The .375 Ruger Cartridge – A Handloaders Dream Cartridge

Wouldn’t it be neat to own one rifle/cartridge that you can hunt large jack rabbits with a reduced load without blowing it to bits and the next day hunt deer with a more powerful load in the same rifle and the next day hunt the largest game on the Planet with a 300 grain Dangerous Game Load – All in the same Rifle? YES! You can only do this if you hand load your own ammo for the .375 Ruger.

 

Shown here is  the Ruger® Hawkeye® African with a 23 inch barrel verses my 20 inch barrel. See the Ruger website below.http://ruger.com/products/HawkeyeAfrican/models.html

My Ruger is less embellished with the ebony cap and sling on the barrel. But it is very accurate indeed with the .375 Ruger Cartridge and so versatile for handloaders.  The .375 Ruger Cartridge was a joint collaboration of Hornady and Ruger back in 2007. Wikipedia has a write-up at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.375_Ruger.  

As I said, If  you hand-load you can load to shoot varying bullet sizes and energies for small game all the way up to dangerous game.

 

It has been tried before on older .375’s like the H&H magnum, very successfully, I might add! Most African hunters shoot a .375 H & H for everything from the 15 pound Dik Dik Antelope up to and including Elephant. Africans don’t often change loads though, most all sizes are taken with big bullets. Hornady made 220 and 225 grain heads but has not made any for a while. The 235 grain Speer Hot Core is still available as are lead cast bullets with gas checks. Sorta like “Quigley Down Under” cast bullets at 260 grains.

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Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia (Kirks Dik Dik)

and then shoot Impala (impala venison is fabulous)

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(Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia – Impala)

Then Shoot Cape Buffalo with the same Rifle

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Photo Courtesy Wikipedia – Cape Buffalo

Or Elephant Below

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Photo Courtesy Wikipedia – African Elephant

 

Enter the newer 2007 Cartridge, the .375 Ruger that is stronger than the .375 H & H cartridge, Shorter, Has no belt to be concerned for head-space,  and fits in a standard bolt action and holds 6 % more powder than the older .375 H & H.

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At left is the .375 Ruger Cartridge loaded with 235 grain Speer Hot Core bullets and the 243 Winchester at right for comparrison.

The problem for many .375 Ruger owners is that there has been little published data out there to aid the .375 Ruger Cartridge Owner to establish a cross section of bullet types and weights, powders and loading data that take you from small game, medium game. Most data is about really big game or African Game.  So I went into student mode and gathered data over the years and worked up my own loads using available .375 Caliber published data for starting loads, small game loads and lower bullet weights with copper jackets. As with all load data work from low to higher very slowly, examine the spent round for primer and case indicators with a good Reloading manual as a Reference, like Hornady or Nosler. Pay attention to case length and Cartridge overall length COL making copious notes to refer back to.

I think that for medium and small game lead bullets can be cast and SR 4759 starter data can be found for reduced loads at 1200 fps and for 220 to 235 grain heads pushing a small game load at 1500 fps to a deer load at 2100 fps for 100 yard or less shots. The trick here is to shoot either a flat point to deliver more energy on impact or a bullet that is traveling at near to 1900 to 2000 fps at impact in a spire point to mushroom adequately. I have created a new lower power load of IMR ( )  from Hodgdon®  that provides 235 grain Speer Bullets at 2400 fps for most North American Game at 200 yards and easier recoil like a 30-06. Yesterday I shot 3/4 inch 3 shot groups at 100 yards with that new load.

