Ammunition

The .375 H&H Magnum is Still King

Imagine a cartridge that delivers more than a truckload of kinetic energy.

Squeeze the trigger on this monster and you have a projectile that will drop any land animal on the planet dead in its tracks.

The unbelievable power of this cartridge stems from a simple marriage of weight and velocity.

A very heavy projectile coupled with a lot of powder spells disaster for whatever you are aiming at.

In the case of the .375 H&H Magnum, that statement couldn’t be any more accurate.

.375 H&H History

In 1910, some British gunmakers were concerned over the growing popularity of the 9.5mm Mannlicher-Shoenauer in the African big-game market.

In response, Holland & Holland introduced the .400/.375, also known as the .375 Velopex.

The cartridge proved underpowered compared to other dangerous game cartridges and quickly fell out of favor.

To improve their original design, Holland & Holland followed up with the .375 Belted Rimless Nitro-Express, now called the .375 H&H Magnum.

The popularity of the cartridge quickly grew as it evolved into one of the most versatile cartridges in the world.

It initially used cordite propellant, which came in long strands — hence the tapered shape of the cartridge.

The shape also ensured smooth chambering and extraction from a rifle’s breech.

.375 H&H Magnum Bolt-Action Rifle

Magnum Power

Some cite the .375 as one of the most useful all-around calibers.

Hunters can employ lighter 253 to 270-grain loads for shooting medium-sized game at greater distances, or punch out larger 300-grain loads for dangerous game at shorter distances.

Some claim the round is too powerful for North American game, but that is a misconception.

At ranges inside 300 yards and with modern loads, the .375 makes a fine gun for whitetail all the way up to bear, elk or moose.

However, it is traditionally an African large game round for hunting the Big Five, which consists of Cape buffalo, elephant, black rhinoceros, lion and leopard.

This versatility is why hunters kept the .375 in use for so long.

.375 H&H Magnum Buffalo Bore Box

.375 H&H Magnum Design

The cartridge employs a rimless, belted design. For those military readers, belted cartridges have nothing to do with the familiar belt-fed weapons.

The belt refers to a raised strip around the circumference of the base of the casing for the purpose of headspacing powerful cartridges.

Without the belt, the shooter could accidentally push the cartridge too far into the chamber and cause a catastrophic failure.

In plain English, the cartridge got fatter at the bottom so you didn’t shove the thing too far in and blow yourself up.

The design of the cartridge allowed for use in either breech loaders or bolt-action rifles.

close up of rifle telescope for sport hunting on table wooden

Ballistics

Bullet Weight/TypeVelocityEnergy
200 gr JFP3,195 ft/s4,534 ft-lb
235 gr JFP2,964 ft/s4,585 ft-lb
250 gr JFP2,835 ft/s4,463 ft-lb
270 gr JFP2,694 ft/s4,352 ft-lb
300 gr JFP2,645 ft/s4,661 ft-lb

Ballistically, it performs quite well.

While it doesn’t shoot anywhere near the flat trajectory of a 30-06 Springfield, it still manages to deliver far more energy into the target.

Doing the math, you get over 4,000 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle! Not too bad when you also consider the size hole it makes in your target.

While I would not go so far as to call it the best cartridge for every task, I would say that .375 H&H Magnum is capable of handling just about any hunting you throw at it.

Just remember to ice your shoulder afterward — that thing packs a punch!

What do you think of the .375 H&H Magnum? Is it still king? Let us know in the comments below!

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (22)

  1. For those stuck on .416 Barrett and other .50 BMG based cartrage have fun humping that stuff through the brush and doing some off hand shooting!

  2. Reading 375 H&H is King, Well it’s trajectory is close enough to the 30-06 comparing 300 gr. to the 180 gr. I don’t think you can tell the difference by pulling the trigger, and a 225 yard zero.
    See Winchester Ballistics Calculator.

  3. As you may know….. Sierra has a new 350 gr BTHP with a BC of .800+-..now that would be interesting to try….!!!!!..I have been shooting the 375 H&H for over 50 years…it has done everyting well…from deer to things that tried to hunt and eat me….I have total confidence in it that it will do everything I need of it if I do my part………no flies on this cartridge after 101 years…few cartridges can say that…many cartridges have come and gone over the years..few have the stamina of the 375H&H, true, many have tried to “improve” the 375 H&H but to no real avail….more velocity, more powder, more recoil..but to what end…?/..just to “outdo” the 375 H&H?? and yet it continues to stand on its merits and sucesses…….hard to argue that one.

  4. To me the .375 H&H is an astounding cartridge that is surpassed by none,not a Ruger 375 not a 416 Barret.Ruger is a copycat of a cartridge that has killed more African game than any other. Theres no improving perfection.Ive had two 458 Winchesters and they were fantastic rifles,but the .375 is king and will be forever, no larger caliber can perform like the 375 H&H.

