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August 01, 2008

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Petzal: The .375 H&H: Fraud or Scam?

If you ever want to start a screaming fight at an SCI convention, use this gambit: "The .375 H&H is too big to be a plains game cartridge, and not big enough for dangerous game."

Then get under a table. The reason for the frenzy is that there is a considerable number of people who consider the .375 to be the single most useful African cartridge around, a sort of sub-equatorial equivalent of the .30/06. I am with the second school of thought, sort of. You can get .375 ammo loaded with 300-grain bullets at 2,550 fps, 270s at almost 2,700, and I've seen bullets in that diameter as light as 235 grains and 260 grains that you can handload. The only weight I've ever used is 300. I never saw the need, or the sense, in anything lighter.

*As a killer of plains game, especially the big antelope, the .375 is terrific. It's unhandy at 300 yards, but then there's not a lot of shooting at 300 yards over there. If your rifle weighs in the neighborhood of 9 1/2 to 10 pounds, its recoil is very manageable.

*The .375 is highly popular as a backup gun among PHs.

*If you can't shoot anything bigger for dangerous game, you're a lot better off with a .375 than with a cannon that petrifies you.

*If you want to make a one-rifle safari, there is no better round.

*However, I don't think it's much of a buffalo cartridge. It will kill them, eventually, but it won't discourage them. When you shoot old nyati, you want him to think: "Jeez, that felt like the wrath of Hillary Clinton. Maybe I better die right now and save everyone a lot of trouble."


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I look foward to buying a 375 h&h, underpowered or not I am a sucker for the classics.

Mike Diehl

Ho hum. Another day in Africa, a land where 99.999% of American hunters will never hunt.

Hey, Dave, when F&S writes those 'Streategies for Deer' articles, how come they're, every year, year after year, tips for getting a white-tailed deer in the middle of the midcontinental corn and wheat belt?

F&S should do a southwestern desert or basin and range oriented article now and again. All that baloney about tree stands and feed lots and woody brakes between fields of grain isn't worth a pile of jackrabbit raisins in Arizona.

Jim in Mo.

How come Finn Agaard did so well on buffalo?
I believe the 270gr has a place if I were shooting lion or leopard.


I have friend who hunts deer with his .375. A 270gr bullet leaves a 4 inch exit hole. We don't care about "over kill". He shoots a .375, my brother uses a .338, and I am going to us a .458WM. The .458 is just to see what happens and to say I did.

bill boyd

Professor Warren Page thought the .375 Weatherby was some pumpkins. If memory serves right he shot out 3 or so barrels on Capes and such.

I think Warren knew what he was
about! Even Boddington says he can't seperate the .375 Improveds from the .416's and such.

I'll stand with Warren, even if they had trouble finding his heart!

Bernie Kuntz

My experience with the .375 H & H is very limited compared with some hunters, but I like very much what I have seen.

I shot a bison--two shots through the heart--with my .375 and the 300-grain Nosler Partition. Also shot about five animals in South Africa four years ago, the largest two being a blue wildebeast and a waterbuck. Both these animals are approximately the size of an elk. I used handloaded 270-grain Hornady Spire-Points and IMR-4064 powder. No complaints!

I have to tell you folks about the rifle. I blundered upon it at Cabela's Gun Library in Sidney, NE ten years ago on my way to Mexico for a quail hunt. The rifle was custom built by Jim Botsford in the 1980s, .375 H & H Magnum on a pre-war Model 70 Winchester Super Grade action, Bastogne walnut stock, hand checkering, Pete Grisel skeleton buttplate and grip caps, express sights, 1-3/4X - 5X Leupold Vari-X-II in Leupold detachable mounts. Barrel had been cut back to 22-1/2" from the original 25". Previous owner, a big rancher from Colorado, said his wife shot one mule deer with the rifle. (With the skeleton buttplate I imagine it hammered her pretty badly! I slip on a tie-on leather pad when hunting with the rifle or shooting it over a bench, and do not find the recoil to be uncomfortable.) I had the trigger worked on, also had the late Dave Gentry mill a new set of swivel studs, as the odd-ball 3/8" size on the rifle wouldn't fit any swivels that I could find.