The data for starter loads can be extrapolated from published data by experienced wildcatters and reloaders.  After that there is a plethora of published data for Elk, Big Bears, Moose, Bison, and larger African Species up to Elephant. The .375 Ruger with my M77 African  Ruger Rifle 20 inch barrel can throw a 260 grain spitzer out of the muzzle at 2800 fps for Brown Bear or a 2000 pound Bison. Then Switch to 300 grain AccuBonds backed up by 300 grain Monolithic Solids for Africa’s Big Five. As Robert Ruark says: Use Enough Gun! I would choose a bigger rifle for close work on testy Bull elephants may be a 470 Nitro Express Double gun with 500 grain solids.© 2014

Bench Rest Best Practices to Determine Cartridge/Bullet Accuracy

We all want to shoot these tiny groups at the Bench Rest don’t we, especially at your local range where we often can earn bragging rights for such a fine group.  Recently I struck up conversations at the range about “Best Practices” of accuracy basics at the Bench. What I got for feedback was seemingly all over the place! You can have a $5000 dollar rifle/scope combo and still shoot average without good rests and shooting techniques. Of course the cartridge/bullet and load must be tuned as well to your rifle barrels harmonics, another article.

 

SAND BAGS AND RESTS

Yea, said the shooter I bought this bag or that bag to place my rifle on at the bench and it works fine. So I query the shooter, so your rifle rests on the bag but how do you hold the stock of your gun still? Well, comes the answer, I put the butt firmly into my shoulder and shoot. My rifle shoots nearly one inch groups comes the further response. So I ask them to show me how they did that. Upon seeing the setup it is clear that the rifle is still moving as the shot is taken. Minor movement of course results in a combination of the shooter skill and the gun together. If you really want to see only what the rifles performance is then you must either take the shooter out of the equation or have a rifle that is already on target and all you have to do is pull the trigger. Shooters that listen to the logic of my recommendations have found greater accuracy inherent in the rifle they are shooting and more work on their part to keep the rifle steady.

Once the rifle is proven itself, If the shooter wants to change to a different shooting style such as prone or kneeling they can do that knowing the rifle is not the problem when accuracy issues arise.

Leather or fabric sand bags can do that when place forward on the stock, never on the barrel and rear under the butt of the rifle. Also the rifle should be high enough above the bench so the shooter can ease into shooting position without undo squirming. I raise the front rest up about 1.5 inches higher with a 2×6 piece of wood (cheap and dirty) or better yet I bought an adjustable front rest from Caldwell. See below. Other manufacturers make them but this Caldwell rock Jr is mine and costs about $35 bucks. I can adjust the rifle vertically just by spinning the black star like nut on the threaded shaft. The rear rest should be a bag type.

 

Or a shooting bag combo.

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TRIGGER PULL

Second problem is trigger pull weight. I own a digital scale and know the break point for my rifles. Poor grouping can also come from too heavy a trigger or a trigger that creeps unpredictably (replace or fix the trigger). Many rifles have a trigger pull of 5 plus pounds. This is too heavy, in my estimation. For Hunting it should be between 3 to 4.5 pounds. For target it can be less but needs a skilled shooter to handle a light trigger.

When shooting begins, all the shooter should be doing is squeezing the trigger once the cross hairs are on the bullseye. squeezing trigger evenly without jerking.

A while back I demonstrated a sub-moa rifle shooting a group of 3/4 inch was really a 1/4 minute of angle rifle with the right rests. For a target shooter that can mean the difference of winning a match verses placing in a match. For a long range shooter it can mean the difference of 7.5 inches at 1000 yards with a 3/4 group at 100 yards or  2.5 inches at 1000 with a 1/4 inch group sighted at 100 yards.

SCOPE-EYE ALIGNMENT

The next error comes in where the cheek touches the comb of the stock to align the eye into the sight or scope. Where there are so many scopes we will discuss scope picture.

It is best to raise the cheek so the eye is to be even with the scope. Some buy a device to raise the cheek. I believe it is not needed for normal hunting say out to 200 yards but will have value of LR shots.

At 100 yards a 3 x 9 scope for example should be all the way to 9x and the image of both the crosshairs and the image should be crystal clear. Some rifle scopes have parallax adjustments, please do not use this to focus the reticle or target. There should be another adjustment for target focus and another for crosshair focus for high power scopes. Or built into one adjustment for less magnification scopes. If you move your eye in the rear of the scope and the crosshairs shift around on you then you need to fine tune that movement with the parallax adjustment. Often they are marked like the Vortex brand. My Leupold scope has no parallax adjustment as it is pre-adjusted for say 100 yards. In addition, by keeping your eye centered in the scope where any outer shadow you see is centered then you also have minimized parallax and this is valuable for long range shooting.

