My new Zastava M70 in .375 H&H thinks that it’s a .375 Weatherby Mag in a benchrest format! Well, for starters, it’s a great believer in CFE 223 and RL-17!
Since RL-17 has proven itself as the greatest in my 9.3 x 62 over the past decade for 250s, 286s and the 320 Woodleigh, I figured it ought to do the same for the .375 H&H for the mid to heavyweights. And research seemed to confirm that notion. And since CFE 223 has been such a great performer in my .35 Whelen with middleweight bullets, why not also give it a try in the .375 H&H? Actually, I was quite confident that these two propellants should bring the best from another old workhorse, infusing new energy and a fresh outlook!
Man, was I not disappointed especially with a good dose of CFE 223 under the 250gr Sierra BT, and RL-17 giving a much brighter outlook for the somewhat staid .375 H&H! And just as CFE 223 has brightened the complexion of the .35 Whelen so it can hold its head high among the mid-bores, elbowing itself among the .338 magnums, so now both CFE 223 and RL-17 uplifts the spirit of the respected and well-mannered .375 H&H so it needs not apologize in the company of the elite Weatherby clan.
On Tuesday of this past week (April 11/23) the weather warmed to a hazy sunshine at 22*C/74*F. I took three rifles to the range, arriving there at 7:45 a.m. so as to have ample time to set up Chrony and targets. The three rifles were: the new .375 H&H (22″ barrel), wt = 9.75 lbs with scope, the Traditions G3 single-shot in .35 Whelen with last year’s ammo (225gr AB at +2800 fps), plus a new load of 180gr Barnes TTSX, and my CZ 455 in .22LR. But, I must confess that most of my interest and focus was on the .375 H&H and how it would perform. I never did shoot the CZ , and only four from the .35 Whelen: two from last yeaars load to verify POI, and two from the new load of the 180gr TTSX.
The first rifle on the bags was the Traditions single-shot in .35 Whelen. Last year’s load of the 225 AB from the Whelen was a bit slower and hit 1.7″ right of center at 100 yards and +1″. They went into .525″. The two 180 TTSX’s were 2855 and 2861 fps instrumental. They were .950″ center to center, and high left with no corrections to scope. That was an experimental load of CFE 223, which appears to be a too slow powder for that bullet.
< Last year’s load for the .35 Whelen – the 225gr Nosler AB at +2800 fps into 0.525″ this past Tuesday (April 11/23). Corrections have been made to put them DOC.
But the star of the show was the new .375 H&H. It performed flawlessly, and the Bushnell Trophy scope made all adjustments quickly and easily.
Fit and finish are excellent, and even the Bavarian style stock works perfectly for me. All screws, bolts and fasteners have been tightened firmly and will be regularly checked.
After a rough bore sighting (NOT using a bore-sighter) – in removing the bolt for sighting through the bore – and a rough adjustment of scope, I fired one shot of the 250gr Sierras over the Chrony in the general direction of two targets, side by side, at 100 yds. The goal was to get a number from the Chrony as a benchmark. It never hit any of the two targets but did record 3017 fps. I then adjusted my rifle setup so I could fire at a 50 yd target, angled off to the right, after a more careful “bore-sighting”. This didn’t allow the recording of those two shots. Holding midway between the two diamonds near the bottom of the target, I squeezed off one and it landed 2″ right and 3″ high of dead center. I then adjusted the scope to that hole and the next shot was one bullet hole high. Corrections were made to move the POI to dead center. Those two were not recorded, and a third shot was not fired on the 50yd target assuming that would be good enough to hit the 100 yd target somewhere near center and a bit high. Then the rifle was moved back to my original setup so I could shoot at the100 yd target and over the Chrony again. Those two remaing 250gr Sierras recorded 3018 and 3005 fps making a single hole in the 100 yd target at ~1.5″ over center. I HAVE MY HUNTING LOAD folks! It took two shots to sight-in and three to record MV. Average corrected = 3025 fps = 5079 ft-lbs. That’s more than I got from my .340 Wby with a 4″ longer barrel!
