.375-calibers have been considered by no small group of experts as the quintessential bore size for all-around hunting, with the .375 H&H at the head of the pack, and the .375 Ruger nibbling on it’s heels for greater recognition. The Super Magnum .375s, such as the RUM, have their place but it’s a small one.
A significant number of knowledgeable hunters and shooters say that if they want more than the H&H they will go bigger in caliber — I tend to agree. Notice, the word WANT! Hunting a diversity of game from small to large is ALWAYS a matter of WANT, not need! (Left click on pics for a better view.)
I’ve hunted a variety of animals because of “want to”. The same with rifles for those purposes. Part of it is a thirst for knowledge and experience. A larger part is a thirst for adventure in wild places where wild animals roam.
Having done that since boyhood, and to a much greater extent over the past forty-plus years, I now know what I know, and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know. That comes with age and experience — IF WE’VE BEEN PAYING ATTENTION!
As to the .375s, my only experience from among that group is the H&H, and that in three barrel lengths using my own handloads: a 24″ M70 Winchester, a 26″ Browning A-Bolt SS LH, that was later shortened to a 22″ barrel. From a ballistic standpoint only, the 26″ gave best results, the 24″ came in second, and the 22″ was last — which probably fits expectations.
From 300gr bullets (mostly Hornady followed by Sierra) results were: 26″ = 2700 +fps; 24″ = 2565 fps avg., and 22″ = 2530 fps (max — but it was pushed a bit beyond that with poor results that I couldn’t recommend or use in hunting.)
I also tried some 270s, 235s and near the end of those trials, a few Sierra 250s. But my conclusion was — and maybe still is — that the H&H was made to shoot 300s, as they gave the best overall results.
The M70 was heavy, with a heavy barrel and stout walnut stock. The A-Bolt Browning with its longer barrel and synthetic stock was much more pleasant to handle and shoot, though lighter overall. And at 22″ for the barrel it’s handling improved but it lost 185 fps from 300s. That’s significant from a 300gr. Instead of 4910 ft-lbs at the muzzle it was making 4263 ft-lbs — equivalent to a factory claim. Not bad, but still an important loss from its potential employing the 26″ barrel. And the barrel was ample in contour. In my experience, a .375 H&H doesn’t need the typical weight of the M70, as even the 26″ Browning was lighter.
At one time I asked my gunsmith to rechamber the 26″ Browning H&H to the .375 Weatherby. He asked “Why?” Because I was going to Northern Ontario every second year or so for moose, and due to potential long shots, I figured an extra 100 fps couldn’t hurt, could it? And it might help. He discouraged it, so I abandoned the thought.
There was a problem with the Browning, however, which I’ve explained in former blogs, so will not go into much detail here. The bore was off-center, so it would not give adequate accuracy. I found that out when I had my gunsmith, Von Atzigen, cut it to 22″ in hopes of improving accuracy. It didn’t, so it got traded at the same shop where purchased for an identical .338 Win Mag that became my .340 WBY. Atzigen also did that work. So the .375 H&H Browning never saw a hunting adventure, but the M70 Winchester did, both for moose and bear.
The load for moose was a 300gr Sierra BT at around 2570 fps. It had a heavy .050″ thick guilding-metal jacket with a 3% antimony lead core, and had a decent reputation on large game. The load for bear was a 300gr Hornady BT with the Interloc and cannelure at around the same muzzle speed. Two days after my hunt for bear was finished, using an outfitter, an American hunter shot a +500 lb black bear at the same bait!
Sometime later my M70 .375 H&H was traded for the A-Bolt Browning because I wanted (I thought) a LH bolt action as I have to shoot from that side due to my blind right eye. That was one of the biggest disappointments I ever experienced in dealings for rifles.
So I’m satisfied that the H&H doesn’t need ballistic improvements over it’s current potential, specially with today’s excellent powders and supreme bullets. With this caveat, however: Some projectiles like Barnes’ TSX’s, or Nosler’s 300gr AB will “eat” a lot of room for powder if constrained to SAAMI COL. That will impinge to an important degree on expected ballistics. The cause being the length of those bullets.
Now, as to the .375 Ruger: From my reading of magazine articles, Internet chatter and hunt reports, and handloading manuals, I believe I’ve done enough research to have a valid — if secondhand — opinion. Though I don’t much like opinions, but for what it’s worth here it is:
The claim is that it was created by Ruger and Hornady to mimic ballistics of the famed H&H in a shorter, lighter and handier overall package. From reports it appears that might be so. Yet there are caveats:
First, and most importantly, Hornady is the sole manufacturer of ammo, and brass for handloads.
Thirdly, actual results in handloading manuals don’t necessarily favor the .375 Ruger, even with equal length barrels to the H&H.
Lastly, from a 20″ barrel there is a significant loss from claimed factory ballistics — at least as much as one would expect from a 20″ H&H.
