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The .

375 H&H Magnum Centenary

A Brief History
The calibre of 375 is an enduring favourite amongst hunters, with Holland & Holland assisting its early popularity by introducing the 375 Cordite Express in 1899. This cartridge made good use of the new Cordite smokeless propellants with a marked uplift in performance and hastening the end of the corrosive and messy black-powder. The increase in velocity, coupled with jacketed bullets, proved to be an immediate success as was evident from the letters published in The Field magazine in 1902. Berlin, December 12th, 1902. In reply to your correspondent N, asking for information regarding rifles for dangerous soft-skinned beasts. I beg to state that I used, during my last trip on the Pungwe river (East Africa), a doublebarrelled .375 Cordite rifle by Holland & Holland. My bag included about 40 heads of the larger antelope and one lioness. I found the rifle most effective, only losing one wounded hartebeest, and that through my own fault. On my next trip to Africa I shall certainly use this rifle in preference to any other. Count R. Coudenhove (Vienna) The seemingly effortless increase in performance of the Cordite Express, propelling a 270 grain bullet at 1900 f.ps. to produce 2400 ft.lbs. of muzzle-energy, hinted that there might be more to come I have just returned from British East Africa, where I had excellent results with my new .375 double rifle on lions and rhino. P.N. Gyepu Fuzes, October 14th. I am very pleased with the .375 Cordite rifle. I have not missed with it yet. I killed a bear, two wild boar, and several stags with it. Count G. Erdody

Velopex Bullet

Section of Velopex Bullet

The Centenary Rifles

A classic combination of form & function

The Centenary Rifles


For many years Holland & Holland have marked important landmarks in the Companys history by building Commemorative sets of shotguns and rifles. There cannot be any doubt that the centenary of the .375 H&H Magnum in 2012 is such a landmark. Holland & Holland are immensely proud of the .375s reputation and have therefore embarked on the production of a set of twenty-five rifles to commemorate this important centenary. We believe that no other cartridge stands above the .375 H&H in the minds of amateur and Professional Hunters, ensuring that the .375 will continue to justify the highest reputation for generations to come. The twenty-five inscribed and numbered rifles are made to a classic configuration with three levels of features and traditional embellishment.

The .375 H&H Centenary Rifles


The Mauser type actions are fitted with a 4-cartridge magazine and triggerguard assembly with a scalloped bolt handle to provide clearance for a low mounted telescope sight. The Holland & Holland takedown design allows the barrel and action assembly to be detached from the stock by releasing one simple coin-slot screw.

The 3-position wing safety 1. Lever (as shown) is drawn fully back locking the trigger and bolt. 2. Lever in mid-position, still on safe but free to cycle the bolt and 3. Lever pushed fully forward ready to fire. Note the H&H Q/D telescope base mounts do not interfere with the open sights.

Take-down barrel and action in an oak & leather case

The 400/375-2 Belted Nitro Express .375 Velopex


Following the success of the .375-bore Cordite Express Henry Holland wasted little time in responding to the growing popularity of multi-shot rifles such as the 9,5mm M/Schoenauer. However Henry felt that the rimless design of the M/S case might present a problem when chambering a cartridge as any change in forming the case or the shoulder will cause the headspace to vary and affect the blow of the firing pin. Not quite whats needed when engaging creatures that bite back. A simple flanged case had always worked well but its protruding rim may in turn cause snagging problems when feeding rounds from the magazine. This is not acceptable, so what to do?

Holland Velopex Patent Cartridge (full size)

Solid Nickel Bullet

The solution consisted of forming a shallow band resembling a belt protruding around the full circumference of the base of the case. This belt is made to seat in a matching recess in the mouth of the chamber in the same manner as a fully flanged case. However the protrusion of this belt is minimal and avoids any snagging problems when feeding cartridges from a magazine. A recess cut around the full circumference of the base creates a robust rim for the extractor to engage. Hollands have continued to incorporate such a belt on all its cartridge designs. It is fool proof and Henry wasted no time in adding the belt to the rapidly increasing number of H&H patents. Introduced in 1905 the new 400/3752 soon dropped its rather cumbersome title to be known as the 375 Velopex. It still used the same 270 grain bullet as the .375 Cordite Express but now speeded up to 2000 f.p.s. and 2840 ft.lbs. of energy.

