365 Days with a 375H&H

TokkieM

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I don’t know how many rounds you need to fire through a medium calibre rifle to make you proficient with it, nor do I know how many rounds a man generally fires through his medium calibre rifle each year. I have for a year or so kept all my fired cases in a separate container for each calibre, every 20 rounds in their original packing. Every separate 20 round box labelled with the date and use I put them too. It is what I like to call my box filling system, at the end of each year I count the boxes and keep record of the amounts of ammunition fired through my rifles barrels. I had finished cleaning and packing away my rifles one warm summers evening in January and decided it was time to count the cases. I pulled out the container market .308 and knew by the weight my trusty old rifle had not done much work the past year, there was only 160 empty cases in the individual boxes. By the effort it took to lift the container marked .375H&H I realized that this rifle had done some work the past hunting season 600 cases in their respective 20 round boxes and 15 loose cases ringing away like wind chimes at the bottom of the container. If my memory served me right I gave away about 7 empty cases and lost about the same amount during the year while chasing down wounded animals. They don’t stop for you to collect the empty cases and then resume the chase. So give or take a round here and there I had a total of about 630 rounds fired through the 375 last hunting season.

The boxes where made up of an assortment of ammunition, our local ammo with the buffalo on the box (PMP 300gr) making up about 80 % of the total followed by Norma Oryx, PMP Super Solid 286gr,a fist full of Remington ammo and some reloaded PMP cases with GS custom bullets.
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At the start of the season I had no intention of using the 375 H&H exclusively, but as bad things happen to good rifles, my .308 developed a problem with the scope and stock at the same time. This left me with one working rifle for the season and work it did. My 375 H&H was a stock standard Brno ZKK 602, the only changes that were made was by fitting a Pachmayer decelerator pad, a rubber slip on bolt knob and fitting an ancient Lynx 3/9 X 44 scope.
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The first 60 rounds I fired was to break in the barrel, all in one day mostly from the bench, not my idea of plinking, but it gave me enough time to get use to the recoil and the way the rifle handled and operated. Rapid fire sessions started with 5 rounds in the magazine and rifle shouldered bolt closed no round in the chamber. I would draw the rifle from my shoulder and fire all five rounds as fast as I could work the bolt, the rifle performed flawlessly every time. The best group from the bench with standard PMP 300gr ammunition was sub 10mm at 100 meters. Anyone who ever thought medium calibre rifles are not accurate should seriously rethink their opinion. A further total of 260 rounds were fired during practice sessions or informal competitive shooting through the year. Ranges where between 50 and 300 meters and although the 300gr round takes some time to arrive at its destination 300 meters down range, it arrives with authority as the gongs and 12mm steel plates would testify. Standard practice drills included busting clays at 100 meters from the offhand position; this only became easier mid way through the 260 round mark.


