The .465 H&H Magnum Belted Rimless

By Chuck Hawks

The British firm of Holland & Holland patented the original belted magnum cartridge case in 1904. The successful .375 H&H Magnum, .300 H&H Magnum, .275 H&H Magnum, and .240 H&H Magnum hunting cartridges followed that breakthrough. This gives Holland and Holland a century of leadership in designing magnum big game cartridges, a wealth of experience unequalled by any other manufacturer.

Holland & Holland is a world-renowned manufacturer of bespoke double-barreled rifles and bolt action hunting rifles. They are especially identified with big bore "African" dangerous game rifles. Recognizing that most hunters today prefer the bolt action and not all are satisfied with the performance of the industry leading .416 Remington Magnum and .458 Winchester Magnum, H&H have introduced a pair of new belted magnum cartridges, the .400 and .465 Magnum Belted Rimless cartridges. The .400 is covered in a separate article. Here we will take a look at the new .465, a cartridge with performance on the order of the .450 Watts Magnum or .458 Lott, but which operates at lower pressure and is designed specifically for the sub-Saharan African hunting environment.

The .465 Holland & Holland Magnum cartridge is a big bore cartridge that uses the exact same 480 grain bullets as Holland's successful .465 Nitro Express elephant rifle cartridge for double rifles, but delivers considerably more energy. It is one of a trio of Holland & Holland dangerous game cartridges designed for bolt action rifles that starts with the .375 H&H, progresses through the .400 H&H, and ends at the .465 H&H. Each step up in caliber increases the muzzle energy (ME) of the bullet by about 1000 ft. lbs., from just over 4000 ft. lbs. for the .375, to 5000 ft. lbs. for the .400, to 6000 ft. lbs. for the new .465.

These are horrendous energy figures, and with proper shot placement and proper bullets all three calibers are capable of taking any game animal on earth. Note that the .465 offers the hunter capable of handling it about 50% more power than the .375 H&H, which is generally considered to be the minimum acceptable (and legal) dangerous game cartridge across much of Africa.

Holland & Holland cartridge designs are based on pragmatic considerations, including the great heat often associated with hunting in Africa. Heat raises chamber pressure and has caused problems (usually erratic performance and difficult extraction) for high-pressure cartridges designed in the colder climates of North America and Europe. Holland's big game cartridges are traditionally rather tapered in form, with sloping shoulders. They operate at relatively moderate chamber pressures. This makes for reliable feeding from the box magazines of bolt action rifles, consistent accuracy, and easy extraction even in intense heat. Reliability is seen as far more important than shaving the last fraction of an inch from groups fired over a rest on the rifle range.

A single stuck case or failure to feed can get an African hunter or guide killed in a showdown with a dangerous beast. Trendy cartridge designs that reflect the influence of unrelated shooting sports, such as bench rest target shooting, have no place in the field when hunting dangerous game.

The new .465 is also intended to generate relatively moderate recoil and muzzle blast (for a super powerful big bore) without the necessity for barrel porting or muzzle brakes, things that should be avoided on hunting rifles. "Avoiding the most spiteful recoil" is how H&H put it.

The gentlemen at Holland & Holland understand that bullet placement is the key to quick kills and that it is the combination of rifle, cartridge and shooter that achieves this. The legend "But always remember, no amount of powder will make up for poor bullet placement." is prominently displayed on their WebSite.

The new .465 H&H case is based on the oversize .378 Weatherby case. It uses a .603" diameter rim and belt. The case head diameter immediately in front of the rim is .582" tapering to .531" just behind the beginning of the shoulder. The moderately angled shoulder is .214" long and the neck diameter is .494". Overall case length is 2.894" and the standard cartridge overall length is 3.50". These dimensions are approximate, based on drawings released by H&H. Holland & Holland intend to release this design for general use; it will not be proprietary.

Bullet diameter is .468" and factory loaded bullets are to be supplied by Woodleigh of Australia. These will be the same 480 grain Premium solid and Weldcore soft point bullets sold to reloaders and used in .465 NE factory loads. The sectional density of these bullets is .318, and the ballistic coefficient is .407-.410.

The .465 H&H Mag. delivers nearly as much energy at 200 yards as the .375 H&H does at the muzzle or the .400 H&H does at 100 yards. Holland & Holland factory load ballistics call for a 480 grain bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2375 fps and ME of 6013 ft. lbs. At 50 yards the figures are 2247 fps and 5445 ft. lbs. At 100 yards the figures are 2143 fps and 4905 ft. lbs. At 150 yards the figures are 2031 fps and 4410 ft. lbs. At 200 yards the bullet is still traveling 1925 fps and the remaining energy is 3960 ft. lbs. These numbers pertain to a rifle with a 24" barrel.

Most dangerous game is killed at less than 100 yards, so the new .465 H&H uses round nose bullets at moderate velocity that are designed to give good performance out to at least 200 yards. Holland & Holland trajectory tables computed for a rifle with a telescopic sight mounted 1.5" over the bore show that if a .465 H&H rifle is zeroed at 175 yards, the bullet will deviate no more than 2" above or below the line of sight from the muzzle to 200 yards.

A maximum point blank range (+/- 2") of 200 yards is more than satisfactory for a dangerous game rifle. So sighted, the .375 (300 grain RN), .400 (400 grain RN), and .465 (480 grain RN) H&H Belted Magnum cartridges all have quite similar trajectories and allow identical aiming points out to 200 yards. The dedicated dangerous game hunter can use two or all three of these cartridges interchangeably without considering trajectory.

The tremendous killing power of the .465 H&H Magnum is simply unnecessary for anything but the largest, thick-skinned dangerous game, principally the African elephant. The proof will be what happens in the field, but the new .465 H&H seems to be a well thought out design for a new elephant cartridge, backed by one of the two or three most prestigious gun makers in the world.

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Copyright 2003, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.