Range Report: Winchester M70 Safari Express 375 H&H

brushmore

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Awhile back I posted a poll asking for opinions on my first venture into a dangerous game rifle. I decided on the Winchester M70 Safari Express in 375 H&H. I've taken it to the range twice now so I figured I'd give it a proper range review. First off, I really like this gun! I still need more practice with it and shooting a big caliber.

I am still using the open sights but I have VX-3 in mind for a future purchase. I have to crank my head down just a little bit since the stock fits me perfectly for where the scope should be. For open sights they are pretty good but I need more practice since I generally use a scope or peep sights. Today I thought I would try it on the bench to see if the sights need any adjustment. That was a mistake. First shot was right were I was aiming but was somewhat unpleasant. I only managed two other shots like this before I decided it was a bad idea because my accuracy wasn't so good. So one question, how do you guys sight in your big bores? I am just wondering what the best approach will be when I will dial in the scope?

However, shooting off-hand or on the sticks is no problem! In fact, I was getting a better pattern off-hand anyway! For comparison I shot high brass buck shot from my Mossberg 500 12 ga. today as well. The 375 H&H is much easier on the shoulder which was a surprise. The 375 does give a pretty good push where as the shotgun is more of a punch. I think managing that push with muzzle rise would also require some practice because I imagine that follow up shots can be important in certain situations when hunting dangerous game.

The ammo I was shooting was Hornady GMX Superformance. (It was on sale). I can't complain about the trigger. It's not in same league as my Anschutz target rifle but for a hunting rifle it's perfect. It's adjustable but I like it where it is anyway.

My accuracy is not what I would like it yet, at least shooting offhand with the open sights. I was shooting at 25 yards offhand today and was shooting 4 shot strings, 3 in the mag and one in the chamber. I would end up with three in about a inch group with one "flyer" which was easy blamed of my shooting. So that just means I need more practice. So it's a good thing I started reloading, I think I would go broke pretty quickly otherwise because shooting something like this is addicting!
 

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Well, I have 190 Nosler Partitions set aside, which will be heading to PA soon...so you can get more practice in.
 

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Watching this one to see how the M70 turns out for you. What VX3 are you considering?
 

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Practice makes perfect!

I personally have found that I got used to that additional recoil pretty quickly and that it became just another rifle, even off the bench. In fact, I even practiced with the .375 from the prone position using a bipod in preparation for my hippo hunt.

That being said, there are things you can due until you reach that comfort level (which probably won't be long). The biggest thing is lower your seat and raise the rifle so that you aren't hunched over on the bench. The straighter up and down you are the the less felt recoil there should be.
 

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Watching this one to see how the M70 turns out for you. What VX3 are you considering?

I am planning on the VX-3 1.5-5x20mm with the Heavy Duplex or German #4. Will also plan on using the QD rings.
 

brushmore

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That being said, there are things you can due until you reach that comfort level (which probably won't be long). The biggest thing is lower your seat and raise the rifle so that you aren't hunched over on the bench. The straighter up and down you are the the less felt recoil there should be.

I think that is the problem. My range's benches are fixed and I don't fit well into them. I'll try some sandbags to raise it up a bit next time to see if that helps.
 

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Awhile back I posted a poll asking for opinions on my first venture into a dangerous game rifle. I decided on the Winchester M70 Safari Express in 375 H&H. I've taken it to the range twice now so I figured I'd give it a proper range review. First off, I really like this gun! I still need more practice with it and shooting a big caliber.

I am still using the open sights but I have VX-3 in mind for a future purchase. I have to crank my head down just a little bit since the stock fits me perfectly for where the scope should be. For open sights they are pretty good but I need more practice since I generally use a scope or peep sights. Today I thought I would try it on the bench to see if the sights need any adjustment. That was a mistake. First shot was right were I was aiming but was somewhat unpleasant. I only managed two other shots like this before I decided it was a bad idea because my accuracy wasn't so good. So one question, how do you guys sight in your big bores? I am just wondering what the best approach will be when I will dial in the scope?

However, shooting off-hand or on the sticks is no problem! In fact, I was getting a better pattern off-hand anyway! For comparison I shot high brass buck shot from my Mossberg 500 12 ga. today as well. The 375 H&H is much easier on the shoulder which was a surprise. The 375 does give a pretty good push where as the shotgun is more of a punch. I think managing that push with muzzle rise would also require some practice because I imagine that follow up shots can be important in certain situations when hunting dangerous game.

The ammo I was shooting was Hornady GMX Superformance. (It was on sale). I can't complain about the trigger. It's not in same league as my Anschutz target rifle but for a hunting rifle it's perfect. It's adjustable but I like it where it is anyway.

