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The Late, Great .300 H&H

by Craig Boddington   |  January 4th, 2011 13

As a grand old magnum rides toward the sunset, the author makes a case to save it from obsolescence.


Left to right: .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 H&H, .300 Weatherby Magnum. The Winchester magnum has essentially replaced the .300 H&H, and the Weatherby round is actually one of several “improved” versions of the .300 H&H.

Short and fat may not be most popular build for supermodels, but it is definitely “in” in the world of cartridge design. We know that short, fat cartridges burn their powder columns more effectively, producing more energy per grain burned, and this burning efficiency is conducive to accuracy. So why, exactly, do I get such pleasure out of chambering one of those long, tapered, gently shouldered, downright archaic .300 H&H cartridges?

Well, I haven’t met a fast .30 caliber I didn’t like, and—thick-skinned game excluded—I have seen no hunting situations in the entire world that a fast .30 couldn’t handle. At the upper end, the fastest .30 caliber magnums such as the .300 Weatherby, Remington Ultra Mag, .30-.378 Weatherby and Lazzeroni’s Warbird are awesome—but with lots of recoil and blast, too.

At the lower end, the short magnums such as the .300 Ruger Compact Magnum, Remington Short Action Ultra Mag and Winchester Short Magnum are simply amazing in the performance they provide from such tidy cases that can be housed in short, light rifles.

I dearly love the .30-06 as well, but when I know the country is going to be a bit more open or the game a bit larger than deer, or both—or when I’m not exactly sure what to expect—then I’m likely to upgrade to a faster .30 caliber. A bit flatter trajectory simplifies shooting, and the impact of greater downrange energy cannot be denied.

With a fast .30 you’re prepared for almost anything. I mentioned some of newer, shorter, fast .30s, and I mentioned the large-cased fastest .30s. I didn’t mention the cartridges that fall right in between, the .300 Winchester Magnum and the .300 H&H—the latter a cartridge I never used at all until 2003.

I was 11 years old in 1963 when Winchester introduced the .300 Winchester Magnum. Late in that model year, it replaced the long-loved .300 H&H (one of the Model 70’s original chamberings) with the shorter, short-necked, straight-sided newcomer—making a pre-1964 .300 Winchester Magnum a real prize for collectors.

As a child of the magnum craze, I owned a .300 Winchester Magnum before I owned a .30-06, and through the 1980s and ’90s I became, and still am, a staunch fan of the .300 Weatherby. In the late ’90s, I used the big Warbird, the .300 RUM and the .300 WSM. So why in the world would I turn to one of the oldest fast .30s, a cartridge that is rare in any factory rifle, seems to be of antiquated design and appears to be right around the corner from obsolescence?

Two reasons. First, the .300 H&H was one the few .30 caliber cartridges I’d never messed with. It was a gap in my knowledge, and it’s a legendary cartridge with much nostalgic appeal.


A while back I talked Ruger into including the .300 H&H as part of a limited-run “safari” series, 250 rifles in each of five cartridges. I don’t really think this small gesture will bring the cartridge back, I had a wonderful experience with it in Africa.

Second, my buddy Geoff Miller of John Rigby & Co. is a lifelong .300 H&H fanatic. He insisted I try the .300 H&H, and if I did, he assured me I’d be surprised by the accuracy and the performance. We put a match-grade Pac-Nor 26-inch barrel on a Remington M700 action and cut a tight chamber. I’m not sure what other tricks were performed, but with that barrel the rifle and the cartridge walked and talked.

With the 26-inch barrel and Geoff’s handloads—ones you won’t find in any manual—he proved to me that the .300 H&H’s antique case design could produce 3,400 fps with a 150-grain bullet, more than 3,200 with a 180-grain bullet and almost 3,000 fps with a 200-grain bullet.

That shocked me. In theory you can do a bit better with a .300 Winchester Magnum because, despite its short case, its short neck and straight case give it useable powder capacity of 79.5 grains of water to the .300 H&H’s 72.2 grains. In theory, too, the .300 Winchester Magnum’s shorter, fatter case gives it more efficiency.

In reality, not all .300 Winchester Magnum chambers will beat those velocities. Not all .300 H&H chambers will produce them, either. Current loading data, as reflected in the accompanying chart, is fairly mild, probably reflecting the fact that this is an older cartridge—with almost no new rifles—and of course reflecting the steady downgrading of published data because of product liability.

