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GUNS Magazine Digital March 2011 - Page 26
• J O H N B A R S N E S S • RELOAdING HOLLANd’S CLASSIC The .375 H&H. he .375 Holland & Holland Magnum was introduced in T 1912, and even after almost a century is still considered the world’s most versatile big-game cartridge, usable on everything from antelope at several hundred yards to brown bears and cape buffalo close up. While many of today’s safari hunters consider the “three-seven-five” a little light for elephant, many professional hunters do not— especially if their client flinches when shooting one of the .40+ caliber rifles designed purely for big game. Oddly enough, relatively light recoil is one of the .375’s virtues. Notice the word “relatively.” A typical 9-pound .375 rifle certainly kicks more than a .30-06, but most hunters who actually shoot a .375 (rather than just theorizing) find the come-back isn’t nearly as bad as they’d imagined. 42.6 foot-pounds of recoil and 17.5 fps of free recoil velocity. An 8-pound .300 Winchester Magnum, shooting a 180-grain bullet at 3,100 fps (easily attainable with a handload), generates 39 ft-lbs of recoil and 17.7 fps of recoil velocity. The .375 was originally designed to shoot 235-, 270- and 300-grain bullets to the same point of impact. These days not as many hunters use 235-grain bullets, instead mostly sticking to 260- or 270-grain bullets for lighter game and 300s for heavier game, but many .375 H&H rifles will still group all those bullets close enough together to be useful in the field. This isn’t much of an advantage in North America but can help in The moderate velocity of the .375 doesn’t tear up too much meat, even on smaller animals like this impala, taken with a 300-grain nosler Partition. Africa, where a wide array of animals can be encountered in a single safari. Bullet Range In addition, reduced loads can be worked up with the 200- or 220-grain bullets designed for the .38-55 and .375 Winchester, sometimes even matching the point-of-impact of fullpower 300-grain loads. Such loads work very well on woods deer and even varmints. While preparing for one safari, I shot dozens of prairie dogs with the 220-grain Hornady flatpoint from a Ruger No. 1 .375, and while the load didn’t shoot as flat as a .22-250, the terminal effect was very similar. A spitzer of 260 or 270 grains can be started at 2,700 to 2,800 fps, with a trajectory just as flat as the 180-grain .30-06 load, and works fine on small antelope at longer ranges, as well as large, dangerous game. If ranges aren’t going to be too long, 300-grain bullets also work fine. Some hunters even download 300s to 2,300 or 2,400 fps for reduced recoil, and find they still kill even Cape buffalo very well. My friend Berit Aagaard cleanly took a big bull in Zimbabwe with 300-grain bullets at 2,300 fps. Recoil In fact, many shooters report the .375 doesn’t kick any harder than a typical .300 magnum. Strange as it might seem, this opinion isn’t merely subjective. The Sierra Bullets Infinity ballistics program calculates that a 9-pound .375 H&H rifle, shooting a 300-grain bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2,550 feet per second, generates Solids Many African PHs still advocate an expanding bullet for the first shot on Cape buffalo, followed by solid (non-expanding) bullets for subsequent shots. Buffalo rarely drop instantly to the first bullet, so The .375 h&h is the minimum legal cartridge for Cape buffalo in much of Africa and with modern bullets does a good job. 26 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH 2011