Norma Oryx Soft Point 9.3×62 Muser cartridge cartridges. Photo: Arz.
In the late nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, the continental Europeans and the United Kingdom were busy expanding their spheres of influence around the world. No continent experienced these expansions more than Africa.
The Dutch were busy in South Africa, the Portuguese in Mozambique, the Belgians in Zaire, the English in Kenya and Rhodesia, the French in Central African Republic and the Germans in Namibia and Tanzania as primary conquests. Most had a few other involvements as well.
The English produced heavy caliber rifles as well as ammunition for them, suitable for the largest and most dangerous game the Dark Continent had to offer. Alas, while the UK products were excellent and reliable, they were quite expensive, out of the budget range for the average farmer/colonist.
The German colonists living in German SW Africa and German East Africa were very active in complaining to the home country for their need for affordable rifles and ammunition suitable for use against Africa’s big and dangerous game animals.
Germany was already producing what was to become the best bolt-action rifle available with their Mauser Model 98. They just didn’t have a powerful enough cartridge to fit in a standard Model 98 length, to do battle against Africa’s dangerous fauna.
Early in the twentieth century, a gunsmith by the name of Otto Bock, took on the task of developing such a cartridge. In 1905, he introduced the results of his developmental efforts, the 9.3×62mm cartridge – also known as the 9.3×62 Mauser.
The cartridge featured a 9.3mm bullet diameter (.366”) loaded into a 62mm long rimless case. The cartridge was originally loaded with a 285-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2150 fps. It fit nicely in a Mauser 98 action, and operation and feeding was excellent. Later, the cartridge was juiced up a bit, and loaded primarily with a 286-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of around 2400 fps.
The CIP established a Maximum Average Pressure of 56,500 psi. In modern strong rifles, there is no reason that it could not be safely loaded to 60,000 psi, providing around 2500 fps, if such was deemed desirable. The cartridge became exceeding popular in Europe and in Africa, and still is today.
On this side of the Atlantic though, it scarcely ruffled a feather. Until recently, the last five years or so, no American manufacturer made a rifle for it, no American ammunition company loaded ammo for it, and the major American reloading components folks offered neither bullets nor brass for the 9.3×62. If someone happened to have a rifle so chambered, he was totally dependent upon European sources for loaded ammunition and components.
Things have changed considerably in the past few years. Thanks largely to the efforts of writers like John Barsness, Chub Eastman, Phil Shoemaker, and to a much lesser extent, my modest efforts, the cartridge is gaining popularity by leaps and bounds. And, well it should. It is one hell of a cartridge.
The 9.3x62mm (left) compared to a number of popular rifle cartridges. Next in line from the left: .30-06 Springfield, 8×57 IS, 6.5×55, .308 Winchester. Photo: Kalashnikov
Even old John “Pondoro” Taylor, Anglophil that he was, even had good things to say about the 9.3×62 cartridge. He wrote in African Rifles and Cartridges, “I have never heard any complaints about the 9.3mm. Its penetration is adequate for anything. It has never had the write-up that certain other calibers received from time to time. Men just take it for granted and it goes steadily on its way like some honest old farm horse. In spite of all the more modern magnums and ‘supers,’ the 9.3mm still remains the favorite medium bore of many experienced hunters.”
Today, factory loaded ammunition is available from Federal, Barnes, Hornady, Nosler, and I believe that Winchester has been loading it for some time for European consumption, but, to my knowledge, none has been sold in this country. Bullets are available from a variety of bullet makers in weights from 232 grain (Norma) to a whopping 320 grains (Woodleigh) and about every stop in-between those extremes.
I can’t imagine a better cartridge for chasing elk in heavy timber, rooting a mad brown bear out of the alders, or laying on the winters meat supply by taking a moose in the willows. There is no whiz-bang about the cartridge.
As Pondoro Taylor put it, it’s just a workhorse of cartridges, effective and useful on about anything.
This article by Tom Turpin first appeared in Gundigest.com