< The 1st shot on the 50 yd target at top and the 2nd shot (after adjustments) below that. Then by making corrections on the Trophy scope for centering the next shot at 50, I then fired the last two of the 250gr Sierras over the Chrony on the 100 yd target and recorded this:
< The final two making a single hole separated by 0.125 inch (1/8″). I’ll leave well enough alone… perhaps giving it one click to the right.
CFE 223 was also used on the 235gr and 270gr TSX’s which didn’t work so well with either of those two: The 235gr TSX load was too hot, and the 270gr load was too extreme in spread. Both loads could be reduced of course, but since I have an apparent excellent load for the 250gr Sierra I’ll stick with that for now. The TSX loads came after the rifle was sighted with the 250gr Sierras, and without adjustments to the scope.
The 300gr TSX was also given a try firing a single load over the Chrony onto the same target that recorded the two 250gr Sierras. The powder was RL-17; 77 grs which appeared to be reasonable based on some extrapolation and other sources of info. Probably a max load that has to be tested further in a group for accuracy. Without scope adjustment it shot 6″ lower than the 250gr Sierras and slightly left of center. MV corrected was 2740 fps = 5000 ft-lbs, which is .375 Weatherby territory, from a shorter barrel.
As mentioned, 77 grains of RL-17 seemed a reasonable load under the 300gr TSX, based on knowledge of the powder in relation to H4350, which is considered one of the very best for 300gr in the .375 H&H, and my use of RL-17 for a decade in the 9.3 x 62. So I loaded a single 300gr TSX over 77 grains in new Remington brass, crimped in the top cannelure for a 3.58″ COL, to be ignited by a WLRM primer.
Later, in following a thread about the .375 H&H on 24hr campfire, someone mentioned the QuickLoad results for the 300gr Nosler AB and Partition using RL-17 from a 24″ barrel. If you can make out the numbers from a screen shot, 78 grains of RL-17 under the 300gr Partition gave 2732 fps at ~65,000 psi at 102.5% load density. When I saw that, I knew that my choice of 77 grains was indeed reasonable. I got exactly 2730 fps instrumental, plus 10 for correction to MV…. BUT from a 22″ barrel! If you haven’t noticed, those are .375 Weatherby Magnum results, at least from a 22″ barrel! And IF your H&H is rechambered to a Weatherby, you can load it to 65,000 psi using the H&H brass!!! In any case, (pun NOT intended) 65,000 psi is well within safety measures. I’ve resized that case and charged it with a new primer, and there are NO indications of unsafe or “over-the-top” pressure.
Now, I must apologize to all .375 H&Hs for previously writing anything that was not completely worthy! It is, no argument to the contrary, superior in it’s best face to the wonderful 9.3 x 62, when both are given their best with equality in psi and bullets. Tops for the 9.3 x 62 in a 22.44″ format, constricted to 3.37″ COL and ~64, 000 psi is ~4500 ft-lbs. In a barrel of 22″, at around 65,000 psi, the equally ancient H&H can make ~5000 ft-lbs of muzzle smash in 3.58″ of space! And that from the normal heavyweights in each: a 286gr Partition from the 9.3 x 62 and the 300gr Partition in .375″. The 286gr making +2600 fps and the 300gr making +2700 fps. As far as I can tell, that’s the extreme distinction between the two. Of course, the majority of others who own either or both, do not go there! That’s their business! But majority opinions only count in politics – or so we’ve been indoctrinated to think. The last three Prime Minister candidates, I’ve voted for in Canada, have NOT been elected, but I’m still convinced that they would have been better than the PM who was elected by a majority vote. Going and choosing where the majority does not go, seems my calling in life! So, pushing “the limit” has never frightened me, because “one with God is a majority” according to the original Martin Luther. But the truth, REAL truth, is that God alone is ALWAYS the majority if “majority” means righteous power!
