Northern Precision’s .405 Winchester Slugs

Solve all your problems with ‘Big Medicine’
; .

The two targets at left are from the TC Encore at 50 yards, while the two right targets are from the Ruger #1 at 100 yards.

The .405 Winchester was designed in 1904 for the Winchester 1895 lever gun. Today, it’s still considered one of the most powerful lever-gun rimmed cartridges. The hard-hitting cartridge was a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt during his long East African safari. With such a rich history, it’s no wonder there’s still a strong following for this nostalgic cartridge.

There’s something special when handloading, shooting, or even just holding cartridges designed over 100 years ago. Loading them into a firearm magically transforms you to times past, when shooting game was done at spittin’ distances.

Better yet is loading your rifle with these mythical cartridges for a long-awaited hunt, following the footsteps of your heroes as you head afield. These are the thoughts coursing through my mind whenever loading the .405 Winchester cartridge. It was Teddy Roosevelt’s “Medicine Gun” for lions and if it’s good enough for our 26th President, it’s surely good enough for us. Besides, it’s fun mimicking our heroes.


Tank’s Lee Classic Turret press, with Hornady dies was used
for all handloads with excellent results.

A Winner!

Years ago, I actually won a raffle in a fireman’s “gun-a-day” lottery. There’s a first time for anything, eh? I wasn’t interested in the gun listed but offered paying the difference for a gun I really wanted, the Ruger #1, chambered in .405 Winchester. The firemen agreed and the gun was ordered.

A few years later, I see an ad for some TC Encore barrels for sale chambered in the same caliber. I order one, happy to receive such a bargain. Now I had two .405 Winchester shooters with a grin bigger than Teddy’s on Mt. Rushmore because I know how cool this cartridge is.


Here’s William Noody doing what he loves, making bullets for
handloaders to shoot. He’s a viable option for many out-of-stock
bullets in the bigger stores. Call him! Northern Precision bullets are accurate indeed.

Cool Cast Conversion

I have an RCBS .417 350-grain FNGC single cavity mold for my .416 Rigby rifles. It drops slugs at 0.417″ that is easily sized down to 0.413″, perfect for the .405 Winchester. Loaded over a stiff charge of Alliant ReLoader 7, it’s a very accurate load. I’ve shot thousands of these cast bullet loads from these guns and while taking a few deer too. The deer never knew what hit them! But being a handloader always has you looking for more options.

Imagine my surprise looking on the GUNS Magazine online site and seeing a headline — “Northern Precision .405 Custom Bullets.” Huh? Whoda’ thunk? I click on the heading and read about William Noody’s custom shop and the .405 bullets he makes. I’m stoked and make a phone call, ordering bullets in weights of 225-, 265- and 325-grains.

Noody uses heavy presses to swage and jacket his bullets. For tougher bullets he uses epoxy to bond lead cores to the bullet jacket, avoiding separation. Noody advises using his regular swaged jacketed bullets for sight-in and soft skinned game and more expensive bonded bullets for tougher, thick-skinned game.


Here’s the .405 Winchester line-up (from left to right) — a sized-down
RCBS 0.417” cast bullet, and Northern Precision bullets 225-, 265-, and 325-grain.

The Loads

For the 325-grain bullet, I use 55 grains of IMR 4895 for just over 2,150 FPS. Accuracy was excellent, with three-shot groups going 1″ to 1.5″ at 100 yards. Groups with the Skinner Sights peep-sighted TC Encore went the same, only at 50 yards distance.

The 265-grain loaded over the same powder charge went 2,250 FPS, with the same accuracy. This may be the perfect deer-sized-game bullet. It reminds me of the devastating 265-grain .444 Marlin load, only with a tad more SD because of the slightly smaller diameter.

Last, was the 225-grain screamer. Loaded over 53-grains of ReLoader 7, velocity reached 2,500 FPS. Wow! Talk about a terminator load for whitetail and smaller critters. Accuracy was again excellent, snugging right around an inch for three shots at 100 yards.



It’s always nice having options as a handloader and thankfully we have Northern Precision providing us .405 Winchester lovers some excellent options. I think the extra weight and sectional density of the 325-grain bullets is pure perfection for heavy game like elk, moose and bear, while the 265- and 225-grain slugs will easily handle whitetail work.

Give Northern Precision a call and talk with William. He’s a heckuva’ nice guy and you just may learn something from him. Check out his other bullet options too. I also ordered some 250-grain .358 bullets from him for my .35 Whelen and I’m anxious to see how they do. As Teddy would say, “Bully for Northern Precision!” Now to find a Winchester 1895 …

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