Marksmanship In Flip-Flops

There is an outstanding series on hunting in South Africa’s Eastern Cape:  a gentle, funny and very accurate portrayal of the conditions over there.   I’ve never hunted in that part of the world, and I wouldn’t care to do that now — heat, hills and thorn trees are not my idea of fun.  But it is for these kids, and they do it with consummate skill, in sandals.

Take an hour or so and follow the sidebar’s recommendations on the Oxwagon Diaries.

The Real Wonder-Nines

Way too much fluff has been written about the silly 9mm Europellet (a.k.a. 9mm Luger), the most egregious being its appellation as the “Wonder-Nine” [eyecross] , the only “wonder” being how people can believe all that crap.

So today I’m going to look at the two real wonder-nine cartridges that came out of Europe, i.e. the 9.3x74R and the 9.3x62mm, both well over a hundred years old and both the only serious contenders to the equally-venerable .375 H&H Magnum (blessings be upon it).


Both cartridges have a bullet diameter of .366″ with a typical weight of 285/286gr, and despite the different casing lengths, they are to all intents and purposes ballistically identical.  The 9.3x74R is, as the nomenclature suggests, a rimmed cartridge intended for use in double rifles such as the Beretta 689:

…while the rimless 9.3x62mm (sometimes called the 9.3x62mm Mauser) is available for both the Mauser Model 12 and 98:

…the Sako 85 Bavarian:

…the CZ 550 line:

…and SIG Sauer’s Model 100 XT plastic rifle is also available in this caliber:

No prizes for guessing which rifle I’d pick, but let’s just say that full-length stocks make me twitch in all sorts of places, while plastic stocks… never mind.

The 9.3x62mm is expensive to shoot, not so much because of the ammo cost (inexpensive Prvi Partizan sells for around $26 per box, while premium hunting ammo runs around $90 — in other words, pretty much the same as .300 Win Mag) but because the rifles thus chambered are generally super-spendy (with the exception of the Sauer 100 XT rifle, for around $700-$800;  the wood-stocked “Classic” is about $200 more).  CZ-USA doesn’t even issue the Mod 557 in 9.3mm, which is a pity.  (American hunters are already well served with other cartridge choices, which is no doubt the reason CZ didn’t extend the offering.)

As to why the smaller 9.3x62mm is often preferred over the .375 H&H, here’s a decent look at its ballistics.  Also, because the 9.3x62mm can be fired from a “standard” length bolt-action rifle, it’s still cheaper than  the longer “magnum” or “Safari” rifles — and, as the linked article suggests, its sectional density / penetration is pretty much the equal of the .375H&H, for considerably less recoil.

It’s even worse for the rimmed 9.3x74R cartridge (see here for an example), although I note that you can find the excellent Ruger #1 Medium Sporter chambered thusly, for about the same price as a regular quality bolt-action rifle.


I don’t think that anyone reading this is going to rush out and buy a rifle in either chambering anytime soon, but should you come across one for a decent price in a garage- or estate sale sometime, know that you won’t be making a bad buy, or buying something shooting an inadequate cartridge.

Range Report – UK Edition

Mr. FM was engaged in ritual slaughter at one of his estates (in Devon, I think) over the past weekend:

…which is all well and good, but I have two serious issues with this:

1) According to the Daily Mail, Britishland is supposed to be suffering near-Arctic conditions at the moment:

…but clearly they’ve been lying again, or else Teh Weather doesn’t have the necessary permits to wander onto Mr. FM’s properties.

2) I wasn’t there to join in the festivities.

[exit, eating his liver ]

Worse Than Californians

Yeah, they’re a pestilence too:

It’s open season year-round on feral pigs, whose population in Texas has grown to nearly 3 million. Hunters are not required to retrieve carcasses, although there’s an incentive to do so: “wild boar” sells for up to 60 cents a pound.

If anyone’s organizing one of these hunts in the near future, let me know.  I have a new rifle that needs blooding.

Caveat Emptor

A couple of people wrote to me over the weekend following last Friday’s post about hunting buffalo, and more specifically about the venerable .375 H&H Magnum cartridge.

I’m going to be about as blunt as I can when it comes to talking about the .375 H&H.  It is, as mentioned earlier, a cartridge designed to kill dangerous game — “dangerous” being roughly defined as “if you don’t kill it, the animal is going to do its best to kill you instead.”

