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9.3x62

History

More than twenty different 9.3mm cartridges evolved during the period 1884 to 1928 however only a few survived. The 9.3x57 Mauser gained a small following but its popularity waned after 1905 after the release the more powerful 9.3x62 cartridge designed by Berlin Gun maker Otto Bock.

To understand just how the 9.3x62 became so popular, a brief outline of European expansion and its effects on hunting provides greater perspective. In early history, typical game hunted in Europe ranged from the small Roe deer through to Boar, Red Deer and up to Moose. As Europeans began to establish trade with the natives of Africa, smaller colonies of European peoples began to inhabit coastal Africa. The word Boer is Dutch for farmer and is a term used to describe a group of people, mostly Dutch but also including other nationalities, who adopted the nomadic farming lifestyle of the African people during the seventeenth century. While the Boers lived a quiet life, major European powers began to show increased interest in the Dark Continent.

In 1884 under request of Portugal, German chancellor Otto Von Bismark called together a conference of major western powers to negotiate the colonization and control of Africa. The Berlin conference of 1884-1885 is today referred to as the scramble for Africa. During the three month period of the conference, European powers divided the interior of the continent into proposed territories with no regard towards cultural boundaries.

 

Bartering, arguments and in the case of the English, war, continued after the conference. By 1914 Africa was fully divided into fifty countries. Although fourteen different countries initially sought control of lands, the new major powers of Africa included Britain, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy and Belgium.

 

By 1902, hunting cartridges of the colonists were mostly derived from the military weapons of each colonist’s individual nationality. The British had their .303 British, Italy had their 6.5, Germany the 8x57 Mauser while the Spanish and Boers had adopted the 7x57 Mauser cartridge. The British also had a range of black powder hunting cartridges. A major problem with all hunting cartridges in use throughout Africa was that ammunition for each could only be sourced from relevant nationalities. Along with this, the military cartridges fired rather small diameter full metal jacket bullets that were not particularly fast killing on such a wide range of game body weights.

 

In 1905 when Otto Bock released the 9.3x62 chambered in the inexpensive Mauser 98 rifle, a practical economical sporting cartridge was made available to colonists. As the 9.3x62 gained popularity, ammunition became available throughout the African continent. The 9.3x62 fired a wide but long for caliber 286 grain soft point projectile at a respectably high velocity of 2350fps. The 9.3x62 became an all round work horse for the common man, a meat hunting cartridge which could tackle both small and large animals.

 

1905 also saw the introduction of the 9.3x74 Rimmed cartridge. This German cartridge gave identical velocities to the 9.3x62 but was designed for more affluent sporting hunters, chambered in high class single or double-barreled break open rifles and drillings. The 9.3x74 gained a small following, mostly in Europe.

 

For the African colonist, the 9.3x62 remained a standard hunting cartridge for several decades. Two major factors influenced this catridges decline in popularity, the first involved Allied bombing raids which destroyed German munitions factories during the Second World War causing ammunition supply shortages for a long time thereafter. Along with this, the 9.3x62 had to compete with new cartridge designs. For a time, it seemed that the 9.3x62 would pass into obscurity but the demand for rifles and ammunition continued, based on both practical and nostalgic appeal.

 

In Europe the 9.3x62 maintained a following which remains steady to this day. European rifles of every major brand have at one time or another been chambered for the 9.3x62 while ammunition is produced by Norma, Sako, RWS and Prvi.

 

More recently there has been renewed interest in the 9.3x62. Whether for nostalgic or practical purposes, the 9.3x62 has gained new popularity worldwide. For many, the inexpensive Tikka rifle chambered in 9.3x62 has as an example, allowed hunters to experience medium bore performance.
 

 

9.3x74R

A short but note worthy mention. The 9.3x74R has a small but staunch following. Featuring a rimmed case, the 9.3x74 was designed to be used in break open rifles. The case is slightly narrower than the 9.3x62 but its length is (as the name suggests) 74mm long, resulting in slightly greater powder capacity. Due to the fact that the 9.3x74R was designed to operate at mild pressures in combination and double rifles, the 9.3x62 and 9.3x74R produce identical velocities. RWS currently offer six loads for the 9.3x74R while Norma offers five. Hornady also offer one load for the 9.3x74R featuring their 286 grain Interlock at 2370fps. Readers can use the information in this article to study and interpolate killing performance.
 

 

Performance

The 9.3x62 is very similar to the .35 Whelen Ackley Improved. The exact bullet diameters are 9.3mm or .366” versus 9.09mm or .358”. The .375 caliber is only a touch wider than the 9.3 bore at 9.5mm. The 9.3x62 has its shoulder 2mm (80 thou) further forwards than standard .30-06 length cartridges and is therefore more similar in capacity to the .35 Whelen AI than the standard .35 Whelen.

