It’s been awhile since I’ve dedicated an article to this great all-purpose cartridge. It’s time for some reminders of why it is still active and popular, lest we forget…
The 9.3 x 62 is quite a bit older than I am, so that’s OLD! Created for European settlers in East Africa, in 1905 the Berlin gunsmith, Otto Bock, came up with what could be in our time a modern concept for a cartridge powerful enough for all African fauna. And he chambered the relatively new, and now famous, 98 Mauser action rifle for it – what a stroke of genius! It was made available to any and all European settlers at a very reasonable cost – compared to typical British and other Euro big-bore sporting rifles – and it more than proved it’s worth in the hands of farmers, hunters and sportsmen alike throughout Africa until German factories were destroyed as a result of their war effort. Then in 1935 Winchester chambered their famed M70 bolt action in the .375 H&H! While the extant 9.3 x 62 Mauser was still in use, both in Europe and parts of Africa, yet few new rifles were being made, and factory ammo was scarce. Almost immediately after WW2, Americans were making good money and some wanted to go on an African Safari. They chose the readily available and affordable .375 H&H. The 9.3 x 62 was still unknown to the average North American hunter. That’s a very brief summary of those events.
Fast forward: While a few “gunwriters” produced short articles on the 9.3 x 62 in some rifle/hunter magazines, yet the vast majority of “the potential market” was still very unaware of it’s existence. And to make matters worse, those few articles didn’t begin to reveal the 9.3 x 62’s true capabilities. Adding insult to injury, nothing was available in the typical American handloader’s guides with one exception: Speer! In their Reloading Manual number 11, pages 298 and 299 provide a short introduction and loads for their one 9.3mm bullet, a 270gr “semi-spitzer”, with two loads near 2600 fps – 60 grains of H414 @ 2583 fps, and 55 grains of N201 @ 2609 fps. That’s 4000 ft-lbs from H414 and 4080 ft-lbs from N201. That caught my attention back in 1988, but the fact that no American rifles were chambered for that cartridge, and that Speer used reformed .30-06 brass and made the only 9.3 bullet in the USA — and that being a semi-spitzer… I lost interest and went with my first .338 Win Mag.
Nonetheless, while the market was becoming over-crowded with “new and wonderful” cartridges, many of which were repetitive of those gone before or merely competing with other manufacturers “creations”, there was a growing interest in the foreign market for something nostalgic and different, yet powerful enough for most North American hunting, if not under all conditions, that wouldn’t bruise your shoulder or ego when fired! Somehow this “growing interest” reached the ears of the management of the CZ factory in the Czech Republic. With the right contacts in North America, soon shipments of the CZ 550 was made, chambered in the famed 9.3 x 62. They were snatched up immediately! Word quickly spread. Soon Ruger was offering them, along with Sako and Sauer that were also shipping their products to North America, as was Zastava. The word was spreading quickly!
<My TIKKA T3 Lite has a 22.44″ barrel that is a SAKO match grade. Tikka is a product of Sako.
In the midst of that, I was looking for another 35 Whelen, which were nearly impossible to locate in any of the shops I dealt with, and that was several. But I noticed a couple of TIKA T3 Lites on sale at a large dealership I frequently visited. They were chambered in 9.3 x 62. I’d had a growing interest in that cartridge and through research I recognised it was similar to the 35 Whelen and 350 Rem Mag, both of which I’d had considerable experience with. So I went shopping at that gun emporium and came home with a Tikka T3 in 9.3 x 62. That was in May, 2011.
How good is it? A 35 Whelen plus! A Brown Whelen? Plus! A .338 Win Mag? Plus! A .375 H&H? About the same depending on how each is handloaded, barrel length and PSI.
“Depending on how each is handloaded”. Definitely! Neither will give their utmost from factory products considering the age of each: 1905 for the 9.3 x 62 and 1912 for the .375 H&H. But in newly manufactured rifles, at modern PSI for magnums, they both profit and shine! What the .375 H&H will do with a 300gr, the 9.3 x 62 will do from a 286gr, and both have the same SD. But the heavier you go the closer they get! A 300gr from the 9.3 x 62 in a 22.5″ modern rifle will do 2550 fps/ 4331 ft-lbs at 64,000 PSI. From a 320gr it will make 2460 fps/ 4300 ft-lbs at the muzzle. A 286gr NP from mine (22.4″ barrel) makes 2630 fps/4392 ft-lbs quite easily. RL-17 is used in all those loads.
