The Nifty .460 S&W Magnum

A Very Versatile Cartridge!
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The bare bones basic TCA Encore with a 20" Katahdin barrel is a pure
utilitarian carbine, while the beautiful BHA Model 90 exemplifies what a levergun should be.

Versatility gives us more options during dire situations like ammo shortages. Sound familiar? It’s why the .460 S&W Magnum is so great! Guns chambered in this hot-rodded cartridge can be loaded with fellow .45 caliber family members like the .454 Casull, and ol’ grandpa himself, the .45 Colt.

For handloaders, there’s a literal smorgasbord of pickings to choose from for these cartridges when filling your plate for projectile preparedness.


I have two fine guns chambered for the .460 S&W Magnum. The first, a beautifully stocked Big Horn Armory (BHA) Model 90, and second, a Thompson/Center Arms (TCA) Encore with a 20″ Katahdin barrel.

Lever guns are steeped deep in tradition, it’s the reason we love them so much! We love the fact they’re truly American and were used by the spirited individuals settling the west. Their flatness makes them perfect for riding in a scabbard, whether on horseback or ATV — and who doesn’t love a repeating rifle as simple as a flick of the wrist?

As pretty as the BHA Model 90 is, the TCA Encore’s beauty comes from its rugged handiness. A most utilitarian carbine when fitted with its 20″ barrel, this combination exemplifies simplicity at its finest. Being a single-shot makes the rifle appear 4″ shorter because it lacks an action, adding to its handiness.


Buffalo Bore Ammo and the BHA Model 90 were very compatible as shown —
the wood is not too shabby either! Targets shot from 50 yards. Cast bullets and
leverguns go together like biscuits and gravy.

Big Horn Armory

In 2008, Greg Buchel, owner of BHA, wanted to build a lever gun for the newly released .500 S&W Magnum. He did, calling it the model 89. This was followed by the Model 90, chambered in .460 S&W Magnum.

Buchel knew he had to build a stronger lever gun for the high-pressure rounds. Long story short, he did, using designs similar to John Browning’s Model 1886 and Model 92.

Single-Shot Simplicity

Thompson/Center Arms single-shot pistols, rifles and carbines are as simple as things get. Who doesn’t love the concept and challenge of hunting with a single shot? Carrying one telegraphs confidence to others like no other firearm, while making the carrier a better hunter by patiently waiting for the perfect shot.


Factory-supplied Skinner Sights peep sights on the BHA Model 90 allows for fast,
accurate shooting. Tank loves them! The bare bones basic TCA Encore with a 20"
Katahdin barrel is a pure utilitarian carbine (below), while the beautiful BHA Model
90 exemplifies what a levergun should be.

.45 versatility

Everyone loves .45 caliber cartridges. I sure do! My favorite cartridge — the old original warhorse .45 Colt — was designed in 1873 for the Colt SAA revolver. Standard loading with black powder propelled a 250-grain bullet at 900 FPS. Fast forward a hundred years and Ruger released their Blackhawk in .45 Colt.

The much stronger Ruger allows judicious hand-loaders to turbo-charge the large capacity case of the old .45, safely propelling 300+ grain bullets approaching 1,300 FPS. In 1957, Dick Casull released his .454 Casull. It’s simply a lengthened .45 Colt, loaded to higher pressures, with velocities reaching 1,500–1,600 FPS with the same 300+ grain bullets in handguns.

All these cartridges can be shot in either the BHA Model 90 or the TCA Katahdin-barreled Encore chambered in 460 S&W. Ain’t life grand?!

By seating bullets further out in .454 Casull and .45 Colt brass, cycling through the BHA model 90 is possible. Heavy charges of H110, or Lil’ Gun, with magnum primers will give excellent results. In a pinch, loading a single round of standard length .454 Casull, or .45 Colt in the Model 90 BHA will also work.


By seating the bullets further out, they’ll cycle through the Model 90.
Left to right: .460 S&W, .454 Casull and .45 Colt. Buffalo Bore loads some
of the finest ammo made for shooters! Tank especially likes the 360-grain hardcast loads.


Three different .460 S&W Buffalo Bore loads were used for testing. From the BHA Model 90 the 360-grain hardcast flat-nose (2,077 FPS), a 300-grain jacketed soft point (2,382 FPS) and lastly, a 225-grain Barnes (2,441 FPS). Using Skinner Peep sights and white bead front sight, accuracy at 50 yards was around an inch, about as good as I can hold.

My TCA Encore .460 S&W Katahdin combo has an old Weaver 2.5X scope mounted on it. Velocities were 60-80 FPS lower from the 4″ shorter barrel, with accuracy being the same but at 100 yards distance! No wonder so many people love the TCAs!


Magnum Round-Up

Guns chambered in the .460 S&W are indeed versatile by being able to shoot .454 Casull and .45 Colt ammo. For handloaders, seating bullets further out provides more powder capacity and smoother cycling in the Model 90 BHA. Obviously, this isn’t necessary for the TCA Encore/Katahdin combo but does give you the same advantages of more powder capacity, hence more velocity potential.

Either way, I love the .460 S&W Magnum, a workhorse of a wonderful cartridge no matter what it’s loaded in.

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