 

The 9.3x62 is a very able cartridge however in my experience it is often romanticized by gun writers to the detriment of end users. Having studied this bore diameter for many years and having also studied those who use it, I find that 9.3 shooters fall into three general categories.

 

  1. Hunters who need a suitable cartridge for larger bodied game. These hunters regularly hunt game such as Kudu, Blue Wildebeest, Elk, Moose or Brown bear. They use the 9.3 as a general hack (meant in a positive light). They may target heavy game but will be sure to place shots correctly. Some will also own big bores for dedicated heavy game hunting.
  2. Those who hope to one day hunt large animals but in reality will seldom shoot anything heavier than a White tail deer. This is a very common situation and also applies to many 9.3x64 and .375 H&H owners. There is nothing wrong with this, however U.S bullet makers have not accepted this reality and do not make suitable light game bullets.
  3. The dedicated bush / woods deer hunter looking for extra punch from a wider bore on lean game. This hunter does not want to tackle large animals but instead needs increased power to overcome shot placement error as naturally occurs when hunting in ‘the thick stuff’. Again, there are not a great many bullet options in this bore diameter for hunting lighter bodied deer. A plain and simple Interlock or Pro-hunter 250 grain round nose would handle both punch and penetration issues - if such a bullet existed. Those looking for bush power ‘wow’ will need to choose bullets carefully.

 

In plain terms, while the 9.3 is well served as a larger game hunting cartridge, most bullet makers have not faced the reality of how this cartridge is actually used by a very large number of hunters. It is in this way that we see some major differences between the .358 and 9.3 bores.

 

On light to mid weight game this cartridge does its best work when loaded with either a light 225-232 grain bullet of soft construction or a heavy round nose bullet, also of soft construction. Above 2200fps, we may at times witness hydrostatic shock (immediate loss of consciousness via nervous system shutdown) and we will see good mechanical and hydraulic wounding. Results can at times be described as spectacular. These two styles of bullet work well down to impact velocities of 1800fps. Unfortunately, these style and weight of bullet is not common in the 9.3 bore. Many hunters simply have no idea what this bore is truly capable of as a generic woods cartridge for deer.

 

If the hunter cannot obtain a bullet of soft construction for light game and can only, as an example, obtain a core bonded bullet, the key factors are velocity (2200fps or higher) and bullet frontal area. A good example of this can be found in the Woodleigh Weldcore round nose bullet which can be put to use on lean game at close to moderate ranges.

 

If a heavy bullet and stout bullet with a pointed tip is used on lean game, speed of killing is entirely dependent on shot placement. Shots that strike forwards into shoulder bones produce fast kills while shots that strike the rear lungs may allow game to run some distance. If the game species is of a tenacious nature or the terrain is very difficult with regards to tracking (including river crossings), game may be lost. Those with a vast experience in hunting and guiding will understand that there is a vast difference between a good broad internal wound leading to a good exit for blood trailing, versus a narrow wound and sporadic blood trails that stop and start every 50 to 100 yards, especially if shots strike between the lungs and liver. Fantasy versus reality.

 

The 9.3x62 comes into its own on mid to larger body weight game. Red deer, Sambar, Elk, Kudu and so forth. This bore also works well on the compact bodied wild pig through all of its genetic expressions. The velocity of the 9.3 is mild and the window of performance small (1800fps through to whatever muzzle velocity one obtains) yet results are good when used appropriately. On these animals, the heavy or stout 9.3 caliber bullets meet enough resistance to initiate expansion. Provided ranges are not pushed too far (below 1800fps), impact velocities are high enough to cause a reasonable level of both mechanical and hydraulic wounding.

 

On heavy game, stout 9.3 caliber bullets are fully capable of deep penetration but cannot be expected to generate immensely wide wounding. The impact velocities of the 9.3x62 are simply too mild to generate large wounds relative to the large organs of heavy game. But when used with care, the 9.3 can ‘get the job done’. Those who utilize head and neck shots will generally see the best results. There are at this time of writing a number of solid bullets for maximum penetration. These can be used for follow up shots or deliberate central nervous system (CNS) shots however I would again advise against any fantasy thinking. Unless the solid has been designed to produce hydraulic wounding via a truly flat tip (works best in larger bores) or concave tip (Woodleigh), wounding (width) will be severely limited. Recently I read some misleading advice in which hunters were told that to prevent a solid from glancing off ribs when taking frontal chest shots, the hunter must aim dead center at the brisket. Anyone with half an understanding of game should be aware that if a center brisket shot is taken with a solid, the bullet may easily pass between the lungs while also missing the heart, doing little to no internal damage. At best, the solid will poke a hole through the liver. Chest shooting heavy game with solids is no different to chest shooting medium game with FMJ military loads. A big game solid is not blessed with any magical qualities. If you wish to use round nose solids, use your common sense and aim for the CNS. There is simply too much fluffery surrounding this subject and often too many excuses for not using enough gun.

 

The 9.3x62 can certainly be called an all round work horse, but like any tool, it depends on how one uses it.

