHUNTING TIPS, TECHNIQUES AND POLITICALINCORRECTNESS Evolution M Wildcatting W hy “wildcat” or shoot a wildcat cartridge when there are hundreds of factory cartridges to choose from? Performance is one answer. Maybe for more, or less performance — or just for the fun of it. It also wasn’t always that way. The .30-’03 (predecessor of the .30-’06) spawned a great number of cartridges, both wildcat and factory, which are now common. Rounds like the .22-250 wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for the wildcatters. Even the WSM cartridges evolved from wildcats. Or, you may have an idea and with the proper expenditure of dollars you can find out if it’s worthwhile — or not. Often the final result is far from the original concept. Take for example the .475 JDJ which is simply a full length .45-70 opened up, with the case reformed to handle .475" diameter bullets. For practical purposes velocity with the same weight bullets are almost identical. I wanted to find out if there was any real difference between a 500 grain .458 and 500 grain .475 on animals. At that time the platform was a Contender and both gave a 500-grainer about 1,600 fps. Eventually this case was shortened to become the .475 Linebaugh revolver cartridge. Next it was further shortened to become the .480 Ruger. Many bullets were developed for it and now the 400 grain .475 revolver bullets work exceptionally well at the higher velocities of the .475 JDJ for lighter game in the deer/black bear category. Did it work better than the .45 caliber? After shooting a lot of Asian buffalo with them I thought I saw a tiny bit of edge to the larger diameter bullet, but not enough I could say definitely. I still like it though. Left to right: The .222 Rem., .223, .222 Rem Mag., .20 tactical, .204 Ruger and the .222 Mag JDJ. The JDJ round chases the .22-250 in performance with some loads. any years ago the .375 JDJ came about simply because the .44 Magnum didn’t have the accuracy, trajectory or power to do what I wanted it to do. Simply necking the .444 Marlin to .375 and putting it in a Contender was a simple enough matter. Developing the loads that gave the power without gun damage after thousands of shots was a lengthy process. That project ended up being the world-wide big game handgun hunters caliber of choice for a lot of years, and is still hugely successful. Unfortunately the Contender won’t handle cartridges such as the .308, so necking the .444 to .30 became the .309 JDJ, which comes very close to duplicating .308 ballistics safely in a Contender. Recently, high velocity has again become the rage. The .223 is a fine cartridge in the Contender and with the right twist barrel will easily handle the 75-77 grain bullets very well, but it certainly isn’t a .22-250, and that’s the performance varminters wanted. But unfortunately, the Contender will not take the .22-250. .222 JDJ Magnum ommercially first in the line was the .222 Remington. Next was the .222 Magnum — just a little longer case with a long neck. Wildcatters took bullet diameter up and down. Further modifications resulted in the .223 or 5.56 and one of the greatest success stories ever. Along came the .204 Ruger and its lightweight bullets at super velocities which, lo and behold, was merely the .222 Magnum case necked down a bit and it worked fine in the Contender. Then came the bitching about wind drift and poor penetration. But it still wasn’t a .22-250. I moved the .222 Mag/.204 shoulder forward and changed it to 60 degrees, keeping .22 caliber and found in a Contender it was on the heels ballistically of the .22250 (I’m getting upwards of 3,200 fps with some loads). With a 1" in 9" twist it handled 45 though 77 grain bullets quite well, which no factory .22-250 will do, due to their slow twist rate. Often the wildcat does offer a true value to the shooter. And because of wildcatting, we now have the .222 JDJ Magnum and a good competitor for the .22-250, but shootable in the Contender. C * Go to www.americanhandgunner.com and click on Web Blast to see a comprehensive loading chart for the .222 JDJ Magnum. WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MARCH/APRIL2010 24