The .300 Weatherby Magnum is actually just one of several “improved” or blown-out versions of the .300 H&H, but with the taper removed and the full-length case retained, it has a lot more case capacity, nearly 85 grains. It should be faster, and it is—but it starts to edge toward overbore capacity, so there are diminishing returns. To get to maximum velocity you have to burn a lot more powder, which means more heat, recoil and blast.


The .300 H&H, here in a Ruger No. 1, may be on the way out, but it’s an accurate and powerful cartridge capable of taking down nearly any game animal.

Realistically, to get the best accuracy I had to back off just a bit. I’ve been using Superior Ammunition’s loads, and they’re pretty darned fast and accurate. Again, in my 26-inch barrel (and it’s a tight barrel), I get a bit over 2,900 fps with a 200-grain bullet, about 3,100 fps with a 180-grain bullet and an honest 3,350 fps with a 150-grain bullet. That’s faster than any of the short magnums, on par with the .300 Winchester Magnum and not too far behind the .300 Weatherby Magnum.

Velocity, of course, is just one aspect of performance. With the great modern bullets we have, good bullet performance is pretty much a given at the velocities we’re talking about, but neither velocity nor energy are useful if you don’t have the accuracy to go with them. The next thing I learned about the .300 H&H is that accuracy, though never a given with any cartridge in any rifle, is
often spectacular.

This is not a new lesson. The great British firm of Holland & Holland introduced the .300 H&H in 1925, originally calling it Holland’s Super .30. It’s based on a very simple necking down of the same firm’s .375 H&H Magnum, retaining the 2.850-inch case, with considerable body taper, sloping shoulder and long neck.

The original loads were mild by today’s standards, but they were a lot faster than the two most popular .30 caliber cartridges of the day: the American .30-06 and the .303 British. It did okay for Holland & Holland and was almost immediately loaded by the old Western Cartridge Company.


There are a few .300 H&H factory loads, and most are premium loads like Winchester Supreme. You can also go the semi-custom route. Superior Ammunition offers several superb .300 H&H loads.

Then, in 1935, Ben Comfort used a .300 H&H to win the Wimbledon Cup 1,000-yard match. This was the boost the cartridge needed, and it got another one two years later when it was among the initial offerings in the brand-new Winchester Model 70, “the rifleman’s rifle.” For the next 26 years, the .300 H&H was the world standard long-range magnum, known for performance and accuracy.

This was all before my time. The .300 Winchester Magnum uses a very short neck to maximize case capacity. It was long rumored that its “less than one caliber” (i.e., less than .308-inch) neck was a design flaw, giving the case a poor grip on the bullet that would inhibit accuracy. In theory this is true, but we have all seen too many spectacularly accurate .300 Winchester Magnum rifles to fully accept the theory.

Similarly, the short, fat cases of the new short magnums do promote accuracy, and if this is true, the long, tapered case of the .300 H&H is anathema to accuracy. Here’s the deal: Case design is a contributing element to accuracy, but it’s not as important as a good barrel properly mated to a true action, a precisely cut chamber and consistent ammunition.


The author has had a soft spot for the .300 H&H ever since he used it to make an important shot on this desert ram.

So in that Remington 700, with a great barrel and good ammo, I’m cheating. Or, perhaps, better put, I could get good accuracy with almost any cartridge. But the fact remains that, in .300 H&H, the rifle is a real shooter. With 200-grain Sierras, half-inch groups are routine; with 150-grain Sierras, quarter-inch groups are frequent.

Its best group, at least to date, was 1.5 inches—at 400 yards. Accuracy like that gives you wonderful confidence, and I’ve put that confidence to good use.

The first shot I ever fired at game with a .300 H&H was on a desert sheep in Sonora, an expensive and long dreamed-of hunt. The shot I drew was about 330 yards, sharply uphill, a quartering angle. That kind of shot is doable with any reasonably flat-shooting rifle, but a desert sheep isn’t a big target, and there’s an awful lot riding on such a shot. The 150-grain Sierra entered exactly where I wanted it to and lodged against the hide on the off hip.

That rifle has been to Africa twice and to New Zealand twice. On the most recent trip to the latter, I killed a sambar with a 200-grain Sierra.