 

With regards to 9.3 caliber rifles the 9.3 is best served in a rifle with at least some heft (see also .35 Whelen for suggested muzzle diameters). The now very popular rifles from Tikka (and some Sako rifles) are a good example of a design that borders on the insane with a thin barrel, tiny forend and a ridiculously short magazine (a potential problem if using monolithic solids). If the rifle is to be scoped, it should have a relatively straight comb, a generous forend for offhand shooting and some meat to its barrel.

 

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Factory ammunition

Factory ammunition for the 9.3x62 is loaded by several companies but outside of Europe this ammunition can be difficult to obtain. Please note that while I have a great deal of experience with all but a few of the bullet designs listed ahead, my experience with factory ammunition (stated velocities) is in some cases limited and or reliant on peers.

 

RWS produce several loads for the 9.3x62. These include the 11.9 grams (184gr) Evolution Green at 2890fps, the 14.6 gram (225gr) DK at 2625fps, the 16 gram (247gr) KS also at 2625fps, the 16.2 gram (250gr) HIT bullet at 2460fps, the 18.8 gram (290gr) Evolution at 2395fps and finally the traditional 19 gram (293gr) UNI Classic at 2428fps. This last bullet is also commonly known as the TUG based on its original designation, Torpedo Universal Geschoss (Geschoss meaning projectile).

The Evolution-Green is much like the US made Dynamic Research Technologies (DRT) bullet, in this case utilizing tin for the frangible core. To allay fears of shallow penetration from “bullet blow up”, the Evo has a break way point much like the H-Mantel, enabling the rear core to achieve very deep penetration. This goes hand in hand with the traditional European demand for bullets that produce an exit wound. When interviewed about lead free bullets, a salesman for RWS clearly stated that solid copper bullets do not kill as well as lead bullets and also have a vastly reduced effective range. He then went on to say that the Evo- Green was the answer to this (this being before the release of their solid copper HIT bullet with magical powers).

In any case, the Evo Green does appear to be an effective number. But alas, I have yet to test it. The EVO Green is designed for light to mid weight game and ‘should’ be well suited to this task.

The 225 grain DK or Dual Core is advertised at a realistic 2625fps in 24” sporter barrels. This bullet, as its name suggests, has a front core of a softer lead alloy than its rear core. To separate the two, a copper cup serves to arrest penetration at the rear core. In lesser calibers this system does not always prove reliable but in the 9.3x62 the 225 grain DK is extremely uniform and reliable.

 

The 225 grain DK is a very useful all rounder in the 9.3x62 for game weighing up to 200kg (440lb). The DK produces ample penetration on raking and tail on shots as well as wide internal wounds. Nevertheless, it does not generally produce hydrostatic shock on deer from this muzzle velocity, especially with rear lung shots. This should not to be confused with hydraulic shock which this projectile produces in great abundance, creating broad internal wounds. But to ensure rapid killing, shots on medium game should be directed into the forwards portion of the chest. If meat saver shots are taken, animals may cover some ground before expiring.

 

RWS advertise their 247 grain KS or Cone Point at a velocity of 2625fps which is again generally achievable in sporting rifles. This projectile produces expansion in an identical manner to the DK but is designed to expend all of its energy inside game, utilizing a weaker construction balanced with increased bullet weight (and also therefore reduced velocity) to aid penetration. Unfortunately, the KS tends to be just as stout as the DK during initial impact (first half inch of penetration) and generally fails to produce hydrostatic shock on medium game at 9.3x62 velocities. It therefore does not really offer anything over the 225 grain bullet. This bullet is nevertheless effective on larger bodied deer and wild pigs.

 

The 250 grain HIT bullet comes on the back of RWS comments that homogenous copper bullets can produce slow kills due to high energy retention. Personally, I see nothing within this bullet design that changes this. In any case, this type of bullet design is effective on large game at close ranges. As with many generic copper bullets, expect delayed killing below 2400fps and a further decrease in performance below 2200fps. The key with such a bullet at this velocity is to get close and aim to break bone. When used this way, such bullets can be immensely effective.

 

The 290 grain Evolution (not to be confused with the Evolution Green) is a basic Core bonded bullet design. It has the hollow cap of the H-Mantel, under which sits a wide meplat. The jacket also features a cannelure to help prevent over expansion. This is a great bullet design but is perhaps better suited to higher velocities. From a muzzle velocity of 2400fps, this bullet is effective at close ranges but soon loses the ability to render wide wounds. Unfortunately this occurs with all core bonded bullets launched slowly, regardless of the bullet design. Still, this particular bullet utilizes a blunt nose as a means to maximize trauma. For those who wish to utilize the 9.3 on large animals, this is a very sound choice.

