.300 H&H Magnum


    Known at various times as the .300 H&H Magnum, .30 Belted Rimless Magnum or Holland’s Super 30, the .300 H&H Mag. was brought out by Holland and Holland in 1925 and was at one time one of the most popular cartridges with hunters who were looking for a long range big game round. It has been eclipsed over the last 40 years by the 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 Weatherby Magnum and the new crop of short magnums brought out by Remington and Winchester but it still is a very effective cartridge and ammunition is readily available. Its only drawback, if it can be called that, is that it normally requires the use of a magnum length action. Most of the early rifles chambered in .300 H&H Magnum that weren’t made by Holland and Holland were custom made on Magnum Mauser actions by firms such as Griffin & Howe, making for a very expensive proposition. That was probably why it wasn’t often seen among rank and file hunters in the U.S. until Winchester introduced it in their famous Model 70 in 1937, although Western Cartridge Company began offering .300 H&H Magnum ammunition in 1925. It was a good long range target cartridge in its day and a 1917 Enfield rifle Griffin & Howe built for Mr. Ben Comfort in .300 H&H Magnum was used by him to win the 1,000 yard Wimbledon Cup in 1935. Once American hunters had a chance to try it, they never looked back. Although the .300 H&H Magnum isn’t the first belted cartridge it became popular enough that most magnum cartridges designed since then have belts on them, whether they are necessary or not. The belt on the .300 H&H Magnum is actually used to control headspace because the long sloping shoulders of the cartridge, while making it feed and extract very smoothly, could make it difficult to establish consistent headspace. It’s the same design philosophy used with the .375 H&H Magnum which predates the .300 H&H by 13 years and although many gun cranks rail against belts on cartridges, it does get the job done.

    My favorite .300 H&H rifle is a pre-64 Model 70 that I bought many years ago from the San Francisco Gun Exchange, one of the finest gunshops I have ever visited which is now alas, no more. It was part of a large collection of guns that were left by a deceased gun collector to his widow and was, like most of the old gent’s guns, unfired and new in the box. I had to pay top dollar for it but being an ardent Model 70 fan, I just couldn’t pass it up. Like most old rifles that haven’t seen the light of day for 35 years or so, all of the lubricants and preservatives had dried to a hard varnish that took quite a while for me to remove. The walnut stock had shrunk so much that the guard screws were bent slightly, putting tension on the action and making it very difficult to work the bolt. To make everything work properly, I had to relieve several areas around the action just enough so that it was easy to put it all back together. I’m sure most Winchester collectors will cringe at what I just described but I am the kind of person that likes to use his guns and if they can’t shoot, I don’t have a place for them in my house. Needless to say, my rifle is still a work in progress but that is what makes shooting fun for me so I have no complaints.

    There is quite a bit of literature available for anyone interested in owning a .300 H&H Magnum rifle and there are still quite a few used guns on the market. Remington chambered the Model 721 in .300 H&H Magnum along with a limited run of Model 700 Classics and they are probably the two most commonly seen. Browning also chambered rifles for the .300 H&H Mag. along with many British gunmakers. I currently have a Remington Model 721 in .300 H&H Mag. that is a fine shooter and as much as it pains me to say this, it is in some respects a better rifle than my pre-64 Model 70. That being said, I still love my Model 70 although as I mentioned earlier, it is still a work in progress. If you’re interested in handloading, Ken Waters wrote a couple of Pet Loads articles for Handloader magazine on the .300 H&H Magnum and both are highly recommended. My copy of Ken Waters’ Pet Loads vol. I and II has both articles so if you don’t have one of the original copies of Handloader with the articles in it, try looking for it there. I must admit that I sometimes feel a bit of jealousy whenever I read his later Pet Loads article on the .300 H&H Magnum because he describes the gift he received of a best quality, Holland and Holland magazine rifle a good friend of his ordered for him, which gave him the excuse to test the rifle and cartridge for a second time. Now if only I could find friends like that! As for used guns, many of the rifles originally chambered in .300 H&H Magnum have been rechambered to one of the newer magnums so it pays to take a close look before buying.

