The .460 Weatherby
I'm a long time fan of yours from Australia. I thought you would be the best person to answer a question like this: Is a .460 Weatherby Magnum, using 550-grain Woodleigh softs and solids, traveling at 2,350 fps, a good load for buffalo and elephant?
I have read that the .460 Mag is not popular in Africa. Is that because the factory ammunition is loaded too hot? Therefore, if you were to download velocity, add more bullet weight and remove the muzzle brake, of course, would this put a smile on a PH's face?
You are correct, the .460 Weatherby Magnum is not popular in Africa and with good reason: very few and far between are those who can shoot this cartridge with any degree of competency when full-house loads are used.
Horror stories abound…14 shots at a buffalo… big bull elephants being missed completely at spitting distances… but I will not go there.
To answer your question though, I think this cartridge is a fine launching platform for 550-grain Woodleigh bullets, but I do not think you need all that velocity. 2,200 fps with this weight of bullet will be plenty.
There have been some rumblings out here in Africa that the Woodleigh Weldcore is a bit too soft for buffalo (as it opens up and eventually over-expands too easily/quickly) when pushed too fast (above 2,150 fps). It certainly will at 2,350 fps, and it is for this reason I suggest that you drop the velocity.
The 550-grain Woodleigh FMJ is a fine bullet. At 2,350 fps it will, however, shoot right through a buffalo from side-on and possibly even end to end. At that velocity it'll also exit elephant from side-on head or body shots. In some situations this is not a good thing, especially with buffalo in a herd.
I'm not sure of the availability of either American or South African bullets in Australia but there are currently some exciting developments with regard to heavy-for-caliber .458 bullets. North Fork makes a 550-grain soft point and similar weight Flat Nosed Solids.
They also make an interesting bullet: a Cup Nosed Solid, which is simply their FNS with a cup milled into the nose. These bullets are designed to open up just a bit which increases wound channel size and prevents over-penetration. I predict these will become the buffalo back-up bullets of choice in the not too distant future.
There are also 600-grain flat-nosed .458 solids now available (North Forks and Dzombos). When pushed at 2,100 they are giving full body length penetration on big-bodied elephants. And yes, removing the muzzle brake from a .460 Weatherby will sure make your PH happy.