Many experienced PH’s and hunters of each have testified that they have discerned no difference in their effect on mega fauna.
< That’s 7.7 lbs with 4 cartridges and scope.
But the beauty of the 9.3 x 62 is the smaller and lighter/ handier package! Plus, on average they are cheaper than a typical .375 H&H. The main lack is a common, made in the USA, good quality lighter bullet as is typically found in .338 caliber. Such would be ideal for lighter game such as pronghorn, wolf and smaller whitetails in particular parts of North America. However, I load the 250gr Nosler AccuBond at variable speeds depending on location and game. Just now, my load for local whitetails, coyote and wolf is that bullet at 2600 fps (It can easily make over 2700 fps). That’s relatively flat shooting and potent enough for even big game to +400 yards. And in my T3 Lite it’s relatively “light” in recoil.
Bullets are available from Hornady (Plus, they market cases in 9.3 x 62 which I use), Nosler, and Barnes, as well as the 270gr from Speer (For some inexplicable reason that 270gr has never been accurate from my rifle. The others are typically sub-MOA.). As well, some foreign bullets are available at some locations: Norma and Woodleigh in particular, but they are expensive. I’ve not yet tried any of the TSX’s, but favor the two Noslers: the 286gr Partition and 250gr AccuBond. The 286gr Hornady has proven itself on one bear, and I’ve sixteen left of the 320gr Woodleighs out of a box of 50. As well quite a few 232gr Oryx’s (non-bonded) remain of a box of 100, and still a few of the 270gr Speers. The 232gr Oryx’s have a poor BC and are not bonded, though very accurate. I’ve a good load at about 2450 fps that I intended for wolf or coyote, but I hate to keep changing scope settings! I like one load for that rifle for everything I hunt! That would currently be the 250gr – that will be 2600 fps — and I already have tried that load with success using RL-17.
Bullet: 250 Accubond
SD = .267
BC = .493
MV = 2600 fps/ 3752 ft-lbs
50 = 2515 fps/ 3510 ft-lbs/ +0.86″
100=2431 fps/ 3281 ft-lbs/ +2.08″
150= 2349 fps/ 3063 ft-lbs/ +1.83″
200=2269 fps/ 2857 ft-lbs/ 0.0″
250=2190 fps/ 2662 ft-lbs/ -3.51″
300=2113 fps/ 2478 ft-lbs/ -8.84″
350=2037 fps/ 2303 ft-lbs/ -16.1″
400=1963 fps/ 2139 ft-lbs/ -25.5″
Personally, I like to use a rifle more than once! One good all-around rifle has more value to me than multiple rifles that rarely get used. That’s, as I said, personal, and from experience in owning several that basically did the same things. I’m not passing judgement on others who are collectors or own several of the same class or classes. But I like getting the most out of one rifle that’s possible at both ends of the velocity/accuracy spectrum. And I have two BG rifles, that are hugely different, but with those same goals. The other, of course, is the big-bore Ruger #1 in .458 Win Mag that is more challenging in regard to its full potential due to its bore size and the classes and number of projectiles available.
In recently reading a thread on 24hour campfire, the OP praised the .257 Roberts. In responses there were well over 200! And almost none were negative! But other cartridges that are similar in ballistics were also praised by the respondents, such as the .243 Winchester, .260 Rem, 6.5 x 55 Swede, .25-06 and even the 7-08 Rem. But the one most mentioned in addition to the Roberts was… could you imagine? Of course, the 6.5 Creedmoor!!! And in the process of applauding these carts, multiple pics of pronghorn were shown as proof of their excellence! And several of mule deer.
Now, all that’s well and good, but the last time I saw a live pronghorn or mule deer was NEVER! In fact, I’ve never laid eyes even on a dead one – in person! So what reason would I have for owning a sub-standard cartridge for 350 – 400 lb Northern whitetails that bound through timber like it was straw? At 30 mph?
I’m sure you get my drift…
< If you want to go fancy… and expensive!
From my perspective, from where I hunt and what I hunt, there’s little better than a Medium Bore, and nothing better than a Big Bore – in particular, a modern .45-70 or .458 Winchester Magnum.
As previously mentioned, if I wanted to go smaller and lighter it would very likely be in 7-08 Remington. It’s as good as its parent, the .308 Winchester or .270 Winchester, and better than the 6.5 Creedmoor in 162gr and 175gr. projectiles.