BREATHING

If your are out of breath, or your heart is beating fast then wait on the shot till your composure is relaxed as if meditating and relaxing your core self a technique that helped me in Archery over many years. Once I am relaxed then I breath a few deep breaths and exhale half way and hold while I squeeze the shot off. At high magnification you can see your heart beat in the movement of your crosshairs if you are tightly connected to your rifle. Experts say shoot between heartbeats. Snipers teach the BRASS Method:Breath, Relax, Aim, Stop, Squeeze. It makes a lot of Sense…

An expert long range marksman also suggested letting your tongue hang loose in your mouth as you squeeze.

It is what you do at the Bench Rest that makes a difference what happens at a far away target.© 2014

 

 

 

 

Hunt Africa Now!

If you ever had a dream to hunt Africa now is the time! Airfare and Safari Hunt Packages are very stable at this time. A complete hunt with 6 animals including airfare and taxidermy of mounts for 2 people would be less than some western hunts for one animal.  It seems like only yesterday that I took my son Jason with me on Safari and wrote my e-book African Safari Rifle and Bow and Arrow.(click the link) the e-book is only $12.99, a bargain. Get a copy today!

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My dream was  to hunt plains game with my son and harvest animals like the Greater Kudu, Gemsbok/Oryx, Impala,Springbok, Blesbok, and Red Hartebeest. The timing of my Safari was in early August when days were warm and nights were cold. Every day was nearly the same with bright beautiful sunshine. The landscape of the hunt is very important to me. I did not want to be in heavy brush, I wanted to see Africa not be swallowed by it. I lucked out because we hunted the open bush-veld where we could often see nearly a mile in every direction. Below a spectacular View.

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Here a herd of Wildebeest cross our path heading far from us while on the Toyota Truck.

 

Typically we hunted with our Toyota Land Cruiser where we would do spot and stalk hunts or for Bow and Arrow we would use Hides near watering holes.

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Spot and stalk hunts were challenging as the game has been hunted and they knew what we were after. I was eager to take game with Bow and Arrow so some of my days were spent sitting in a grass blind called a hide. Game came in from all directions and it was never dull. From that Hide we saw every manner of game Blue Wildebeest, Gemsbok, Impala, Kudu, Red Hartebeest and Giant Eland. I depended 100% on my PH’s Andries Van Zyl and Joan-am for determining male from female and trophy from non trophy.

The e-book shares heart pounding Plains Game hunts by Jason and me, a Live Cheetah Capture, how we prepared for the Safari, equipment practice and clothing, rifle and bow accuracy, medical considerations, Taxidermy and so much more including a Safari Checklist. All of South Africa has hunting concessions that are fenced to control disease and predators. If the concession is 50 square miles, it is fenced or 5 square miles like mine. Game is monitored by a bevy of Veterinarians and meat is sold and or used/cooked  by the Safari Outfitter for hunters and guests. Nothing goes to waste!

Our hunt included all wild and domestic meals, beverages, wine and alcohol after Safari’s, washing of clothes, transportation.

Below is my Cape Kudu that made the SCI Record Books. Now that was a Hunt because a few hours earlier I took a fine Red Hartebeest with bow and arrow!

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Below I arrowed this fine Red Hartebeest, a one shot  kill! Further down is the Blind I was in and at far right of the window in the hide is just the top of the horns of this cautious beast.

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Sunset at this Watering hole is spectacular.

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Live Capture of the Cheetah below. The Vet prepares a drug dart.

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I had no gun! There in the spotlight in front of me was a real Cheetah! Just a camera in hand in the top of the Toyota fully exposed. If that Cheetah wanted a piece of me, it would have only taken a few seconds to close the distance.

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Luckily the Vet was a good aim with the dart gun! All went well, safe at last!

