Testing some .375 handloads.......

Mr. 16 gauge

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I’ve always enjoyed handloading, and testing my handloads in various ways, such as accuracy & expansion. Most of my testing to date has been with handguns and handgun loads, both for defensive purposes & for hunting.

I do hope to some day return to Africa; I would really like to hunt cape buffalo, even if it is only to take a cow. I have read many a thread as to which bullet is better for (insert species here)……..it is interesting, to say the least, to see some of the responses.

So I decided that when I got my “dangerous game rifle” that I would do my best to find the best load for it for taking down “dangerous game”.

I tested various premium bullets and powder combinations for accuracy, and came up with a handful that shoot MOA or better. I decided to test these more accurate combinations for expansion penetration.

Finding a test medium was a little difficult; to test my handgun loads, I used water soaked surgical sponges placed in gallon jugs. My supply of those (sponges) is now rather limited, as I don’t work in the O.R. any more. I have been saving old telephone books, however, and I decided that for my purposes, I would soak these and use them as the test medium. They were thick, heavy, and I feel that they offer a realistic test medium to the heavy, thick muscle of a cape buffalo (or similar animal).

I took the phone books and wired them together two-three at a time in order to get a “standard” pack for both ease of carrying and ease of testing. The packs with the bullets lodged in them could be pulled out and replaced with a fresh, unshot one, and those that the bullets had penetrated could be moved to the back to help stop any round which might be a bit more penetrative.
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The books were then soaked for 24 hours in a tub of water, and then allowed to drain off the excess water for another 24 hours. As long as they were kept in a sealed container (such as a plastic garbage bag), they didn’t “dry out” while awaiting testing after that drainage period.

The packs were then placed in a plastic tub that I got from work that held our disposable heart/lung kits…..the front was cut out, and the phone books placed inside. The only reason this container was used was to keep the books packed tightly together while they were being shot at. I also traced out a “ruler” on the side for ease of measuring penetration.
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TESTING:

The following loads were tested: All loads tested used R-P cases & CCI250 primers.

1. Barnes 300 grain TSX; 65.0 grains Hodgdon H4895

2. Swift 300 grain A fraim; 65.0 grains Hodgdon H4895

3. Nosler 300 grain Accubond; 75.0 grains Hodgdon H414

4. Nosler 300 grain Partition; 78.0 grains Alliant R19

5. Hornady DGX; 79.0 grains IMR 4831

Penetration:
1.) 23"
2.) 25+ inches
3.) 19"
4.) 23-24"
5.) 22-23"


The rounds were shot into the medium at a range of about 35 yards; I would have liked to have tested them at a farther distance, but in the interest of safety (not having a good back stop), this is what I had to work with. 5 rounds of each load were tested, and then the pack which they were lodged in was removed, and the new packs were placed in the bin and the ones that had already been shot through were moved to the back.
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I was pleased to find that all the rounds tested, with one exception, expanded as advertised. The Hornady DGX bullets, while they penetrated well, came apart or separated…..I won’t be using these for hunting any time soon! Still, they are the least expensive bullet of all that I tested, so when it comes to punching paper, these bullets will get the nod!

The other bullets all expanded well. I did have some problems with the Swift bullets, as they all smashed into one another in the test medium, so recovery of a “nice” bullet wasn’t to be had. Still, they all mushroomed nicely, and this load was the most penetrative of the bunch….one bullet went all the way through the test media and punched a hole in the back of the tub.
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1.) Barnes TSX 2.) Swift A frame 3.) Nosler Partition 4.) Nosler Accubond 5.) Hornady DGX 6.) Top: .30/30 173 grain cast; Bottom: .35 Remington cast.

I took Nosler bullets on my first safari, and was impressed with the performance of both the accubond and the partition (I used a 225 grain accubond in my .338 Win. Mag and a 200 grain partition in my .30-06). The 375 partition penetrated just slightly less than the Swift A frames, and mushroomed nicely. The accubonds mushroomed nicely as well, but were the least penetrative of all the bullets tested. I would use these bullets readily if the target were heavy plains game, such as eland, zebra, or giraffe, but I think with the results of the other bullets, I’ll leave this one home for now.

The Barnes triple X penetrated as much as the Nosler partition, and the mushroomed nicely as well. However, due to shooting at a bad angle (it was the first load tested), I only managed to recover 2 bullets. Even so, the bullets penetrated and expanded as expected.

I also took a couple of cast bullet loads in my lever action rifles (.30/30 Winchester and .35 Remington). I expected deep penetration, as I was told that cast bullets act much like FMJ; however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cast bullets in both calibers expanded/mushroomed just like soft points!! I may have to reexplore the idea of using these loads as hunting rounds instead of just punching paper with them.

So, in conclusion, I guess that if I use any of the loads (with the exception of the Hornady one) tested, I should be good to go for cape buffalo. I’m leaning towards the Nosler partition, only because it is THE most accurate load tested, but all the other loads are more than adequate. If we have another reloading component FUBAR shortage like we did when Obama was in office, I should be able to come up with SOMETHING decent.
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Thanks for reading……
 

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CLICKBANGBANG

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Awesome test. Thanks for sharing the results.
 

stug

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Well done, pretty solid testing. I was surprised the accubonds didn't penetrate as well as the others. The DGX result mirrors what other people have said about them, good practise bullet, but not so great on dangerous game.
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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@Mr. 16 gauge,

Try working up a load for the A-Frame using IMR4350 if you have it. I can't remember the max load using this powder in the manual, but I believe it's 75gr. Someone here on AH suggested I go higher, this was some years ago. I did and at 78gr, the load is very accurate in my M70 Safari Express.

If you decide to do this, start where the manual says to and work up to this load of course.

Nice work!
 

Ray B

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I've considered testing bullets for expansion/penetration/weight retention as about the most legal fun anyone can have.
 

Mr. 16 gauge

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Well done, pretty solid testing. I was surprised the accubonds didn't penetrate as well as the others. The DGX result mirrors what other people have said about them, good practise bullet, but not so great on dangerous game.

Too many variables to know for sure.....remember: this isn't exactly "scientific" testing.;) Under other conditions, they may have done better.

@Mr. 16 gauge,

Try working up a load for the A-Frame using IMR4350 if you have it. I can't remember the max load using this powder in the manual, but I believe it's 75gr. Someone here on AH suggested I go higher, this was some years ago. I did and at 78gr, the load is very accurate in my M70 Safari Express.

If you decide to do this, start where the manual says to and work up to this load of course.

Nice work!

Thanks Phoenix Phil,
I did try IMR4350 with all the bullets mentioned.......unfortunately, I didn't get any accurate loads. I also tried it (IMR4350) with my other magnum (.338 Win Mag) and didn't find any accurate loads using that powder for that caliber, either. As a matter of fact, all the powders which are supposed to be "good" for magnum calibers (IMR4350, IMR4831) didn't do well as far as accuracy goes in my magnums.....so I guess that just proves the point to "test, test again, and then test some more!":) I do have some accurate loads with that powder in .30-06, 6.5x55, and.....surprisingly.......30/30 Winchester.:confused:

I've considered testing bullets for expansion/penetration/weight retention as about the most legal fun anyone can have.

Yep......it was a nice way to spend an afternoon, esp. after working 5 days of 12 hour shifts in a row.:D
 

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