 

The heaviest of the RWS bullets is the old 293 grain TUG (UNI Classic) at around 2400fps. In the magnums, this is a frangible bullet. But in the 9.3x62, it tends to hold together well enough, offering a good balance of wounding versus penetration. The TUG is not suitable for heavy game and does its best work on large medium game. Further comments can be found in the hand loading text.

 

Current loads from Norma include the 14.9 gram (230gr) Ecostrike at 2640fps, the 15 gram (232gr) Vulkan at 2625fps, the 15 gram (232gr) Oryx also at 2625fps, a 15 gram (232gr) FMJ practice load at 2510fps, the 17.8 gram (275gr) dangerous game solid at 2450fps, the 18.5 gram (285gr) Alaska at 2362fps, the conventional 18.5 gram (285gr) Plastic Point at 2362fps, the 18.7 gram (285gr) Oryx at 2362fps, the 286 grain Swift A-Frame at 2362fps and finally the 21.1 gram (325gr) Oryx at 2200fps. Norma loads are generally close to advertised velocities however it is common to see velocities fall by around 70 to 75fps in sporting rifles.

 

The lightest load from Norma comes on the heels of ill-conceived European environmentalist policies. This bullet is a solid copper alternative to the Vulkan and Oryx bullets, styled after the TTSX. Norma have also attempted to enhance the velocity potential and BC of this bullet as much as possible, knowing just how slow killing a low velocity homogenous copper bullet can be at low impact velocities. I have not tested this bullet and doubt that I ever will.

 

The Norma Vulkan is an excellent bullet for those who wish to hunt light to mid weight game species. The Vulkan can be used to great effect out to ranges of around 270 to 300 yards. This projectile is simply a fast killing, humane bullet. Sadly, many hunters complain about this bullet, accusing it of ‘blowing up’. The irony is, were they shooting a .270 caliber rifle and 130 grain bullets, a high degree of bullet weight loss might be seen as normal. But in the 9.3 caliber, hunters often have unrealistic expectations. The net result of this is that when the Vulkan performs well and as it should, folk sometimes complain.

 

The 232 grain Oryx is rather well designed, relative to the balance of bullet weight (velocity) versus the malleability of the bullet. The Oryx itself is a fairly tough bullet design and low velocities can greatly inhibit its performance. The lighter weight nature of this particular load increases wounding potential and makes it somewhat more forgiving of shot placement when snap shooting at woods ranges. The 232 grain Oryx is ideally suited to large bodied deer (or Antelope) and pigs out to moderate ranges of around 150 yards.

 

The Norma monolithic DG solid is a basic solid bullet for those who need such for CNS shooting of heavy game. There is little more that one can say about this. The 285 grain Plastic Point is a conventional bullet design not too unlike Hornady’s ELD-X, featuring a wide hollow point under the plastic tip. This bullet has a relatively wide meplat which is a major advantage when using heavy bullets in 9.3x62 on a wide range of game. If my memory stands, this was the precursor to the Vulkan bullet. This projectile is suitable for large but not dangerous animals. The premise behind this design is sound, an attempt to offer both rapid expansion via the meplat engineering combined with deep penetration as a result of bullet weight and SD. Impact velocities when using this load are always low so there is only so much one can expect, but for those who want a heavy yet soft load, this is a good option with the ability to shed weight down to impact velocities of around 1800fps or 270 yards. Weight loss is generally around 50% on large framed game, much as with other conventional style bullets. The Plastic point is not nearly as common as it once was but is certainly interesting to experiment with, if and when it can be obtained.

 

The Norma Alaska is a very basic round nose design, much like the Sierra Prohunter. Those who have experience with a round nose Prohunter will understand just how effective such a bullet can be. This bullet can make for a general all round bullet but it does have some limitations. The round nose helps initiate trauma on lean game which helps to limit the length of dead runs. On large bodied deer, the high sectional density of this bullet enables adequate penetration. This design may seem a bit plain by today’s standards but a simple round nose cup and core bullet can prove to be very effective. The Alaska was originally designed for Moose and has been used successfully by many hunters spanning many years.

 

The 285 grain Oryx, 286 grain A-Frame and 325 grain Oryx are each designed to be used on heavy weight game. Readers are urged to keep in mind that velocities with each of these loads are relatively slow. Many past gun writers have called 2400fps the ‘magic number’ for good bullet performance but without any clear definitions. Please understand that while 2400fps is a good muzzle velocity to ensure adequate penetration (low stress to the bullet on impact), this tells us nothing about the width of wounding. Put simply, a tough core bonded bullet driven slowly can only deliver mild wounds of around 1.5” in diameter. This level of wounding may sound fine for those who are used to hunting deer, but on a very large animal, this level of wounding is somewhat mild, relatively speaking. The Oryx and Swift bullets can nevertheless achieve optimum results relative to the cartridge velocity limitations. These bullets can be put to good use on game weighing up to and over 600kg (1300lb) but are not in any way magical. At 9.3x62 velocities, they simply get the job done.