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A 150 yard shot at this Record Book Impala with my Ruger M77 338 Winchester Magnum with my own hand loaded 250 grain Nosler Partitions. Sweet! My PH Andries at left. I used some camo tape on my rifle barrel and it did not spook game.

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My e-book is full of these terrific photo’s and so many more! This could be you!

Live the hunt with me again and again with your own copy of African Safari Rifle and Bow and Arrow!

 

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved.

What does a Zel Custom Spartan 50 BMG look like?

Below is a Zel Custom Spartan bolt action 50 BMG from www.tactilite.com.  The Long range scope is a Vortex with mil-dot. I shot this puppy and it kicks more as it is lighter than some models. But it can shoot. The owner let me take a shot once he was on the bullseye. I missed the red center by 1/4 inch. Well, that is not really a miss, is it?  Is this affordable? For some it is not ridiculous to own but you have to have a place to shoot it to wring out its capabilities. At 100 yards this machine never got warmed up. I had a shoulder recoil pad with me for my .375 Ruger full power loads at Bench Rest. This is not a hunting firearm it is a Second Amendment Rifle and a long range target rifle if you can afford the ammo. I hope to shoot it more in the future.

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Are You Serious About Rifle Accuracy? Updated

If you are then you should be hand loading your ammo if you have the time. Let us assume you do have the time and you do reload and that your rifles, screw, and nuts are tight (better yet torqued) and that you have little in the way of temperamental barrel harmonics to throw your bullets off. Ok how do you know that your rifle doesn’t have any issues?  Purchase my African Safari e-book which details these issues in two chapters where I experienced rifle/ trigger/recoil problems and corrected them. I have owned only 2 rifles that had very minor barrel harmonic issues that I could not correct.  I just did not want to deal with those unpredictable variables as they would have become issues at very long ranges. Color them sold… Most folks that target shoot at long range are sticklers for details.

Choosing a bullet, a powder, a case, a primer and putting that together for an experienced hand loader is a straight forward task of trial and error, preferably less error. I won’t get into the specifics here but most occasional shooters are unaware of what goes into a custom cartridge that is mated to just one rifle and for a particular task. Take for example my .375 Ruger which can be loaded for Cape Buffalo or loaded down for Whitetail Deer or even Coyote. If you had to purchase over the counter ammo for it, there are no deer loads available at your retailer, you the shooter have to make them yourself. If you have a reloading press and components such as primers, powder and heads then you can just put them together as you need them thus you don’t have to be disappointed for months  waiting for your loads to make to a retail shelf.

reloading table

Purchasing components such the RCBS Rockchucker press above and powder, primers and bullet heads and Brass cases need to be stocked for your rifles so you don’t have to panic. In my case I did have to search for new cases this month as mine were getting old and shot many times. Last year I found that some of my bullet heads were in short supply so I stocked up a bit last year. Next I chose loads that were noted as best accuracy, not the hottest load per se. Next was to Chronograph them and average the groups, then choose a distance to zero them at say 100 or 200 yards. You can buy a chronograph for $120 dollars. Most shoot for group at 100 yards which is fine to establish  an accuracy benchmark in terms of MOA. For hunting, two inch groups at 100 yards is just fine as long as you stay within your capabilities and yardage out to say 200-300 yards. Beyond that you want a rifle that shoots tighter groups at 1 inch (Minute of Angle) but then the wind begins to dominate the accuracy issue. I expect today’s rifles to shoot MOA out of the box pretty much or after a little break in period.

A 10 mph wind across the shot at 200 yards will blow that bullet off course by say 3 inches, but at 500 yards the bullet can be blown as much as 12 inches off target. Right off the kill zone. How can you predict and account for that? It is easy to predict with a Ballistic Calculator but it takes training to account for the wind by using a wind meter and skill in doping the wind! Here are some wind hints:

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Use and become familiar with the JMB Ballistic Calculator in the header of this website. Click where it says trajectory and enter all the parameters you know. Here is a typical chart for a .270 Winchester and amply demonstrates superior Ballistics using the Nosler AccuBond in 130 grain. There is a drop down menu for known bullet selection data. Here it is sighted in at 200 yards but if sighted in at 255 yards the Maximum Point blank range would be essentially 300 yards if the vital zone radius was 4 inches. The energy needed to kill a deer is said to be 1000 ft-lbs but the bullet needs to be 1800 fps or faster to mushroom. Here 400 yards is the farthest that a killing shot is recommended provide you compensate for the 14.4 inches of 10 mph cross wind drift where there is a gentle breeze and small branches sway. You can wait for a wind lull to shoot or pass on the shot and get closer.