    Although magnum cartridges based on the .404 Jeffery case (i.e. Dakota’s proprietary offerings and Remington’s Ultramag series) or Remington and Winchester’s short magnums are all the rage today, I still have a place in my heart for the .300 H&H Magnum. The newer cartridges may theoretically have more potential accuracy but I still like the .300 H&H. There must be enough shooters and hunters that feel the same way I do since Sturm, Ruger and Co., in partnership with Lipsey’s, recently decided to offer their No. 1 single shot rifle as a limited production item in .300 H&H Magnum as the Craig Boddington Kudu. Winchester, Remington and Kynoch still offer ammunition and brass is available for those inclined to load their own ammo. There are a variety of suitable .30 caliber bullets available to the handloader with my personal preference being for those weighing between 180 to 200 grains. In my opinion, there isn’t much point in loading the lighter bullets unless you are going to take long shots at thin skinned game such as antelope or the coastal deer of California. The heavier bullets have much better ballistic coefficients which helps them retain more energy downrange and their higher sectional density allows them to penetrate much better than their lighter counterparts. If I were to hunt California coastal deer or antelope, I’d consider using a lighter gun like a .25-06 Remington or a .257 Roberts anyway. Both cartridges are flat shooting and accurate with the added bonus of having significantly less recoil. Of course, if your only gun happens to be a 300 H&H Magnum, load whatever ammunition is appropriate for the game available and have at it.

    I must admit that as much as I like the .300 H&H Magnum, I can see why firearms manufacturers don’t currently offer rifles chambered for it. In today’s speed crazed world where velocity seems to be the great selling point, the demand for the .300 H&H Mag. would be anemic, to say the least. I think that if the average shooter had the chance to try it out though, they would find it to be a reliable killer of game that doesn’t have the excessive muzzle blast or recoil of many of today’s magnum cartridges. Granted, the newer magnums have less drop at long ranges but how many shooters can reliably hit game past 300 yards? The rifle range I go to once had a steel gong that was about 8 to 10 inches in diameter set up at 300 yards and to the naked eye, it looked like it was about the size of a dot created by a No. 2 pencil on a sheet of paper. I’ve known several shooters and hunters over the years that could hit it consistently but they were a select group of people, more often than not military or law enforcement snipers, with the balance being competitive riflemen. I’ve seen far more people at the range that could barely keep their shots on the black at 100 yards with some not even able to do that. It seems inconceivable with today’s rifles and modern optics that such poor marksmanship would exist but it does. So as much as I like the .300 H&H, I can’t really hold it against gun companies for not offering it. After all, we are not living in a communist country yet and it is the goal of a business to make money. If that means offering the gun buying public the latest hot rod offering, then more power to them. If you’re the kind of shooter or hunter that can accurately and reliably place your shots with them, there is no reason not to use them. It takes a lot of practice to learn how to use a powerful rifle though and in my personal experience, not many shooters can invest the time and effort it takes to become proficient with heavy kicking rifles. 

    As the .300 H&H Magnum approaches its 100th birthday, I can’t help but feel a bit of nostalgia every time I handle or shoot my rifles that are chambered for it. Although most shooters would turn their noses up at it, I think it would be a good alternative for anyone interested in owning a .30 caliber magnum. Any rifles chambered for it are most likely older, used guns but considering the cost of new rifles, they are bargains. I only paid about $350.00 for my Model 721 about 10 years ago and it came with a Weaver K4 scope in Buehler mounts. Aside from a recoil pad that had become rock hard over the years, the rifle was and still is in fine shape. The .300 H&H Magnum isn’t as powerful as a .300 Weatherby Magnum or .300 Remington Ultra Mag. but it certainly is a lot more fun to shoot. It will also get the job done as well as anything else in its class, assuming that good bullets such as the Nosler Partition, Swift Scirocco or Barnes TSX are used. Unless you know you can place your shots consistently well at longer ranges, I can’t see how a hunter using a .300 H&H Magnum would be at much of a disadvantage in most situations. Quite frankly, at least from my viewpoint, if I needed more power I would step up to either an 8mm Remington Magnum or .340 Weatherby Magnum. The 8mm Remington Magnum was favored by Col. Charles Askins, Jr. and is still used by General Craig Boddington. The .340 Weatherby Magnum is one of well known gun writer Ross Seyfried’s favorite cartridges. Both are excellent choices for large game and will kill just about any animal you can hit with them. Whatever you decide to use, don’t pass up an opportunity to try out the .300 H&H Magnum. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. -- John Swikart


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