In September 2009, I took a different .300 H&H, a Ruger No. 1 single-shot, to Zambia and Mozambique. I used different ammo, too—Hornady factory loads with 180-grain InterBond and GMX—and it worked great on a wide variety of game of all sizes.

So, other than just to be different, is there any reason to choose a .300 H&H over the more modern fast .30s? I suppose I could try to build a case. My experience has been that accuracy is superb, including in my Ruger single-shot, but I can’t tell you with a straight face that it’s really more accurate than other fast .30s with good barrels in equally good rifles.

Ammunition is a bit of a problem, with limited factory loads. Case length requires a .375 H&H-length action, while the .300 Winchester Magnum fits into a .30-06-length action, and the short magnums can be shoe-horned into true short actions. This means a .300 H&H rifle will be longer and heavier, and it probably should have a 26-inch barrel to strut its stuff.

Is it worth the hassle just to be a bit nostalgic? Maybe not, but there’s one probable benefit and another that’s dead certain. My judgment is that felt recoil is very mild for the performance level. At least in theory, this is because of the smooth acceleration from that archaic tapered case with its gentle shoulder. Take that or leave it, but the .300 H&Hs I have used don’t bounce as bad as other fast .30s of similar velocity level.

This one you can put in the bank: That long, sloping case may not be efficient, but it feeds like a dream. We don’t talk about it much, but the reality is smooth feeding is often an issue with our perfectly designed and incredibly efficient short, fat cases.

The longer .30s feed better, but none of them feed like the .300 H&H. That tapered case literally falls into the chamber and falls right out during extraction. If you want to experience the ultimate in smooth feeding, try a .300 H&H.

Is there hope for the H&H. Realistically, not much. And perhaps there shouldn’t be. After all, we have enough fast .30s without resurrecting the .300 H&H. Why not bring back the .30 Newton as well?

On the other hand, the .300 H&H was extremely popular for many years, and its attributes are genuine: performance, accuracy, smooth feeding. It’s also a traditional choice, and nostalgia counts with many of us.

What future it has is primarily as a handloader’s cartridge. There are factory loads, and good ones in Winchester Supreme and Federal Premium, and there’s now a new load from Hornady. That’s the good news.


.300 Magnum Load Comparison
Cartridge Bullet Weight (grs.) Powder Powder Charge (grs.) Muzzle Velocity (fps) Data Source
.300 H&H 150 RL25 80.5** 3,315 Nosler 6th
.300 Win. Mag 150 IMR4350 74.0 3,420 Nosler 6th
.300 Wby. Mag. 150 IMR4831 81.0 3,500 Hornady 6th
.300 H&H 180 RL22 71.0 3,023 Nosler 6th
.300 Win. Mag. 180 IMR4831 73.0** 3,160 Nosler 6th
.300 Wby. Mag. 180 RL22 79.0 3,202 Barnes 4th
.300 H&H 200 RL25 69.5 2,847 Nosler 6th
.300 Win. Mag. 200 IMR4831 71.0 2,972 Nosler 6th
.300 Wby. Mag. 200 H1000 87.0** 3,039 Nosler 6th
** compressed charge. Notes: These are among the fastest loads published in current reloading manuals. They are NOT starting loads; consult manuals for starting powder-charge weights.
Warning: The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor InterMedia Outdoors assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data. Shooting reloads may void any warranty on your firearm.

The bad news is current loads are limited to 180-grain bullets, and all are pretty conservative at a standard 2,880 fps, about the same as the “enhanced velocity” .30-06 loads. You can do better on your own, but the cartridge is no longer popular enough to make new load development worthwhile to manufacturers. Plus, with all older cartridges in older rifles, there are reasons for keeping the pressures down.

A while back I talked Ruger into including the .300 H&H as part of a limited-run “safari” series, 250 rifles in each of five cartridges. We called the .300 H&H with 26-inch barrel “the kudu.” I don’t really think this small gesture will bring the cartridge back, I had a wonderful experience with it in Africa.

I hope the other 249 brand-new .300 H&H rifles are allowed to strut their stuff. Just like a previous generation of riflemen was, and just like I have been, their owners will be delighted with how well this grand old cartridge performs.

  • mark in b.c.

    i
    own a 721 .300 h&h.super accurate.it is my best rifle hands down!!!drops my moose every fall.

