The 9.3×62 is a caliber that is common in Europe, well known in Africa, especially in countries that were once German colonies, and quite uncommon in the United States. In Europe almost, if not all, rifle manufacturers chamber their rifles for this caliber be they Sako, Sauer, Mauser, Heym, Merkel, Haenel, Blaser, CZ or others. Similarly 9.3×62 ammunition is loaded by most European manufacturers including Norma, RWS, Sako, Lapua, Sellier & Bellot, Prvi Partizan etc., and a number of American manufacturers also, including Hornady, Federal and Nosler. So despite its being not so well known in the United States, the 9.3×62 is internationally quite common, you will even find rifles chambered for it down in the “Land of the Long White Cloud” (i.e. New Zealand) and Australia.
The 9.3×62 is sometimes confused with the 9.3×64 Brenneke but these two cartridges are quite different despite their similar sounding names. The case of the 9.3×64 Brenneke is fatter and it has a larger powder capacity, sufficient that it duplicates the ballistics of the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum. The 9.3×62 uses a narrower and smaller capacity cartridge case, similar to but not identical with the American 30-06 Springfield.
You can find the Revivaler post on the 9.3×64 Brenneke if you click here.
The 9.3×62 owes its existence to the German colonies in Africa, and the need for affordable rifles and ammunition by German colonial farmers. In places such as German West Africa and German South-West Africa amongst others, farmers were confronted with large and sometimes dangerous game animals such as buffalo, lion, hippo and elephant. Although farmers at first tended to use military Mauser rifles in such calibers as the 8×57 it was found that the full metal jacket projectiles were not the safest thing with which to take on a dangerous animal. What was needed was something with both the power and well designed sporting bullets to safely take on such animals. The British rifles and cartridges tended to be expensive, and in any event, the German settlers were not keen on depending on the British for the supply of their rifles or ammunition. What was needed was a German solution to the problem.
(Note: You will find the sale page for the above pictured rifle if you click here).
Around this time, at the turn of the century prior to the First World War, there were some German medium bore cartridges such as the 9×57 and the 9.3×57, but these were not adequate for the challenges facing settlers in Africa. It was Berlin gunsmith Otto Bock who set about creating a powerful 9.3mm medium bore cartridge that would comfortably fit into a standard Mauser 98 action. He released this new cartridge in 1905, the 9.3×62 was born.
The original loading for the 9.3×62 was a 285 grain (18.5 gram) bullet which was driven at 2,150 fps (655 m/s). In those early days of nitro powders there was a need to keep pressures nicely moderated, especially for ammunition that was to be used in the heat of Africa. After the First World War ended however nitro propellant technology had improved and the ballistics of the cartridge were improved to produce 2,400 fps (730 m/s). As can be immediately appreciated the new loading was not far behind the British .375 Holland & Holland Magnum which had appeared in 1912, and was on a par with the rimmed version of that cartridge, the .375 Flanged Magnum Nitro Express. It was sufficiently close in performance that it was pretty much just as effective. John “Pondoro” Taylor mentions the 9.3×62 in his book “African Rifles and Cartridges” and said that there really wasn’t much to write about it because it had proved itself to be so dependable. If you are using a rifle on potentially dangerous African game then “boringly dependable” is a good thing.
Modern Ammunition for the 9.3×62
Norma manufacture no less than ten loadings for the 9.3×62 which of itself is testimony to the cartridge’s popularity in Europe. These ten loadings give a good idea of the 9.3×62’s adaptability, something that made it popular in the first place. The 9.3×62 is very much a general purpose cartridge able to be used on medium to large game, and even on dangerous game such as Cape Buffalo or Alaska’s big bears. It can also be used at fairly long range, out to about 300 yards. That adaptability simply depends on the hunter choosing the right bullet for the job at hand and doing his/her part in placing that bullet where it will do the most good.
Norma ECOSTRIKE 230 gr: The Norma Ecostrike is a new bullet which is made of copper with a proprietary coating to reduce fouling. This bullet is made to have a relatively high ballistic coefficient: in the case of the 230 gr. bullet loaded in the 9.3×62 that ballistic coefficient is .420 and the factory ammunition drives it at a muzzle velocity of 2,641 fps (805 m/s) to generate muzzle energy of 3,563 ft/lb (4,830 J). This loading turns the 9.3×62 into a fairly long range cartridge capable of taking game out at 300 yards or a bit more.
Norma Oryx 232 gr: The Norma Oryx loading features a light for caliber 232 gr. soft-point bullet moving at a muzzle velocity of 2,625 fps. The 9.3mm Oryx bullet has a ballistic coefficient of .267 making it a medium range bullet capable of being zeroed at 200 yards. The Oryx bullet is designed to mushroom quite quickly making it a general purpose hunting bullet.
Norma Vulkan 232 gr: The Norma Vulkan bullet features a thin front jacket folded at the tip to produce rapid mushrooming and high energy transfer. With a ballistic coefficient of .278 this bullet’s muzzle velocity from the 9.3×62 is a crisp 2,625 fps (800 m/s) producing energy of 3,551 ft/lb (4,802 J). This is a popular loading for wild boar and red deer.