  5. There seems to be a good bit of controversy over the “best” caliber, bullet weight etc. Again, I do not believe that there is a “best” or “all around” cartridge. It comes down to the shooter and what he/she wants to do with it. Shot placement is the final determinant in the particular choice of claiber. We could discuss this all day and it still is a personal choice. Yes, the ’06 is incredibly well rounded…for many people. I owned one and loved it. However, MY choice ended up being the 375 H&H over many,many years of shooting…again it was MY choice….I believe that EVERY caliber and bullet selection comes down to “just what do YOU want it to do”?and many are well suited to the shooters particular choice….again…go pick YOUR favorite caliber, shoot and shoot some msore..get familiar with it and have fun.!

  6. It all comes down to just what do YOU want in a cartridge and what do you want it to do for you..is it long distance shooting..??/..perhaps just a 10 pointer at 100 yards….I do not believe that there is a “king” cartridge that will do all things well…yes, there are some incredibly accurate cartidges that are used in target competition but not really good for hunting since the rifle is a bit too cumbersome.
    But we also have the 700 by Holland and Holland…now that’s overkill, unless you have a T. Rex trampling your tulips…but then again…there is the .577 T Rex cartridge for that……sure would not hunt rabbits with that one…!!But be it the 30-30 or the 700..it comes down to personal preference, and the cartidges ability to get the job done that the shooter requires of it. I enjoy the 375 H&H because it fills MY bill, but it is not for everyone. I have owned over 60 different calibers in all my years..most all performed admirably, but I chose the 375 just out of my experience and use…..but then again, that’s ME not anyone else……..I would not expect that a Pennsylvania deer hunter to use the 375 but I would not want to use the 30-30 in Alaska or Africa…but then again, hey, maybe YOU could..and do it well..not me..But,no matter what it is…do enjoy shooting what you have, get used to it, understand it’s abilities and limitiations and have fun. ENJOY!

  7. Don’t get me wrong. Not trying to hate on this round, it’s a FANTASTIC round. It’s just simply NOT the king.

  8. Unless of course, you’re looking for the king of all ballistics. .416 Barrett defeats this cartridge in every way. In fact, .375 H&H Magnum isn’t even the prince.

  9. The 375 H&H is been with me for 50 years. It is an incredible cartridge for the handloader using 200 gr to 350 gr slugs. It will drop anything on this planet. I have used it from deer to the big bears with no problem. But as we all we all know, bullet placement is everything. I have turned down many shots that were not good. That is true with any cartridge. Some say it is “too much” for the lower 48, not true…just ask any true handloader…I personally know of one gent who shoots .375 round balls from his..!!!..and if I had not seen a 1″ group at 50 yds, I would not have believed it. True, other cartidges can do many things…the 375 H&H does just about everything well. And, yes I do know of more than one that shoot a light weight bullet at groundhogs…quite spectacular to say the least.!!!..something akin to using a 16″ navel gun on a 20 ft skiff loaded with dynamite….enjoy and have fun with the 375 H&H!…I do.!

  10. I have 1 up on the 375 H&H.I have the Ruger M-77 Hawkeye 416 Ruger. It is a 400 grin bullet that puts out 5000 ft.lbs. And it has taken 5 elephants since it was made in 2011.

  11. I own a Ruger Hawkeye African M77 in the marginally more powerful .375 Ruger (built to meet or beat the H&H ballistics, in a shorter barrel, with the same bullet). My rifle is under 8 lbs., with the scope, and the stock recoil pad is pretty awful (red, thin, and hard rubber). Even with the light weight and lack of an adequate recoil pad working against it, this .375 (with 300-grain handloads on top of a max load of Win 296) is shootable. It’s easily carried in the field, short enough to maneuver through brush, and exceeds standard H&H loads by about 100-150 fps–not that any game animal would notice the difference–but with this handload, it will shoot as flat or flatter than any .30-06 180-gr load I know of. In fact, the reason that Peter Capstick, Jack O’Connor, and many other sang the praises of the .375 H&H, other than its versatility, is that it would throw a 270-grain pill on almost exactly the same trajectory as a 180-grain .30-06, making it easy to make long shots. I bought the .375 Ruger to replace my .338 win mag, on the off chance that I will ever make it to Africa. What the .338 WM can do with a 250-grain bullet (even with handloads), the .375 will do a 300-grainer. I agree that the .338 is adequate–or way more than adequate–for anything in the lower 48, and just about right for the big bears, too. I wouldn’t hesitate to hunt Cape Buffalo with one in a country where it were legal (MOST African countries do NOT have the .375 minimum on all dangerous game), but if I got to choose between the two, it would definitely be the .375 for me. Frankly, the recoil of the two calibers isn’t all that different, in my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

  12. I recently hunted Cape Buffalo in Zimbabwe. I shot 2 Buff-one intentionally & 1 in self defense. The story would take too long but, suffice it to say, that the .375 H&H English Whitworth dropped both animals in a matter of seconds-completely penetrating one & resting just under the skin on far side of shoulder of the other! Both were large, mature dagga boys. The .375 H&H is a fine round.