In any case, the rifle is too pretty to drag around in an Alaskan rain forest after brown bear, and who knows if I will ever get to Africa again? But I intend to keep it and use it whenever is practical.

Jim in Mo.

I like talking to people who've been there. One question. You say you took handloads to African hunt. Did you encounter any problems with the airlines or did you pack them in factory boxes knowing the dummies wouldn't know any better?

Jim in Mo.

bill boyd,
I don't think Boddington meant what you read. He's a big fat bullet man. He loves 375 but .40 and bigger is better, regardless of speed.

Daniel, Go get 'em. No such thing as overkill I say!
PS, although I do like a few steaks for the effort.


Weeelll sit right back and you'll hear a tale....ha. This is no kidding. The only experience I have ever had with the .375 H&H was a time long, long ago when a cousin of ours purchased one "just to say he had one". It sat in his cabinet for years until one fateful day when his septic tank drain line got stopped up. That poor s.o.b. lay prone not 25 yards from that awful hole and proceeded to clean it out. He was a slight built gentleman and I'm telling you he scooted backwards enough to scrape his belly quite a bit and spread natural fertilizer everywhere. That, sirs, is the only demonstration of a .375 I've ever seen. Now I'm sure that if you shot a large African Buffalo with one of those things it would kill it very dead having seen what it'll do to a septic tank drain line!
Needless to say, do not try this at home. This happened many years ago when we were young and very foolish.

Blue Ox

So did you have the drain line mounted after all that?


I always thought the 375 HH suckered the American shooter because of its touted all around usefulness in one rifle. The theme always hits the USA hunter’s warm nerve, as it hits the African farmer that must shoot the variable sized vermin out of his fields on the cheap.

The 375’s I’ve seen and shot are accurate and the recoil is manageable, but I always opted for the 458 for dangerous game work and always will given the choice. I will always opt for a 35 Whelen or a 338 as a medium bore given the choice.

Some people don’t like pizza.


Blue Ox:
Nope. He didn't have it mounted per se. His wife yelled at us for letting him do it. Hell we couldn't NOT let him! He did however add to the legend of the .375 H&H being a s**t disturber!

SD Bob

The last sentance or two is why I love reading Mr. Petzal! Funny as hell!

I've never shot a .375 H&H but I have touched off the Ruger round which I'm told kicks a smidge more? If your used to shooting waterfowl? Then the recoil of either of these rounds will be of no consequense but then again ducks don't charge when hit poorly!


I use 286g woodleighs at 2350 fps in a 9.3x62mm, this will do for ANY plains game or soft skinned dangerous game out to 250y, who really needs more. If I was to run into a buffalo I would reach into my pocket for a solid and not hesitate to use it, but if I was after buffalo especially then I would rather have a .458 lott than the 375.....cheers

Tom Obuhanych

This comment on the .375 H&H is very
good appraisal. I recently came back (June) from a Plains Game &
Leopard Hunt in Namibia. I took my
Husqvarna .358 Norma Maganum. It was ideal...near the .375 H&H but flatter shooting, more velocity...250 gr. bullets. I have a .375 H&H too, but opted for the .358 Norma magnum...perfect choice.
Use enough gun. My PH formerly worked for the Conservation Dep't. and culled 21 Elephants over the years with his .375 H&H. There's always the old saw..."its where you hit them", Yes, of course...but in hunting, often there's not the perfect shot...and that's where "enough gun" is smart. Cape Buffalo is a class by iteself,,,I would opt for .458 or .50 calibers.
Best Regards,


Being a sucker for nostalgia I had to have a .375HH. Found a Model 70 Safari at a gun show for a a great price and in nearly new condition. The previous owner said it kicked too much to use. I mounted a Leupold 1.5-6 scope on it. With either factory ammo or handloads it shoots 1.25" or less all day. And while it's definitely not a varmint round the recoil is very manageable. I'ts a lot of fun to shoot!