Norma FMJ 232 gr: The Norma 232 gr. Full Metal Jacket loading for the 9.3×62 is primarily intended for training and target shooting, although this bullet can also be used on smaller game where it is desired to minimize damage to pelts. Muzzle velocity is 2,510 fps and the ballistic coefficient of the bullet is .275.
Norma Solid 275 gr: The 275 gr. loading for the 9.3×62 is intended as a dangerous game loading. The Norma Solid bullet is monolithic and intended for straight line penetration. The 9.3×62 is the smallest caliber Norma offers with this style of bullet for dangerous game use, the next up being the .375 H&H Magnum. Muzzle velocity for this loading is 2,450 fps (745 m/s) with energy of 3,666 ft/lb (4,942 J).
Norma Alaska 285 gr: The Norma Alaska loading for the 9.3×62 is a purpose designed Moose cartridge and able to also deal with any bruin that may need some ballistic attention. The Alaska features a soft guilding metal jacket and in the 9.3×64 muzzle velocity is 2,362 fps (720 m/s) producing energy of 3,532 ft/lb (4,797 J). With its ballistic coefficient of .365 the Norma Alaska loading has a flat enough trajectory to allow a 200 yard zero to be used. That trajectory path gets to a 100 yard mid-range trajectory height of 3″ with drop at 250 yards of just under 5″, and at 300 yards just over a foot.
Norma Plastic Point 285 gr: The 9.3×62 plastic point loading is popular in Europe as a general game loading, the plastic point protecting against magazine battering and thus keeping the projectile’s ballistic coefficient of .365 is unaffected. This cartridge is known for reliable feeding as well as good game performance. Muzzle velocity is 2,362 fps (720 m/s) and muzzle energy 3,538 ft/lb (4,797 J).
Norma Oryx 285 gr: The 285 gr. Oryx loading sends the bullet out of the muzzle at 2,362 fps (720 m/s) with energy of 3,544 ft/lb (4,797 J). With its ballistic coefficient of .33 this bullet maintains its energy making it a good proposition for 200 yard shots where needed. The Oryx is one of Norma’s most popular bullets.
Swift A-Frame 286 gr: This loading for the 9.3×62 features the premium Swift A-Frame bullet and is intended for use in demanding hunting situations where the controlled expansion and high weight retention of the A-Frame bullet pays dividends. This is a loading that is recommended for African hunting but which is also of great advantage in Australia and North America as well as parts of Europe and Asia. Muzzle velocity of this loading is 2,362 fps (720 m/s) with energy of 3,544 ft/lb (4,797 J). The Swift A-Frame bullets relatively high ballistic coefficient of .428 means it retains energy well and is also resistant to wind deflection. At 300 yards the 10mph wind deflection for this 9.3×62 loading is 9.5″ by comparison with the flat-shooting wind-bucking .300 Winchester Magnum with the 180 gr. Remington CoreLokt bullet which delivers 7.7″. So, despite its modest muzzle velocity this loading delivers surprisingly good performance. With a 200 yard zero, the 300 yard drop is 11.78″.
Norma Oryx 325 gr: The 325 gr. loading for the 9.3×62 is the heaviest of the Norma line-up. This is a large game woods loading that is optimized for deep penetration with the Oryx bullet’s excellent mushrooming. Muzzle velocity for this loading is 2,198 fps (670 m/s) delivering energy of 3,487 ft/lb (4,738 J). The ballistic coefficient of the bullet is fairly high at .383 so it retains its energy well and if zeroed at 200 yards still produces an acceptable 3.6″ 100 yard mid-range trajectory.
American manufacturer Nosler have recognized just how much potential the 9.3×62 has and offer ammunition, reloading components, load data, and factory rifles for the caliber. A 9.3×62 rifle can be made lightweight and sweet handling and Nosler have stepped up to the plate to create exactly that with their M48 Custom Rifle in 9.3×62.
The Nosler factory ammunition for the 9.3×62 is made in three loadings; the 250 gr. AccuBond bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2,550 fps, the “Safari” loading with a 286 gr. Partition bullet at 2,350 fps, and the 286 gr. Solid at 2,400 fps. With these loadings Nosler has the main bases covered for the 9.3×62, the Accubond loading being a great general purpose hunting round, and the “Safari” loadings being the right choice for a trip to Africa or Australia for buffalo or similar.
German ammunition maker RWS have a well earned reputation for excellence and they have a line-up of loadings for the 9.3×62 that is well worth exploring. RWS ammunition is loaded with some unique premium bullets including their UNI Classic and Kegelspitzer. The 247 gr. Kegelspitzer loading listed below with its muzzle velocity of 2,625 fps would be an excellent general purpose hunting cartridge. The Kegelspitzer has a front section that is designed to fragment in the vital area of the quarry whilst the rear section remains intact to ensure good penetration. Energy transfer and consequent knock-down power tends to be very good with these bullets making them one of the author’s preferred choices in any caliber.
