So far, I’ve covered several hunting cartridges from 8 mm to the .375 H&H in P1, but not the .375 Ruger which is coming up next:
.375 RUGER: Ballistics are claimed to be basically the same as a .375 H&H, but from a 20″ barrel rather than a 24″. That means a cartridge that holds more powder. But also its claim to fame is not just a bigger case but a shorter one that will fit into a “standard-length” action, like that of a .30-06. So, it’s not just a bigger cartridge, but shorter and fatter. The idea by Ruger was to have the ballistics of an H&H in a shorter and handier package – and all evidence suggests that they were successful.
So whatever the H&H will do, so will the Ruger in a much more compact design. And that’s not simply by introducing nouveau engineering! It’s been done before, only on a less grandiose scale! Introducing a short cartridge for a shot action and short barrel was the scheme of Remington in their Rem M600, chambered for the .350 Remington Magnum that was, more or less, the equal of a .35 Whelen with a 24″ barrel screwed into a standard-length action (.30-06 length). The plan was a powerful .35-caliber in a relatively light and compact package.
But the African version of the .375 Ruger has a 23″ barrel, with a claimed 2660 fps from a 300gr, whereas their Alaska version has a 20″, reducing velocities of their respective bullet weights more in line with the H&H… or so it’s claimed, but handloading manuals seem to raise a few questions about that! This rifle is a Savage chambered in .375 Ruger. I handled one identical at my favorite emporium. The price was right, but it was quite heavy and has a 23″ barrel plus the brake. But the store had neither factory ammo nor brass for handloads, so I passed. In comparing it with my Tikka T3 Lite in 9.3 x 62, I knew handloaded ballistics would be similar so it would add nothing in that department, and weighing 2 lbs more, it would be less handy in tight quarters.
For example: Handloading manuals are very inconsitent as to barrel lengths for the Ruger .375: Nosler used a 26″! NONE make a 26″ barrel for the Ruger .375, the only possible exception being a special order from a custom gun shop – and why would that be done? The whole idea behind the RUGER .375 is SHORT, Powerful and HANDY! So it appears that NOSLER had a strange motive to make it appear that their 300gr Partition was faster from the Ruger than an H&H… That makes nonsence to me! Since they are showing 2715 fps from their 300gr in a 26″ Pac Nor barrel with a 112% compressed charge of IMR4350… what WAS the point? I’ve gotten that from a 26″ H&H!
Therefore, we have to extrapolate for a 23″ at best, or a 20″: So it looks like a severely compressed load of IMR4350 would result in factory claims for a 23″ African Hawkeye, or possibly 2600 fps from the 20″ Alaskan…. keeping in mind a 300gr.
Again: Barnes #4 used a 24″ test barrel for the Ruger .375. A 24″ isn’t in production by Ruger, so we must ask why Barnes used a 24″? For their 300gr TSX FB, MV is 2642 fps, not the 2660 fps claimed by Ruger for a 23″. From the 20″ Alaskan, how much loss from Barnes’ claim? It’s a guess, but I’d say at LEAST 20 fps per inch = 80 fps = 2642 – 80= 2562 fps for the 300gr TSX. (BTW, my 26″ Browning in .375 H&H lost 140 fps when chopped from 26″ to 22″ = 35 fps per inch!).
But HORNADY comes to our rescue… they tested the Ruger .375 in a 20″ RUGER Model 77 Hawkeye, and the best from their 300gr (4 versions) is 2550 fps from ONE LOAD ONLY!
Eight (8) others gave 2500 fps as max, and six others gave 2400 fps as MAX!
AND, by the way, from my reading, Alaskans tend to use the 270gr TSX for big and dangerous beasts, at around 2600 to 2700 fps from their Alaskan Hawkeyes (20″).
Reality begins to set in! Hornady shows 2700 fps from their 270gr from one powder (two that are the same- H414 and W760), five powders gave 2650 max, and eight shows 2600 max.
Other than the potential handiness of the RUGER .375, for those who hunt the Alaskan bush, I fail to see any advantage in ballistics over the renowned .375 H&H. And the H&H has advantages in availability of factory ammo in out-of-the-way places that RUGER hasn’t yet made available.
The .375 WEATHERBY: This, of course, is simply a .375 H&H Improved with straight walls and radius shoulders. It holds a bit more than 100 grains of H2O, whereas the standard H&H holds ~94 grains, depending on manufacturer. I will say that Remington .375 H&H brass proved exceedingly tough when fireformed in my .340 WBY chamber. And I nearly had my Browning A-Bolt .375 H&H rechambered to .375 WBY, except for the barrel’s bore that was off-center prohibiting good accuracy. The .375 H&H cases improved in a .375 WBY chamber will last much longer due to less stretching.
<That’s the 4″ muzzle end piece of the .375 H&H’s 26″ barrel that I had my gunsmith cut off to improve it’s accuracy. Only then was it determined that the bore was 0.008″ off-center.