This is not the time to worry about the cost of the ammo, especially as the typical African buff- or Kodiak bear hunt will only see at best a handful of cartridges fired.  Cost is irrelevant compared to having the best stuff you can have, because it’s your life you’re entrusting to it.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but if you’ve just dropped several grand on your outfitter’s fees and (well) over $10,000 on your double .375 H&H rifle, an ammo cost of $100 per box of 20 is even less than a rounding error.  (Remember, a box of twenty should last you two trips, if you do your job.)

However:  this does not mean you shouldn’t be wise to the price of the stuff, either.  Here’s an example, using the much-respected Federal Cape-Shok 300gr solids.  From Graf & Sons (not the cheapest of ammo vendors out there, because of their vast offerings across many cartridge types and sizes), we see this:

Now at first glance that’s an eye-watering amount to spend, but it’s not quite as eye-watering as this:

Now we all know that CTD isn’t anything like cheaper than dirt, the rapacious scumbags, but even so… that’s a hefty premium.

If you wanted to save money in order to practice before setting out (always a good thing when you’re going to be entrusting your life to a single bullet), you can actually do so relatively cheaply with soft-pointed ammo such as this:

Note that the bullet weight (300gr) is the same, so you should get more or less the same grouping as the solids — but always test it.)

Now you know.

Challenge Accepted

I have a confession to make.  While I’ve hunted animals all over the world, the only one I’ve stayed away from (because cowardice) is the South African Cape buffalo.  Other reasons:  if you wound them, they will probably come after you — I believe that it’s the animal which has caused more professional hunters’ deaths than any other, and if I recall correctly, by a large margin.

Here’s a sample pic:

As the late Peter Capstick (who wasn’t killed by a buff) once said:  “They look at you like you owe them money”, but while I would defer to his judgement in everything else, in this case he’s severely understated the case.  Maybe that’s how they look at you when they’re in a good mood, but they’re so seldom in a good mood, who would know?  Their look is not so much a glare as a challenge.  In the above pic, which shows an old bull, please note that his bad mood may have been caused by the lions which left the scars on his back, and while they’ve healed, he hasn’t forgotten about it.

Small wonder that lions will almost always try for buffalo calves, because even when a cow gets into the picture to protect her calf, she won’t follow up the attack once the lions have given up on the calf and slouched off to find an old wildebeest or some other alternative.  However, this is not the case with buffalo bulls, who will not quit until they’ve disemboweled a lion or two and stomped on the remains with their broad hooves.  Lest anyone think I’m exaggerating, allow me to recount the tale of what happened to Doc Russia and Mr. Free Market on their last buffalo hunt.  (As a point of interest, both men were using rifles chambered in .375 H&H, which is the absolute minimum.)

Mr. FM had bagged his buff the day before in a fairly short hunt, and now it was Doc’s turn.  His luck was not as good as Mr. FM’s, and it took him a while to find a decent target.  Eventually, the guide spotted a pair of young bulls grazing together, and Doc decided to take one, which he did.

To everyone’s astonishment, the other bull didn’t disappear off into the wilderness;  oh no, he sauntered about a hundred-odd yards away, turned and watched his buddy die.

The dead buff was loaded up into the truck and back they all went to the hunting camp.  I say “all”, because the surviving buff followed them all the way back to the camp. Clearly, he had mischief on his mind, and had the camp not been a large one, everyone involved might well have become the targets of his revenge.

What’s even more interesting was that they weren’t aware that he’d followed them — until the next day when they went out and saw his tracks leading from the death scene all the way back along the side of the road — but not on it — and they had no clue that he was there.  (Despite their enormous size, Cape buffalo move through the bush like shadows.)

I told you all that so I could tell you this.  The above pic is part of this article, which talks about the optimal cartridges for dangerous game.

You’ve probably heard it before, but it bears repeating here: cape buffalo are really, really big and really, really tough [and really, really mean — K].  As a point of reference, a big bull can weigh twice as much as a mature bull elk.
Buffalo have thick hides, dense muscles, and heavy bones that are known for defeating lightly constructed bullets. Since buffalo are often encountered at close range and in thick cover, the margin for error is very small and more than a few hunters have lost their lives (or spent time in a hospital) as a result of poor bullet performance.

Go ahead and read the rest of the article:  it’s a good one.  And even if you never hunt Cape buff, just tip your hat to the guys who have, and will in the future.  There is no bigger (and potentially more-dangerous hunt) than this one.

Update:  Mr. Free Market sent me a pic of his buff:

His rifle is a Blaser S2 double in .375 H&H, the scope is a Swarovski Z6i 1-6×24.  Nothing but the best for His Lordship… and yes, it was a one-shot kill.