For many the choice between the 9.3×62 and 35 Whelen might come down to gun and ammo availability. Neither is ubiquitous, but Mauser, Sauer, CZ, Tikka, Sako, and Blaser chamber the 9.3×62. Some special run Ruger bolt-action African rifles and the famed No. 1 have been chambered 9.3×62. Ditto older Belgian Browning bolts. Virtually any U.S. bolt action in standard length could be converted to 9.3×62 with a barrel change. Ammo is loaded not just by RWS, Lapua, Norma, and Sellier & Bellot, but by Federal, Hornady, Swift, Double Tap and Nosler.
In the age of high B.C. bullets and extreme range targeting, it seems passing strange that an old German warhorse like the 9.2×62 would be catching fire, but once you’ve studied it you begin to understand. And once you’d seen its performance on game, according to those who have, you’re sold. In the U.S. it is catching on as a bear round, celebrated as a hog terminator, and appreciated as an elk and moose anchor. Many who engage whitetails in heavy cover appreciate it for dropping big bucks where they stand or leaving a blood trail wide and short.
When assessing the 9.3×62 and wondering why it was such an immediate hit in Africa, we must remember that in 1905 there was no 375 H&H Magnum. Smokeless power had been available for fewer than 20 years and, given some erratic performance of early recipes, was viewed with suspicion by many traditionalists weaned on blackpowder cartridges pushing wide, heavy bullets. Mid-19th century dangerous game hunters were shooting 10-, 8-, 4-, and even 2-gauge guns — smoothbored or rifled — throwing 1- to 4-ounce lead balls and early conical bullets. Those were gradually replaced by various rimmed, blackpowder .577s and the 600 Nitro Express chambered in double barrels and single-shots. Anything smaller than 50-caliber was considered a medium bore or even “light” round suitable for only the smaller antelope. Velocities were topping out at around 1,800 fps. Mass was the name of the game. A mere stripling 36-caliber must have radically light for the era. Fortunately the 8×57 and 7×57 Mauser military rifles had plowed the ground. The heavy bullet paradigm was shifting and the 9.3×62 arrived as one of the first medium bores to ride the wave.
After a mere 116 years, the German 9.3×62 is finally catching some American limelight. Not bad for a medium bore that doesn’t even have a last name.
The Surprising 9.3×62 Rifle Cartridge — Ron Spomer Outdoors is written by Ron Spomer for www.ronspomeroutdoors.com