In recent times, the 9.3 x 62 “Mauser” has become somewhat of a novelty among a growing number of U.S. rifle shooters. In Canada, it has a longer tradition of knocking off game of the larger sort for a number of decades, across the northern regions in particular. But in all of N.America its status has increased near exponential proportions over the last dozen or so years. Why is that so?
This second and final part will focus on some of those reasons, and especially from my personal experience in the research and development of handloads for a rifle so chambered in a TIKKA T3 Lite as well as in somewhat limited hunting over the past seven years.
However a period of seven years experience might be viewed by the reader of these lines, it must be understood that I’m not the average handloader that may own from 20 to 100 firearms, or more. In such a case, a number of handloaders who go on line asking for information on loads for their newly acquired 9.3 x 62 have mostly added one more to their collection of dozens, some of which are in the same mid-bore class that, in their minds, retain a superior status already. They don’t need, or even want, a nouveau rifle that will compete with their beloved .338 Win Mag or .375 H&H! So, in choosing and developing handloads, they typically aim for accurate loads as their primary objective — which, incidentally, is NOT a major challenge for a good rifle in 9.3 x 62. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t represent who I am. I want good accuracy but, more than that, I also covet the best possible ballistics safely attainable from a modern rifle using the best of today’s brass, primers, powders and bullets! And all that by being both rational and practical in the application of PSI from such a system that is not merely traditional.
Who am I? I’m a very focused and dedicated handloader. That is, when I choose a rifle it has a purpose that doesn’t include a curiosity piece or simply adding to a collection so I can say, “I’ve got one of those also”, or “I should get one of those… it sounds interesting!”
I’ve never been that way. Firstly, I’m a hunter – outdoorsman. Have been since childhood. So, a rifle or shotgun became a tool to that end. But, as it usually happened with me, I also became fascinated with the “tool”. There was a “bent” in my mind that wanted to “know” why and how “things” worked. (Incidentally, that was also true in my search to know God and how he worked! Amid the great, and often conflicting, philosophical speculations, the Bible provided the best and most consistent answers.) When I became fascinated with the heavens (We could actually see the Milky Way from where I grew up and commenced my first pastoral ministry.), I knew I needed a telescope to make stars brighter, to see “invisible” stars, to bring the moon and planets closer, etc. I then, also, became very intrigued with telescopes and how they worked — ending up in making a half-dozen or so.
The foregoing illustrates my preoccupation with ballistics. I not only made telescopes that were better for observing what I wanted to see in the heavens than the commercial ones, but only costing 10% of their supposed value! Same in ballistics — I’ve not only produced my own ammo that surpassed “store bought” stuff, but exceeded in quality factory products while producing cutting edge ballistics that surprised both the pros and pundits! If you want proof, I can easily produce it! (That’s 2030 fps from a 500gr Hornady from my original 22″ Ruger No.1 in .45-70 at 15 feet from the muzzle! The U.S. powder company that tested the same load in a 24″ test barrel got 2096 fps, and the chief ballistician pronounced the load “safe”!)
This isn’t to “toot my own horn”, but simply and honestly to establish that if the 9.3 x 62 were a current day cartridge produced by Hornady, Winchester, Federal or Remington with the moniker: .366 – Hornady Magnum (as an example), using the same cartridge case loaded with RL-17, ignited by a magnum primer, with SAAMI specs to 64,000 psi (MAP), it would have become “all the rage”, as most modern Nosler Magnums have recently become.
But because it’s nascence was European (Berlin, 1905) over 100 years ago, “we must not sully it’s historic African and European image by making it modern”! CIP standards are sacrosanct… are they?
I let others debate it, deny it, ignore it or speculate over it. But I know what I know about the 9.3 x 62 from experience. Yes, I got a start from literature, and some help from a friend who suggested I should give RL-17 a try. But now I know what I know, not from theory, speculation or nostalgia, but from personal application of what makes sense to me from squeezing the trigger on personal handloads both at the range and in the clean termination of some game.
For example, I would NOT use the 232 Oryx in my collection of large game. Those are the former iteration cup-n-core, not the latest bonded version.
Recently, I was able to come up with another box (50 count) of the 250gr AccuBond. I don’t need to test these further. Using 70 grains of RL-17 (not absolute max), same as the 286gr Nosler, I’m getting just over 2700 fps that shoot three into 0.44″ at 100 yards. I’ve shot that group size on at least two occasions, and always sub-moa. One decent bear made twenty yards after receiving one through heart and lungs. The blood trail was far more than needed. That bullet would/will be my go-to for most BG hunting in N.A. For a big brownie, on the other hand, I might choose the 286 Nosler Partition, though I don’t think anyone would be under-gunned in using the 250 AccuBond. For potential long-range bl. bear hunts in the west, it would be my premier choice. For moose, east or west, I’d likely choose the 286 Nosler. Elk? The 250 AB.
