Comparing Old Warhorses

I am often mocked because of my fondness (if not favoritism) of things of yore over their modern counterparts.  This is especially true of gun stuff, and cartridges especially.  (Executive summary:  not many cartridges developed since 1955 are that much better than their predecessors.)

One of my all-time favorites is the venerable .300 Holland & Holland Magnum, which was essentially put out of business by the .300 Winchester Magnum.  Why am I so enamored of this old warhorse (launched 1925)?

I once hunted with a borrowed rifle thus chambered many, many years ago in South Africa (I think it was either a Sako or a Sauer, can’t remember which) and in a single day’s shooting accounted for two or three impala, all of which were absolutely flattened by the heavy 180gr solid bullet.  I found the recoil far less punishing than other magnums (both the .300 WinMag and the monster .458 WinMag), and the effect on small- to medium-sized game was little different from either of the two others.

It’s not as hard-hitting as the other two, of course, when one looks at the raw numbers;  rather, the .300 H&H should be compared to the .30-06 Springfield.  Here’s a side-by-side of the Nosler offerings for each cartridge with the same bullet weight:

The Holland’s longer case holds more powder, I think, hence the slight velocity/energy difference.  Likewise, the rifle’s action needs to be a little longer than that of the .30-06 (which is already longer than, say the short-action .308 Win).

Of course, because so few rifles are made in the .300 H&H chambering nowadays, the ammo is filthy-expensive — usually over $50 / box for the cheap stuff, and it climbs into the stratosphere faster than the bullet it shoots.  By way of comparison, a box of the .300 H&H Noslers in the pic above costs just over $83/box, while the .300 Win Mag tops out at ~$70 (and the .30-06 pictured is $50).  Granted, these are all premium offerings from Nosler — but while one can find “cheap” .300 Win Mag and even cheaper .30-06, there is no cheap .300 H&H ammo.

And finally, here’s the .300 Win Mag which replaced the .300 H&H (sigh):

It’s not quite a like-for-like comparison because of the greater bullet weight, but where the difference becomes apparent is at ranges long than 200 yards (.300 H&H 2,490 vs the .300 Win Mag 2,520, and the differential widens at longer distances).

That said:  if I had to shoot twenty rounds rapid of each, I’d be okay after the .300 H&H, but would require some kind of medical attention with the .300 Win Mag.

And I’d sell a non-essential body part to be able to shoot them through one of these.  (“P.O.A.” stands for “piss off, arsehole” i.e. “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it, peasant”.)


  1. Not sure if you reload or not, but 300 H&H dies are available for less than $50. Even if you don’t reload, if you have a gun chambered for it, buy some ammo, save the brass and get the dies. Have a reloading friend load you up when needed. I’m sure you have reloading friends nearby. Bring them the dies and a fifth of their favorite hooch and you’re back in business.


    1. I don’t have a rifle thus chambered, sadly, but you bet I’d be good friends with a reloader if I did.

  2. There’s another proper comparison, the .300Weatherby.
    And, it’s another $60/box cartridge, with a half-century+ of downing big game.

  3. Anything South of Alaska should does not require anything large than a 30-06, 1906 cartridge, loaded with the right weight bullet and then shot at decent range to hit a kill zone. It’s fun to mess with new cartridges and I was a bit puzzled when my son gave me his AR15 in 6.8 SPC (which is now an orphan) he built to hunt hogs and then found out that the ammo was so damn expensive compared to more common cartridges. There is reason to think hard before buying the new cartridge of the year.

    I no longer hunt anything but game birds, last deer shot over 10 years ago just because the price of getting game processed has gone up so much and I quit processing my own years and years ago. Now I like shooting steel and paper and a lot of it so all I reload is 6.5 Swede and 22-250 and in addition to those two, I shoot a lot of .22LR, 5.56 and .308 which are all easy to buy and easy to shoot.

    My favorite round is the 30-06 and I have a lot of it but my old man shoulder pays the recoil price with that gun, my AR-10 .308 with scope and bi-pod weigh in over 12 pounds and it is easy from the bench.

    1. Another “old” common-place cartridge that has taken all of the big game around the world is the .303British. Many a PH has carried an Enfield, probably because there were a lot of them laying about after two World Wars.

      1. I picked up a Parker Hale conversion, .308 Enfield to sporter rifle at D-Ray’s Sporting goods in Dallas a number of years when a man had just traded it in on a new rifle and it was laying on the counter. The two piece wood stock did not exactly match and it was sold to me for $150. It has the vernier style sight, a close to perfect 1944 barrel with a lovely bluing on all of the metal. I understand these were sold all over the Commonwealth countries post WWII and it is a nice tight shooting rifle at 100 years.

  4. When I used to compete in long-range riflery (1000 meter distances) I used a .300 WinMag, built on a Rem 700 action…

    The round was sufficiently accurate to compete with. The problem I had is it would burn out barrels relatively quickly: I would note a distinct drop off in accuracy at around 1000 rounds fired (and I kept track).

    So, off to the gunsmith to be rebarreled with one of the better custom barrel makers…Then, reglassed into the stock. Fire a hundred or two rounds working up a new load. Practice and compete….and then at 1000 rounds, do it all over again.

    I compare it with my pretty much off the shelf Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmore…that I bought used, with a Burris scope. It cost me around $1400 and had literally never been fired.

    Well, just for grins, I bought 400 rounds of factory ammo – Hornady 147 gr EL-X, mainly to get used to shooting the thing, and to provide cases for reloading. Didn’t expect much from it, but to have some fun.

    I took it to the range, and got the scope adjusted, zeroed for 300 meters (to get it on paper), and then started moving back. Note, the trigger is stock, and the Burris is a nice if very modest scope..I had expected to put a $3k piece of glass on it in the future.

    The longest measured distance my range offered was 1200 meters (1187 by laser rangefinder…). I’m shooting 8-9″ groups of 5 at 1200 meters. With factory ammo. And a modest scope.

    Now the various dieties may have all decided that this time, we’ll make it all work, but my $1400 used rifle is shooting better than I can. And in two years, I’ve put close to 2000 rounds through it, and it’s still shooting well. I still use the factory loaded ammo: I doubt I could work up anything much better, and don’t want to waste time trying.

    Take that, .300 anyMag…

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