 

Occasionally, one may come across ammunition produced by Prvi. The Prvi loads are generally very cheap and are often utilized by 9.3x62 owners as an all round load or as a cheap source of brass.The Prvi 9.3x62 285 grain round nose load is rated at 2263fps for realistic velocities of 2150 to 2170fps. The Prvi load is certainly mild but with its blunt nose and very soft core, it tends to produce adequate expansion, trauma and penetration on a wide range of medium game. This load is best used at closer ranges, breaking 1800fps at 170 to 200 yards. The round nose profile aids trauma but at such low velocities there is only so much that this bullet can do and rear lung shots on lean game can produce delayed kills. The key (as with most 9.3 loads) is to keep shots well forwards. This bullet really comes into its own on larger bodied deer and pigs. The Prvi bullet is unfortunately too soft for use on heavy game and can at times shed its core. It can however be relied on if used to take head or neck shots on relatively large animals (e.g. wild cattle). In some ways, although this is a budget load of basic construction, it has an advantage over others in that it is not designed to tackle imaginary game. Instead, it has the soft construction needed should it meet only light resistance, yet a relatively high SD to aid penetration on large bodied deer.

 

The Finnish Company Lapua have a small range of centrerfire hunting ammunition and components. Among this line Lapua produce two loads for the 9.3x62, the 270 grain Naturalis at 2395fps and the 285 grain Mega at 2260fps. The 285 grain Mega is a conventional soft point but features an extremely stout jacket double cannelure to limit expansion. On lean game, the Lapua Mega can prove too tough, giving slow kills, especially with rear lung shots. This bullet does its best work on heavy animals weighing around 300 to 400kg (roughly 700 to 900lb) and heavier. This level of resistance forces the Mega to fully expand. Impact velocities are also a key factor and for best results, the Mega should really only be used at close to moderate ranges. The Naturalis is fashioned after the Barnes X though does not give identical performance. The Naturalis is more prone to petal loss during penetration but does retain the base or beginning of each petal as well as a fully stabilized shoulder area for extremely deep penetration.

 

Hornady also produce a load for the 9.3x62, featuring their 286 grain Spire point at 2360fps for true velocities of around 2300fps. I have never been too impressed with this bullet, knowing just what Hornady are actually able to achieve when they set their mind to a task. In this case, the 9.3 pill is a generic soft point featuring a small protected point meplat, akin to the Remington Core-Lokt design. The Hornady bullet has a generous BC of .410 and it stays above 1800fps for a good 280 yards but it lacks the wow factor that a good Hornady design is capable of. Instead, this bullet simply fills a gap in their bullet line. It works acceptably well on medium game and is at its best when shots are kept well forwards. Otherwise, wounding appears much the same as any other high SD Interlock bullet from .30 cal upwards.

 

There are several other factory loads that I have yet to test such as those furnished by Sako and PMP, suffice to say that the 9.3x62 is well supported. But still, I find this caliber is not as well represented as it could be with a great deal of overlaps.
 

 

Hand loading

Brass for the 9.3x62 is at this time of writing generally readily and widely available. U.S hunters may wish to make use of Hornady brass (or factory ammo) as this is both tough, yet with a generous case capacity. Privi tends to be acceptable as a source of brass but is not as tough as Hornady, for those who like it hot. Brass can be formed from .30-06 cases however the 9.3x62 case design is slightly wider at the case head (.007” / .18mm) and will cause some bulging of .30-06 brass with a risk of case head separation if using thin walled brass. This should therefore be considered more of a last ditch, zombie apocalypse option.

The 9.3x62 produces optimum results with lighter weight bullets when loaded with fast burning powders, powders such as H4895 (ADI 2206H). Medium burn rate powders such as IMR 4064 or Varget (ADI 2208) are optimal for heavy 285/286 grain bullets. Typical potential velocities from a 24” barreled 9.3x62 include 2650-2700fps with 225-232 grain bullets, 2550-2650fps with 247, 250 and 258 grain bullets, 2400 to 2500fps with 270 to 286 grain bullets and 2300 to 2400fps with 293 to 300 grain bullets. The 9.3x62 loses around 25fps for each inch of barrel removed. Personally, I am a great believer in striving towards high velocities in the medium bores, provided this can be achieved safely and with good temperature stability.

 

Currently, Hornady produce two projectiles in the 9.3 caliber, consisting of the basic 286 grain Interlock projectile and 300 grain Dangerous Game Solid. My own feeling is that the Interlock bullet was made simply to fill a gap in the Hornady line up. This particular bullet is a bit ho-hum. Its jacket is fairly soft yet its meplat (tip) area is too narrow to make it anything near spectacular on light game. By the same token, its soft nature makes it less than ideal as a heavy game bullet. Instead it simply obtains modest results, much as with any of the heavy weight or heavy for caliber pointed Interlock bullets. This projectile is adequate for Red to Elk sized deer at close to moderate ranges (1800fps) and handles shots from most angles bar tail on. If using this bullet on lean game, shots must be kept well forwards.