  • gary

    Just applied for a license for my 300H&H in a Weatherby mark v.Cannot wait for my license to arrive.

  • puke

    shot my deer this year with a 721, using 200 gr noslers at 2880 fps. It was great

  • Cue Ball

    Thank you Craig for this article. I am a third generation Montanan and have been shooting the .300. H and H for years. It is the same rifle (Remington) my dad shot for years. It is the best rifle in my collection. Highly accurate…highly lethal. Again, thank you Craig for the article. Keep shooting the H and H.

  • michael

    I have a 300 H & H, with scope and was wondering what the market value is.

  • D.Bergem

    I have revived my fathers 721 Remington in 300 H&H. Built in 1949, I call it my 49' Lead Slead! Igot so far involved that the only actual piece of the old rifle I still use is the action, which was trued/squared,etc. A new Lilja 28" SS fluted barrel, Jewell trigger, H&S Precisicion stock, a BAT muzzle break, topped with a nightforce 5.5X22X56 scope. I have never owned a rifle that can shoot a 5 shoot group all touching at 100 yards, every time. My load is 180 grain bullet traveling at 3100 fps. I enjoy shooting it more than my AI 338 Lapua. Never underestimate the 300H&H. A truly wonderful 1000 yard rifle.

  • mitchell

    I,ve finally came across a Remington model 721 in 300. H&H….I consider it somewhat of the holy grail of light safari rifles… It is elegant and functional…. my favorite rifle….

    • Jay

      Troll gunsamerica and Cablas gun library for a Belgian Browning, Mauser action, 300 H&H. I bought one new in 1966 and will never part with it. They have heavy profile barrels like the 375 H&H so they are hefty which is what I like in such a rifle for moderating recoil and a steady field hold. They have first class iron sights and a QD scope is indicated. I use European EAW mounts had have mounted everthing from a K3 Weaver (the scope I put on it in 1966) to 2-7 & 3-9 varilables. The trimmer 2-7×33 scopes fit the looks of the rifle best.

  • Hawkeye

    I have a pre 64 Winchester made in 1948 that is in excellent condition. She will shoot into 1" @100m with most loads factory or handloads with the odd flier as the original factory stock is still fitted. I have not had the stock altered as I want to keep it original, it still has the original steel butt plate. This ridicule remains my favorite and is a joy to shoot

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.chadwick.14 Bill Chadwick

    I love the old calibers and have had they have given me great results on my hunts. My pre-64 model 70 24" gets a steady diet of 200gr swift A-frames 2855fps and my McMillian Alaskan 20" gets 350gr A-frames at 2770 fps. Both loads are with IMR 4831. I am now playing with IMR 4350 for the .416 with the hope of shrinking the group size.

  • Leon

    Very nice stories. I'll add to it some. I bought an Alaskan Win. pre '64 mod 70 (I think it was made in 1953) from
    owner that bought it new up in Alaska while visiting his brother who lived there. He wasn't really a hunter but thought he'd go out with his bro. So anyway, he fired less than a box through it and it sat in his closet for about 30 years until I bought it from him for $600.00 in the mid 80's. Absolutely love this rifle, honestly kicks no more than my Win. 270. Have lots of range time and many game hunts and takes. I use 180 gr. and kills are, as they should be, instant. Have taken 25 plus large game animals and will pass this fine 300 H&H to my son.

  • Ralph Livingston

    While factory loads still reflect the milder SAAMI pressure limits, a handloader can step up the 300 H&H to the point where it is "peas in a pod" with the 300 Winchester mag.

    20 years ago I bought one of the Winchester "push feed" model 70 XTR rifles in 300 H&H. It got my first elk in a long across the canyon shot. Say what you will about the push feed actions, but without the claw follower this action is as slick as a Krag. Coupled with the smooth feeding 300 H&H cartridge, I have a rifle that I can shuck the second round into the chamber so smooth and fast that I'm unaware of working the bolt, and can get off that fast second shot without losing concentration on the task at hand.

    Many thanks Crag for helping to bring back this useful cartridge.

  • Ed H.

    Simply just love my pre 64 model 70 in 300 H&H. Mild recoil, hard hitting, and accurate as all get out. Thank you Mr. Boddington for this article, makes my ol girl just a lil bit more special to this ol hunter.

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