Moreover, the favorite slug used in Alaska against its great bears appears to be the 270gr TSX, which is longer than a traditional .375″ bullet of equal weight, and has a poor ballistic coefficient. What does that mean? Poor downrange results. It’s of course argued that such bears are usually shot at not more than 50 yards. But that’s with an outfitter. And what about a DIY hunt, where there’s no help nearby, or the range might extend to 300 yards or more on a moose. Is a DIY hunter going to pass up a possible single chance on a bear or moose at +300 yds? No likely! Not I at least — in such a potential scenario, the 270 TSX wouldn’t even get inside the door of consideration!
If I chose a .375 Ruger it would be for more than bear in the alders or punching holes in paper! I’d want it for moose in the far north of our province, whether close in the alders or far in a clear cut. For such a scenario, I’d choose an all-purpose load for the Ruger with the 23″ barrel. An efficient 300gr at not less than 2600 fps might do. But a BC of well over .400 in needed to accomplish those criteria. Perhaps the 300gr AccuBond with a .485 BC at 2600 is possible from the 23″ barrel — I don’t know, it’s a long bullet (1.52″) that will go deep into the guts of the relatively short case and action, stealing potential energy from the cramped quarters intended for propellant.
All in all, the .375 Ruger is perhaps a good concept for Alaskan bear guides who use them at close range.
Other than that, they would be outperformed at longish ranges by my own 9.3 x 62 firing the 286 Nosler at 2631 fps/4395 ft-lbs at the muzzle and 2100 ft-lbs at 500 yards.
From a 24″ Wiseman test barrel*, Barnes’ Manual #4 shows a max load for their 300gr TSX at a best 2642 fps. That bullet has the same .305 SD as a 286gr 9.3mm, but the BC of the TSX is only .357, whereas the 286gr Nosler’s BC is .482. Want to see how much that affects downrange results?
*Would the 23″ Ruger factory barrel give the same results? Subtract at least 100 fps from these in using a 20″ barrel.
Conditions: 50*F/+10*C; Elev. @ 1200′; RH @ 65%
300gr TSX/.375″ at 2647 fps// 4667 ft-lbs (from a 24″ test barrel)
100 yds = 2409 fps// 3865 ft-lbs
200 yds = 2184 fps// 3176 ft-lbs
300 yds = 1971 fps// 2587 ft-lbs
400 yds = 1771 fps// 2090 ft-lbs
500 yds = 1587 fps// 1678 ft-lbs (the bullet will not expand)
286gr NP/9.3mm @ 2631 fps// 4395 ft-lbs (from a 22.44″ Sako target grade barrel)
100 yds = 2454 fps// 3824 ft-lbs
200 yds = 2284 fps// 3314 ft-lbs
300 yds = 2121 fps// 2857 ft-lbs
400 yds = 1965 fps// 2452 ft-lbs
500 yds = 1816 fps// 2095 ft-lbs
Do we see not only how the rifle and cartridge does make a difference, but that barrel length, powder and bullet can influence results to such an extent that success on a one-time hunt might be questionable!
The concept of a more handy rifle package that will equal the normal ballistics from a 24″ .375 H&H, that is usually heavier, is commendable. But I have no personal experience to go on.
Yet four decades of handloading experience with multiple calibers, including mid-bores, and logic, tell me that there will be a loss of ballistic performance compared to what otherwise might be equivalent performance of the H&H, if a 20″ Ruger is used, and perhaps even the 23″.
Those are matters of import that I’d want more concrete knowledge of before I’d trade a 24″ .375 H&H for one of the Rugers, IF it were intended to be an all-purpose rifle for big game.
The .375 Weatherby is no longer in factory production, but there are several “out there”, plus some .375 H&H’s that have been “improved” by straightening the walls, adding a few more grains of powder and 100 fps or more to MV. I’d expect up to 2800 fps from 300s in a 26″ barrel.
The .375 RUM and similar wildcats: While Remington’s own factory 300gr offerings are advertised at less than 2800 fps, there’s no doubt that handloaders can extract 2850 to 2900 fps from best loads. That’s on the heels of the mighty .378 Weatherby.
At one time I thought of owning a .375 RUM. It has no belt and is based on the .404 Jeffery,(Same as the .338 RUM that is slightly shorter) having room for over 100 grs powder under a 300gr.
The famed owner of Accurate Reloading Forum (Saeed) has used a “wildcat”, about identical to the RUM, based on the same .404 case. His preceded the RUM by several years, and it’s been used in Africa on “everything”, including all of the DG — successfully so, many, many times over! He uses his own machined bullets.
The .378 Weatherby: This is truly not only a unique cartridge, created and manufactured by Weatherby alone, but humongous! No other in .375-caliber can match it in sheer size or capacity — but also in performance. It, of course, became the basis for both the .460 and .416 Weatherby cartridges.
Some claim it has greater felt recoil than even the .460 itself! Of course, physics denies that as a 500gr at 2600 fps has far greater momentum than a 300gr at 3100 fps, from same weight rifles.
The factory rifles do come with ports built in (and removable for a hunt), which is a good thing if nobody is near when the muzzle blast occurs!
For myself — I’ll take a pass on that one!
That’s it for this week on the .375″ mediums.