  13. I agree that the .375 H&H is the most all round cartridge for African hunts. The 30-06 is the best all round cartridge for hunting in North America (55-grain to 220 grain bullets are available). The .416 Rigby is for specialized Big Five Hunts.
    Many people are so caught up with the largest caliber round to hunt with and for personal defense-but the real issue is can the shooter shoot accurately with that round. The key is consistent shot placement-you must shoot what ever you are using well.

  14. I have been fortunate enough to use the .375 HH in Africa where it performed with distinction. With two exceptions, all animals were one-shot kills. 300 Grain hard and soft points, depending on the target (primarily Swift A-Frame with powder charge modified slightly to ensure both bullets shot to the same point at 75 to 100 yards — thanks to my older son’s work.) Lots of 5 shot groups to achieve that goal — not pleasant, but certainly worth it in the field.

  15. Some cartridges seem to have a balance of diameter and weight that makes them inherently accurate, and the .375 H&H is one of them. The writer of this article, however, has fallen headfirst into the myth that recoil is a serious issue with the .375. One thing that makes the .375 such a great cartridge is that it is SHOOTABLE! A well designed, well-fitted stock, with adequate weight, is a pleasure to shoot-not a nightmare. My petite 5’0″ wife has no recoil problem with her .375. I have had mine for almost 25 years, and have been to Africa 3 times. I like to hunt “stateside” with it as well, because it fits me so well, and every time I shoulder it, I go back to Africa.

  16. I’ve use the venerable .375 H&H for 30 yrs. taken mule deer to Elk. No finer Cartridge
    in the world. I roll my own with the Sierra 300gr spitzer boattail. Shoots 1 ragged hole at 200yds.

  17. “Cartridges like .338 Winchester are too powerful for medium game, while not powerful enough for Africa’s big five, making it a very limited cartridge.”

    During my life I have lived and successfully hunted the Kodiak Brown Bear, and the Polar Bear with the .338 Winchester Magnum. It’s a great caliber and many, if not most, Alaskan guides recommend it for “their” bears.

    Before I chose the .338 Winchester Magnum, I shot the .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 Weatherby Magnum, .300 H&H Magnum, and .375 H&H Magnum. Then, I studied all of the data associated with each caliber. In the end, the .338 Winchester Magnum was my selection, in a Browning Safari grade rifle. “Limited?” The caliber is not limited if you live and hunt in Alaska, or Canada.

  18. The sound and recoil are too much for an enclosed metallic blind especially one that is full of dust etc. because you will not be able to get a 2nd shot until the dust clears after a while.

  19. I have worked up a load for the .375 with the 260 gr. Accubond which elevates this round to a proven Elk bustin round which has less wind deflection & flatter trajectory than the 30-06. The kenetic energy guarantees that the animal drops which after a bull I hit hard @ timberline with a 300MAG ran down the dark timber 2000ft deep canyon halfway causing a dangerous & difficult packout. My dad made a thumbhole stock with recoil suppression & muzzle brake for the Mauser which makes a huge difference in felt recoil. This is the go to gun if a 1 shot KO is necessary. SW Colorado wilderness horse pack in Elk & Deer hunting is what My wife & I live for, sometimes feather weight is necessary here but the extra 2lbs is worth it for me as I have not chased or tracked any animal which the .375 was used.

  20. I own a Winchester 375 Big Bore XL and ammo is very hard to find. I know that the H & H Magnum won’t fit, but do you have any suggestions or alternates? Gun Show ammo is sporadic and at least $1.50/round. Does anyone manufacture ammunition that is scarce? THank You

  21. Tried, tested and true. It ha survived the ages, and it has survived the assault of competitors and still stands tall as THE .375 caliber rifle. Versatile, powerful, and in the hands of the hand loader, almost universal rifle. I would make very few recommendations of any particular rifle over another, with so many high quality cartridges of so many calibers, but the 375 H&H is quite the exception, being a stand alone consideration for rifle above .30 caliber, for more then one specific purpose.

    Cartridges like .338 Winchester are too powerful for medium game, while not powerful enough for Africa’s big five, making it a very limited cartridge. The large purpose built African game guns such as .416 Rigby, .458 Winchester, are fine for very large game, but again find themselves too much gun for anything but the largest of game, with trajectories that are anything but flat. The .375 is just right; a fine choice for the bigger medium game, large game, and even the largest, with a wide variety of bullets and charges.

    Some cartridges last forever. 45 Colt, 45-70, 30-30, 30-06, 9mm parabellum, ect. The 375 H&H has stood the test of time with the rest of the classics, finding a type of perfection, the type of niche, that simply cannot be replaced.

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