January 04, 2011
A top performer overseas is gaining momentum in the U.S. Here's why.
Ask any American hunter to name a classic African rifle and cartridge of medium caliber and the answer will likely be an English-built rifle in .375 Holland & Holland Magnum.
That's certainly a logical answer, but Otto Bock's 9.3x62mm Mauser — a cartridge few Americans have ever seen — probably accounted for more African game during the first half of the 20th century than hunters toting rifles in .375 H&H ever laid eyes on.
The Author's Sako rifle in 9.3x62mm Mauser has accounted for several moose in both Sweden and Finland.
Sporting rifles of 9.3x62mm caliber — built at Peter Paul Mauser's factory in Oberndorf, Germany — became for African farmers what the Winchester 94 in .30-30 became to the American cattle rancher.
Metric cartridges above 7mm in caliber are not likely to become as popular among American hunters as they are in other countries, but the 9.3x62mm Mauser is beginning to catch on a bit; rifles and loaded ammunition — along with plenty of bullets and load data — are now available.
At the moment the biggest supplier of 9.3x62 rifles to the U.S. market is probably CZ-USA, but smaller companies — such as Ultralight Arms are also taking a serious look at it.
For those who choose to handload the 9.3x62mm, Redding and RCBS offer reloading dies, and plenty of bullets are available. Swift offers the excellent A-Frame in 250- and 300-grain weights and X-Bullets weighing 250 and 286 grains are available from Barnes. Others include the 250-grain Ballistic Tip and 286-grain Partition from Nosler, the Speer 286-grain semi-spitzer and a spitzer of the same weight from Hornady.
Loading data for the 9.3x62mm are available in reloading manuals published by Nosler, Swift, Hodgdon, VihtaVuori, Speer and Barnes.
When loading bullets up to 250 grains in weight, I find powders that work well in the .35 Whelen and .338-06 A-Square to be equally suitable for the 9.3x62mm. A few that come to mind IMR-4895, IMR-4064, Varget, H4895, H335, AA-2520, V-N140 and RL-15.
These are also quite suitable for use with bullets heavier than 250 grains, but propellants with slower burn rates sometimes deliver a bit higher velocities — a few examples being RL-19, W760, H414, IMR-4350 and H4350.
Standard primers have plenty of spark for igniting most powders in this cartridge, but anytime ball powders such as W760 and H414 will be used at temperatures below freezing, I switch to a magnum primer.
The 9.3x62mm Mauser cartridge (r.) compared to the .30-'06 cartridge(l.). The 9.3x62mm Mauser became to the African farmer what the Winchester 94 in .30-30 was to the American cattle rancher.
Photo courtesy Lapua.
Lapua ammunition is available on its website; a while back I took a moose in Sweden with Lapua's 270-grain Naturalis (lead-free) load, and it worked just fine.
The Norma catalog lists two loads, 286-grain softnose at 2,360 fps and 231-grain PPC (Protected Power Cavity) at 2,600 fps. And even though it is difficult to come by, I'll mention that RWS ammo is loaded with 258-, 285- and 293-grain bullets at respective velocity ratings of 2,560, 2,430 and 2,280 fps.
Those who prefer to stick with factory ammo are not exactly neglected, although some of it is not easy to come by. Nosler offers the 286-grain Partition at a velocity of 2,430 fps, and it is quite accurate in my rifle.
I first used the 9.3x62mm cartridge years ago while visiting the Sako factory in Riihimaki. While zeroing my rifle before a moose hunt after our factory tour, I was a surprised to see it consistently shoot three bullets inside an inch at 100 yards with Sako ammo loaded with a 225-grain bullet.
Thinking a heavier bullet might be a better choice for moose, I eventually sighted in the rifle with 286-grain ammo, and while groups fired with it were not as small, they were a lot smaller than a moose. Luck was with me, and after taking a nice bull with the rifle I become so fond of it I decided it just had to emigrate to America.
A great testament to the respect held by professional hunters of Africa for the 9.3x62mm took place during the 1950s, when Kenya game officials declared that the .375 H&H Magnum was the minimum cartridge that could legally be used on dangerous game. Written into the new law was one exception — hunters of experience who wished to continue using the 9.3x62mm Mauser for that purpose would be allowed to do so.
9.3x62mm MAUSER LOADS
|BULLET WEIGHT (gr.)
|CHARGE WEIGHT (gr.)
|MUZZLE VELOCITY (fps)
|WARNING:ï»¿All powder charges are maximum and should be reduced by 10 percent for starting loads. Lapua cases and CCI 250 primers were used in all loads. Velocities are the average of five or more rounds measured at 12 feet from the muzzle of a 23-inch Sako barrel by an Oehler Model 33 Chronograph.