We just took in a Ruger #1-S Medium Sporter rifle this week, and it forced me to stop down and write a blog post about it. Man, we don’t see these anymore.
The Ruger #1 is a very strong single-shot rifle that Ruger has manufactured for decades in everything from .22 LR up to the largest elephant bore calibers. I remember a time when our gun shop kept a selection of them in various calibers in stock at all times, but as of this writing, Ruger does not even catalog the gun, except for a small handful of distributor exclusive models. It is currently available in exactly 4 calibers. I remember when it was usually available in 20+ calibers.
So, what makes the Ruger #1 so cool? It is a slim and handy single shot with a very strong action design that will handle the pressures of almost any caliber you would want to chamber in it. Ruger made it in myriad configurations from short, light rifles up to heavy barreled varmint rifles, and they have remained popular over the years.
This one we just took in is actually a pretty rare iteration of the gun. It is a Medium Sporter chambered in the rather mysterious 9.3x74R, a caliber which some of you heard about for the first time when you read this sentence.
The 9.3x74R is mostly unknown to the American rifleman, but is well-known in Europe and Africa, and has been for over a century. It was designed as a sporting cartridge in Germany in the early 1900’s for use in single shot, double guns, and combination guns. That undoubtedly accounts for the rim on the cartridge, as it would easily chamber in a double rifle, but was not necessarily expected to cycle in bolt action or other repeating rifles.
The 9.3x74R roughly falls on the spectrum between a .35 Whelen and a .375 H&H magnum, although it does not attain the velocity of either of those cartridges. It can push a 250-grain bullet over 2500 fps, and there are heavier loads available for large and dangerous big game.
Over the years, I have seen comparisons drawn between the 9.3 and the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum. While ballistic performance is a bit below a .375 H&H, the practical performance is not significantly reduced, and the 9.3 has been used extensively on the African continent with good success on all of the same game animals for which a hunter would use the larger .375.
Ruger has never shied away from chambering lesser known and obscure cartridges, albeit in judicious quantities, and I’ve always appreciated them for it. This particular model/caliber was only in production for about 4 years, so is a rare find. Our specimen has a nice oil-finished walnut stock with straight, dark grain, and is a striking and classy looking gun with the Schnabel forend, forward barrel band swivel, and quarter rib.
I have never personally owned or shot any rifle chambered in 9.3x74R, but I’ve always thought it a really intriguing caliber. This rifle was acquired for immediate resale, but we do have ammo for it, and if I get to the range in the next few weeks before it sells, I am definitely going to throw some classic German punishment downrange.