 

The 300 grain Hornady DGS is as its name suggests, designed for hunting dangerous game. The DGS features a copper clad steel jacket to prevent deformation during penetration. It can be used either in conjunction with or as a back-up to an expanding bullet or as a stand alone hunting bullet. Used on its own, shots should be placed to strike the CNS including the brain, axis or the spine (neck area).

 

Hornady would do hunters a great service if they could at some point in time find it in their hearts to produce a 225 grain SST or ELD-X along with a 250 grain round nose bullet, much like the 250 grain .358 bullet which was sadly withdrawn during the Obama bullet shortage era. This would enhance the versatility of the 9.3 for the many hunters targeting light to mid weight game.

Speer produce just the one bullet for 9.3 users, the 270 grain semi spitzer Hotcor. The 270 grain Hotcor has been a popular bullet for many years, simply due to cost and availability, particularly prior to the release of the Interlock bullet. The Hotcor has light core bonding which hinders its performance on light game (rear lung shots) yet many hunters use the Hotcor as their all round load, paying close attention to shot placement and never feeling the need to complain. This bullet really comes into its own on larger bodied game and while it does shed around 50% weight when used in this manner, the Hotcor can produce relatively wide wounds. On heavy game, the Hotcor can be prone to excessive weight loss or at low velocities and under heavy resistance - over expansion. Some have complained bitterly about this performance yet in most instances the Hotcor has done its job and complaints only come after the fact. Hunters must understand that in order to cause wounding, the bullet must impart its energy in some way. The closer we get to 100% weight retention, the more we risk narrow wounding. This is especially so in the absence of high velocity disproportionate to caliber wounding via hydraulic forces. Once the physics of this are fully understood, one can see how some weight loss can be very useful, again and especially at low impact velocities.

The Speer bullet reaches its upper limit when heavy round (bovine sized) bone is encountered. This can at times cause bullet arrest. Please take note that the age of the bullet also affects results. Bullets (of any brand) that have sat for many years can prove altogether too soft and should only be used for practice (or on lean game). These limitations aside, the Speer is generally an able performer and well suited to game weighing up to and around 400kg (880lb). This projectile gives best results at impact velocities of 2200fps and higher but can with care be used to impact velocities of 1800fps.

Sierra unfortunately do not produce any projectiles in 9.3 caliber. The only reason I have mentioned them here, is that it would be nice if they could develop a 225 grain Gameking and or a 250 to 270 grain round nose Prohunter, both to maximize the versatility of this able caliber.

 

Nosler offer three 9.3 caliber projectiles which include the 250 grain Accubond, 286 grain Partition and the 286 grain solid. The 250 grain Accubond can be an immensely effective bullet but it can also display major limitations. On game weighing between 90 and 320kg (200-700lb), the Accubond can be devastating. But as it sheds velocity and falls below 2200fps, its core bonding (heavier than the Speer) can prevent it from producing wide wounds. On the other hand, the Accubond is not so tough as to be a stellar performer on heavy game and is nearly always produced in light weights with poor sectional densities which greatly limits penetration. Both the 9.3 and .375 caliber Accubond bullets need to be treated with great caution. Both should be considered ‘large medium game’ bullets, ideally suited to game weighing between 90kg or 200lb (as a means to some offer resistance) and 320kg or 700lb (as a limit to prevent loss of sectional density from inhibiting penetration). Used this way, the Accubond can perform very well. But as velocity falls away, the Accubond runs into further problems. As suggested, the nature of the Accubond changes as it loses velocity. Above 2200fps, the Accubond can be quite effective on light or lean game. Below 2200fps, the Accubond can cleave to its energy and it is here that some body weight resistance is a must. Below 1800fps, all bets are off. Hopefully the reader can understand the complexities of this bullet design at these velocities. I can receive two emails in the one day, one hunter raving about the performance of the Accubond on a Sambar hunt while another hunter worried that his Moose would never fall.

The 286 grain Nosler Partition is a generally reliable bullet. This projectile has a narrow meplat and is not well suited to light framed game, sometimes producing delayed kills with rear lung shots. It can nevertheless be used on light game provided shots are kept forwards to maximize target resistance. Under these conditions, this and the many other heavy weight 9.3 pills can perform very well. The Partition really comes into its own on large bodied game, allowing it to render a relatively wide wound. Penetration is fair but not earth shattering. On heavy game, this projectile works well at 9.3x62 velocities through its balance of frontal core weight loss (imparting energy as a means to generate wounding) versus retention of the rear core for adequate penetration. The magnums can place the Partition under immense pressure but in the 62mm case, performance is generally very good, the Partition producing a good balance of wounding versus fair penetration down to impact velocities of 1800fps.

Noslers solid copper bullet is just that, featuring a flat point to aid stability during penetration. This is a very basic solid projectile design for those who wish to take CNS shots on heavy game.

