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In Reply to: Examining .30 caliber magnums

In Reply to this fine article by J. Marshall Stanton, I am sharing a very insightful article by
Mr. Chris Bekker of Zimbabwe that supports Mr. Stanton's arguments from Mr. Bekker's hands-on experience in Africa that deserve to be considered by those considering
.30 caliber magnums. Just passin it on.....

jt fusselman


By: C. Bekker

The 375 H&H dates back to 1912 and the British wanted a long range calibre and designed it around the very same case, necked down to a .308 calibre during 1920.
In 1935, Ben Comfort won the prestigious 1000 yard Wimbledon Cup with his 300 H&H which led to Winchester chambering for the calibre in 1937.

It is now 80 Years later and the 300H&H is still the most practical and useful magnum in the .300 calibre range. It offers the handloader and hunter more versatility and benefits; for example:-

a) It is the most efficient powder burner of all the .300's.

b) It does not require a 26 inch long barrel as it uses less powder.

c) The taper of the case body and the gentle shoulder makes it a smooth & reliable feeder.

d) It is the least likely to have a sticky bolt problem when pressures get high on a hot day.

e) Operating pressures are lower and therefore there is less strain on the gun and case life is better.

f) Its long neck makes it easier to reload it with heavier bullets, like 200 & 220 grainers.

g) Additional and unnecessary velocity of faster magnums is more destructive on the bullet.

h) It has lower recoil than the faster magnums as velocity gets squared in the energy calculation.

i) Longer barrel life by virtue of lower operating temperatures - throats get eroded.

j) More versatile with the 220 grainer for shorter ranges like in the Bushveld.

The only real justification of the .300 magnums is their ability to push 200 & 220 Gr bullets at adequate velocities for hunting of big game, like Gemsbok and Kudu at long range and that makes the 300 H&H the clear winner as its case has a longer neck which makes it easier to reload with the heavier bullets than its rivals.
If you wish to shoot 180 Gr bullets in your 300 H&H, you might as well stay with your 30-06 as the extra velocity will do you no good.
A 200 grain bullet has a sectional density factor of 301 which is preferable over a 180 grain bullet which is only .271. To punch hard enough at longer ranges one needs more initial momentum -i.e., mass and velocity and that is why the 30-06 is falling short. Also, a 200 gr bullet has a better ballistic coefficient, mainly through its better sectional density rather than through form, and thus retain velocity better and the 200 gr bullet is ideal for the 300 Magnums. When the 220 grainers are used, velocity is lower and the flat trajectory is then compromised to some degree. However, if your hunting distance is more like 200 yards, the 220 grainer with a sectional density of .331 is even better yet.

Well, I have given ten good reasons why the 300 H&H is the top 300 Magnum.
It is really sad that Winchester stopped making this British calibre, when they introduced their 300 Win Mag in 1963.
The main reason being to wring out a little bit more velocity. For example, if we take Federal ammunition we will see that the 300 Win Mag gives 2,960 fps against the 2,880 fps of the 300 H&H with a 180 gr Nosler Partition bullet - a mere 2.8%. The point is why shoot a 180 grainer if the we can shoot a 200 grainer that can run at 2,800 fps in both calibres with handloads?

The 7 mm Magnums cannot shoot heavier bullets than 175 grains and therefore fall short to compete with the 300 magnums. Bullet mass is more important than velocity for hunting bigger game like Kudu or Eland or even Gemsbok at long range.

Flatter shooting magnums are really of no use as the improvement is marginal even at 300 yards - a mere 2 inches at 300 yards, at game the size of Kudu? It is a question of at what distance you zero your rifle.
The latest and supposedly greatest 300 Magnum, is the new 300 Ultra Remington Magnum, that shoots a 200 grainer at 3,025 fps - all
conventional bullets will fail as the forces imparted to the bullet, forward and rotational, are way too high and thus the only reliable hunting bullets will be premium grade bullets.

