SUPER THIRTY: HOLLAND & HOLLAND'S .300 MAGNUM WAS THE FIRST OF THEM ALL.
Racking the bolt on my 1949-vintage Winchester, I ran a handloaded .300 H&H cartridge into its chamber and loaded the bipod before gluing the amber dot of my Trijicon Accupoint to the bull's shoulder. Then I squeezed the trigger.
Dropping in his tracks to a 220-grain, round-nose bullet, the old bull died with hardly a twitch in the smoky sunrise.
Genesis Twelve years after Holland & Holland introduced the single most versatile cartridge in history--the .375 H&H -another great round was developed.
World War I had just occurred, introducing the genius of the controlled-feed, bolt-action Mauser 98 and the concept of extended-distance rifle capability. The magazine rifle was the future and this new cartridge with it.
Announced in 1924 as the "Super Thirty," the .300 H&H was created simply by necking down the .375 H&H case. Long and sleek, the distinctly tapered cartridge pushed ,30-caliber bullets to unprecedented velocities. Virtue of that tapered case, the .300 H&H flowed like silk from magazines into chambers and extracted just as easily--even when the torrid temperatures of Africa and the Far East caused pressure spikes in its cordite propellant.
Exhibiting a marked penchant for accuracy, the .300 H&H became a legend. In 1935, Ben Comfort won the 1,000-yard Wimbledon Cup with it at the National Matches, and Americans cottoned on. Winchester began producing Model 70 rifles chambered for it, and the cartridge quickly took on every species of big game in North America.
The Decline Unlike the muscle-bound .375, the .300 H&H didn't possess across-the-centuries staying power. After a 38-year run as king, the cartridge was toppled from its throne by the so-called "short" .300 Winchester Magnum, a cartridge that provided equal velocity and could be chambered in standard, ,30-'06 Springfield-length actions.
However, unlike many vintage cartridges that fade into obsolescence, the .300 H&H gained notoriety. Its exotic history turned it into an elite ,30-caliber cult classic.
The Here & Now Fresh .300 H&H factory ammunition is available today in a broad selection. Hornady loads its 180-grain InterBond, which I've used to take a very good bull elk. Nosier offers a bunch of different factory-loaded bullets, as well. My favorite factory load (because it's my rifle's favorite) is Federal's 180-grain Trophy Bonded Tip (TBT).
On occasion, a major manufacturer produces a short run of rifles chambered in .300 H&H. Remington chambered its M700 Classic in the cartridge in 1983, and Browning chambered the stainless X-Bolt in .300 H&H for a short period, also. Ruger built No. Is in 2008, '09 and '11. If you can afford it, custom ordering a rifle from Dakota Arms (dakotaarms.com), Hill Country Rifles (hillcountryrifles.com), or the like is a way to obtain a beautiful hunting rifle with guaranteed accuracy.
If you're a history buff, you can still come by a classic .300 H&H. You'll find that most have been gently used.
Pre-'64 Winchester Model 70 Ever since I borrowed my old shooting mentor's pre-'64, pre-war, Model 70 Super Grade in .300 H&H--and shot a really good bull elk with it--I've wanted one of my own. That one regularly shot three-quarter-inch groups. Short of a British-made rifle on a refined Mauser 98 action, a pre-'64 Model 70 is the quintessential .300 H&H.
I eventually found a good, solid rifle. The stock was refinished, but that fact put its price within reach. The rifle wanted to shoot well, but often threw wide fliers. I examined the crown with a magnifying glass, which revealed it was badly coned out in an elliptical shape. Clearly, a previous owner had loved the rifle enough to clean it from the muzzle with a steel rod.
Agonizing for a night, I reasoned that since the rifle has a refinished stock, I would send it to Elk Meadow Performance (elkmeadowperformance.com) to be recrowned. While waiting, I handloaded a batch of 168-grain Sierra MatchKing bullets. Upon return, to my amazement, three consecutive, three-shot, 100-yard groups pounded into half-inch clusters.
Hunting bullets and factory loads proved less accurate, averaging between 1 1/4 to 2 inches at 100 yards. Shrugging off guilt for modifying a vintage classic, I took the rifle to bedding guru Roland Black for pillar and glass bedding and to have the forend free-floated.
Post-bedding, Federal's 180-grain TBT factory load averaged .77 MOA. Handloaded 212-grain Hornady ELD-X projectiles at 2,777 feet per second (fps) produced sub-3A-MOA groups, providing a capable long-range load. In sea-level atmospherics, it maintains supersonic speed past 1,450 yards.
Africa beckoned, so I dug up seven vintage .300 H&H cases, so old that they were headstamped ".300 Magnum". When they were produced, there was no other factory-loaded, ,30-caliber magnum.
