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I am not sure what the deal is with guns, but I want them all...

A short time ago, I was browsing the Internet and came upon a rifle that I did not have.

Now, there are a big bunch out there that I do not have, but every now and then I just can’t stand it.

This was one that I tried to let get away from me, but for the next few nights I found myself dreaming about it. I got up several mornings and went directly to the website where it was listed, just to see if it was still there. And then it happened. I just could not stand it anymore – so I bought it.

Now, I really do not need any more guns. But, who says “need” has anything to do with the burning desire to have them all?

I probably look at 100 or more guns a month. For the most part, they are all neat, but really don’t “light my fire” like this one did.

But, what was I going to do with a rifle of such large caliber – a .375 H&H magnum? Do I really need that much power for the hunting I do in Florida and Georgia?

Not really, but there was something about the mystique of this particular rifle. Besides, it's not like it was too much gun. How can you have too much gun?

The rifle I am describing is an old Winchester Model 70 in .375 H&H magnum – and a pretty one at that.

The Winchester Model 70 is a bolt-action rifle, usually classified as a sporting rifle, which was first introduced in 1936. The model 70s that were made before 1964 are very sought-after today, and the ones that are in pristine condition will fetch all of the money.

After 1963, Winchester changed the design to cut cost, and the Model 70 market lost its allure. Some of the changes included: pressed checkering (instead of cut), a stamped trigger guard (instead of milled), a completely redesigned bolt and a stronger action.

Did any of these changes affect the accuracy or dependability of the Model 70? Not that I have seen. But, they sure caused the loss of many loyal followers. Winchester has been through several hands since day one, and the new Model 70 is supposed to have a lot of the pre-1964 features.

Over its life, the Model 70 has been offered in many calibers (from .22 Hornet to .470 Capstick) and from basic grades to grades that you wouldn't be afraid to take to the woods and beat it on the treestands and truck.

The .375 H&H caliber was designed in 1912 in the United Kingdom by a company by the name of Holland and Holland. It was originally named the .375 Belted Rimless Nitro Express.

Over the years, this caliber has become well known and respected by professional big game hunters and guides in Africa and Alaska as the one all-around caliber for both plains and dangerous game. With the wide variety of bullet sizes, shapes, weights and types, it can be used on medium, thin-skinned game all the way up to the larger, thick-skinned game and bear.

After a little research on this caliber, I was surprised to find that it is extremely flat-shooting. I would have thought a big ol’ chunk of bullet like that would fall like a rock after about 100 yards, but it is right up there with a lot of guns we all shoot.

If you have the Hornady 270-grain bullet sighted-in at 200 yards, it is 2 inches high at 100 yards and only drops about 8 inches at 300 yards. This round leaves the barrel at 2700 fps, and at 100 yards has about 2 tons of knockdown power. That is almost 4,000 pounds to stop your game in its tracks!

The .308 Winchester is a hunting round that a good number of us shoot. At 100 yards it has about 1 ton of knock-down power, and if it is sighted-in at 200 yards, it will be about 2 inches high at 100 yards and will drop about 8 inches at 300 yards.

This cartridge is unlike many others, due to its performance and ability to hit the same point of aim with all of the different bullet weights out to normal hunting distances. This allows hunters to bring a few different bullet types and weights and, without having to compensate for the different weights, use an expanding, lighter-weight bullet for plains game or elk-sized game. And, if the need arises, switch to a heavier solid for the big stuff.

When the rifle arrived, I was ready to mount an old Redfield 4X scope in pristine condition that I've had for a while and thought would make a good addition to this older rifle.

I had gone online and ordered a set of Talley rings that were supposed to fit the holes that were drilled and tapped in the receiver, BUT they did not.

Now, you can imagine how that felt. I was ready to shoot my newest addition and my scope rings didn’t fit. I called the place where I had purchased them and explained the problem, but the person on the other end was about as knowledgeable as a rock, and the call ended with no satisfaction on my part.

I called Talley Manufacturing, and after telling the operator about my problem, she transferred me to someone that was MORE THAN HELPFUL. When I told him the serial number of the rifle, he knew exactly what I needed and sent them out the same day. Thank you, Talley, for what is today an unusual experience – GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE. After that experience with Talley, I will be using their products on all of my new guns.

In a couple of days the rings arrived. I installed them and the scope without delay, and the next morning I was off to the range.

One thing was just a little concerning about sitting over this THUMPER to perform a shooting test. I knew I would be running around 80 rounds through this rifle and was worried whether I would be able to use my shoulder afterwards.

I have a Caldwell Lead Sled, but I was concerned about breaking the stock.

I have used the lead sled on many rifles from .22 to .300 Weatherby Magnum and have never had any stock-breaking problems, but the thought was still in the back of my mind. The rifle has a factory recoil pad that would absorb some of the thump, but to be safe, I added a slip-on pad.

My ammo of choice for this dangerous big game rifle was the only choice: Hornady. Not that Hornady is the only company that makes .375 H&H, but with the reputation they have earned over the years of providing quality ammo, they were the logical choice.

I wanted to try ammo that I could use on deer and hogs and also try some of the larger DGSs, just in case I ever make it to Africa or Alaska. My ammo was Hornady .375 H&H 350-grain DGS and 270-grain SP-RP in both Custom and Superformance.

The abbreviation DGS stands for dangerous game and SP-RP is short for Spire Point-Recoil Proof. Both can be used on the largest, meanest prey any of us will hunt in this country and most of the game in Africa.

After setting up the target and Lead Sled and donning hearing and eye protection, I was ready for the first big bang. I opened the box of 300-grain and pulled out the first round. WOW, this bullet was a big one! It is by far the largest I can remember shooting.

After firing a couple of rounds to dial in the scope, I was ready for the 100-yard results. I had placed four sets of targets downrange, as I had 4 different types of ammo to shoot, and I like to keep the results separate.

I had set up my chronograph about 20 feet from the rifle and was ready to see what this fine-looking rifle was capable of doing with the Hornady ammo. I had two boxes of each of the four types and was going to shoot four, 5-shot groups with each type. This would leave me four boxes to use for hunting.

My shooting consisted of firing four rounds then removing the bolt, running a few patches down the barrel and letting the barrel cool down. My down time was spent shooting a .22 Hornet that I brought with me. (Look for that article in a couple of months).

Between groups, I looked at the target with the spotting scope or walked down to get a closer look at the target.

After a few groups, I was surprised at the results. I had thought with such a big bullet, my groups would be in the 2-inch range, but they all shot 1.5- to 1-inch with a couple in the 3/4-inch size.

After I shot the test ammo, I wanted to see just how much this big dog would thump me, so I moved the Lead Sled, removed the slip-on pad and placed the rifle on sand bags. I shot two rounds of each ammo with the butt against my shoulder and was really surprised at the felt recoil. I thought it was going to punish me, but it was more like a big push rather than a sharp thump.

The rifle performed as it was intended, with no issues (see graph above). I was happy. I now have a real nice rifle that shoots plenty accurately for any hunting I might experience. I will bet I will be the only one in Florida and Georgia hunting with a .375 H&H. I'm pretty sure I will never make it to Africa, but Alaska is a maybe. For sure, Mr. Piggy will be on the list.

Bottom Line: This rifle is a keeper. It shoots great, is plenty accurate with the Hornady loads and is real pretty.

Shoot Safe, Shoot Straight. If all guns were treated as if they were loaded, there would be NO MORE accidental shootings.

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Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”