I avoid the Barnes TSXs because, as before announced, I find them too long for this application in “eating” too much interior cartridge space that should be reserved for powder (if you want the best ballistics possible).
In viewing the 9.3 x 62 as primarily a BG/DG rifle-cartridge, I’d choose premium bullets. There are plenty of brands and weights from 195gr (GS) to 325gr (Norma), including solids for the likes of Cape buff and elephant where legal.
In practical terms, I see little difference between it and a .375 H&H when measured by KE, momentum, caliber, sectional density and bullet weights/construction. In nominal ballistics, the great .375 H&H attains just over 4000 ft-lbs from its LG and DG bullets. The 9.3 x 62 attains just over 3700 ft-lbs, but is loaded to lower psi in factory form than the .375. When each is handloaded, the .375 can quite easily attain 4500 ft-lbs from 300s and the 9.3 x 62 can attain (from my rifle) 4365 ft-lbs from the 286 Nosler.
(Add 9 fps for correction to muzzle.)
A .375 H&H typically is heavier and longer, and the 9.3 x 62 is handier and lighter, but that also leads to enhanced recoil over the H&H when loaded to top psi.
Both have merit, and have won accolades from professionals in Africa and Europe in particular, and now across North America.
I’ve actually owned three .375 H&Hs, and one only in 9.3 x 62, my Tikka T3.
As mentioned already, I like its lightness and handiness with a standard length action and 22.44″ barrel. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too light for bench testing of maximum loads. As previously explained in Part One, I’ve managed a way by which those stout loads can be controlled so that felt recoil is minimized.
In retrospect, if I could do it again in getting the “perfect” 9.3 x 62 that would suite my wants and needs from among all the common mediums, including .338 magnums to .375 magnums, I’d invest in a custom job in 9.3 x 62 with these basic traits:
> a standard-length bolt action
> 22″ medium-contour match-grade barrel
> a magazine clip that would allow four cartridges at a COL of 3.4″, and chamber to match
> a grey or black fiberglass stock
> adjustable trigger weight
> overall weight, including scope and mounts, ammo and sling of 8.5 lbs
> iron sights as a backup
Hey, as I think about that, I almost have it: The Tikka has a 22.44″ medium-contour, match-grade barrel. The clip holds three, plus one in the barrel at a COL of up to 3.37″. The trigger is adjustable. The stock is black co-polymer (firerglass + polymer). It lacks the iron sights and the weight I would prefer. And it’s ballistics are about perfection in my scheme of things. I’d say it comes within 95 to 98% of my dream rifle!
And, don’t forget that I chose it over a Remington 700 with laminate stock, stainless action and barrel, chambered for the potent .338 RUM! The RUM weighed two pounds more and was nearly 4-inches longer. Also, I’d owned a .340 Weatherby for nearly a decade so pretty-well knew the .338 Rem Ultra’s ballistics. I’ve no regrets that I choose the 9.3 x 62.
Let’s end this by reviewing, once again, the top ballistics from this rifle employing the 286gr Nosler Partition:
MV = …. 2622 fps// 4365 ft-lbs// Traj = -1.75″// 140 TE
50 yds = 2532 fps// 4071 ft-lbs// Traj = +1.53″// 130 TE
100 yds = 2445 fps// 3794 ft-lbs// Traj = +3.45″// 121 TE
150 yds = 2358 fps// 3532 ft-lbs// Traj = +3.91″// 113 TE
200 yds = 2274 fps// 3284 ft-lbs// Traj = +2.80″// 105 TE
250 yds = 2191 fps// 3049 ft-lbs// Traj = +0.02″// 98 TE
300 yds = 2111 fps// 2828 ft-lbs// Traj = -4.58″// 90 TE
350 yds = 2031 fps// 2620 ft-lbs// Traj = -11.1″// 84 TE
400 yds = 1954 fps// 2424 ft-lbs// Traj = -19.8″// 78 TE
450 yds = 1878 fps// 2240 ft-lbs// Traj = -30.7″// 72 TE
500 yds = 1805 fps// 2068 ft-lbs// Traj = -44.1″// 66 TE
Terminal Effect (TE) = Kinetic Energy @ Impact (KEI) x SD x Cross-sectional Area (CSA)
My preferences are a TE of 75 for the largest moose, going in knowing, as a lone hunter, that conditions may NOT be perfect. That’s not counting on back-up shots from a guide or outfitter, or even a partner that may be a mile away. For large, and possibly dangerous bear, I like a TE, going in, of the same number(75) at impact.
In the case of the load given above, that could be to 400 yards, and there is a 35% margin for error built into that TE. I’m NOT one who thinks in terms of what might be adequate in a perfect scenario, and with a guide by my side, or even a partner as that has never been the case in regard to a guide/outfitter as backup, and rarely has a partner been handy when I squeezed a trigger on a big-game animal.
Next time: “Killing Power vs Stopping Power”