Reasoning that a vintage cartridge should carry historically appropriate bullets, I handloaded a few 220-grain, roundnose Hornady bullets and fired a 100-yard group. Shocked, I measured it center-to-center--the caliper read .29 inch. Additional groups clustered equally well. I had my load for Africa.
Handloading the .300 H&H Rolling your own Super Thirty ammo is easy. Die sets are available from Forster, Hornady, RCBS, Redding and others. Of course, any .308-diameter component bullet may be handloaded into the .300 H&H. That said, the cartridge is at its best with projectiles from 165 to 220 grains.
Primed with Large Rifle Magnum caps, it's advisable to pick a medium- to slow-burning powder such as Reloder 26, IMR 7828 and H1000 to maximize the .300 H&H's velocity potential.
In Africa, I had 10 days and a short list of animals, so Professional Hunter (PH) Armand Aucamp and I decided to be selective. South Africa's Kwa Zulu Natal region is known for monstrous nyala bulls--my primary pursuit--and Crusader Safaris (crusadersafaris.com) has a vast tract of free-range hunting in the heart of it.
Several days after arriving, an old bushbuck stood one second too long. As he turned to ghost away, the .300 H&H barked. The bullet connected at the rear of the rib cage, angled through the thoracic cavity and turned the offside shoulder knuckle into a thousand matchsticks. At 92 yards, the energy dump was tremendous, causing the bushbuck to expire without a twitch. Although bushbucks are fairly small animals, this one stopped the massive bullet.
With two days remaining, the PH and I stood atop a rocky cliff point, glassing the grassy bottoms for nyala. When the nyala bull showed, he wasn't the 29-incher we'd hoped for but he was ancient and massive. "He'll make Roland Ward's 27-inch minimum," Aucamp whispered encouragingly.
I decided to take the shot. The pre-'64 Winchester spoke across the veldt, and when the report echoed from the surrounding hills my .300 H&H had its second one-shot kill. Not bad for a 94-year-old cartridge.
FIELDING THE .300 PRC
By good fortune, I collected two nyalas back to back, using the oldest and the newest of the .300 magnums. My hunting partner, Neal Emery of Hornady, brought a rifle chambered in the brand-new .300 PRC to hunt Africa. Still not formally introduced at the time, the .300 PRC incorporates cutting-edge design features and is arguably the best-engineered, .30-caliber magnum ever devised.
As a result, we had history's very first, factory, .30-caliber magnum and the most modern, recently introduced .30-caliber magnum hunting side by side. The contrast between the .300 PRC and .300 H&H--as well as the similarities --was interesting.
Inside 300 yards, there's not too much difference in real-world performance. If you're a precision-minded, long-range shooter, however, the .300 PRC has a significant edge.
I borrowed Emery's rifle and shot at distant rocks for target practice. Calculating dope using Hornady's 4DOF app, we made first-round hits out to 1,100 yards (for fun). Then I shot a very nice reedbuck with it at 292 yards. Performance was spectacular.
Subsequently, we prowled deep canyons. When a giant of a nyala showed at 40 yards, I had to shoot. The bull's horns measured 291A inches, perfectly shaped and long. It was the sort of experience dreams are made of.
Caption: Legendary and capable, the historic .300 H&H performs well with traditional bullets and modern high-performance projectiles alike.
Caption: Created by simply necking down the .375 H&H Magnum (left), the .300 H&H was beautifully accurate and, courtesy of its dramatically tapered case, proved very reliable on thin-skinned dangerous game--even in tropical climes.
Caption: Although it maintains a cult-like following today, in 1963 the .300 H&H (near left) was unseated by the shorter .300 Winchester Magnum (near right), which fit in .30-'06-length actions that were more affordable to manufacture.
Caption: Excellent factory ammunition is available for the .300 H&H from Hornady, Federal, Nosier and others. Federal's 180-grain TBT produced 3/4-MOA groups from the author's rifle and is adequate for any hooved game in America.
Caption: This ancient, massive nyala bull was dropped by one well-placed bullet, a 220-grain round nose fired from the author's pre-'64 Winchester Model 70 in .300 H&H.
Caption: After bedding the action and free--floating the barrel, multiple handloads topped with hunting bullets averaged significantly less than 1 MOA. Not pictured above is Hornady's 220-gr. RN and Nosler's 220-gr. Partition.
Caption: Historically, the .300 H&H would have been first loaded with heavy 220-grain bullets similar to the Hornady round-nose Interlock (right). It averaged less than half MOA in the author's rifle. Nosler's 220-grain Partition also grouped less than 1 MOA and is well-suited for elk and moose.
