July 16, 2020
By Brad Fitzpatrick
In 1905 Otto Bock introduced the 9.3x62 Mauser to provide Germans living in colonial Africa with an affordable alternative to expensive double rifles. Propelling 286-grain 9.3mm (.366 inch) bullets at around 2,350 fps, the 9.3x62 generates roughly 3,500 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy while generating relatively mild recoil. What’s more, Bock’s new cartridge fit neatly in standard-length Mauser 98 actions.
Then in 1912, the British firm of Holland & Holland released the .375 H&H Mag., a magnum-length belted cartridge that drove 300-grain bullets at 2,500 fps and produced a whopping 4,300 ft.-lbs. of punch. Soon the .375 H&H Mag. became the African queen for the full spectrum of game animals. And, like the 9.3x62, it dropped game in its tracks without generating excessive levels of recoil.
Over the decades the .375 H&H Mag. became the standard bearer for dangerous game cartridges, and once Winchester began offering the Model 70 in .375 H&H Mag. in 1937 the die was cast and American hunters had their big bore for Africa.
That means there are more ammo and rifle options available today for .375 H&H fans than for 9.3x62 shooters. There are .375 H&H production rifles available from several manufacturers, and factory ammo is available in weights ranging from 250 to 350 grains. A quick check of Brownells’ website shows more than twice as many .375 H&H loads as there are 9.3x62 offerings.
The .375’s reputation on big and dangerous game is beyond repute, and the round produces significantly more energy than you can get from a 9.3x62. Further, several African countries that make .375 the legal minimum caliber for dangerous game. In addition, the .375 H&H Mag. with lighter bullets shoots flatter than the 9.3x62, which also makes it more versatile.
But before we kick the 9.3x62 down the back steps, let’s take the time to look at some of the advantages this cartridge offers. For starters, the 9.3x62 does virtually everything the .375 H&H will with less recoil and gunpowder. Because the 9.3x62 fits in a standard action, guns can be built lighter and still won’t beat the daylights out of a shooter.
Even though there are fewer ammo options, factory loads are, on average, cheaper than the .375 H&H by an average of almost a dollar a round. And, according to Speer’s Reloading Manual 13, you can resize existing .30-06 or .35 Whelen ammo for the 9.3x62, and that means a cheap brass option that’s readily available.
In terms of performance, 286-grain 9.3mm bullets have the same sectional density as a 300-grain .375 H&H (.305), so the 9.3x62 penetrates extremely well. What’s more, the 9.3x62 is now available loaded with 225- and 250-grain bullets—providing flat trajectories and enough power to stop big bears, elk, moose and the largest African plains game—and they do so with less recoil and gun weight than a .375 H&H.
It’s impossible to evaluate the 9.3x62 without mentioning the blow that it took when the .375 Ruger emerged. The .375 H&H Mag’s biggest handicap is it requires a magnum-length action. The 9.3x62 was the standard-length alternative until Ruger launched the standard-length .375.
Nevertheless, the 9.3x62 is a practical cartridge for almost all the world’s game at moderate distances, and even though it doesn’t have the mainstream cult status of the .375 H&H, there are droves of 9.3x62 fans. CZ offers rifles chambered in the caliber, and in recent years, Ruger has also offered it so you’ll occasionally see 9.3x62s on store shelves. If you see one, however, buy it quickly. I’ve just missed out on two Ruger 9.3x62 Hawkeye rifles because I didn’t plunk my money down the moment I saw the gun.