375HOLLAND & HOLLAND MAGNUM
This magnificent cartridge has been around since 1912, a product of the London-based firm of Holland & Holland. The belt is intended to serve in place of a rim in controlling headspace, which it does just beautifully. The 375 has spawned many other magnum cartridges that use the same basic head and belt design, including most of the Weatherby rounds; the 6.5mm, 7mm, 8mm, and 350 Remington Magnum; Winchester's 264, 300, 338, and 458 Magnum; the 458 Lott, 7mm STW, 358 STA, and a number of others. Following the 375 H&H was the 300 H&H in 1925, which to this day, with its long sloping shoulder and belted case, producing phenomenal accuracy as easy as can be, proves to this shooter that a short, fat case with a sharp shoulder and no belt is no guarantee of something better. While not used as a match rifle as the 300 H&H used to be, I've experienced group after group with rifle after rifle in 375 H&H that proves its sub-moa capability. The fact that it is most often offered in better quality rifles only helps to contribute to its reputation for superior accuracy.
The 375 H&H, fondly and simply referred to as the "Three-Seven-Five" in Africa and much of Australia, is capable of and has taken every type of dangerous game, time and time again, for over a century. Beyond that, it has been used with some regularity by a small percentage of hunters to take elk and moose in North America. I have heard comments, from the type of hunters who think a 270 Winchester is just about right for elk, along the lines of, "Whaddaya figure on doing, hittin' the elk with that cannon and having it skinned out and quartered all in one shot?" The fact is, the 375 and other rifles that shoot bullets that are constructed to hold up well in heavier muscle and bone, such as the 338 Winchester, actually damage less meat than smaller bullets shot at high velocity. The 375 is wonderfully capable of taking an elk or moose by delivering a tough bullet to the vitals from any angle. That's why some experienced hunters prefer them.
Learning to shoot the 375 is fairly easy. As an example, the 260-grain Nosler Accubond at 2750 fps shoots essentially in the same path of drop as the 180-grain Accubond in the 30-06 at the same velocity. In a day of walking around in a safe shooting area, with 20 or 30 rounds in your vest, taking impromptu shots at the dirt clod or mound way out there, or the old stump over that way, followed by the water-filled milk jugs at different distances (plus one way long in the spirit of Quigley), and you'll be impressing yourself with new-found capability and confidence.
There are several very fine rifles at reasonable prices available in 375 H&H. Among them are Browning's light and easy-to-carry X-Bolt, but expect a noticeable increase in the quickness and thump of the recoil with this little dandy. More comfortable to shoot, but somewhat less handy, is Winchester's classic Model 70 Safari Express. The Browning utilizes excellent detachable magazines, which can really save the day in a tight situation; while the Winchester has a integral magazine with floorplate release. The third reasonably available 375 is Weatherby's new Vanguard DGR, which we have on order but not yet seen and evaluated. I personally like both the Browning and Winchester very much, and also the previous Browning A-Bolt II in 375 whether it was the Stainless Stalker or Medallion. I expect the Vanguard DGR to be equally likable. The three rifles are different enough from each other to satisfy most any prospective customer.
Some years ago, Ruger discontinued their big Magnum Rifle (Model 77 RSM) in 375 H&H, 416 Rigby, and 458 Lott. The 375 Ruger in the 77 Hawkeye in both the African and Alaskan that replaced the H&H for Ruger has a wee bit more actual velocity at somewhat greater pressure, and does a fine job in a much lighter rifle, but it doesn't have the indescribable class and butter-slick feeding of the old 375 in the RSM.
For big jobs that require a lot of thump, there are several excellent bullets for 375s. While 300 grains of round nose or slightly flatted nose are usually associated with such jobs, at velocities in the 2500-2600 fps range, Woodleigh makes some incredible 350 grainers that can be driven at about 2325 fps. It's enough. They still shoot surprisingly flat out to 250 yards, and have a sectional density of 0.356. The Protected Point version has a ballistic coefficient of 0.400. The extra weight of these bullets does not seem to add any uncomfortable level of recoil to the 375, but instead only adds some manageable "push." That's it, at least, for me.
In recent years, I have sold my regular production Model 70s in 375, but have retained a Winchester Custom Shop Model 70 Takedown. Essentially a product of H-S Precision with a Model 70 Express Action, it is consistently on a nickel at 100 yards. Amazing. I also have a Weatherby Custom Shop Mark V Safari in 375 H&H, and marvel at what a fine rifle they turn out in the relatively modest (for custom rifles) $7000 range. My third 375 H&H is the economical Browning X-Bolt Stainless Stalker. At around $1200, they are a capable, slick-feeding, and accurate bargain. With two extra 3-shot magazines in the vest, I can only wonder what rifle could be more effective in Alaska's big bear and moose country. And the fourth and final 375 that I have retained is a Ruger No. 1-H. To make it more comfortable for first-timers to shoot, the Ruger hockey puck recoil pad has been replaced with a one-inch Pachmayr Decelerator and an 8-ounce Mercury Recoil Reducer was installed in the butt.
Obviously, a 375 H&H is not for every hunter. They are at the fine-line threshold between barely acceptable recoil and getting walloped really hard. To many, the 375 is already way too much wallop. Certainly, it is not a rifle to take to the bench and shoot in that awkward forward-leaning position without adequate protective clothing or padding. I have developed a habit of taking a high-quality bath towel to the range, which can be folded into as many layers as desired when shooting heavy-recoiling rifles. I prefer this over essentially immobilizing a rifle by placing it in a heavily loaded sled-type device; especially those with a wood stock. The sleds are okay for taking the pain out of shooting from a bench, but holding the rifle down too much can cause stock damage by compression.