January 04, 2011
By Layne Simpson
This European bruiser is gaining a foothold here with factory ammo and a great selection of component bullets.
By Layne Simpson
The 9.3x74R was designed for doubles and single-shots such as this SSK Industries-barreled Thompson/Center Encore.
I have long been aware of the 9.3x74R and its popularity in other countries, but I had not observed its effectiveness on game until about 10 years go. While on a moose hunt in Finland I met a local hunter who was carrying a Bockdrilling which, according to him, was built by the German firm of Heym sometime during the 1920s.
One of its three barrels was chambered for the 16-gauge shotshell while the other two were in 9.3x74R and 5.6x36R. (The latter, by the way, is the European designation for the .22 Hornet.)
That fine old rifle had a lot of notches whittled into its stock down through the years, and I was particularly interested in the 9.3x74R barrel. The man told me he had used that cartridge to take moose every year since just before the outbreak of World War II in Europe, and shortly thereafter I witnessed firsthand the deadliness of one of the world's classic cartridges.
It was a driven shoot where riflemen who are lined up along wide trails and country roads in wooded country wait patiently for drivers to push moose their way. I have killed a number of moose in Finland and Sweden, and as is often the case with driven game, all but two were running full-throttle when I shot.
A bull broke from cover, and my Finnish friend swung his rifle like a quail gun and from about 50 yards dropped the moose in a cloud of dust. A single 286-grain bullet through the shoulders did the trick. I have shot moose in a lot of places with a lot of different cartridges, including the .416 Remington Magnum, and never have I seen one go down any quicker.
I have no personal experience with the 9.3x74R, but I have taken moose and deer with the 9.3x62, which is only a bit more powerful when factory loads are compared. Whereas the 9.3x62 is a rimless cartridge designed for use in the 1898 Mauser, the 9.3x74R has a rimmed case and was developed during the early 1900s specifically for single-shots, doubles and combination guns.
Because some of those guns are not as strong as the Mauser, the big cartridge is commonly loaded to lower chamber pressures. There was a time when American hunters and shooters who owned rifles chambered for the big cartridge had to search hard to find ammunition, but such is not the case today as Hornady and Norma are loading ammo.
The Hornady ammo is loaded with a 286-grain bullet, and the two rifles in which I have tried it delivered impressive velocities.
One, a rebarreled Browning B78 single-shot belonging to a friend of mine, consistently averaged less than two inches for three shots at 100 yards with a muzzle velocity average of 2,376 fps, which is a bit faster than it's rated by Hornady and faster than any 286-grain factory loading of the 9.3x62 ammo I have tried.
The other rifle, an Encore rifle with a custom 25-inch barrel by SSK Industries, is a new addition to my battery. With handloads, it has proven to be a bit more accurate than my friend's Browning, and while it does not shoot the Hornady load as accurately, it is accurate enough and actually exceeds 2,400 fps with that load.
Handloaders have it much better because there are a lot of excellent bullets available. Since the 9.3x74R case has about 8 percent greater capacity than the 9.3x62 case, it can be loaded to the same velocities as that cartridge but at lower chamber pressure. Said another way, when the 9.3x74R is loaded to the same chamber pressure as the 9.3x62 (which is safe to do when loading for a strong single-shot rifle), it will be a bit faster with all bullet weights.
It is not exactly my idea of a perfect deer cartridge, but it will do that when loaded to 2,500 fps with one of the 250-grain bullets offered by Swift, Nosler and Barnes; all shoot fairly flat and pack plenty of punch downrange.
I have shot Nosler 250-grain Ballistic Tips in my SSK rifle, and when zeroed three inches high at 100 yards that bullet is down about 10 inches at 300 yards and is still packing more 2,300 ft.-lbs. of punch.
For all-around use on everthing from mice to moose, the Swift 250- grain A-Frame would be my pick of the bunch, although heavier game probably calls for a heavier bullet.
I have no immediate plans to hunt Cape buffalo with this cartridge, but should that change, I would probably start the show with a Swift 300-grain A-Frame to the lungs and, if need be, follow up with a Barnes 286-grain solid to whichever end of the animal happened to be pointed in my direction.
As powders go, I have included several in the accompanying chart that have worked nicely for me in my rifle, but others with similar burn rates should be equally suitable for this grand old cartridge.
| 9.3x74R Loading Guide |
| Bullet ||Bullet Weight (gr.)|| Powder || Charge Weight)gr.)|| Muzzle Velocity (fps)|
| Norma Oryx || 232 || N-202 || 60.0 || 2,573 |
| Barnes Triple-Shock || 250 || IMR-4064 || 58.0 || 2,516 |
| Nosler Triple-Shock || 250 || Varget || 57.0 || 2,432 |
| Swift A-Frame || 250 || RL-15 || 60.0 || 2,524 |
| Lapua Naturalis || 270 || V-N135 || 58.0 || 2,552 |
| Barnes Banded Solid || 286 || H380 || 57.0 || 2,215 |
| Barnes Triple-Shock || 286 || H380 || 57.0 || 2,188 |
| Hornady PSN || 286 || IMR-4064 || 55.0 || 2,227 |
| Nosler Partition || 286 || IMR_4350 || 66.0 || 2,309 |
| Swift A-Frame|| 300 || N-202 || 52.0 || 2,317 |
| Notes: All powder charges are maximum and should be reduced by 10 percent for starting loads. Hornady cases and Federal 210M primers were used. Velocities shown are averages of five or more rounds clocked 12 feet from the muzzle of a 25-inch SSK Industries barrel. |
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.