Case Histories: 9.3x74R
- By Pete Moore
- 1 Comments
- Last updated: 24/11/2016
A great old thumper”... I quote our editor. My experience with this monumental cartridge is limited to a single day on the zero range at Bizzers almost 40 years ago – but I concur. The double rifle was a beautifully engraved Heym that, to my inexperienced eyes, looked like a posh 20 bore with sights and set triggers. I had never fired a double game rifle before and yes, it really DID thump on each of the five or six memorable shots. I kept one of the cases as a souvenir of the mildly bruising experience. Oh yes, we’re talking about the elegant, rimmed 9.3 x 74R.
Parental responsibility must go to the 9.3 x 72R (NOT the Sauer iteration), a rimmed, tapered-wall black powder number with a strangely profiled 193 grain RN pill that surfaced in Germany in the late 1870’s. The nitro 9.3 x 74R appeared around 1900 (accounts vary) with the case reshaped to a subtly necked and longer tapered profile that prevented accidental cross chambering. It was equipped with a 286 grain, .366” jacketed RN bullet…. or a 227 grain lead RN (accounts vary!). Whichever weight it was, the calibre was and is the defining number. There are very few cartridges that employ a bullet of .366” (9.3 mm).
The 9.3x74R is considered by many traditionalists as the quintessential boar calibre. However, if you hunt large game then you’re probably going to use the .375 H&H in preference as it ticks the modern boxes and is undoubtedly more widely accepted.
If we look at domestic use, I’m only aware of a couple of standing ‘Big Game’ 110 and 200 yard Classic events in the NRA Bible that would accept the 9.3 – but at least they do exist. Perhaps the best reason for owning this calibre is the opportunity to enjoy a piece of collectible design. There are new and classic used rifles to suit every pocket from under £750 to tens of thousands from makers including Blaser, Ruger, Merkel, Beretta, B Rizzini (there’s more than one Rizzini!), Krieghoff, Perugini & Visini, Marcel Thys (typically $20000+), Ernst Kerner, Heym, Garbi, Chapuis, Valmet and Bernardelli. Styles cover the spectrum, falling block and every lock imaginable, doubles, singles, hammer and hammerless. Factory ammo is listed by Hornady, A-Square, Nosler, Norma, RWS, Lapua and Sellier & Belliot.
ROLLING YOUR OWN
Not all the manuals refer to this classic… an admission that they do not offer tools or bullets to suit it. Hardly surprising really, as this not a cartridge that will ever be fired by the hundred. Speer offer words of wisdom, a 270 grain Spitzer SP and data for a limited range of powders. Other bullet makers who support the calibre are Barnes, Nosler, Hornady and Swift. FL dies sets are listed by RCBS, Redding and Hornady with a Neck set from RCBS. Brass is listed by RWS and you can obviously make your box of once fired cases last for quite some time. Performance really has to be tailored to the age and condition of the rifle, with no SAAMI data available to point the way. A safe working figure for most rifles would be around 2200 fps from the 270 grain Speer pill using 64 grains of IMR 4831. Speer quotes a reduced load for vintage rifles based on a faster, bulky IMR powder, SR 4759 that generates 1250 to 1550 fps. Seems too conservative to me!