Ballistics are improved from standard 2530 fps to 2700 fps in factory ammo from Weatherby, and upwards to 2800 fps in good handloads from a 26″ tube. Of course, best handloads from the H&H with a good 26″ barrel can also make ~2700 fps. So, the overall improvement is about 100 fps in handloads and 170 fps in factory products – and that apart from better brass life in handloads, especially if fireforming Remington cases. Weatherby cases tend to be thinner. There are several medium-slow to slow powders that will work well in any improved version of the .375 H&H, such as the various 4350s and RL-17.
Since the .375 Weatherby verges on impracticality for the average hunter, it snuck into this list due to the fact that a rechambering job is easily done by any competent gunsmith, and fireforming .375 H&H cartridges to .375 WBY is also as simple as firing H&H ammo in a .375 WBY chamber.
Any of the Super .375 magnums are not practical for average hunting by the average hunter, so are not included in this dissertation…. the .375 RUM and .378 WBY in particular.
In order for a rifle’s ballistics of over .30-cal to be practical for medium to large and dangerous game, I’d certainly think – after a lot of evaluation – that a minimum limit of 300 yards must be possible in a practical sense. So that poses a serious problem for certain cartridges that might otherwise be considered in particular rifles. For instance: a Marlin in .444 Rem, or a .405 Winchester in a lever action rifle, but in a Ruger #1 it might qualify, same with the .45-70, and so on. But, as many of you know, I had a long throat given to my Ruger #1 in .45-70, making it very capable at 500 yards for large game. But those are not available today as off-the-shelf Ruger rifles – unless you already have one. But several other models of single-shots are around, and the 1895 Marlin with barrels of 22″ and 26″ are able contenders with their best handloads.
Once we get into calibers over .375″, long-range shooting of large and potentially dangerous game imposes ballistic requirements that can only be fulfilled by certain heavy-hitting cartridges if the minimum limit is 300 yards! There’s no way around that! So the obvious starting choice is a .416-caliber rifle: The .416 Remingtom or .416 Ruger. The Rigby may be far too heavy for the tight bushes of Alaska if my reading hasn’t led me astray. The .416 Taylor is in that mix but not readily available as a commercial creation.
The .416 REMINGTON MAGNUM: if you have one. The 350gr TTSX with a .289 SD and .444 BC is the best choice for soft-skinned game to 400 yards. Starting at 2600 fps, it still has 3303 ft-lbs of kinetic energy at 300 yards. Zeroed at 250 yards it is only – 5″ at 300 and – 46″ at 500 with a retained energy of over 2360 ft-lbs. TE at 300 = 103.
MV = 2600 fps/5253ft-lbs/ Zero at 250 yards
100 = 2413 fps/4523 ft-lbs/ +3.67″
200 = 2233 fps/3876 ft-lbs/ +2.93″
300 = 2062 fps/3303 ft-lbs/ -4.79″/ 103 TE
400 = 1898 fps/2799 ft-lbs/ -20.7″
500 = 1743 fps/2361 ft-lbs/ -46.3″
More or less, the other .416s would be similar except the Weatherby which is much more in everything, especially recoil.
The .45-70: In a strong single-shot in particular, it shouldn’t be discounted. This New England Firearms was loaded with a 465gr hardcast which left the muzzle at 1900 fps. Range to bear was 70 yards. One shot flattened it on the spot. But don’t discount such a load for long-range shooting of large and dangerous game. With a .310 BC, it would still be making 1311 fps at 300 yards with a TE of 108.7 (Compare THAT with the .416 Rem at 300 yards!); enough for a 2000 lb soft-skinned animal with a hit through the lungs.
That load was shooting MOA. From my 1895 Marlin it was going +1900 fps but showing a bit more stress than in the NEF which allowed a longer COL.
The .458 WINCHESTER MAGNUM: This is the all-around best of the .458-calibers, and it has been and is being used on ALL medium to large and dangerous game. Nothing else in this caliber has its historical record of taking all game in these classes. The best currently available bullet for those tasks in soft-shinned animals is the 404gr Hammer bullet. With an SD of .275 and BC of .419, at 2550 fps it out-performs it’s nearest competitors, including the 350gr TTSX/.416 from Remington et al, all the way to 500 yards in energy, and a TE of 120 at 300 yards.
MV = 2550 fps/5832 ft-lbs/ zero at 250 yards
100 = 2354 fps/4970 ft-lbs/ +3.91″
200 = 2167 fps/4211 ft-lbs/ +3.12″
300 = 1988 fps/3546 ft-lbs/ -5.10″/ 120 TE
400 = 1819 fps/2968 ft-lbs/ -22.1″
500 = 1660 fps/2473 ft-lbs/ -49.7″
From 8mm magnums to the top dog in .458 Win Mag, this is a list of practical cartridges for medium to large and dangerous soft-skinned game on this planet at a minimum range of 300 yards. And only a handful of those qualify for the pachyderms. Another small group is borderline, some of which are excellent timber and brush cartridges, but fall short on extended ranges of 300 yards and beyond.
Till the next – the .35 Whelen and .338 Winchester Magnum compared.