Better for what?
That’s sorta like askin’ “Which is better, a .30-06 or a .30-06 AI ?”
Depending on who you ask, and a whole lot of other details, a guestimate might be “Weatherby” because of the name. On the other hand the H&H is more popular by a country mile. There are probably good enough reasons why that is so.
< I saw one of these Sakos for sale recently at my favorite gun shop – in .375 H&H.
Yet, in checking Nosler’s #6 manual of handloads for the ’06 and ’06 AI, the grand distinction in firing a top load of a 150gr from their 150s (from 24″ barrels) is 3056 fps from 58 grains of propellant in the “regular” .30-06 Springfield, and 3075 fps from 60 grains of a different powder in the AI. Those were averages so it’s more than likely that at least one of the shots from the AI fell within the group of the “regular” .30-06, and at least one of the shots from the “regualr” .30-06 came within reach of the AI’s average! In truth – an animal would never notice any difference!
Likely, that would also hold true in any comparisons of our nominees.. at the same psi and barrel length. However, one must give credit if credit is due. So let it be: both now, henceforth and forever more.
In checking as many manuals available at my elbow that give a credible average of each, only two: Hornady Seventh Edition and Barnes No. 3, give data for each. I’ve only considered their 300 grain bullets, and Hornady’s reflect an advantage of 200 fps (2500 fps vs 2700 fps) for the Weatherby version (that was dropped for several years when the .378 was introduced, but has more recently been resurrected by Weatherby). On the other hand, Barnes No.3 grants only about a 50 fps advantage.
I do have some experience handloading three versions of the renownwd .375 H&H and none in the Weatherby version, but I have researched the matter and have reason enough to assume a maximum advantage to the Weatherby of 100 fps, all else equal (barrels and psi).
When it concerns the “Improved” version of any cartridge, or wildcatting it, there are several issues involved to make it truly “better than” the original.
< The long and short of it: The bigger the case and the more powder used requires a barrel long enough to efficiently burn all the powder and effectively use the increased psi.
Firstly, the barrel: It must be longer. My experience with three distinct barrel lengths in .375 H&H, reveals that the “general rule” of 25 fps per inch, loss or increase, isn’t a fixed “rule”. On the contrary, when a 26″ barrel was hacked to 22″ the loss was 170 fps = 42.5 fps per inch. Of course, there were some variables depending on powder and bullet, but that was an average. In the 24″, M70 Winchester, I never reached 2600 fps from any load for 300s. Although factory ammo ballistics were readily attained at 2530 fps, with a high of around 2565 fps. On the other hand, Weatherby advertises their 300gr from a 26″, .375 Weatherby at 2800 fps. But the 2530 fps (not “premium ammo”) from the H&H is given from a 24″ barrel. From my 26″ Browning A-Bolt in .375 H&H, I attained 2700 fps from a couple propellants (RL15 and IMR4320). So… it would appear to me, at least, that about 100 fps distinction is close to expectations, with equal barrels and psi, favoring the Weatherby.
Secondly: In “wildcatting”, usually higher psi is allowed. The .375 Weatherby is likely running around 65K psi, whereas the H&H is SAAMI approved for 62K psi. I asked my gunsmith to give my M70 a rechamber to the Weatherby version. He (typically) asked: “Why? You’ll get maybe 100 fps more and perhaps spoil the resale value of your rifle! And, as it is, it will do anything you need or want.” I headed his advise.
Later still, I became somewhat fascinated with the ballistics of the .375 RUM, also 65K psi at SAAMI. But that would have meant much more expense for rifle and components in addition to hastles finding a handy store for cartridge cases – and more weight and recoil. It’s not far behind the infamous .378 Weatherby in ballistics and recoil, with handloads.
< The humongeous .378 Weatherby cartridges.
So back to the drawing board…
Which is better? A .458 Win is better than both, but between those two it’s a toss-up depending on what one has in mind for either. Big and dangerous game are not generally shot beyond 300 meters (330 yards) anyway, so any distinction in effect would depend on the shooter’s ability to correctly place the shot and the animal’s cooperation.
And a .375 RUM generally has more recoil than a .458 Win. Yet when appropriate loads are used in each to 300 meters, the .458 will have a distinct advantage in terminal effect = 118 TE vs 93 TE. Those are the results from a .458″ Hammer 404gr bullet at 2590 fps, and a 299gr Hammer bullet in .375″ at 2900 fps from a .375 RUM.
And the .458 Win will likely weigh about 1 lb more than the typical .375 RUM when each is ready for action (That will surely help somewhat in the management of recoil of the .458).
But this discussion began with a comparison of the original .375 H&H with an “improved” version. My recommendation would be the same as my gunsmith – all matters considered: Why spoil the value of an historic icon by trying to “improve it” – for 100 fps? Though improvements are readily at hand anyway in the form of modern bullets and propellants.
<This is the Nosler AccuBond with a heavy jacket and bonded core. The BC of .485 will dramatically improve downrange ballistics over the 300gr TSX, for example, from any .375-cal, including the H&H.
The following ballistics could be possible from the above 300gr AccuBond in a 26″ .375 H&H with a good barrel:
MV = 2700 fps/ 4855 ft-lbs/ -1.5″
100 = 2524 fps/ 4245 ft-lbs/ +3.3″
200 = 2356 fps/ 3699 ft-lbs/ +2.6″
300 = 2194 fps/ 3207 ft-lbs/ -4.3″
400 = 2038 fps/ 2767 ft-lbs/ -18.5″
500 = 1889 fps/ 2378 ft-lbs/ -41.1″ – has “enough” potential for most thin-skinned large animals.
From a 9.5 lb rifle ready to shoot with scope and ammo, recoil should be in the neighborhood of 44 ft-lbs. With a brake that number should be around 35 ft-lbs, or about the same as a .300 Win Mag without a brake. I can’t see where anyone would need more than that for most soft-skinned game under most conditions. (And of course… it’s a capable rifle and cartridge for DG using appropriate projectiles at typical ranges)
That’s it from this brief and to the point analysis…
Being an analyzer depleats energy, so…