Why is the old .375 H&H Magnum one of the most venerated cartridges in the world? Because it works.
Now more than 100 years old, the .375 H&H Mag. became the basis for virtually all of our belted magnums: 300 Win. Mag., 300 Wthby. Mag., 7mm Rem. Mag., .264 Win. Mag. and many, many more.
But the old .375 H&H more than stands on its own in its original configuration, tossing a 300-grain bullet 2,600 fps to generate an impressive 4,300 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. This is a bit more power and punch than needed for most North American game, so the .375 H&H, while widely known, is rarely used in American hunting fields. Alaskans love it as bear medicine and some elk and moose hunters will hire it as insurance.
I managed to avoid the .375 H&H until recent years, but now it seems to be finding its way into my hands quite regularly. One shot from a Dakota M97 in .375 H&H parked a 300-grain Swift A-Frame in a Russian brown bear, which dropped in its tracks as a result. Just what one wants. My wife, all 5 feet, 2 inches of her, hired a Blaser R8 in .375 H&H to flatten a giant warthog, then a Cape buffalo in Mozambique, one shot each using 300-grain Barnes TTSX bullets. I was beginning to see the reason for this cartridge’s immense popularity. Next, I borrowed an H-S Precision rifle in .375 H&H to take on a feral water buffalo in Argentina. At more than 2,000 pounds, this is the largest of the world’s wild cattle, yet it expired from a single 300-grain Winchester Fail Safe applied to the front chest. I was starting to like this cartridge.
Most recently, hunting with Jamy Traut Safaris in Namibia, I used a gorgeous Kimber Caprivi rifle and Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw bullets directed by a Weaver Grand Slam scope to anchor a 10-foot croc to the bank on which it had been basking. Then I took a massive bull hippo from 120 yards as he poked his head from the Chobe river one too many times. He sank with barely a ripple and floated to the surface about an hour and a half later, just as my PH promised.
With brain/spine shots like this, nearly any cartridge would work, given the right bullet, but big animals that bite back don’t always stand still for head shots. At such times, the punch and penetration of the .375 is welcome. I’ve seen brown bears, water buffalo and Cape buffalo felled by single body shots from the old H&H. Bigger cartridges such as the .404 Jeffery, .416 Rigby, .416 Remington and .458 Win. Mag. punch harder, but also recoil harder, and it’s long proven that a smaller bullet in the right place is more effective than a bigger bullet in the wrong place.
The average .270 Win. or .30-06 deer hunter might not consider the .375 H&H a “smaller bullet” kind of cartridge, but in the world of big bores and dangerous game, it truly is. If you’re looking to arm up to a dangerous game big bore that you can shoot without flinching, give the .375 H&H a test drive. It’s the easiest to shoot and shoot well, and it does the job.