168 Rounds was used by me personally to hunt, cull and control problem animals. A total of 112 cull animals were head shot, two jackal called and shot at night and the balance made up of trophy animals, meat rations and fence breaking warthog. The very first animal I shot was an old Impala female, she had lost condition severely due to the drought and as she walked away from me I could see the hip bones protrude through her skin like a wet shirt hanging on a coat hanger. She was angling away from me and the only shot I had was one that would pass her rump with an inch too spare and enter behind the shoulder at a slight downward angle. It is not a shot I would normally take or recommend, but my compassion for the animal got the better of me. She dropped at the shot and did not move again. This was also the first time I saw what I call bullet burn as the path the bullet took traced through the hair and into the vitals was very clear.
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Culling with the 375 is not ideal if you have to do the driving lighting and shooting, you do feel the recoil a bit more and once for the very first time in my life I got nicked by the scope while shooting from the driver’s window, please note that this is culling and by no means do I try and sugar coat it into any form of hunting what so ever. Anyone who has ever culled will tell you it is not what they want to do, but what they have to do! I used the PMP 300gr ammunition for this purpose and all I can say is that I would never ever try and use it on the Buffalo depicted on the box. As stated long ago the bullet is fragile, on more than one occasion did I find that the core separated and the copper jacket disintegrated on frontal head shot Kudu. This has never happened to me when using premium bullets or even .308 150gr PMP ammunition. The one trophy I regret shooting with the 375 is my Cape Grysbok, I did not have any solid ammunition with me and decided to take it with the soft ammo. The range was probably 40 meters and I honestly thought even the soft would pass right through such a small animal the same as a solid would. I placed my bullet a little further back than I normally would trying to limit the damage even more. Well all I can say is that I had to settle for a shoulder mount instead of a full mount!
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What I will admit is that the 286gr solids cannot be faulted, I have only used them on soft skin animals, but I have never recovered one. The first animals I shot with the 286gr PMP solids where 2 Lechwe. I had a group of four that crawled under the fence where a bush pig had dug through. They were now on the neighbouring citrus farm which had no game fence and they were causing some issues. I attempted to dart them on a few occasions, no luck, I opened the fence and put feed out to lure them back, but I only managed to get back two of them. By this time the other two had moved of further into the 4000 HA citrus farm and the chances of capturing them was very slight if any. My tracker and I set off early one morning with the 375 to do the necessary, I had decided on solids as the citrus farm had besides abundant citrus trees, some Acacia and Gum trees growing along the river bed. By my way of thinking I was going to have to do some fast and accurate shooting in terrain where a branch or reed may be in the bullet path unseen. Once again this wasn’t hunting to the letter of the law, but it had to be done. It took us most of the day to track the two Lechwe, just as we thought, they were holding close to the river in the reeds and long grass. I managed to crawl up the river bed and spot their heads sticking out above some long grass, they were lying in a horse shoe shaped clearing flanked on two sides by the river almost like the oxbow lakes in the Kokstad area, and it could not have been more than 50 meters to the closest animal. There was a small earth bank 5 meters ahead of me, I had disengaged the safety and turned the scope down to 3 power then I had slowly moved to behind the earth bank. All I could do at the time was wait for them to stand up and then maybe I would have an opportunity to take one or both animals. Minutes ticked into an hour and by then I realised they were going to stay bedded down for the night and if I wanted to take them I would need to do something now. I had stood up very slowly when the closest Lechwe dropped her head; my rifle was already in the pocket of my shoulder as I tried to lock on to the closest animal through the scope. The Lechwe furthest away spotted me first; she got onto her legs and craned her neck to get a better view of me, at more or less the same time the one closest to me also got up. She was still turning her head when the 286gr solid zipped right through her, I saw dirt and grass fly up maybe 10 or so meters behind her. The other Lechwe at first did not react, I don’t know why but as I stroked the bolt to feed a fresh round into the chamber and at the same time swing the rifle onto her she was just dropping her shoulders as animals do when they start taking off, I took the shot and once again saw dirt flying up on the other side of the animal, she had reacted as though I missed her completely. I knew the shot on the first Lechwe had been good and so was the shot on the second animal, I also knew that if she had the opportunity to get further than 40 meters away from where I shot her, the chances of finding her in the thick bush along the river edge where slim. I had no time to think as I once again worked the bolt, the only shot I had on the fast departing Lechwe was straight from behind and I took it. The bullet hit just to the left of the tail, finding the soft channel through the middle of the animal and exiting between the front legs.
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The Norma Oryx ammunition was my first choice, I cannot fault them. One round passed through both shoulders on a large Zebra and still held together enough to traverse the length of a Blesbuck 50 meters further on. I had made a gross error in judgement by not seeing the Blesbuck, from my shooting position; the Zebra had totally obscured him.The largest animal I have taken with the 375 H&H was a really big Eland, he took a shoulder shot at 120 meters and never made it more than 30 meters. The bullet entered high on the shoulder and exited on the opposite side, I was using factory Norma ammunition loaded with Oryx bullets. The only compliant I have with these bullets is that you almost never recover them. I have only ever recovered two of maybe 60 rounds, both came from Zebra, or kind of due to Zebra. The very first one I recovered was in a client’s animal. He had unfortunately placed his shot poorly and the Zebra stallion was heading away from us at speed, I followed up on the animal tracking him for about 2km before I could take a shot at him. I knew the terrain well and anticipated where he would come through the dry river bed, and as he did I placed a shot into the triangle on his shoulder, seeing him go down and then up again, I took two more shots in quick succession, both from behind at an angle. We recovered the stallion exactly 90 paces from where my empty shells lay. My first bullet had gone through the arteries at the top of the heart and lungs exiting on the opposite side, my second bullet through one lung and just above the heart exiting between the front legs, the third bullet passed through the rumen, liver and ended up just below the skin on the opposite side.
Simon my tracker with Zebra and Blesbuck killed with the same bullet.JPG


A total of 98 rounds were fired by clients with my rifle, accounting for Eland, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest, Blesbuck, Bushbuck, Impala, Springbuck, Bush pig and Warthog. Most of these animals went down with one bullet, even if the shot placement was not exactly right.The balance of the ammunition, well that went towards when the shots where marginal and the animals didn’t go down.

A famous writer once wrote that the 375H&H does everything, but it does not do everything well, I agree that if you have many rifles and calibres to choose from, you may find more suitable tools for the given job. The reality of the matter is we live in Africa; licence and ammunition problems don’t always afford us the opportunity to have several overlapping calibres to complement each other. The criterion in my opinion has always remained simple, a rifle should be 100% reliable, accurate enough for the task at hand and of a calibre size that will kill cleanly. Unfortunately even if your rifle meets this criterion, it will only be of any use if you yourself can do the necessary by placing the bullets were they need to go. The old adage of beware of the man with only one gun holds as true today as it did a 100 years ago. Did my 375 do everything I needed it to do, yes, yes and then some, could I have used another rifle to do the same? Maybe a 9,3X62;)
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brushmore

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I think this write up just helped finalize my decision that the 375 H&H will be my next rifle!
 

TokkieM

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You are welcome brushmore,but please don't tell your wife I made you do it:A Stirring::)
 

bassasdaindia

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love my 375's , thanks for the write up.
 

Pheroze

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Great write up, thanks. I am considering loading GS Custom 200gr 375H&H for my eland hunt next year. You mentioned having some loaded but did you get a chance to use them?
 

TokkieM

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@Pheroze I used two or three,but never recovered the bullets,meat damage was less than with a conventional lead core bullet,recovery distance on animals were a bit further due to narrow wound channel. They shoot pretty flat too, GS is a good bullet and anyone passing through Port Elizabeth should stop over a Gerrie's plant.
 

Timt

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Nice writeup! Now I miss not having a 375 in the house anymore :(
 

Big5

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Excellent account of your more than solid experience with the .375 H&H. It has long been one of my favorite and well used sport hunting calibers. If I was limited to a single rifle it would by my .375 H&H.

Good hunting to you!
 

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