My accuracy is not what I would like it yet, at least shooting offhand with the open sights. I was shooting at 25 yards offhand today and was shooting 4 shot strings, 3 in the mag and one in the chamber. I would end up with three in about a inch group with one "flyer" which was easy blamed of my shooting. So that just means I need more practice. So it's a good thing I started reloading, I think I would go broke pretty quickly otherwise because shooting something like this is addicting!
I personally like the Caldwell lead sled for the big guns, in fact I use it for all my bench shooting. I have the 375 Ruger guide rifle and I love it. Granted it has a removable muzzle break which I leave on during practice sessions. This was my final group last time out. I pulled the bottom right.
 

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sandman0921

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Brushmore,

I echo what Johnny Blues said. A Caldwell Lead Sled is the ticket for the necessary task of shooting the big bores off the bench to get the irons and scope sighted in, then no more bench shooting. All of your practice should be off the sticks and in field positions. Of course this is coming from someone with limited experience with large caliber rifles admittedly, but with my 375 H&H, 375 Ruger, and 450 Rigby it has helped. Also I've found its better to carry 2 rifles to the range, a lighter caliber and a big caliber. I only shoot a handful of rounds (10-20) through the big guns and then case them up for the day. The rest of my range time I work on load development, plink, etc with the smaller caliber. I think that helps to not develop a bad flinch. Not saying that's the best way, but it's what works for me.

The lead sleds aren't meant for prolonged range sessions in my opinion as there has been some concern it may hasten splitting in stocks. They're great for getting the rifle zeroed and working out loads, etc.

The more I shoot the bigger calibers, the less I tend to fear them. It just takes a little time. As an aside, I still feel the worst recoil I ever experienced personally was from a Mossberg 835 turkey shotgun shooting full house 3.5 in magnum turkey loads. That gun only weighed 6.5 pounds or so. Talk about a tooth rattler :eek:. I sold that sucker a few years back and bought a Benelli SuperNova that handles those rounds much better. I was afraid of that beast…
 

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Practice makes perfect!

I personally have found that I got used to that additional recoil pretty quickly and that it became just another rifle, even off the bench. In fact, I even practiced with the .375 from the prone position using a bipod in preparation for my hippo hunt.

That being said, there are things you can due until you reach that comfort level (which probably won't be long). The biggest thing is lower your seat and raise the rifle so that you aren't hunched over on the bench. The straighter up and down you are the the less felt recoil there should be.

Big +1 there. The best thing I've found to ensure you upper body is at a 90 degree angle to the butt of the rifle. Spread that recoil energy over the entire recoil pad as best you can. When you're hunched over you're concentrating that energy more and more into a smaller impact point.
 

brushmore

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One thing I have notice with both outings is that the copper fouling is very intense. Looking down the muzzle the riflings look as if they are made of solid copper! That was only after a dozen rounds! Is that typical of a big bore? Maybe I should have done a proper break in? I have been using Hoppe's No 9 Bench Rest and letting it soak which seems to work, very slowly even though every patch comes out green.
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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One thing I have notice with both outings is that the copper fouling is very intense. Looking down the muzzle the riflings look as if they are made of solid copper! That was only after a dozen rounds! Is that typical of a big bore? Maybe I should have done a proper break in? I have been using Hoppe's No 9 Bench Rest and letting it soak which seems to work, very slowly even though every patch comes out green.

I'd say more a function of your barrel and when it was cut during the life of the reamer and what bullets you're using. Most of my M70's regardless of caliber will shoot TSX/TTSX's quite well on a clean barrel. But not for lonw as they foul my barrels quite quickly and once this happens, accuracy goes to crap. But this doesn't happen with all bullets, in fact really only the Barnes.
 

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Brushmore,

I echo what Johnny Blues said. A Caldwell Lead Sled is the ticket for the necessary task of shooting the big bores off the bench to get the irons and scope sighted in, then no more bench shooting. All of your practice should be off the sticks and in field positions. Of course this is coming from someone with limited experience with large caliber rifles admittedly, but with my 375 H&H, 375 Ruger, and 450 Rigby it has helped. Also I've found its better to carry 2 rifles to the range, a lighter caliber and a big caliber. I only shoot a handful of rounds (10-20) through the big guns and then case them up for the day. The rest of my range time I work on load development, plink, etc with the smaller caliber. I think that helps to not develop a bad flinch. Not saying that's the best way, but it's what works for me.

The lead sleds aren't meant for prolonged range sessions in my opinion as there has been some concern it may hasten splitting in stocks. They're great for getting the rifle zeroed and working out loads, etc.

The more I shoot the bigger calibers, the less I tend to fear them. It just takes a little time. As an aside, I still feel the worst recoil I ever experienced personally was from a Mossberg 835 turkey shotgun shooting full house 3.5 in magnum turkey loads. That gun only weighed 6.5 pounds or so. Talk about a tooth rattler :eek:. I sold that sucker a few years back and bought a Benelli SuperNova that handles those rounds much better. I was afraid of that beast…

Absolutely agree with your first para. Normally I take one a .375 or a .416 and a .264 win mag to try to shoot holes in holes. I'm good for about 15 rounds on the .375 or about 5 on the Rigby, then the .264 until I shoot all the ammo.
 

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