When you are hunting for the world’s most dangerous game, you are going to need a powerful cartridge capable of penetrating through thick hide and bone. We are talking animals like brown bears here in the states, and animals like the Cape Buffalo in Africa. In the past, shooters liked to use huge rounds like the .416 Rigby, .378 Weatherby Magnum, and of course, the iconic .375 H&H Magnum. The only problem with dangerous game cartridges like these is the rifles are extremely large and unwieldy. They needed to be built larger to handle the extra pressure and the increased recoil to the shooter’s shoulder. The good news is modern technology is making it easier to carry a very large caliber into the backcountry in pursuit of big game without compromising on the firepower. Some companies have also responded by making new rounds that improve on old cartridge designs by leaps and bounds. One of those is the 375 Ruger. It was introduced through a joint effort by Hornady and Ruger in 2007, and it brought magnum firepower into a much smaller, and lighter package than hunters were used to seeing from serious big game rounds. Let’s look at how they did that, and we’ll also take a quick look at some of the best hunting rifles currently being chambered for this newer round.
Development and Ballistics of the 375 Ruger
As we already mentioned, Ruger and Hornady teamed up for the development of this cartridge, with their primary goal being a modern improvement on the .375 Holland & Holland (H&H). The 375 Ruger uses the same size bullets, but the engineers made some massive tweaks to the case design when they shortened it, removed the taper, modified the shoulder, and removed the belt. The result is a rimless case that fits into a standard-length action. In turn, this allows manufacturers to create more compact, lighter rifles that are easier to carry deep into the brush after some of the most dangerous animals on Earth. At the same time, by increasing the case capacity, the engineers were also able to increase speed and accuracy of massive 270 and 300-grain bullets over the older .375 H&H. For instance, Hornady’s 270-grain InterLock SP-RP factory rounds are doing 2,840-fps at the muzzle, 2,600-fps at 100 yards. The 100-yard energy for these rounds is a whopping 4,052-foot pounds. At 200 yards, it’s doing 2,372-fps and hitting with 3,373-foot pounds of energy. Hornady also says it has zero drop at 200 yards.
Hornady’s 250-grain CX Outfitter cartridges also offer some great ballistics. It’s doing 2,576-fps at 100 yards and hitting with 3,683-foot pounds of energy. At 200 yards, expect 2,362-fps and 3,098 pounds of energy. If you step things up to the 300-grain DGX Bonded bullet cartridges, you’re still getting 2,344-fps at 100 yards and 3,660 pounds of energy. Hornady’s 300-grain Superformance DGS series does about 2,344-fps at hits with 3,660 pounds of energy at 100 yards. As you can see, the 375 Ruger is no joke! It will make short work of pretty much every big game animal in North America, and most of those in Africa too.
Pros and Cons to 375 Ruger
There’s no denying the knockdown power of the 375 Ruger. One of the first animals Hornady tested it on was a Cape Buffalo, which it made short work of. When a round is good enough to take down the “Black Death,” you know it can handle just about anything. As you might expect, it does have a fair amount of recoil, but that’s to be expected with a round like this. If you’ve gotten this far in the piece, odds are you already know what you’re signing up for the in the recoil department anyway. Because it’s faster than old rounds like 375 H&H Mag, it is accurate to longer ranges too. We’ve heard of a few shooters pushing the 375 out to 500 yards in rare cases!
While the round is overkill for medium-sized big game, it makes for a fine moose and elk hunting round. Plus, you get a little extra peace of mind when wandering grizzly country knowing that you will be able to stop any threat quickly. The main downside to the 375 Ruger is the ammo cost. You probably knew this was coming. A quick scan online shows it going for over $5 a round right now, or approximately $100-$110 for a box of just 20 rounds. Ouch. There may also be accessibility issues on store shelves in places outside of Alaska where there’s not a lot of demand for something this powerful. With that said, let’s look at some of the current hunting rifle options starting with most affordable and then working our way up in price. Thankfully, there’s a 375 Ruger to fit nearly every budget.
