Dangerous loads for Dangerous Game (??)


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Apr 30, 2009
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Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, England, Scotland, Norway, Austria
I am hoping to get some wise words from experienced reloaders on DG loads for my 375 H&H.

I went on a DG hunt in Zimbabwe recently, taking my 375 H&H, and my intention was to use Woodleigh 300 gr RNSP bullets and Woodleigh 350 gr solid bullets. I wanted to use 350 rather than 300 for solids, as this would give an extra bit of punch, which I felt would be better for Buffalo and Elephant.

Woodleigh doesn't produce a loading manual and their advice is to use other load formula, start low and then work up to get the right speed.

I did this for the 300 gr RNSP and took them up to the speed I wanted without any problem, but when I tried to do the same with the 350 gr bullet I had trouble. I found a 350 gr formula somewhere on the internet (I forget where), clipped a few grains off the maximum powder load and then worked up at half grain increments, chronographing the results. I was using RL 15 powder. However, what happened was that the speed did not increase very much as the powder weight was increased. On adding more powder for the 300 gr bullet I would see a corresponding increase in speed, although if I added more powder for the 350 gr bullet then the increase in speed would only be marginal.

Now, that extra energy has to be going somewhere. If it's not resulting in more speed, it must mean that there is a build up in pressure. I therefore abandoned loading the 350 gr bullet; it seemed too dangerous to continue. I substituted them with Barnes Banded Solids in 300 gr, for which there is reliable load data.

Personally, I think Woodleight has a responsibility to issue some meaningful data, so reloaders can see what the safe parameters are. I think the statement on their web site: "You can use published data from other bullet and powder manufacturers. For safety, reduce by 5% and work up" is feeble and potentially dangerous.

Most reloaders will have a chronograph, or access to one, but very few have access to equipment that measures the pressure within the gun.

This is an accident waiting to happen and Woodleigh should issue load data that is backed up by professional pressure testing.

I would be interested to take guidance and opinion from anyone who has experience or an opinion in this area.

PS The 300 gr Barnes Banded Solids worked fine
....Gloucester I agree 100% they should back there bullets with some data!! They charge a premium price & data should be provided. I own 7 different reloading manuals for bullets & powder producers. Of those 7 manuals only 1 - Accurate Arms even lists a 350 gr bullet. In my experience that is not the manual I would want that info as just about every gun I have used big bullets on I had pressure spikes. I think there powders are a little hot.. That's my opinion!!
For example what if their bullets have a problem like the monolithic bullets by a square & Barnes in the double rifles. Creating pressure problems. Who knows what any of these bullet manufacturers really add to the composition of the bullet - the base or shank..
.. As far as that formula you got for that bullet size off the net yhere is a similar formula I have used fairly reliably wuth cast bullets> But then agaun cast bullets are fairly uniform but if I recall it stated that you took from a known & safe load and calculated this. How do I know a safe load when that bullet manufacturer isn't producing no data?
... That is where the tinkerer or reloader comes in to effect.. I think you made a damn wise choice in abandoning that load. that pressure & speed has to go some where!! If I was you I would write a LETTER AND EXPRESS YOUR CONCERNS, I think the way the lawyers and laws are around guns etc. you would think they would show some responsibility!!
Here is a link with 4 differerent loads for the 350 grain bullets

4 loads available in .375 H&H Magnum with bullet weight equal 350

The powders used are all slower burning than RL-15. However be careful using the above data, compare the two loads with 4350 the one with less powder has higher MV than the one with more powder.:confusion:

If you can buy VV 560 it may be worth trying.

I once contacted Norma about some issues with their 416 Rem ammo loaded with Woodleigh 450 grain bullets. Like you, the answers were less than satisfactory.
What MV were you trying to reach? Was the bolt sticky? How did the primers look?

