The 9.3x57 Mauser

By Chuck Hawks

The 9.3x57mm Mauser rifle cartridge is unknown to most North American shooters. However, it is a reasonably popular number in Scandinavia, and particularly Sweden, for hunting moose, wild boar and to a certain extent deer. Its ballistics are much like the .358 Winchester cartridge. Its purpose is essentially identical, namely shooting large, thin-skinned game at woods ranges. It is regarded as not powerful enough for dangerous thick-skinned African game, but does well on leopard and large African antelope.

It is important not to confuse the 9.3x57 Mauser cartridge, which is based on an 8x57 case necked-up to accept 9.3mm (.366" diameter) bullets with the similar 9x57 Mauser, based on the same 8x57 case necked-up to accept 9mm (.356" diameter) bullets. The 9.3x57 Mannlicher is a different cartridge (but similar in appearance), as is the straight cased 9.3x57R, which is not a rimmed version of the 9.6x57 Mauser. The 9.3x57 Mauser is not interchangeable with any of these cartridges. As you can see, the "logical" European metric cartridge designations can be just as confusing as the British and American cartridge names.

The 9.3x57 originated around the turn of the 20th Century, a time when the 8x57 case was being necked-up and down to create a family of hunting cartridges. The 9.3mm version was the second largest of these, surpassed only by the 10.75x57 in bullet diameter.

The 9.3x57's popularity in Scandinavia was given a big boost in 1927 with the introduction of the Husqvarna Model 46 bolt action sporting rifle in 9.3x57 and 6.5x55. Known as the "potato thrower" in 9.3x57, this gave Swedish moose hunters access to a reasonably priced, domestically produced, high quality rifle with a sporter style stock similar to contemporary British and German hunting rifles. Many Model 46 (and later Model 146) rifles are still in use today.

The 9.3x57 Mauser retains the 8x57's case dimensions in regard to rim and head diameter, case length and shoulder angle. The larger 9.3mm bullet diameter is the big difference, with consequently a much reduced shoulder area. Since the 9.3x57 is a standard rimless case that headspaces on the shoulder, that small shoulder could cause headspacing problems, but apparently its angle is sharp enough that it doesn't. Never the less, if I were reloading 9.3x57mm cartridges, I would watch case length and dimension carefully.

Norma still offers two factory loads in 9.3x57mm. One uses a 232 grain Oryx bullet and the other drives a 286 grain Alaska bullet at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2065 fps and muzzle energy (ME) of 2714 ft. lbs. That is about 300 fps slower with 830 ft. lbs. less ME than the better known 9.3x62 Mauser cartridge, which is generally deemed adequate for dangerous African game.

Reloaders can duplicate the performance of this factory load and A-Square, Barnes, Nosler, Speer, Swift and Woodleigh offer .366" bullets to North American reloaders in 250, 270, 286 and 300 grain weights. Reloading data for the 9.3x57, however, is not easy to find in North American reloading manuals.

The 9th Edition of Cartridges of the World lists a reload using a 286 grain bullet in front of 43.0 grains of IMR 3031 powder for a MV of 2070 fps and ME of 2721 ft. lbs. At 100 yards the remaining velocity is 1914 fps and the energy 2325 ft. lbs. At 200 yards the figures are 1765 fps and 1979 ft. lbs. At 300 yards the velocity is 1625 fps and the energy is 1678 ft. lbs.

In the case of the 286 grain Nosler Partition bullet, which has a SD of .307 and a BC of .482, the trajectory would look like this: +1.9" at 50 yards, +3" at 100 yards, +1.9" at 150 yards, -1.9" at 200 yards, -8.5" at 250 yards, -18.1" at 300 yards. The maximum point blank range (+/- 3") is 211 yards.

A North American elk hunter would probably be better off with a rifle in .358 Winchester caliber. Factory loaded ammo as well as bullets and reloading data are easier to find. In Scandinavia, where 9.3x57 Mauser ammunition is more widely distributed, the reverse would be true.

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Copyright 2006, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.