Holland & Holland 'Compound' bullet

The label on this box of H&H .375 Magnum cartridges I spotted on the internet today indicates that they are loaded with 285 grain ‘compound’ bullets. Does anyone know what this bullet is?

I can’t give you a clear cut answer to your question but as nobody else has chipped in I thought I would try as best I could. If nothing else it will bring it back to the top.
I would date that box at a pure guess as 1920s (?) around that time H&H and a small number of other London gunmakers dominated the world big game / dangerous game market. They supplied not only the rifles, they supplied the ammunition as well.

The higher velocities of the then modern big game rifles meant that more meaningful bullet development was possible compared to the old fashioned “solid”.
Many things like duplex jackets were tried to control and supposedly improve penetration although I suspect the real reason was more in the realm of marketing than ballistics.

The answer to your question lies somewhere in that area. If I were to make a stab I would say its some kind of duplex jacket.

I had thought it might be the Leslie Taylor capped bullet, which I believe is the duplex jacket you refer to. George Hoyem, in his volume three of The History & Development of Small Arms Ammunition, says that after the Westley Richards patents on the LT capped bullet ran out, this bullet design was widely used; perhaps the compound bullet was Holland’s name for their version of the LT capped bullet.


Most of the compound bullet designs were patented. I can’t say that H&H held a patent but it would be one place to start looking. Also, back issues of the JOURNAL have scattered bits and pieces on the patented bullets (back when Jim Sones was contributing). I know this isn’t much help and searching either of these two sources can be a real pain.

I recall that Issue 445 (the one with my article in it) also had some illustrations of other patented bullets.

Good Luck. That’s a great box.



Holland & Holland did produce a

There was a lot of this sort of thing going on at the time. People went to these gunmakers because they know that their very life might depend on their rifle and ammunition. They were prepared to pay for the best.

For the gunmakers involved there was a commercial imperative to be seen as the best and these patent bullets were part of the mystique they surrounded themselves with.

The gunmakers were also in direct competition with each other which explains why they each had their own range of bespoke calibres and patent bullets. H & H wouldn’t get involved with anything that carried the Wesley Richards name although they might copy it and call it their own design.

The .375 was introduced in 1912 but early popularity was stifled by the outbreak of WW1 in 1914 so it is regarded more as a product of the 20s. Its baby brother the .300 followed in 1925.
By this time H & H were far out in front of the competition in the calibre stakes.

The capped bullets were typical of the era, what I actually has in mind was a bullet with a second shorter steel jacket inside the main jacket to stiffen up the nose area. ( that was my guess).
Steel, bronze and various other nose inserts were also very much in fashion although there was a danger they would act as a spreader on impact by forcing back into the softer lead core. (like a modern ballistic tip)

The bullets were a bit of a contradiction, you wanted deep penetration to reach the vital areas but you also wanted a design that would give up all its energy and not just zip straight through taking its energy with it.

So you need a blunt nosed bullet that won’t deform at .375 velocities even if it comes into contact with heavy bone.

Very few of the patented bullets performed as claimed. Here in the United States only two had any degree of success - the most complicated (Peters Protected Point), and the simplest (REM-UMC Brass Point). It’s ironic that only the Brass Point survives to this day, albeit in it’s more modern form, the Nosler polymer Ballistic Tip.

Only time will tell how the slew of late 20th Century patented bullets will fare, but I suspect that few of them will be around 50 years from now, assuming that hunting itself survives.


I very much appreciate the information and patent number on the H&H compound bullet. It would appear the combination of factors mentioned in several of the responses in this thread resulted in these bullets passing out of favor rather quickly - no wonder I hadn’t seen any reference to the compound bullet before. Thanks everyone for your interesting input.

Unfortunately, the box is not mine. I would love to see one of the bullets after Ray got through sectioning it.

I’m pulling this one back up because of a query on another thread