Swift have for some time now furnished both 250 grain and 300 grain A-Frame bullets. These are hard core penetrators. The design is essentially the same as the Nosler Partition but with core bonding. The Swift is therefore a very deep penetrating bullet, though it can cleave to some of its energy when used at low velocities if it does not meet enough target resistance. The Swift A-Frame bullets are best suited to large bodied game but like all 9.3 caliber bullets, their weight and tough core do not automatically make them death ray bullets. The 9.3x62 bore is simply too mild for this. Nevertheless, the Swift bullets help to maximize the performance of this cartridge on large bodied game. Put simply, if you do not like the performance of this bullet on large and heavy bodied game, then you need to move to a heavier caliber. It does not get any simpler than that.

Barnes currently list five projectiles including 250 grain Tipped TSX, the 250 grain TSX, the 286 grain TSX along with the 250 and 286 grain Banded Solids. Both of the 250 grain bullets can prove to be emphatic killers at close to moderate ranges when used on large bodied game. Personally speaking, I much prefer to use these when driven at magnum velocities, however there is some merit to their use in the milder 62 case. Provided ranges are kept short for the sake of velocity, it is possible to obtain very wide wounding with either bullet and by all accounts, this wounding can continue to a very deep level which by my own assessment occurs as a result of high retained velocity (and sectional density) during penetration. One simply has to get close and aim to break bone to get the best out of these projectiles. Both bullets hit their limit when either pushed too far (performance wanes below 2200fps) or when used on lean game with rear lung shots. I see no great need for the 286 grain bullet in homogenous styling. Readers must understand that the heavier bullet does not offer any further frontal area, only increased penetration. Yet the 250 grain bullets produce more than enough penetration when taking body shots on heavy game. A larger problem is the decreased velocity when using this bullet weight, leading to decreased wounding (decreased hydraulic forces). Remember - the higher the weight retention, the greater the potential energy retention in the absence of velocity.

As suggested, Barnes also produces round nosed solid projectiles in both 250 and 286 grains. For my part, if using a solid, I much prefer something with a blunt meplat for increased trauma as per the latest from Woodleigh which are similar to a Keith style wadcutter but with a concave meplat. Having said this, I generally prefer an expanding bullet over a solid as I have no interest in hunting pachyderms. Those who wish to learn more about solid bullet wounding are referred to my article - The effect of the meplat on terminal performance.

RWS reloading component bullets include the 11.9 grams (184gr) Evolution Green (powder metal frangible), 14.6 gram (225gr) DK (similar to the Nosler Partition, also called Twin or Dual core), the 16 gram (247gr) KS (conventional soft point, also known as Cone Point), the 16.7 gram (258GR) H-Mantel (frangible front core breaks away exposing full solid rear), the 18.8 gram (290gr) Evolution (core bonded) and the 19 gram (293gr) UNI Classic (conventional with stouter rear core but to be considered frangible.

Each of these have been covered in the factory ammunition section so I will say little more here other than to address major points. I have spent a great deal of time hunting with and testing the RWS projectiles and the three that stand out in my mind are the 225 grain DK, the 258 grain H-Mantel and the 293 grain UNI (TUG). The DK stands out due to its lighter weight, allowing the 9.3 user to experience the joys of high velocity. This bullet hits hard and holds together well. The DK is not as effective on light framed game as the Vulkan, but it gets the job done and if shots are kept forwards, wounds can be quite spectacular. The DK really comes into its own on Boar or Red and Mule sized deer.

The 258 grain H-Mantel is a very unique design and it often feels like two bullets in one. The first is extremely violent (explosive front core), the second quite the opposite, focused solely on penetration (solid rear core). This design does however have its limitations and the two behaviors can be quite extreme. The behavior of the front core can be explosive but shallow, followed by deep yet narrow wounding. On larger bodied deer, the H-Mantel can be a spectacular performer but on heavy game, the extremes can prove to be too much. Still, this is a very interesting and unique bullet to work with, proving immensely effective when appropriately matched to game.

The TUG is almost humorous to behold, it looks as though it came from the old TV series Thunderbirds. This bullet comes with the usual sales blurb about the ideal balance of wounding versus a stouter rear core material to aid penetration but sales talk aside, this is a frangible bullet. At 9.3x62 velocities, the TUG holds together well enough. At magnum velocities, it behaves like a V-Max. One could easily miss the point here and complain about how a heavy 9.3 caliber bullet should hold together for deep penetration but what about the guy without a chronograph whose rifle is only chugging along at 2100fps with impact velocities of 1700 to 1800fps. This bullet harkens back to days of old when velocities were low and a bullet had to really open up in order to create a broad wound (see Game Killing section). Much of this understanding has been lost today and what folk want versus what they actually need can be two entirely different things. In plain terms, the TUG is a conventional bullet that sheds a great deal of weight. This might not be useful on immensely heavy game but can be very useful on lesser animals among those who want to see energy dumped in the animal, not three miles away.

