The 9.3x64 Brenneke

By Chuck Hawks

Wilhelm Brenneke (born in 1864, died in 1951) designed the 9.3x64. He was one of the best known and most influential German cartridge and bullet designers and originated cartridges that are still in use today. One of these is the 9.3x64. Brenneke designed the 9.3x64 around 1910, shortly before the First World War, but it wasn't until the 1920's that it became popular in Europe and Africa.

Brenneke also designed the "Torpedo" bullets, the TIG and TUG, which were early controlled expansion, dual core bullets of complicated design somewhat like the modern Speer Grand Slam. The Torpedo bullets are still produced for the 9.3x64 and loaded by RWS. While superior bullets for their time, they have been surpassed by modern premium bullets such as the A-Square Dead Tough, Barnes TSX, Nosler Partition, Swift A-Frame, et al.

This powerful medium bore cartridge is on the order of the .358 Norma Magnum or .375 H&H Magnum in application and effectiveness. With proper bullets it is suitable for all of the worlds' outsized and/or dangerous thin-skinned game, including moose, eland, lion, tiger, jaguar, and the great bears, as well as the various thick-skinned bovine species, such as American bison and African Cape buffalo. In a pinch the 9.3x64 will do for elephant and rhino, especially with a good "solid" bullet such as the A-Square Monolithic Solid. European hunters take their 9.3x64 rifles on moose hunts in Scandinavia and safaris in Africa, where the cartridge has a good reputation. In some African countries 9.3mm is the legal minimum caliber for hunting lion, rhino and elephant.

The 9.3x64 is a modern looking, rimless, bottleneck cartridge intended for use primarily in bolt action rifles. Double rifles, single shot rifles, and drillings have also been adapted to the 9.3x64. It is built on a magnum size, but beltless, case with a slightly rebated rim diameter of .496" and a body diameter at the base of .507". This somewhat unusual .496" rim diameter is in-between the standard .473" and the magnum .531" rim diameters. The 9.3x64 case tapers slightly to a shoulder diameter of .474" and the shoulder angle is 17 degrees. The length from base to the top of the shoulder is 2.176" and the total case length is 2.52". Overall cartridge length is 3.43". 9.3x64 ammunition is loaded to a maximum average pressure of 63,861 piezo psi.

9.3x64 Ammunition is factory loaded by RWS in Germany and A-Square in the United States. 9.3mm (.366") bullets suitable for reloading are produced by Barnes, Nosler, RWS, Speer, Swift, and Woodleigh, among others. New 9.3x64 rifles are built in Europe.

RWS factory loads for the 9.3x64 are supplied with 247, 285, and 293 grain bullets. The 247 grain RWS soft point bullet is loaded to a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2760 fps and muzzle energy (ME) of 4178 ft. lbs. The 285 grain RWS soft point bullet has a MV of 2690 fps and ME of 4590 ft. lbs. The heavy 293 grain RWS soft point bullet is loaded to a MV of 2590 fps and ME of 4298 ft. lbs.

A-Square factory loads come with a choice of three different 286 grain RN bullets, the Lion Load, Dead Tough and Monolithic Solid. They have identical SD (.305) and BC (.279) figures. Each is constructed for a specific purpose, as the names indicate. The Dead Tough is a deep penetrating, controlled expansion soft point bullet suitable for general use on heavy game. The A-Square "Triad" of bullets are loaded to a MV of 2700 fps with ME of 4629 ft. lbs. The 200 yard figures are 2103 fps and 2808 ft. lbs. The trajectory of the A-Square factory loads looks like this: +2.33" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -10.1" at 300 yards. If I owned a 9.3x64 rifle, it is the A-Square factory loads that I would rely on.

9.3x64 reloading data can be found in the A-Square and Nosler reloading manuals. According to Nosler data, their 250 grain Ballistic Tip spitzer bullet (SD .267) can be loaded to a MV of 2640 fps in front of 63.0 grains of RL15 powder and a MV of 2802 fps in front of 67.0 grains of RL15.

The 286 grain Nosler Partition spitzer bullet can be driven to a MV of 2476 fps by 62.0 grains of RL15 and a MV of 2601 fps by 66.0 grains of the same powder. RL15 proved to be the most accurate powder with both Nosler bullets. Nosler technicians used RWS cases and Remington 9 1/2M primers for these loads, which were tested in a 25.5" barrel.

The trajectory of the 286 grain Nosler Partition bullet (BC .482) fired at a MV of 2600 fps from a scoped rifle looks like this (Nosler figures): +2.2" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -9.2" at 300 yards. Clearly, the 9.3x64 is a good 250+ yard big game caliber.

Recoil, of course, is right up there with the other very powerful medium bore calibers. A 9 pound 9.3x64 rifle comes back at the shooter with 36.5 ft. lbs. of free recoil energy.

The .375 H&H was introduced in 1912 as a counter to the rise in popularity of the German 9.3mm cartridges before the First World War. Because Britain won that war and also the Second World War that followed some 20 years later, the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum became the world's leading medium bore cartridge. The equally useful 9.3x64 Brenneke became an also ran, virtually unknown outside of Continental Europe and Africa. However, anyone who has a 9.3x64 rifle can rest assured that he or she owns as useful a medium bore caliber as can be had.

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