But, as in all things human, majority thinking and action doesn’t make unrighteous opinions and actions “righteous” because a majority think an act that way!
An untruth doesn’t become a truth because a majority believe it! A biological man doesn’t become a woman by stating he is! A screwdriver doesn’t become a hammer by trying to pound nails with it!
And a .375 H&H isn’t limited to what Hornady has promoted over the years…. 2500 fps for their 300s – all in a row with no variance for the past how many years?
It took handloaders and chronographs to shake the commercial ammo business out of its lies and lethargic indifference!
< The POI of the two 250gr Sierras up top, and the POI of the single 300gr TSX at 2740 fps at bottom without scope adjustment from the 250gr Sierra hold on dead center.
- The recoil of the five 250gr Sierras at 3025 fps (corrected avg. of three) was actually quite pleasant at a calculated 43 ft-lbs. The 9.75 lb rifle weight (with scope) plus stock shape and thick butt pad helped with “felt recoil”. But in perspective, that was much less than my former .340 Wby firing a 250gr at 3000 fps at 54 ft-lbs recoil, calculated. But that never bothered me either and I had that rifle for ten years. The 250gr Sierra has a .050″ jacket tappered to around 0.022″ at the mouth. The lead core is hardened by a suitable amount of antimony. The bullet is said to be suitable for elk, moose, Cape buff, lion, larger Plains Game and even brown bear. All that is confirmed by “an authority” on such matters. Be that as it may, I’d choose something else in a .375 H&H for Cape buff, lion and brown bear! My use will be limited to black bear, and possible deer and wolf.
- On the other hand, the recoil of the 300gr TSX load at 2740 fps was significantly more to hands and shoulder. In fact the “snap-cap” cover for the front lens nearly came off! It’s calculated recoil was 46 ft-lbs, but it seemed much more than that in comparison to the 250gr load.
- I’ve resized the brass from those loads, which were their first firings being new Remington cases, and there were no concerns in that procedure including the seating of primers that showed nearly new type resistance.
- And extraction of fired cases was with great ease – they practically fell out of the chamber.
- And I still maintain that the sense of “felt recoil” is more about how we think regarding it than how it actually affects us in a physical sense. The calculated recoil from a 12ga magnum turkey load from a 7 lb shotgun is around 53 ft-lbs, and shotguns are not noted for their ergonomic compatibility! Perhaps millions of turkey are shot annually!
I’m actually quite taken with this rifle, I think it has surprised me. The saying by many that a .375 H&H is quite easy to load seems to be quite genuine, but from my past two rifle experiences in .375 H&H, I’ve never received comparible results. And, I don’t recall ever having a hunting load sighted and ready to go in three shots from any rifle, especially one that’s new.
If there’s a downside to .375-caliber, especially for long-range shooting, is the poor B.C.s of their typical bullets. I guess that’s because of it’s African history where shots are rarely longish, and hunting DG mandates close ranges and heavy bullets.
200 yds is a long shot in Africa, but with more interest and opportunities for longer shots in N.A. on heavier game, tough and heavier bullets with high ballistic coefficients would make a .375 H&H or Weatherby more versatile – at least it would seem so.
Check this out:
300gr/.375″ Nosler AB with a .485 BC – this is at least one bullet in .375 with a decent BC – IF they can be found! (The 300gr Sierra BT or Hornady 300gr BT could act as substitutes, but they’re not bonded like the Nosler 300 AB.)
MV = 2740 fps/ 5000 ft-lbs/
50 yds = 2652 fps/ 4683 ft-lbs/
100 yds = 2565 fps/ 4382 ft-lbs/
150 yds = 2480 fps/ 4097 ft-lbs/
200 yds = 2397 fps/ 3827 ft-lbs/
250 yds = 2315 fps/ 3570 ft-lbs/
300 yds = 2235 fps/ 3327 ft-lbs/
350 yds = 2156 fps/ 3097 ft-lbs/
400 yds = 2079 fps/ 2880 ft-lbs/
450 yds = 2004 fps/ 2675 ft-lbs/
500 yds = 1930 fps/ 2482 ft-lbs/
550 yds = 1858 fps/ 2300 ft-lbs/
600 yds = 1788 fps/ 2129 ft-lbs/
- That looks pretty awesome in an open area for elk or moose, such as the FAR NORTH of Ontario for a large bull moose!