Caption: Medium-to-slow propellants such as Reloder 26, IMR 7828 and H1000 provide excellent accuracy and velocity in the .300 H&H.
Caption: Handloading the .300 H&H is easy. Dies and components are readily available and data is plentiful. Nosler's preprepped cases are excellent. Use match-grade primers to access the cartridge's precision potential.
PERFORMANCE BEST AVERAGE VELOCITY GROUP GROUP LOAD (FPS) ES SD (IN.) (IN.) Federal 180-gr. TBT 3,016 36 14 .55 .77 Federal 180-gr. TBT Pre-Bedding 1.07 1.22 Hornady 180-gr. 2,923 41 17 .62 1.35 InterBond Notes: Ammunition was tested through a pre-'64 Winchester Model 70. Accuracy figures are the average of three, three-shot groups fired over a sandbag. Velocity figures are the result of six shots measured through a Shooting Chrony chronograph positioned at 10 feet. Winchester Model 70 Cartridge: .300 H&H Capacity: 4 rds. Barrel: 26 in., l:10-in. twist Overall Length: 46.5 in. Weight 8 lbs., 1 oz. Finish: Blued (steel) Sights: Folding leaf (rear); bead (front) Trigger: 1 lb., 10 oz. (tested) Safety: Three-position, M70 lever MSRP: Unavailable Manufacturer: Winchester Repeating Arms, 800-333-3288, winchesterguns.com .300 H&H HANDLOADS VEL. BULLET TYPE GRS. (FPS) ES SD Barnes 175-gr. LRX RL-22 66.5 3,044 15 6 Barnes 175-gr. LRX IMR 7828 71 3,085 30 13 Barnes 180-gr. TTSX RL-22 67.5 3,091 21 8 Barnes 200-gr. TSX RL-22 64 2,865 35 13 Hornady 200-gr. ELD-X H1000 71 2,809 23 10 Hornady 200-gr. ELD-X RL-25 69 2,823 17 6 Hornady 200-gr. ELD-X RL-22 68.5 3,008 23 8 Hornady 212-gr. ELD-X RL-26 67 2,777 13 6 Hornady 212-gr. ELD-X RL-25 67 2,700 16 6 Hornady 220-gr. RN IMR 7828 67 2,742 25 8 Nosier 165-gr. Partition H4350 70 3,183 17 8 Nosier 200-gr. AccuBond H4831 67 2,799 13 6 Nosier 220-gr. Partition RL-25 71 2,782 25 10 Sierra 165-gr. GameKing H4350 70 3,240 13 7 Sierra 168-gr. MatchKing H4350 70 3,207 35 18 Swift 180-gr. Scirocco II H1000 74 2,937 15 5 Swift 180-gr. A-Frame IMR 7828 73 3,127 35 10 BEST AVG. GROUP GROUP CARTRIDGE BULLET (IN.) (IN.) OAL (IN.) Barnes 175-gr. LRX .41 .68 3.610 Barnes 175-gr. LRX .66 1.05 3.610 Barnes 180-gr. TTSX .85 1.37 3.610 Barnes 200-gr. TSX .96 1.48 3.560 Hornady 200-gr. ELD-X .46 .79 3.610 Hornady 200-gr. ELD-X .76 1.01 3.610 Hornady 200-gr. ELD-X 1.42 1.81 3.610 Hornady 212-gr. ELD-X .58 .81 3.615 Hornady 212-gr. ELD-X .72 1.15 3.615 Hornady 220-gr. RN .28 .35 3.525 Nosier 165-gr. Partition 1.04 1.56 3.610 Nosier 200-gr. AccuBond 1.50 1.67 3.600 Nosier 220-gr. Partition .45 .92 3.585 Sierra 165-gr. GameKing 1.47 1.71 3.610 Sierra 168-gr. MatchKing .36 .44 3.610 Swift 180-gr. Scirocco II 2.82 3.46 3.612 Swift 180-gr. A-Frame .53 .75 3.585 Notes: Handloads were constructed in new Nosler cases primed with Federal 215 Gold Medal primers. Accuracy is the average of three, three-shot groups fired from a bipod at 100 yards. Velocity is the average of six shots recorded at 15 feet from the muzzle with a LabRadar chronograph. Ambient temperature: 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Evelation: 5,050 feet. .300 H&H Parent Cartridge: .375 H&H Magnum Water Capacity: 88.5 grains to case mouth (as measured) Overall Case Length: 2.850 in. Trim-To Case Length: 2.840 in. Cartridge: Overall Length: 3.600 in. Primer: Large Rifle Magnum Pressure Limit: 58,000 PSI
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|Author:||von Benedikt, Joseph|
|Publication:||Guns & Ammo|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2019|
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