9.3×62: The Germans’ .338

Normally, I don’t write about cartridges with which I haven’t hunted, and while I’ve shot this one, I’ve never put … Continued

Normally, I don’t write about cartridges with which I haven’t hunted, and while I’ve shot this one, I’ve never put anything on the ground with it. Nonetheless, its credentials go beyond gilt-edged (Finn Aagaard was a huge fan; what more do you want?) so I think I’m on safe ground.

The 9.3×62 was invented by a Berlin gunmaker named Otto Bock in 1905, and came to life because at that time there was a major German colonial presence in Africa. Deutschland uber Alles could be heard in Tanganyika, Ruanda-Urundi, Cameroon, German West Africa, German Southwest Africa, Togoland, and a few others too obscure to mention. Frugal Teutons (and one must include the Boers of South Africa here; they did the same thing) made it a practice to shoot game with which to feed themselves and everyone else in their employ. Africa at the time teemed with animals beyond counting, and they gunned it down with joy. (And, lest we feel morally superior, we did the same thing in the United States. Just ask the buffalo and the passenger pigeon).

In order to carry out all this killing, ranchers and farmers needed a rifle of considerable authority, but one that cost a lot less than British sporting rifles, and one which used cheaper ammunition. Thus, Herr Bock’s creation, which achieved a solution (Endlosung) to the whole problem. He called it the 9.3×62; 9.3 (which is .36-inch and a tad) was then a highly popular bore size in Europe and allowed him to load a 286-grain bullet which was big enough for any African game.

The 62mm case length was the same as the .30/06, and meant that the cartridge would cycle through a Model 98 Mauser without alterations, and enabled the cost of rifles chambered for it to be kept way down. Velocity was low, even for the time —- 2,150 fps. This, however, improved bullet performance by taking the stress of high velocity off the slugs and reduced recoil, enabling even greater slaughters to take place without periodic halts.

Today, most of its contemporaries have become obsolescent, but the 9.3×62 retains a worldwide following. Its velocity has been increased to 2,350 fps with the 285-grain bullet, but its virtues have remained unchanged -—lots of power with comparatively little recoil. If the 9.3×62 has a cousin it is surely the .404 Jeffrey, which does the exact same thing on a slightly bigger scale and has achieved immortality for the identical reasons.

Sako, Tikka, and CZ (among others) make 9.3×62 rifles, and half a dozen companies load ammo and make components. If you buy a 9.3×62 you will not feel lonely or ignored. Bear in mind, it kicks. Its recoil is almost identical to the .338, but noticeably less than the .375 H&H or the 9.3x74R. If you’re looking for a heavy-game rifle, der Alte is still every bit as good as it was 109 years ago, and that was very good indeed.