With a little research on the 9.3s it was
found that the .366 bore size has been around almost as long as the .30 caliber. Filling
the gap between the .35 caliber and the potent .375s, this medium-bore has been popular
everywhere but the U.S. There is a proliferation of 9.3 cartridges, almost as many as the
.30 caliber, but the three most popular and the ones chosen to play with were the 9.3x64
Brenneke, 9.3x74R and 9.3x62 Mauser - two bolt-action cartridges and one designed for
double rifles, single shot and drillings. A check of the RCBS list of popular die sets
revealed that all three made the list; in fact the 9.3x64 Brenneke headed its list of
the flame of obsession nipping at the back of my jeans, an old Model 70 action that had
been waiting for just such a project was headed for Darrel Hollands gunsmith shop.
Aside from being an extremely talented accuracy gunsmith, Darrell is also blessed with
patience and understanding when I show up with a pet project, especially a three-rifle
project. Surprisingly he told me there were others that had been bitten by the 9.3 bug.
Model 70 turned into a fairly simple project and very little extra work was needed. After
installing the barrel, the only additional alteration needed was to open the bolt face
slightly to accept the 9.3x64s rim. Feed, function and test fire resulted in typical
Model 70 reliability. A scope was mounted and bore-sighted, while Darrell started on the
the back of the office gun safe was a beautiful myrtle wood stocked commercial Mauser that
had not seen use or daylight for a long time. It had been another project from a few years
ago and for some reason had not been used since. It was the perfect candidate for the
9.3x62; all that was needed was a rebarrel
job. No other alterations were needed except to refit the barrel in the stock.
old double rifle consistently shot groups that would fit inside a small coffee can lid at
80 yards, but I wanted something that could show the accuracy potential of the 9.3x74R. An
unused Ruger No. 1 was the logical choice. A single-shot rifle presents a couple of extra
problems you do not have with a bolt action. The ejector/extractor has to be fitted to the
particular cartridge, and with a different barrel contour, the scope mount system must be
changed. Darrell was ahead on this one and had already designed a very solid and simple
one-piece mount for the Ruger.
the single shot has a very short receiver, the 26-inch barrel balanced perfectly and still
maintained an overall length equal to the bolt actions using 24-inch barrels. If it shot
as well as it looked, it would be a winner.
the rifles completed the range and reloading work were next. Gathering components for each
of the cartridges was not as large a problem as one might think. Factory loaded ammunition
and brass were available if you looked in the right place. DWM manufactures and imports
all three cartridges, and Norma loads both the 9.3x62 and 9.3x74R.
hunting bullets for the 9.3 are manufactured by most all the major foreign and domestic
bullet companies in a variety of weights and configurations. Everything from a Barnes
Solid to a Nosler Ballistic Tip are available.
data and information for each can be found in a number of popular reloading manuals. I
found good data and information in the Nosler, Speer, Barnes, A-Square, Accurate and
Vihtavuori manuals. No special tricks in the reloading, as each cartridge is very
is a little history and load data I came up with for each of the 9.3s.
time ago someone said, Necessity is the mother of invention. In a way this
fits the birth of the 9.3x62. The necessity came from the European farmers and ranchers in
Africa who had a need for a firearm that was affordable and yet had enough punch to handle
the tenacious crop raiders and large predators they were plagued with. Most cartridges of
that time were adequate to handle most plains game, but when it came to dangerous
critters, they needed something bigger.
double guns were the answer but were financially out of reach for all but the well-heeled.
They needed one rifle that would do it all and still fit their pocketbook.
1905 German gunmaker, cartridge designer Otto Bock came up with the answer. Using the
strong military 98 Mauser action, he designed a cartridge that would fit and feed through
the standard-length action. Using a case near identical to the .30-06, he developed the
9.3x62, which with softnosed bullets was more than adequate for even the largest of the
antelope, and with solids it had enough sectional density to penetrate and do in the big
interesting note taken from the recent A-Square loading manual shows just how much respect
the 9.3x62 has. It seems that in 1958 when Kenya ruled, the .375 H&H was the minimum
cartridge allowed for dangerous game. A footnote was added that the 9.3x62 could be used
by experienced hunters.
9.3x62's combination of moderate velocity with bullets of high sectional density and a
large frontal area (diameter) has proven itself so well it is still one of the most
popular cartridges outside the U.S. for any big game. So popular, it is offered by most
all European rifle manufacturers today.
looking at the 9.3x62 by itself, it looks like a .35 Whelen or .338-06. However, when
placed side by side, it is obvious which of the three is larger and has a slight edge in
case capacity. Even though the 9.3x62 is a slight bit shorter in length (1mm), its
straighter case walls and shorter neck give it the advantage.
is understandable why, in the U.S., the 9.3x62 was not popular in the past. Bullet
selection was minimal and availability was spotty. Not so today, as most major U.S.
manufacturers produce a selection of 9.3mm bullets along with the normal imported
offerings of Norma, Woodleigh and Brenneke. Weights from 234 to 300 grains are available.
The most popular bullet weight has always been the 286 grainer.
ammunition and brass are readily available from Norma or RWS; however, it is not a big
problem to use .30-06 brass. The normal fireforming process is all that is needed.
data can be found in most all the popular manuals. Nosler, Swift, Barnes, Speer, Norma and
A-Square all list extensive data for the 9.3x62.
9.3x62 seems to be one of those cartridges that is not finicky to load for. Most all loads
tested shot well, some just better than others. This is a hunting cartridge using hunting
bullets, but in some cases accuracy was well inside one inch at 100 yards.
9.3x74R is strictly a double rifle, drilling (combination shotgun/rifle) or single-shot
rifle cartridge. Long and slender with a slight shoulder, its just what its name
implies - a 9.3 (.366) diameter bullet in a 74mm case, and the R denotes the rim.
one seems to know who specifically designed the 9.3x74R, but it emerged at the turn of the
last century as a German equivalent to one of
the British medium-bore cartridges of Westley Richards. Over the years it has proven very
popular in Europe, especially with wild boar hunters - popular enough that its still
chambered by all the European break-open rifle manufacturers today. Even Browning
converted its 20-gauge O/U shotgun into a slick lightweight 9.3x74R O/U double rifle for
the European market.
the 9.3x74R is near identical in performance to the 9.3x62 but doing so with lower
pressures because of the weaker break-open type actions it is used in.
The long, slender case with its shallow
shoulder angle is typical of older cartridges where pressures had to be kept in the
40,000-psi range. A similar comparison can be made with the .416 Rigby and the .416
Remington. The .416 Rigby was a large, long case that required an expensive long magnum
action. With the Rigby design pressures were kept below 50,000 pounds. The .416 Remington
Magnum duplicates the Rigby ballistics but in a shorter, smaller case that could be used
in a standard action. The price is chamber pressure, which bumps 60,000 psi in the .416