- 73 TE at 600 yds. To give this some perspective, I’ve generally considered a 50 TE as adequate for a 1200 lb bull moose, assuming a correct hit in the vitals with a good bullet.
My purpose in this is NOT that I’ll be hunting moose in the Far North again, but to reveal it’s potential for those who may want to, or in other parts of N.A., Alaska or Africa where on license large game could be taken – such as a brown bear for resident Alaskans who don’t have to employ a guide/outfitter. For myself it would be a black bear using the 250gr Sierras at ~3000 fps at up to about 250 yds. It’s likely, however, that a shot on bear in this region, while still hunting, would be much shorter… maybe 150 yds as a long shot giving around 3900 ft-lbs at impact. I can think of places like that where I’ve hunted previously on Crown Land, but retrieving such a bear would be a challenge for any able bodied hunter if the bear was more than 200 yds from a well used trail.
It’s nice to have dreams, but personally it’s now the hunt… and I can always shoot a deadfall or other “thing” in real life simulations at “challenging” ranges! A one-foot thick softwood tree (that looks like it will come down anyway in the next wind storm as a “deadfall”) is a good challenge for an offhand woods shot while standing on the side of a ridge at about 150 yards or more from somerthing in the medium to big-bore class of rifles!
Try it, you might like it! It will test your skill as in real life hunting marksmanship of big and potential dangerous game. I’ve often tried it on Crown Land, and I’ve watched such shots from .375 H&Hs in the mountainous terrain of the Alaskan ABC islands on brown bear… some over 200 yards – from offhand on a fast escaping wounded brown bear!
All good fun… especially if it’s a rock or tree and not a fast escaping grizzly or brown bear!
In a lonesome place I’ll give it another try using the Zastava M70 and the 250gr Sierras at +3000 fps! Good practice for a wolf or black bear at 150 yds from a quick offhand shot! First off, though, I’ll do that at 50 and 100 yds from an offhand stance at the range.
My immediate goal is to load up about 20 of the 250gr Sierras for practice (as the rifle is already sighted at + 1.5″ DOC at 100 yds) and another 10 for hunting (I only have 35 left in that single box of 250gr Sierras, and it will likely be a challenge to find more.). So I may have to resort to the 235gr TSX’s as a future replacement to the Sierras, hoping for equal accuracy at +3000 fps.
At my next trip to the range, in addition to loading up some 250s for practice and checking zero, I’ll give the 235gr TSX’s another try using the same load that works so well with the 250gr Sierras. Likely, that will result in a higher velocity… but they have a significantly poorer BC, and will likely need a higher speed at impact for adequate expansion. Those are a couple of reasons why I prefer the 250gr Sierras over the 235gr TSX’s. But either will be more than adequate for the game licences I’ll be purchasing: bear, deer, and wolf-coyote hybrid, and the real deal… (both brush and timber wolf – one up to 65 lbs and the other to +100 lbs). One load for everything!
Till the next…
Hello Bob, I really enjoy your posts as both a reloader and a Christian! I received my first Zastava M70 in 1976 in the form of a custom 7mm Rem mag as a high school graduation present from my Dad. And I have enjoyed hunting with it ever since. My Dad currently has a collection of the M70’s ranging from 22-250 through 30-06, and he claims that the M70 Zastava is the most underrated rifle action (since in his opinion, it’s the “Strongest and most Reliable bolt action ever made”). And I tend to agree, as the biggest elk, and mule deer, I have harvested fell to this rifle:) Please keep up the great work with your posts, as they are a blessing of knowledge! Derik (Springfield, Oregon)