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.376 Steyr/ProHunter Impressions
I will state at the outset that I am impressed with this cartridge and rifle combination. It is a powerful round in a carbine-length rifle, which is handy indeed. The rifle comes up nicely to shoot, the trigger is two-stage, crisp, but a bit on the heavy side for my taste. I left that alone since this was not my rifle. It is equipped with a Kahles 1.5-6X42 scope, a 30 mm tube unit with their #7A heavy plex reticle. The scope mounts over the action, which are said to be the same as that for the Browning A-Bolt rifle. The rifle handles like my Steyr Scout, and the recoil is very moderate. I believe that this would be a great medium rifle for a woman or young hunter, as well as older and larger types like me. I took an eland and a warthog with this rifle, and also some impala for leopard bait.

The Rifle

The Steyr .376 ready for action in the leopard blind

Steyr Mannlicher introduced the Steyr Safe Bolt System (SBS) in 1996, and the Steyr Scout based on the SBS action was introduced in 1998. I won’t comment further on the SBS, except for what features are present in the ProHunter .376 Steyr. The rifle has a hammer-forged 20" barrel that shows the Steyr Mannlicher signature pattern of hammer marks. The metal work is finished with a dull grey matte finish. The stock is a dark grey synthetic with removable butt spacers to adjust length of pull. The only hint of colour is the silver trigger. The stock is dished behind the pistol grip on both sides to fit the shooter’s palm. The detachable magazine is also a synthetic, and is black in colour. It holds three cartridges. The iron sights are a post up front, and a wide vee behind. The rear sight has a white triangle at the apex of the vee. These sighs appear to be very sturdy, and are adjustable. Two flush-mount sling swivels are fitted on the forearm and buttstock. The trigger guard is molded into the stock, and is shaped at its rear to lessen recoil effects on the shooter’s hand.

The Cartridge
Hornady makes two loads for this cartridge: a 270 grain and a 225 grain “reduced load”. The lighter bullet is loaded to the same velocity as the heavier, hence the term “reduced”. The .376 Steyr loads use Hornady cases and Hornady’s Spire Point Interlock Bullets. The spire point configuration is Hornady’s name for the shape of the bullet, here a secant ogive. The spire point shape reportedly gives a shorter bearing surface than a more conventional spitzer design, and higher muzzle velocity at the same pressure.

The Hornady cartridge boxes for the 270 grain load gives the following velocity and trajectory data; data reportedly is based on a rifle with a 24" barrel.

Muzzle 100 yds 200 yds 300 yds 400yds 500yds
2600 FPS +1.5" 00.0" -9.75" -28.87" -59.03"

Steyr commissioned the design in Europe, and the cartridge case was developed from the 9.3x64 Brenneke cartridge; its metric designation would be 9.5x60.

Hornady rates this bullet as suitable for large game and for dangerous game, and states that the muzzle velocity range is 2,400 to 3,100 fps. Steyr and Hornady collaborated on the introduction, and Hornady furnishes loaded ammunition, cartridge cases and reloading dies. Hornady also has reloading data for the .376 Steyr in its latest 5th edition of its reloading manual. Hodgdon has data for its powders and a variety of bullets from 210 gr to 300 gr on its online reloading manual.

There has been a huge increase in cartridge development in recent years. First, very large magnum cartridges from 7mm to .375 with high muzzle velocities appeared, followed more recently by several families of shorter, wider cases. These later cartridges share a very efficient design for burning powder, and they achieve most of what the big boys can do, but in a very modest sized package. They allow rifles to be built on short actions, with a very compact overall size. They also exhibit a common property of lower felt recoil because the rocket recoil evident in the big boys is just not there. These compact case designs apparently burn all of their smaller powder charge within the case, and the weight of the powder does not contribute to the recoil energy. At any rate I can assure you that the .376 Steyr shoves the shooter around less than a .338 Win magnum for example. It is much less than my .375 H&H magnums. I predict that these “modest magnums” will sell very well when the marketeers convince gun buyers of their virtues, and they may actually drive some of the monster magnums out of the hunting field.

Field Performance
I set the rifle up for the field by removing one spacer from the stock, which gave me proper head position with respect to the scope. I put on a cobra-style carrying strap, and we were ready to hunt. Length overall is 40", and field weight is 9 pounds.

Clever eland… accompanied by a lookout, a situation like this could easily foil the most concentrated approach.

All shooting was at 100 yards or less. I was looking for an older eland bull with good mass in his horns. I like mass in a head over length of horn. There is no shortage of eland, and we looked over quite a few. On one stalk we were behind a group of eland in some mopane forest that had several mature bulls in company. They were moving ahead of us. Suddenly we crossed a drag trail, which Kenneth and the tracker immediately diagnosed as a large male leopard. We immediately made a left turn, and followed to a nearby dry riverbed. We followed the leopard’s drag with our binoculars, and we could see where he had stashed his kill — a young zebra. We came back that night and sat up with the bait, but that is another story.

Jim and his eland bull taken with the .376 Steyr Prohunter

I stalked the warthog by keeping a large tree between he and I, until I got right up to the trunk. The trunk divided, and I rested my hand on one branch of the trunk and put the crosshair behind the fore leg. At the shot the warthog sprinted ahead for some yards and then turned and raced back the way he had come. He reared up on his hind legs and crashed into a tree, and fell dead. The bullet destroyed the heart and both lungs, and exited.

We finally found a pair of eland bulls that Kenneth and I liked. One had small worn down horns, but the other was blue in colour and huge in body size. He had good mass in his horns, and good length. We started the stalk through the bush. Kenneth said he could walk quickly when he was feeding. I didn’t understand right away, but soon saw that the bull was breaking young trees down using his horns and his bulk. This of course was a noisy process, and each time the eland broke down a tree we made major progress, approaching from his right-rear quarter. I used a handy tree at about 100 yards range to get a shot into his right shoulder. The second shot was into his left hip, and the combination of the two shots put the bull on the ground. He knew we were coming up from behind him,

Tracker, Jim and the .376 Steyr prohunter hot on tracks

but he turned his head away and exposed his neck as if granting permission. I fired the final shot into his neck from about 10 yards, and he groaned and died.

The 270 gr Hornady Interlock bullets recovered from the eland were fired into the front shoulder and rear quarter. Both broke heavy bones; the recovered bullets weighed respectively 237.4 gr and 231.8 gr, or 87.9% and 85.9%. The skinners could not find the shot into the neck. All of the other bullets shot into smaller animals exited, showing evidence of expansion. I shot the warthog behind the shoulder, and the bullet took out the heart and lungs and continued on into the mopane scrub. I have to admit I would rather have shot the eland with a solid, at least for the first shot. Those animals are huge — a couple of hundred pounds larger than the Cape buff. We loaded the eland into Donkey the truck (the name I gave it for its habits) with the electric winch, but it took eight men to get it out of the truck at the butchery. Hornady Interlock bullets are not considered premium bullets as are FailSafe, Swift, Trophy Bonded, Barnes and Woodleigh, but they have a reputation for performance. The Interlock is a ring designed into the inside of the jacket in the bullet heel area to retain the core on expansion.

Jim Dodd, African Hunter


Jeg er ikke fejlfri,men det er så tæt på at det skræmmer mig.
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