The .375 Holland & Holland Magnum


Following the success of the Cordite Express and the Velopex, Holland & Holland were ready to take the .375 calibre to a completely new level. This time the priority would be increased performance. The new cartridges title said it all with the calibre and the evocative word Magnum stressing high performance Close co-operation between Holland & Holland and the Smokeless Powder and Ammunition Company led to H&H introducing a high velocity, flat shooting .275 Magnum in 1910. This project proved to be the perfect stepping stone leading to the introduction of the .375 Magnum two years later, a cartridge that has since become known world-wide simply as the 375 H&H. So what is it that sets this cartridge in a class of its own? By 1912 improvements to magazine and traditional double-rifles enabled them to cope with higher breech pressures making it possible to propel a 300 grain bullet at 2550 f.p.s. The laws of physics dictate that the kinetic energy of a given bullet rises by the square of any increase in velocity, meaning the Magnums extra bullet speed produced a huge increase of energy to 4,200 ft.lbs. This order of performance was a huge leap as it made for a rifle that would shoot flat for plainsgame and yet have sufficient wallop and penetration to tackle dangerous quarry species be they bovine, carnivore or even pachyderm. Not surprisingly the .375 Magnum caused a sensation and was quickly joined by the slightly de-tuned flanged version for the Royal double-barrel rifles. Stories and letters of praise reached us from Africa, India and far beyond. Even hard-nosed professional hunters joined in with their praise and endorsements. Henry Holland could only have dreamt of such success. In common with other rifle makers ammunition was not actually made by H&H, it was made for us with Henry Holland playing an integral part in every stage of development. Such branded ammunition was made on a strictly exclusive and proprietary basis. However when something as special as the .375 Magnum turns up the maker will naturally seek to extract the maximum advantage. In this instance Henry Holland realised that there was probably more benefit to be had in spreading the H&H brand name by allowing the sale of this ammunition to all and sundry thereby enabling other makers to build rifles for his new cartridge. He was not wrong, and when the 375H&H Magnum cartridge found its inclusion in the 1925 Western Cartridge Companys price list it was evident that the merits of the 375 were already well recognised. Today, one hundred years after its launch, one can only begin to guess at the millions of cartridges fired by countless thousands of rifles all bearing the name H&H, albeit only to identify the cartridge!
235-Grain Copper Pointed Bullet. 270-Grain Soft Nose Pointed Bullet. 300-Grain Solid Nickel Bullet, also Soft Nose.

So why is it that this cartridge is still flourishing and its admirers continue to increase? By 1912 Holland & Holland had invested fifteen years in experiments and improvement to the Cordite Express, the Velopex and the 275 Magnum and in doing so they leap-frogged the efforts of others. Henry Hollands patience was rewarded enabling many of the lessons to be incorporated and to take a .375 bullet about as far as is practicable. Sadly the onset of WWI brought about a decrease in sporting rifle manufacture and would do so for many years after as the enthusiasm and the funds dried up. However the productive years leading up to the war had seen Hollands perfectly positioned to meet the demands for when the market returned; which it did. Another telling reason was that from the beginning the 375 Magnum had been designed for the efficient smokeless propellants that did not make demands for a large case capacity. The result was a relatively slim profile enabling four rounds to be loaded in a standard magazine whereas the .416 Rigby, an excellent but rather bulky round, needed a long action and a fatter cartridge-case capacity with a consequential reduction in the magazine capacity. However a slightly modified M98 Mauser worked well for a 375H&H. Many gunsmiths discovered that a simple change of barrel and a modified magazine box converted a military-surplus rifle to one

fit for almost anything and meaning that anybody could find an affordable big-game rifle to suit his pocket. This proved to be a telling factor and was probably instrumental in many African territories stipulating the 375H&H as the minimum cartridge permitted for hunting their biggest game. The .375 Magnum was also to benefit from the many improvements in bullet design that almost guaranteed superior performance on game. Although it is a fact often overlooked it is only the bullet that actually does the work. The new generation of 235, 270 and 300 grain bullets could tackle any task, with the outstanding penetration of the 300 grain solid requiring caution to avoid wounding other beasts concealed behind the intended quarry. Even two buffalo falling to one careless shot is not unheard of. Although the 375H&H Magnum is clearly a high performance cartridge the chamber pressure is not remarkable. This is a significant benefit in hot climates. Well-balanced internal and external ballistics, consistent head-spacing, fool proof feed and smooth chambering married to a well proportioned and elegant stock of modest weight, result to use. Lastly, for those moments of be swiftly grasped and cycled to in a rifle that is both comfortable to carry and greatest need, a plain and simple bolt that can extract, eject and make ready to fire What more is there? RW 2011