The list of available rifle cartridges is a long one, even if we only consider those that the rifle companies currently chamber for. Thumbing through a volume like “Cartridges of the World” will show that the historical list is indeed dazzling. While scouring the gun shops, I’ve found a few gems that fire an older, obscure cartridge, but not yet one of the ones I dream about. I’ve picked five cartridges here, that may whet your appetite to learn more about the ammunition of yesteryear, and maybe you’ll find a rare rifle that fires one of the cartridges that has been pushed out of the limelight.
.318 Westley Richards
This is a particular favorite of mine, and although the firm of Westley Richards still makes rifles and ammunition, the one-time star of the African Game Fields has been shoved off the stage. Introduced in 1910, using a case similar to the .30-’06 (but a bit shorter and with a smaller rim diameter), it uses a .330” diameter bullet, and in British fashion is named for land diameter, instead of groove diameter. The 250-grain bullet is driven to 2,400 fps, and quickly made a reputation as a great big game caliber (slight similarity to the .338-06, eh?) and the lighter 180-grain load worked well on smaller antelope and deer. The .318 took a bashing when some folks got trampled and gored trying to use it against elephant and buffalo, and this cartridge probably had a good hand in the “.375 minimum” we have all come to accept. It is a classic African medium, and would make a fantastic rifle to have in ones cabinet.
.275 Holland & Holland Mag.
Released in the same year as the famous .375 H&H, the 7mm variety of the H&H belted case looks and performs very much like our popular 7mm Remington Magnum. Having a case length of 2.50”, it was the first belted case to be of .30-’06 length, preceding the Winchester quartet (.264, .300, .338 and .458) by more than 45 years. I really can’t conclude the reason it never caught on; the ballistics are certainly there, perhaps the fact that it was never a military cartridge may have played a part. You can easily see where Winchester got the idea for their series of long-action magnums.
This cartridge, a proprietary cartridge from the esteemed firm of Griffin & Howe, was—legend has it—developed by Harvey Donaldson, and correct headstamped brass cases were produced by Winchester. The .22-3000 case is based on the .25-20 Winchester Single Shot, and pushes a 50-grain bullet to just over 2,700 fps. Griffin & Howe offered a service in which they would rebarrel the Winchester Model 70 or Model 54. There isn’t a ton of information available, but the .22-3000 shows the early stages of development of the uber-fast .22 centerfires.