While it is unrelated, I second Mr. Diehl's comments. Most of us will never see Africa, and of those that do see africa, we'll stick to more affordable plains game. On another note, how come F&S doesn't bother with tactics for those of us who live in the hills of South-Central MI- all rolling hills and woods here.

hillbilly hunter.

Drive your Kenworth to the drive-in if you want, as for me ,I'll drive my new car. Shoot the 375 at deer at 75yd., as for me I'll just stick with my .308 Win.


I have never shot a .375, but I do have a Ruger no 1 in 9.3x74 on the way. I probably won't shoot anything larger than Texas hogs (of which we have too many) with it, but the idea of using a classic cartridge that has been around many years is appealing.


I don't have a .375 but I do have a great elk rifle. It is a White .45 cal. muzzleloader that shoots 460 grain projectiles very well. I killed four elk with it. One round each.

Bernie Kuntz

Jim in Mo.--you are correct that I had my ammo for both rifles packed in factory boxes, although all my rounds for the .375 and my 7mm Weatherby were handloads. I didn't get any grief about the ammo. I cannot understand why one could not pack the ammo in hard, plastic boxes of the type sold by RCBS, Dillon and others but don't really know if that is acceptable to the "gun goons" at the airports. Anyone know the answer to that?

Dave Petzal

To Bernie Kuntz: There is no such thing as consistency in the enforcement of airline regs. It depends on the shift, the phase of the moon, and Derek Jeter's batting average. The regs says that ammo must be transported in either the factory container or in a container made for the transport of small arms ammunition, but half the TSA goons have not read the regs, and the other half doesn't care what they say.

Try this: Store your ammo in the fragile, crummy factory boxes, but put the boxes inside a Cabela's Ammo Travel Case (Item number IJ 215353)). It costs $25, locks, doesn't take up a lot of space, and doubles nicely as a pistol case. That impresses the hell of out them.

Coming back from Africa, my party checked its guns and ammo through with no problem, but with the hunters behind us in line, the SAA people insisted that the ammo be packed with the guns, and when US Customs saw that, they went ape. An airline jerk is an airline jerk, no matter where.


Hehe, That sounds like Govt's normal workings, one dork says it has to be done a certain way and the next one tells you the opposite, standard operating procedure for most Govt agencies. That way they can always nail you for SOMETHING no matter how well you try to follow the "Rules"!


The reason they don't show southwestern hunts for whitetail is probably the same reason they don't have TV shows with guys in regular Carhardt pants and a hand me down woodland camo T-shirt or blaze sweathirt studying deer sign and finding scrapes and actually hunting and having to hike in to their ambush site, gasp, maybe even over a mile. People now only care about antler size and weight of the deer, hence why there are a lot of articles about Iowa and Missouri bucks and Saskatchewan. Not that real hunting doesn't take place there. It's just that most of the clowns on TV are in heated shooting houses or on private ranches over feed plots with trail cameras and the latest fashion show worthy camo that the deer doesn't give a dang about. I'm prouder of my 100 pound cowhorn spike that I shot at 40 yards with my 7mm-08 one morning after canoeing in to the middle of Big Gum Swamp in North Florida where I set up "downstream" of where I knew someones hound dogs were running the deer off the dog hunt area and into the thick stuff than if I had shot some 10 point monster steroid buck over a pile of corn with my fancy scent lock clothes and special scent blocker etc. I fed my family and felt like I actually hunted. We need to get away from the shooting gallery trend where fat a**es get driven out to stands on golf carts and told they are hunting and get back to what our grandfathers did.

dale freeman

Well I've never shot any of the cannons and have no desire to do so.
Any thing I have to shoot with the kitchen sink at 2500 fps does not interest me.
I'm perfectly content to leave African game to the Africans and enjoy the most beautiful habitat in the world.
Earler i posted a comment about Remington and thier space looking guns and refused to buy one.
How ever I did buy the Ruger M77,
Hawkeye, 270 cal. and I love it.
If you're not looking at the Ruger Hawkeye your missing a very fine rifle.

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