We really appreciate how Mossberg has made many calibers more accessible for hunters on a limited budget. The Patriot is available in a few different flavors too. There’s an option with a black synthetic stock and another with a stylish walnut stock to appeal to classic hunting rifle fans. Depending on stock and finish, the price ranges between $300 and $500 from most retailers. These rifles have 22-inch barrels with a 1:12 twist rate and they come in either blued or a Cerakote on stainless steel finish. The Cerakote model is a trim 6.5 pounds, which is unreal for a rifle of a caliber like this. The walnut stock version comes in at 7.5, which will help with the recoil, but keeps it light enough for long spot and stalks. For the price, you might think these bolt-action rifles are substandard on cycling, but the Patriot line has earned a reputation for being buttery smooth at a bargain price.
Savage Arms 110 Brush Hunter
If you’re looking for a rugged brush gun with a shorter barrel, this is a solid option for around $650 new. The Model 110 has an impressively smooth action and is one of Savage’s best-selling platforms. This rifle has a 20-inch stainless steel barrel with a 1:12 rate of twist. It’s also threaded and comes with an end cap. This is the one to choose if you’re concerned about ergonomics. Savage included spacers to adjust the length of pull, and their crisp AccuTrigger system. The trigger pull can easily be adjusted by the gun owner without waiting on a gunsmith to do it for you. The weight of this rifle is 7.38 pounds, which should make it easy to lug on your shoulder, yet heavy enough to make the recoil more manageable.
Savage Arms Model 110 Bear Hunter
Yes, we’re including a couple of Model 110s on this list. The Bear Hunter is usually available for under $1,000. The main reasons you might want to consider this one over the brush hunter is the Bear Hunter is heavier, coming in at 8.39 pounds. That makes it harder to carry, but the recoil will be easier to manage. This rifle also has a 23-inch stainless steel barrel is also going to help in that department and provide better accuracy. Savage also includes an adjustable muzzle brake with this model. Another reason to pick this one would be the AccuStock system. This system allows you to adjust the comb height as well as the length of pull for perfect eye alignment with your optic through the scope. This rifle also has soft grips on the forend and pistol grip for a more ergonomic fit, and as a result, more accurate shots.
Ruger Hawkeye African
After the Savage and Mossberg, there is a sizable price jump to just over $1,100 for the Ruger. However, if you’re planning the hunt of a lifetime in Africa, this is a quality rifle worthy of that investment. After all, Ruger rifles are what the 375 was designed for in the first place. This rifle features a 23-inch cold hammer forged barrel with a 1:12 twist. Ruger includes a removable muzzle brake and a muzzle weight to help with the recoil from this large round. The bolt is made from a single piece of stainless steel, which adds strength. This rifle is quite aesthetically pleasing too thanks to the beautiful American walnut stock. This rifle weighs eight pounds on the dot, making it easier for precision placements where inches matter on hitting the kill zone of a dangerous animal. Another bonus to this rifle is that Ruger builds a left hand model for all the southpaws who may have hard time finding a lefty model in this caliber from another brand.
Ruger Hawkeye Alaskan
Our last option here is a great option for hunting guides or anyone who simply wants a powerful rifle for both hunting and bear defense. The Hawkeye usually sells for about $1,300 retail. It features a 20-inch stainless steel barrel with a 1:12 twist. The short barrel is going to make it fast and easy to aim if an angry bruin suddenly charges on you from the brush. Ruger also includes a removable, radial-port muzzle brake. Combine that with the generous recoil pad on the Hogue stock, and the 8.1-pound weight and you’ve got a rifle that tames any kick from the big 375 cartridges. We also appreciate the Mauser-type extractor on this rifle for superior cycling of rounds. Odds are, you aren’t going to need a second shot on any animal with this round, but if you do, you can feel confident about getting one in fast with the Alaskan.
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