Hand Loading the .375 Ruger for Deer, Bear, Moose and Cape Buffalo

375 Ruger-0001

The .375 Ruger cartridge is at home in the Ruger M77 African or the M77 Alaskan rifle. I wrote about this cartridge/rifle combo in my African Safari Book “African Safari – Rifle and Bow and Arrow” you can get in eBook format on my home page. And I am still writing about this great rifle and cartridge combination, in particular because it is so versatile when hand loaded with a plethora of powder and bullet styles and shapes.

Honestly, I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to loading up this cartridge.

My .375 cases have been loaded multiple times, course I am shooting them with much less power than the case is capable of.

The .375 Ruger shines no matter where it is loaded, down for deer, antelope and black bear, African Plains game such as Impala, Gemsbok, Blesbok, loaded a bit more for Elk and African Kudu. When needed it can be loaded up to take Cape Buffalo where it really shines, even Elephant are commonly taken with this cartridge though would opt for the .416 Rigby or 458 Lott if I was so inclined. I am just waiting for the invitation for a free hunt. Think I might wait a while for that hunt to percolate.

When you shoot a .375 in a standing position with a state-of-the-art recoil pad such as the Pachmayr Decelerator, you do not get a kick, you get a push instead.

Why the .375 Ruger anyway? The .375 bullet maintains its momentum for penetration and perfect bullet mushrooming. Yes you can load the .375 to shoot fast bullets like the 225 grain and approach 3000 fps but when hand loaded to 2600 fps it is great deer, bear, elk and moose medicine. I load mine down even more to around 2100 fps for the 225 grain Hornady or the Speer 235 grain “Hot Core” round point and shoot it in my t-shirt.(Below.)

speer hot core

The Hornady and Speer bullets are my deer/bear round delivering nearly 1700 ft lbs at 100 yards. Accurate? Wow! This rifle/cartridge combo is not finicky at all. It shoots well no matter the bullet.

For Moose I shoot full power 260 grain Nosler AccuBonds of around 4000 ft lbs at the muzzle.


My first encounter with the rifle/cartridge years ago was when I tested the M77 rifle and .375 Ruger was with 300 grain round nose bullets at 50 yards designed for Cape Buffalo.  My friend spotted for me as I shot. The first bullet was near the bull as I adjusted the scope earlier. Ok, he said I’m ready for your next shot he shouted with his ear protection on.

I squeezed the trigger.

“You missed the target clean” he said, just that one hole there!

Ok, I shouted back with my “ears on”, let me put a third shot and see where it goes, I said.

I fired a third shot.

“Hmm only that one hole but the hole looks bigger”, he said.

“Wow!” I replied realizing what had happened

Sure enough, there was a cloverleaf of holes 1/4 inch apart.

My friend said matter of factly; “Your gonna keep that gun right?”

I grinned! “Ayuh, shoots mighty good!”

First and foremost, I give credit and homage to its predecessor, the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum. A cartridge that debuted more than 100 years ago and still has a strong following in Alaska, Africa and as long range Elk medicine. The H & H requires a longer action and bolt throw than the .375 Ruger yet the Ruger has a 6% larger case capacity and is a non belted case like an oversize 30-06 case.

When coupled with its Parent rifle the .375 Ruger means business as the Ruger M77 utilizes a Mauser style bolt that grabs and holds the cartridge as it feeds from the magazine ensuring reliability.  In only a 20 inch barrel it beats or exceeds its .375 H & H ancestor and is a much stronger modernized case.

So this round is for short range work you say on really big game?  Nope!

The .375 Ruger when loaded with Nosler 260 grain AccuBonds can take down an Elk at 600 yards or a 2000 pound Bison or Cape Buffalo at 100 yards. Bullets for the .375 start at 200 grains and go up to 300 grains and include dangerous game solids and monolithic bullets (below right) that can “chug-along” through bone and look non-the-less for wear. I have taken Moose and Bison with this cartridge. The 800 lb buffalo traveled 20 feet and piled up on the first shot. The Bull Moose took 2 shots. One from me and a one from my partner’s 308. I took an insurance shot. Big Moose can be tough.

nolsler bullets for test 2

As a rifleman, I believe that a well-rounded shooter that has shot big bore as well as small bore, really understands both sides of the shooting spectrum.  Do you ever want to hunt Brown Bear? Do you ever want to hunt Africa? If you say yes to either question and want to hunt deer too,  the .375 Ruger and its M77 Rifle is a Cartridge/Rifle combination worth investigating especially if you hand load. © 2013

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About Ed Hale

I am an avid hunter with rifle and Bow and have been hunting for more than 50 years. I have taken big game such as whitetail deer, red deer, elk, Moose and African Plains game such as Kudu, Gemsbok, Springbok, Blesbok, and Impala and wrote an ebook entitled African Safari -Rifle and Bow and Arrow on how to prepare for a first safari. Ed is a serious cartridge reloader and ballistics student. He has earned two degrees in science and has written hundreds of outdoor article on hunting with both bow and rifle.