William Jackman Jeffery introduced this cartridge in 1909 as a rimless version of his popular .400 Jeffery. In spite of its name the bullet diameter of the .404 is .423”. As it does not demand a magnum-size action (but a modified magazine) the .404 was often made in inexpensive rifles and became one of the most widespread and popular calibers for all-round hunting in Africa and India.
In Europe it was designated 10,75x73 - a “magnum” version of the then popular but now almost obsolete 10,75x68.
Unlike most of the British cartridges this round was loaded in Europe by RWS. This kept the old workhorse alive long after many of the big bores had been temporarily retired due to lack of ammunition. The case of the .404 was also used for the line of wildcat cartridges designed by Dakota Arms. Norma now makes cases for reloading.
Due to its lesser case capacity the .404 could not quite match the velocity or energy of the .416 Rigby. Originally the .404 was loaded to a muzzle velocity of 2125 fps resulting in a muzzle energy of 4020 ft. lbs. But with modern and more slow-burning powder it can be handloaded to practically the same velocity as the .416 Rigby was originally. This fact combined with the availability of first grade soft point and solid bullets makes the .404 a very good and flexible choice for mixed big game hunting in Africa as well as for some of the largest species in Europe and North America.