In 1956 Winchester introduced a rifle called the “African” for their newly designed called .458 Winchester Magnum. Their aim was the increasing number of sport hunters from the US who went on safari in Africa after big game. They wisely tried to duplicate the performance of the old and well-tried .450 Nitro Express by maintaining the .458” bullet diameter and aiming for a muzzle velocity of the same 2150 fps that made the .450 NE so successful. The designers at Winchester’s, however, utilized the fact that a bolt action can withstand a much higher working pressure than a double rifle. Experience has shown that when it comes to hunting the biggest species in Africa there is little to be gained by raising the muzzle velocity of big bore cartridges much over 2200 fps.
However, time would show that the designers might had been better off by making a slightly larger case capacity as the muzzle velocity of many factory loaded cartridges in .458 Win. Mag. only was slightly over 1900 fps.
With proper handloads, however, the .458 is fully capable of matching the old .450 Nitro Express cartridges. As it can be made in any standard length bolt action, inexpensive rifles in .458 Win. Mag. are made by many rifle manufacturers and the cartridge is still a very sensible choice for hunting buffalo and elephant - with proper loads and bullets.