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March 23, 2006

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The Flying Dutchman: Is my old .378 Weatherby doomed to wander the earth alone?

This was not a Hollander who could aviate, but a legendary sailing ship, doomed to wander the oceans forever, never reaching port. Wagner wrote a boring opera about it, but I digress. Apparently I have a former rifle that is a flying Dutchman, destined never to find a home.

It began life as a .378 Weatherby Magnum that I bought new in 1971. It came with a beautiful claro walnut stock as did many Weatherbys at the time, but being a classic-stock snob, I took it to Griffin & Howe, the custom gunmaker, and had all sorts of neat stuff done to it, including the addition of G&H iron sights, a QD side mount, a Canjar trigger, and a custom stock—a very handsome piece of nearly black French walnut.

The rifle was very accurate—you could shoot cloverleafs with it—but had one consuming fault: It kicked like the hammers of hell. The .378 Weatherby (actually a .375) sends a 300-grain bullet on its way at 2,950 fps, courtesy of 115 grains of powder, and produces 75 foot-pounds of recoil, which is a lot. But it was not the foot-pounds that killed you, it was the speed at which that rifle came back. You couldn’t roll with it—all you could do was suffer.

So in the late 1970s I sold it, and since then I’ve had the chance to buy it back at least 4 times but never have. Other people have owned it (one of them had the floorplate inlaid) but no one keeps it. It just keeps popping up in the internet, forever an orphan.



You live different than me.


Why even think of a gun you didn't care for?

Fred A.

I have a 1971 Weatherby Mark V in 7mm Weatherby magnum, which I have used to miss many deer. It gets very little use due to the recoil. It is one of the eary Japanese made guns with no letter in front of the serial number. There were about 500 made this way. The 270 Winchester is my max. The 378 Weatherby should be mounted on wheels.


i had an old friend who built up a custom .378 Weatherby with a bull barrel. Boy, did it shoot. He shot a deer farther away than any i've ever seen with it. One shot, done. He let all of us try it. We were all terrified after looking at that live round, but discovered it was not any worse than one of the .300's. Maybe the fact it weighed 13 lbs before scope, mount, and rings had something to do with it.


I purchased a 378 wby barreled action and had a custom synthetic stock built,for it, that once installed weight in at 9lbs ,complete, as mention the rifle kicks like a hammer of thor hitting your shoulder but it also hits game with impressive authority, and its extremely accurate. If your not recoil shy this is a great rifle, theres no big game you can,t effectively drop with it in north america, but its overkill for most things


I just traded a 338 remington ultra mag for a 378 weatherby I dont think it kicks any harder all i can say is i like it a lot more. It goes great with my 340 weatherby


Real recoil doesn't come from caliberss staring in '.3'.. it starts up in the '.6's'


i am very impressed with the performance of my 378. it definatly lets you know its there every time you pull the trigger, but it groups so well that i could never part with it. it would be my caliber of choice for any animal on the planet, not just north america.


With my .378 WC860 powder works great with the 300 grain bullet. Load it to 100% load density. Good for 3100 f.p.s. with moderate pressure. For the 350 grain Woodleigh, I use WC 872, which is even slower. The 270 grain loads kick noticeably less. As to the recoil, put a mercury capsule in the butt, it balances better that way. And I use a six power fixed scope. Variables blow apart from the kick.


As soon as I can save up enough from my allowance, I am going to be the proud owner of a .378 WBY. As far as recoil, don't the newly manufactored versions come standard with a recoil muzzle brake? That should tame the hammers of Thor. Anyone had experience with this?


My .378 is my favorite elk rifle. The muzzle brake is very effective. I actually have shot it one handed and did not think it severe. It definately kicks less than my .300 Win Mag in Rem. 700. It is very accurate, when I do my part, 3 shots touch at 100yds. And it hammers the elk!

Dom Vessia

The recoil of the 378 is grossly exagerated. It is heavy and it is sharp. get yourself aclamated shoot it standing. Become part of the rile. Hug it and it won't hurt you. I know of four of these rifles all shot 1/2 inch groups. one fellow went out and bougth a second rifle . He was so pleased. This is an outstanding caliber I had a friend went to Alaska collect all sorts of game. he never complained about the recoil. He was a hunter not a reader.

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