That is a big bullet for a 375 H&H and you were very smart being safe rather than sorry.
Woodleigh does produce a reloading manual
Yeah they do. Plus... Barnes older manual used to have load data for their 350 grain tsx. This would provide you with a good start because, while the woodleigh solids are made of steel (making them harder to push down the barrel and increasing pressure), the Barnes tsx monometal is longer and when loaded to to the same oal would take up more room in the case, increasing pressure. It's a fair bet that the data obtained from Barnes would certainly be safe as a starting load with the woodleigh. I have the Barnes data somewhere. When I find it I will post a pic.

Second, just out of curiosity, why would you want a 300 grain soft and a 350 grain solid? They invariably will not have the same point of impact. Personally, I would load 350 grain woodleigh weldcore protected point and 350 grain solids. Or make both of them 300 grains. A 300 grain modern .375 solid will punch through a buff almost lengthwise as it is. If you want more punch with a solid you'll probably have to step up in size and weight.
Heavy for caliber bullets travelling at a decent velocity have always been the choice of experienced DG game hunters. Under 2000 fps is too slow and above 2400 fps has no purpose other than to increase recoil, recovery time and muzzle blast.

Stick to the same bullet weights for softs and solids. Minimum 300gr for the the 375 and better still are the 350 grainers. I used a 380 grain Rhino soft for many years in my standard 375 H&H.

350 grainers in a properly constructed rifle should reach 2300 fps without any issues and 2200 fps with the 380 grainer.

I will not elaborate on charges but let me share some information when re-loading. All rifles are not designed the same. Some have tighter chambers and very little "jump" to the lands. These rifles will show pressure signs much quicker than rifles with more "Jump". This is exponentially increased with heavy for caliber bullets as they are seated further out in the case and thus sit closer to the lands than lighter bullets.This is easily measured and corrected, and has no influence on the accuracy needed for a DG rifle and is one of the main reasons for pressure spikes.

Bullet choice-although this is a personal choice premium grade controlled expansion softs and brass solids with a Meplat are the only ones I would recommend for DG.
I have shot some of the bullets mentioned in my 500 Jeff and 375 H&H at speeds in excess of 2450(570 grains in .500) and found that they overexpand and look like soup plates when recovered. This seriously compromises their performance and outcome on DG. This is fine when hunting soft DG such as Lion(not recommended for follow up on male lion) and Leopard but unacceptable for tougher DG such as Buffalo. For a PH, you need a bullet that will perform every time not just some of the time. I have found the South African Rhino bullet to be the best performer on DG. It is a weight forward design, bonded, controlled expansion bullet with a solid rear section and has performed superbly in all my rifles and with the best performance in the field. So much so that it is the only bullet I use when hunting buffalo, I don't use solids even for back-up.

Some conventional design soft nose bullets have been designed for double rifles and although bonded are designed to perform at double(big Nitro Express cartridge) velocities and not at 300 fps more.

As for solid bullets- monolithic solids with a good Meplat design will outperform conventional round nose jacketed bullets all day long. They will smash through heavy bone much better and more reliably and they will also retain straight penetration(less deflection) much better than any round nosed design.

When reloading for bigger bores you should experiment with different powders until you find the one that suites your combination the best. One should start at minimum loads and then slowly work your way up, carefully checking for any pressure signs as you go. Needless to say STOP whenever any pressure signs are encountered.

Monolithic solids will reach higher pressures sooner than conventional bullets. In my 500 Jeff I reach the same velocity and POI with one less grain of the same powder with monolithic solids as opposed to the soft noses.

The 350 grain bullet weight for the 375 H&H makes it much more capable of effectively killing dangerous game than the 300 grain bullets.

High velocity is not needed. The proper bullet travelling at 2200-2300 fps is all you need. Steer away from maximum loads, a good grouping at the mentioned velocities will not only recoil less and make you shoot better but will also avoid any pressure related issues especially when hunting areas that can become quite hot in Africa.

Don't give up on the heavy weights, just find the right combination for your rifle, good luck.
The Quickload computer program can give some insight in to using different powders and bullet weights than those listed in the manual.

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