A very good question with many answers. I’ll seek to expound on them a little. One of the ways is to compare it with some others of its class — and I’ll take a crack at that in comparing and contrasting it with my former .340 Wby Mag and my 9.3 x 62. This, of course, isn’t novel as it’s been done before. Yet, it seems that no one is ready to be critical of it in any serious manner. There must be good reasons.
First off, as “everyone” knows, who know anything about historical rifle cartridges of fame, the .375 H&H has an enviable record of killing big-bad-stuff in Africa since 1912! That includes the likes of elephant and Cape buffalo. And it remains one of the top two or three for those chores. In addition, it has a success story of its own on anything else that’s legal in Africa, Asia, Alaska and wherever one may have hunted or wish to do so! Yes, if someone wants to be picky, its trajectory might be wanting for medium to small game at +600 yards or so.
But to quell some “yes buts”, let’s have an honest view of potential ballistics – my best from the following rifle:
Rifle: Browning A-Bolt SS with a 26″ barrel.
Weight with 3 cartridges in the clip magazine, plus a 3 – 9 x 40mm scope and nylon sling = 8.8 lbs.
Bullet: 300gr (Sierra BT or Hornady BT)
Primer: Federal 215
Powder: 72 grains of RL-15 or IMR4320. (That was a “book” load)
COL = 3.6″
MV = 2715 fps/4910 ft-lbs. (I liked that 300gr Sierra with it’s 0.050″ jacket)
BC @ 1600 fps to 2400 fps = .493 (Yet, the 300gr Nosler AccuBond is currently available and perhaps a better bullet – it has a claimed BC of .485, so we’ll go with that.)
SD = .305 (same as the 286gr Partition in 9.3)
MV= 2715 fps/ 4909 ft-lbs/ 165 TE/ -1.6″
50 = 2626 fps/ 4594 ft-lbs/ 154 TE/ +1.44″
100= 2539 fps/ 4295 ft-lbs/ 144 TE/ +3.21″
150= 2454 fps/ 4012 ft-lbs/ 135 TE/ +3.62″
200= 2371 fps/ 3744 ft-lbs/ 126 TE/ +2.60″
300= 2209 fps/ 3249 ft-lbs/ 109 TE/ -4.20″
350= 2130 fps/ 3021 ft-lbs/ 101 TE/ -10.2″
400= 2053 fps/ 2806 ft-lbs/ 94 TE / -18.2″
450= 1977 fps/ 2604 ft-lbs/ 87 TE / -28.2″
500= 1903 fps/ 2413 ft-lbs/ 81 TE / -40.4″
Looking at those numbers makes me wish that I could have kept that Browning A-Bolt! But it had a critical flaw: The bore was off-center by 8 thousandths! So accuracy was not great, nor even acceptable if I ever wanted to use it at any range beyond 250 yards. So it was returned to the dealer for a like rifle in .338 Win Mag with the intention to rechamber it to a .340 WBY – which happened.
< The .340 Wby Mag that replaced the faulty .375 H&H, but about identical to it in the Browning A-Bolt.
But truth be told, the above figures about match the .340 in KE and significantly surpass it in TE! Also, it’s trajectory, while not quite as good as the .340, betters my 9.3 x 62 by a slight margin as well as a significant margin in TE. As to the .338 Win Mag: As good as it is, it’s not a .375 H&H when each is giving its best.
In comparing apples to apples: I owned and handloaded four Browning A-Bolts SS (LH) with 26″ barrels: a 300 Win Mag, a .338 Win Mag, a .340 Wby Mag (the former .338 Win Mag) and the .375 H&H. All were given their best loads and all performed above expectations in MVs and KEs with exceptional accuracy, except for the .375 H&H (as mentioned). They all had removable clips attached to the floor plates, and were relatively light but handled recoil exceptionally well, including 54 ft-lbs in the .340.
So, except for the flaw in the barrel of the .375 H&H, it would have been the star of the show! I’d have another…
Now, some other rifle in .375 H&H may come short of those ballistics depending on a number of factors, such as barrel length and tightness, and how it’s loaded. But in making other comparisons with other .375s, the Ruger in particular, I see no legitimate reason for more from a .375 than mine had to offer – it was nearly making original .375 Weatherby ballistics. Yes, I know that the Weatherby version – a “blown-out” .375 H&H with the rounded shoulders can make about 2800 fps, and the .375 RUM is advertised by Remington as firing their factory 300gr load at 2700 fps. Likely, that’s plenty for anything, especially in consideration of potential recoil, but we know the RUM .375 can be loaded a lot “hotter” than 2700 fps employing a good 300gr! But this brief analysis is concerning the H&H, not the RUM.
I’ll sum up the analysis this way: Compared to my 9.3 x 62 with it’s 22.44″ barrel, the Browning A-Bolt SS with a 26″ barrel had superior ballistics in that it could shoot the 300gr Hornady BT or Sierra BT at +2700 fps with approximately the same BC as the 286gr Nosler Partition at +2600 fps from my Tikka in 9.3 x 62. That’s about 100 fps faster from a 300gr than my best load from the 286 Partition in my Tikka 9.3 x 62. Recoil would be similar in KE but NOT in “felt recoil”. For some reasons (not fully recognised or understood) the Browning handled recoil from the .375 H&H and .340 WBY somewhat better than the Tikka T3. They were about 1 – lb heavier but the numbers say, with all that taken into account, physical recoil should be about identical between my current 9.3 x 62, 286gr load from the Tikka and the 300gr load from the former Browning in .375 H&H. The .340 firing the 250gr Partition at 3000 fps from the Browning (at 8.8 lbs) should have been 54 ft-lbs (6 ft-lbs more than the Tikka 9.3 x 62 at 7.7 lbs) vs 48 ft-lbs for the Tikka T3. Yet, the “sense” of recoil is considerably more from the Tikka T3 in 9.3 x 62 than the Browning A-Bolt in .375 H&H or the Browning A-Bolt converted to .340 Wby Mag.
I think one matter, at least, in the Browning’s favor for managing recoil in both the .375 and .340 was the long actions and barrels that put more weight “up front” – less muzzle “jump”. And another being the stock on the Brownings had more “give” to them – slightly more flex. So recoil appeared less than the numbers would suggest. When I shot the bull moose with the .340, recoil never crossed my mind. But I’d spent many hours with the .340 in developing loads and in practice from a bench. Even in bench shooting, I found both the .375 and .340 well mannered. Never did they intimidate, but my style of “bench” shooting is NOT that of most – even some pros. I hold down on the forearm, pull the rifle buttstock tight to the shoulder, and stay as far back as possible from the scope – and use scopes with long eye-reliefs (as in this photo in shooting the CZ550 in .458 Win Mag). And my cheek isn’t “welded to the stock”! And, I’ve had NO problems in getting the best in accuracy that those rifles and loads could offer! I’m talking sub-MOA in most cases – except the Browning .375 H&H with the flawed barrel. And… I’ve never been hit by any scope in bench shooting or in hunting. Despite what you might believe or have been told, it IS NOT necessary to have the full circle of light and image from the eyepiece in order to center the crosshairs in bench shooting. Back off enough from the scope eyepiece so as NOT to get hit in the brow by a heavy-recoiling rifle. DON’T CRAWL THE STOCK!!!
‘Til the next… “Testing Bullets, Why and How”