The calibre hunter

Byron Pace assesses the performance of a lesser-known alternative to the .375 H&H

For the last few months I have been in Africa, spending much of that time walking with some of the biggest and most dangerous animals on the planet. So it will come as no surprise that my mind is focused on big cartridges.

At some point over the last few years of travelling, I managed to miss a major cartridge release in this realm, and I would wager a hefty sum that most readers are in the same boat. Who has even heard of the .370 Sako Magnum, never mind used it in the field? Here is the run down:

The cartridge is the product of a partnership between Sako and Federal, and it isn’t the first time we have seen these companies work together in recent years.

The .338 Federal, released in 2005, was covered in these pages some time ago. One of the interesting things about the .370 is that it has gone by two different names since its inception. With its traditional European hat on, it’s known as the 9.3x66mm Sako.

First appearing on the continent in 2002, the cartridge took a couple of years to morph into its American cousin. Beyond naming conventions, there was a good reason for its change in clothes.

The 9.3mm diameter calibre has simply never been popular in America, despite the 9.3×62 being widely used in Europe since it was created in 1905. Indeed, until now, no major American gun maker has offered any factory chambering in a 9.3mm based cartridge.

The classic 9.3mm is a good starting comparison, and here the .370 Sako Magnum offers improved ballistics all around, owing to its longer case and correspondingly greater capacity. Where the 9.3×62 has always been seen as a soft option compared to the .375 H&H, the new .370 is shoulder-to-shoulder with it.

Comparing the 286 grain projectile in the .370 Sako to 300 grains in the H&H, the difference in muzzle energy is just 200ft/lbs. At 100 yards, the 370 Sako takes the advantage as the comparable initial velocity is overtaken by the effects of projectile weight, with the lighter projectile offering 169ft/lb of extra oomph.

If we look at the lighter 270-grain H&H load, we see this flip back again, with a slight 100-yard advantage, which is lost by the time the 286-grain projectile from the .370 Sako reaches 200 yards and beyond.

All in all, both are very capable rounds and one would be penny pinching to truly see any great advantage of one over another.

That said, for dangerous game applications, a major consideration will be the country specific regulations, which in many cases require a minimum calibre of .375.

Unlike the classic .375 H&H, the .370 Sako Magnum is a non-belted magnum, and doesn’t require a magnum length action. Any action that can house a .30-06 Springfield will be compatible with rechambering in .370 Sako Magnum.

Body diameter should also mean that four rounds can be housed in the magazine. Now the cartridge is begins to look quite enticing. 

As interesting as this cartridge is, I’m not sure we really needed it, and it seems quite unlikely to elbow the older, established stalwarts from their position of strength. We are a few years into its existence, and it doesn’t appear to have secured a foothold in the market. We will see if that changes.

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Posted in Ammunition

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