Norma bullets available for reloading include the 15 gram (232gr) Vulkan bullet (conventional), the 15 gram (232gr) Oryx (core bonded), the 18.5 gram (285gr) Alaska (conventional, similar to Sierra Prohunter), the 18.7 gram (285gr) Oryx (core bonded) and the 325 grain Oryx (core bonded). Again, due to the fact that these were covered in the factory ammunition section, I do not wish to repeat the same information here aside from reiterating major points.

The Norma Vulkan is simply a great bullet for hunting lighter medium game, a subject which is often neglected in this bore diameter. The Vulkan really comes into its own when hunting light to mid weight deer and pigs in steep and thick bush terrain where snap shots may have to be taken and where shot placement may be less than ideal. Under these conditions, a bullet which cannot generate immense trauma and an immediate and non-recoverable loss of consciousness may allow game to escape to considerable distances. In New Zealand, if game run, blood trails can be lost after animals cross scrub choked water ways or animals can be lost after falling into vine entangled ravines. The Vulcan simply excels in this role and often with spectacular results. This bullet can also be run side by side (dual loading) with the tougher 232 grain Oryx for larger bodied game.

The Oryx bullet design is not unlike other core bonded designs. It produces maximum trauma at impact velocities over 2600fps, moderate wounding down to 2400fps and displays reduced trauma at impact velocities below 2200fps. The Oryx needs a great deal of body weight resistance. The Oryx is quite simply a very capable large game bullet. But for best results, ranges should be kept short and the hunter should aim to break bone.

Woodlleigh core bonded bullets in 9.3 caliber include the 232 grain Weld core (Protected Point), the 250 grain Welcore (both RN and PP options), the 286 grain Weldore (RN and PP options), the 320 grain Weldcore (RN and PP options) along with their traditional 320 grain Solid. Woodleigh now also offer their Hydrostatically stabilized solids is 232 and 286 grains, similar to a Keith style wadcutter but with a concave meplat for enhanced trauma production.

Of the Woodleigh designs, I have a major preference for the round bullets due to the fact that these tend to produce increased trauma and shorter dead runs on lean game in the absence of high velocity without any decrease in performance on heavy game. The Woodleigh round nose produces ample penetration on large game but for those who want an even tougher bullet, the protected point (and solids) offer maximum penetration.
 

Closing comments

The 9.3x62 is a versatile workhorse but is often surrounded by far too much fantasy and hype. While some put it to good use on larger bodied game where it excels, there are many hunters who look to such cartridges for hunting light to mid weight deer species at bush / woods ranges where snap shots have to be taken. This cartridge could do with a great deal more support from bullet makers to increase its performance when hunting these body weights as has been given to the .35 Whelen. The 9.3x62 could then be called a spectacular killer on a very wide range of game and a fair performer on heavy game with select shot placement.
 

Suggested loads: 9.3x62

Barrel length: 24”

No

ID

 

Sectional Density

Ballistic Coefficient

Observed MV Fps

ME
Ft-lb’s

1

FL

Norma 232gr Vulcan

.247

.278

2575

3415

2

FL

Norma 285gr Alaska / Plastic Point

.304

.365

2300

3359

3

HL

232gr Vulcan / Woodleigh / Oryx (Traj. also OK for 225gr DK)

.247

.278

2650

3617

4

HL

250gr Woodleigh RN

(Stock code 47A)

.267

.281

2550

3609

5

HL

286gr Partition (Traj. Also OK for Interlock, Woodleigh PP and Speer)

.305

.482

2400

3657

 

Suggested sight settings and bullet paths 

 

 

 

1

Yards

100

212

246

275

300

 

 

Bt. path

+3

0

-3

-6.5

-10.3

 

2

Yards

100

194

227

250

275

300

 

Bt. path

+3

0

-3

-5.8

-9.5

-13.9

3

Yards

100

219

254

275

300

 

 

Bt. path

+3

0

-3

-5.5

-8.9

 

4

Yards

100

210

242

275

300

 

 

Bt. path

+3

0

-3

-7

-10.9

 

5

Yards

100

209

244

275

300

 

 

Bt. path

+3

0

-3

6.5

-10

 

 

Sight height 1.6” (Scope).

No

At yards

10mphXwind

Velocity

Ft-lb’s

1

300

13.8

1721

1526

2

250

8

1772

1994

3

300

13.2

1780

1632

4

250

9.7

1812

1822

5

300

8.1

1904

2301

 

Note: Please pay attention to 1800fps velocity cut off points!

9p3x62 final

9.3x62

Imperial

Metric

A

.471

11.95

B

.470

11.94

C

17 deg

 

D

.451

11.46

E

.390

9.9

F

2.039

51.8

G

.402

10.21

H

2.441

62

Max Case

2.441

62

Trim length

2.439

61.7


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