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Enter Bullet Manufacturer Type of Bullet, BC, Caliber, temperature, humidity, vital zone radius 3 for deer maybe 4 inches for Elk, the muzzle velocity averaged from your Chronograph shots. This is just the beginning of your learning curve. If you want to shoot say 600 to 1000 yards in competition then you need to pick up a copy of Applied Ballistics by Brian Litz. Brian has a ballistics program as well that is a CD as part of the book. I am an advanced novice and still learning. Go for it! © 2104

 

 

Big Game Scouting Northern New Hampshire and Reminiscing

I have always been infatuated with Northern New Hampshire because much of it is still remote it draws me like a bee to nectar. The smell of Balsam Fir is addictive. Moose wood is a treat too see as it only grows in Mountain regions. The spruce and fir bogs and varieties of lichen are akin to the dark forest prime-evil and can only be seen in the North woods. I give a full measure of thanks to the bygone era lumber companies that created thousands of miles of dirt roads that allow us access to New Hampshire wilderness. I grew up watching giant work horses pull logs from the forest at the age of 12 but by 16 years old the horses were gone.

On my way north, I stopped in at  Pemi-Valley where I am a member,  to sight in my two rifles at 200 yards. My 6 mm is fine in the open but depend on my .375 Ruger hand-loaded for brush  Having completed my shooting I continued north through Franconia Notch and said hello to my favorite spot “The Basin”.  A five minute walk worth every step.  I forgot my Katadine water purifier and missed the chance to get some cold NH water. Continuing north, I   spied a great hunting camp from a by gone era of the 1950’s and early 1960’s. The stone chimney was listing badly. I dream of better days but this place was maybe too fancy for me. A pot belly stove for heat and sleep in the bottom bunk is my ticket. As a kid I got the top bunk at 90 degrees F. But I loved it, by midnight it was down to 70 degrees. The bottom bunk was 32 degrees by morning but with a good sleeping bag you were just dandy. Outdoors it was a scant 6 degrees.My father and his hunting friends were terrific role models for me. Respectful of each other more or less, they kidded around and understood the passion for deer hunting and eating venison they caught themselves. Cribbage was an evening pass time when dishes were done and we could tell stories of the big one that got away. Ayuh! We stoked the potbelly stove and off to bed. Up at 3:30 or so came fast.

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The past few days in the North Woods I saw solid deer and Moose sign around Errol, NH. Spring was successful as I saw fawn tracks.  On Moose, there was a Mother and Calf in my area seen in tracks. No big bull tracks. You gotta do your own scouting my friend. What is clear is that if want a big buck then you must go deeper away from the normal hunting haunts. There is turkey sign too. I saw a small Sow Bear with tiny cubs cross a logging road. I had a camera but she was too fast. It will be a treat only I can enjoy as I have imprinted it mentally like a little movie. She stepped out on the road first and as she crossed she gave a head turn as if the coast was clear to follow momma and out came the tiny cubs scurrying to cross and keep up. I passed through Whitefield on rt 116 and Rt 2 and stopped for a minute at the local Gun store. They say sales are great! Retiring next year. Want a gun store?

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From a hunting rifle standpoint the furthest shot in the woods would not exceed 50 yards in widest openings but more normal would be less than 40 yards in brush. You don’t need a .270 for that! A .308 or 30:06 would be fine or a new lever gun in your favorite flat nose caliber like the 308 and .338 Marlin Express. Or if your a mind, a big Ruger like mine with hand-loads that you create. © 2014