You will find detailed information about these loadings on the RWS website if you click here.
Federal have two loadings available for the 9.3×62; one with the 286 gr. Swift A-Frame bullet, and the other with the unusual 286 gr. Woodleigh Hydro Solid, both loadings listed with a muzzle velocity of 2,360 fps. The Swift A-Frame is a lead core jacketed controlled expansion bullet with a relatively high ballistic coefficient and would be an excellent “all-around” choice for big game hunting.
The Woodleigh Hydro is an unusual bullet in that it is a monolithic solid but with a significant difference. The Hydro bullet is specially shaped to create a hydrostatic wave that maximizes tissue disruption whilst also ensuring deep penetration. So effective is the penetration of the Woodleigh Hydro that it is not recommended for use in herd situations where the potential for it to pass clean through one animal and penetrate another is very real. The Hydro bullets have a low ballistic coefficient and are not intended for long range use, but for short range stopping power they are unsurpassed.
Hornady make three loadings for the 9.3×62; the 286 gr. Soft Point Interlock Recoil Proof which is available in the United States, the 250 gr. GMX Superformance International which is not, and the 286 gr. SP Custom International, which is also not. The two “International” loadings are only available on international markets. This is most likely because the 9.3×62 is so popular internationally but that popularity is only beginning to become established in North American markets in recent years.
Also interesting is that American makers such as Hornady currently tend to focus on the 9.3×62 as a “dangerous game” cartridge whereas it is really more of a general purpose “all-around” caliber.
Rifles for the 9.3×62
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Because the 9.3×62 is dimensionally very close to the 30-06 it is typically very easy to get a rifle in 9.3×62 by simply re-barreling a 30-06 rifle just as one would to create a .35 Whelan for example. If there is enough meat in the barrel it may even be possible to re-bore and re-chamber a 30-06, your gunsmith will know. The 9.3×62 was originally designed for the Mauser 98 action and it is sometimes referred to as the 9.3×62 Mauser. So a standard Mauser 98 action, be it military surplus or commercial is one possible starting point. But one could also start out with a Springfield action or an M1917 Enfield for example, there are a lot of possibilities, a 30-06 Remington 700 is another. Similarly I can’t think of a good reason why a Browning BLR or a Remington pump action rifle in 30-06 couldn’t be re-barreled to create a fast-handling and quick-repeating rifle with all the power of the 9.3×62. Not only a 30-06 rifle but of course pretty much any of the 30-06 derivatives would also be suitable candidates, a .270 Winchester, 25-06 or 35 Whelan for example. A Browning BAR should also be do-able, but the semi-automatic would be a tad more tricky.
The 9.3×62 has been a standard European chambering for over 110 years so there are some desirable used rifles out there chambered for the cartridge. Amongst the more interesting ones are the original Mannlicher-Schönauer which occasionally turn up, and the later Steyr and Mannlicher rifles such as the Mannlicher-Schönauer M72 and Steyr Mannlicher Luxus. The Mauser 66 and Mauser 77 were both made in 9.3×62 as were the rifles from Sauer, Sako and Heym.
Amongst the current production rifles chambered for the 9.3×62 one of the least expensive is the Merkel MHR 16 which retails for USD$815.00. Other new rifles include those from CZ, the Mauser 98, and Mauser M12, Sako 85, Sauer 404, S101 and S100.
Not only are there conventional bolt action rifles being offered new but there is also the option of choosing one of the fast re-loading straight-pull European rifles. Amongst these are the Heym SR30, Merkel Helix, and the Browning Maral.
The 9.3×62 is a cartridge that is best described as a “quiet achiever”. It has been with us for over 110 years and it has spent that time doing the job it was created to do with “boring reliability”. It is an easy caliber to build a rifle for, and it is an easy cartridge to re-load thanks to people like Norma, Nosler and Hornady manufacturing the brass, and many providing re-loading data. You will find 9.3×62 load data in the reloading manuals from Nosler, Hornady, Barnes, Woodleigh, and of course Norma. Nosler also publish their data on-line for all to access.
The 9.3×62 has, up to now, been one of Europe’s best kept secrets, and one of Africa’s best kept secrets also. We hope to see more people around the world, and in the United States and Canada, discover this “quiet achiever”. It is not only one of the better general purpose hunting cartridges around, but it is also a cartridge that is easy and inexpensive to create a custom rifle for. That should not surprise us, way back in 1905 that is exactly what Berlin gunsmith Otto Bock created it to be.
(Feature image at the head of this post courtesy firstname.lastname@example.org).
Jon Branch is the founder and senior editor of Revivaler and has written a significant number of articles for various publications including official Buying Guides for eBay, classic car articles for Hagerty, magazine articles for both the Australian Shooters Journal and the Australian Shooter, and he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China and Hong Kong. His travels have taken him to Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan and a number of other countries. He has studied the Japanese sword arts and has a long history of involvement in the shooting sports, which has included authoring submissions to government on various firearms related issues and assisting in the design and establishment of shooting ranges.