The meat hunter does not like bloodshot meat and hence impact velocity is important so that a lot of meat does not go to waste - impact velocity should not be higher than around 2,200 fps and thus the 300 Ultra Remington Magnum will bruise a lot of meat when game is shot between 200 to 300 yds.
Look at this table for a comparison:- (200 gr bullet, BC = 0.556)

300 H&H MUZZLE 200 YDS 250 YDS 300 YDS 350 YDS
Velocity - fps 2,700 2,384 2,308 2,233 2,159
Bullet Drop Z=200 0 -3.2 -8.1 -14.7
Wind Drift @ 10 mph 4.1 5.9 8.2

300 Ultra Rem Mag MUZZLE 200 YDS 250 YDS 300 YDS 350 YDS
Velocity - fps 3,025 2,602 2,522 2,443 2,365
Bullet Drop Z=200 0 -2.5 -6.2 -11.3
Wind Drift @ 10 mph 3.5 5.1 7.0

The 300 H&H is ideal at hunting distances between 250 and 350 yards - at 350 yards the Ultra Rem Magnum is roughly doing the velocity that the 300 H&H is doing at 200 yds and it would cause more meat damage as the impact velocity is too high and shots beyond 350 yards are less common and more risky in terms of accuracy, bullet drop and last but not least the wind drift all of which get progressively worse the longer the shot. If shots are common at 300 to 350 yds then one should rather zero the rifle at 300 yds to minimize hold over.

Hopefully, the above table will convince you to rather limit your shots to 250 yds and hence avoiding wounding your animal and a consequent long follow up. Second shots only cause more meat damage and the adrenaline will make the meat tough after a chase.
The vital zone area is only about 10 inches for a kudu in diameter and you have to land the bullet there or else may regret it!
Mother nature has already moved the bullet at 300 yards 8.1" and 5.9" away from where you aimed in terms of bullet drop and wind drift.
In addition, if you can shoot a 1" group @ 100 yards, then that becomes 3 inches out at 300 yards - that is the practical reality.
So, this inaccuracy should be added to the bullet drop and wind drift factor - you get the picture? I have not even mentioned the fact that hot loads, that cause more recoil, could cause the hunter to flinch.
Shot placement is of vital importance for one shot kills.

The 300 H&H is making a strong come back in South Africa due to all the negatives associated with the faster magnums. Generally speaking, people that have used the 300 Win Mag with 180 Gr bullets at 2,960 fps are not impressed - it is too fast for big game at the distances that they are shot at.
I now wish to stack the 180 grain bullet up against the 200 grainer so we can see if there is a real benefit to shoot the faster and lighter bullet.
Let us use typical velocities for the 300 H&H in both loads and let us use Speer Spitzer bullets of which the details are as follows:-

180 Gr 2,850 Fps BC = .462
200 Gr 2,700 Fps BC = .556

Bullet Drop - in inches 100 Yds 200 Yds 300 Yds 400 Yds
180 Gr Bullet 4.2 5.0 0.0 -11.7
200 Gr Bullet 4.6 5.4 0.0 -12.4
Wind Drift - in inches
180 Gr Bullet 0.7 2.9 6.7 12.4
200 Gr Bullet 0.6 2.6 5.9 10.9

The 200 grain bullet only drops 0.7 of an inch more than the 180 grainer at a distance of 400 yards. Most people battle to shoot a 0.7 inch grouping at a 100 yards! As far as wind deflection goes, we see that the heavier bullet is superior by 1.5 inches at 400 yards.
So, in my opinion, there is absolutely no gain to be had by shooting a 180 grain bullet at a faster velocity, as it gets negated by the better ballistic coefficient of the 200 grainer.
At 300 yards, there is practically no difference at all.
Sure, the 300 Remington Ultra Magnum would shoot flatter than the 300 H&H and I would bet that most Americans would opt to shoot the 180 grainers at 3,320 fps in preference to the 200 grainers at 3,025 fps as they have been conditioned to believe that more velocity will give them the edge - perhaps so for distances beyond 400 yards.

300 H&H rifles are scarce and must be custom built if you want one.
I believe Dakota Arms in the USA are still making the this old British calibre.
If you cannot kill your quarry with a 200 grainer at 2,700 fps then your hunting skill need some honing or you need to take up fly-fishing instead. In fact, my favorite load with the 200 gr bullet is at 2,600 fps as I limit my shots to 250 yards, there is less strain on my rifle and I make it easier for my bullets to perform as unnecessary energy placed on the bullet is destructive on the bullet.

The gun world media conditions us to believe that we need faster and faster magnums as the time passes by. My contention is that Remington has now created a Mona Lisa with a moustache with their Ultra Magnum!
In closing, I wish to go back in time ... it was 1939, the chill of war already settling like a cold, damp fog over Europe when John Taylor wrote the first lines to his book:
"It is an astonishing thing how little the average sportsman in Africa knows about the rifles he uses. It is only a trifling exaggeration to say that all he really does know about them, is that a bullet comes out of the end that has a hole in it!"

Today, more than 60 years later, these famous words seems to fit the American manufacturers as well ... as they are the ones who supply the gullible novice hunters with their latest and greatest rifles.

Chris Bekker ([email protected])

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