Is the 9.3x74R Calibre Suitable for Hunting in the UK?
- Monday, 21 January 2019
Why do the Europeans love their 9.3 x 74mmR and is it a calibre that should be utilised more in the UK?
(Above: The 9.3x74R in Norma and RWS in a Chapuis Double Rifle)
Invented in Germany around the turn of the 20th Century and originally designed for double and single shot rifles, the 9.3×74mmR has a rimmed, bottleneck design and uses a .366-inch (9.3 mm) diameter bullet, typically weighing a substantial 286-grains (18.5g).
Typical velocity and energy for ammunition made by the main providers of this calibre – Hornady, Norma, RWS and Federal, in the 285-grain bullet, are around 2,360.00 ft/s (720.00 m/s) and 3,540 ft⋅lbf (4,795 J) of energy at the muzzle.
My own first experience of this European bruiser was, unsurprisingly, in Europe during a driven Boar hunt, where I had the joy of using the round chambered in a superb Chapuis double rifle which I was shooting with open sights.
Now anyone who has hunted Boar in Europe will be aware that Boar shooting is big business and that these thick skinned, heavy boned beasts can reach some pretty-substantial weights. It is no wonder therefore, that many Europeans are often fans of some pretty-punchy calibres. What is more, with most driven Boar, the shooting usually occurs at relatively close ranges and sometimes in cover, with projectiles typically fired at beasts on the move. This all means that shot placement can sometimes be far from perfect.
The requirements placed on a calibre in these circumstances are, for these reasons, somewhat different to the requirements that one might have for stalking in the UK and I am a strong advocate of calibres for purpose. Indeed, the trip of which I speak, was a case in point and I was very pleased of the extra Oomph when one particularly large 212KG Boar came charging through the undergrowth requiring both barrels from the 9.3x74 to stop it.
Of course, I have seen very large Boar taken with much smaller calibres and I am sure that even on this occasion a .30 Cal’ would have done the job however, I am in no doubt that the hounds would have been tracking the beast for some distance.
The application for the 9.3x74 in such circumstances is clear, indeed the intention of the cartridge’s design was for large North American game like moose, brown bear, and polar bear and its application has also proven useful for African Safari’s, where it remains a popular cartridge in countries with a more German influence. Here it is favoured as a continental alternative to the more popular .375 H&H Magnum which is consistently considered one of the best all-round African rifle calibres of all time.
There is no doubt the 9.3x74mm is a highly regarded, highly capable calibre however, as for its application in the UK, well, it has some obvious flaws, first and foremost is bullet drop. A 285-grain bullet travelling at 2350fps has a decidedly banana shaped trajectory and so shots much beyond 100 meters require that the shooter make some compensation for bullet drop. “Most lowland/woodland shots are taken at less than 100 meters I hear you cry”, however, such is the thin-skinned nature of our UK deer species, that there is really no need to sacrifice other flatter shooting calibres, that are useful for the occasions when you do shoot out to say 200 metres, in favour of the substantial 3,500ftlbs of energy produced by the 9.3. Not to mention the considerable felt recoil, muzzle blast and the availability of ammunition - I found just one London gun-shop with some RWS in stock – well done William Evans!
What’s more, there is one final kicker for anyone that is considering this European favourite. Rather bizarrely the speed of the 286grain bullet is not adequate for Scotland, where legislation requires 2450fps at the muzzle. It’s an utter nonsense of course and for that matter neither is my .416 adequate for Scottish deer, hardy as they are! But as my father often used to say: “Rules is Rules”.
Get yourself this European heavy weight by all means however, be warned, it has a limited application that does not easily lend itself to hunting in the UK.
If you'd like some firearrms training, or would like to experience a variety of calibres ranging from the .243 to a .416, then County Deer Stalking is delighted to be able to offer one of the finest facilities in the UK for firearms training, just one hour from London. Follow this link for more details; firearms-training
Alternatively to read more about rifle calibres and a whole range of calibre reviews follow this link to our Rifle Calibres page: rifle-calibres