One rifle to Africa


April 16, 2003, 06:12 PM
Planning on going to Africa in 2005 and one of the obvious things to worry about is which rifle. My wife and I will both be hunting, only plains game.

I've heard conflicting advice... '.375 will do anything', 'the fast .33s are good', '300 Win Mag is versatile' etc... Anyone actually take one rifle on a non-dangerous only trip?

I plan on having a Tikka Whitetail Synthetic in 6.5x55 by then and will probably take that. Or maybe I'd like to get another Africa-appropriate rifle... I'd could use this as a reason to get a Blazer R93, probably the cheapest synthetic model. Something that could take larger game but won't beat my wife around too much. I think 7mm Rem Mag would be the upper limit on a lightweight gun. 7mm should take care of most plains game, wouldn't you thing? Assuming proper shot placement. I'm told that long range shooting isn't a consideration as the guides typically won't let you take longer shots anyway some maybe a slower, heavier choice would be better like a 350 Rem Mag.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that we'll need to take two rifles. Maybe the 25-06 or 6.5 and something like the 350.

Who here's gone to Africa for plains game?

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April 17, 2003, 11:11 AM
For plains game anything your comfortable with will work just fine. I perfer the .375 but a good 30-06 or up works great. If your hunting the bush veld (Kwa Zulu Natal or some such) the shots tend to be 100yds and under and in serious brushy conditons if your huntin the Eastern Cape (The Karoo in particular)the shots tend to be long My longest shot there was on a Sprinbok at 358yds. Look for my posting I'll give some details of the conditions. If you want a one gun do everything rifle in Africa the .375 is the best choice. The .338's and smaller are not legal for dangerous so they are out and the .416 is a bit much for many people the .375 just makes sense.


April 17, 2003, 12:11 PM
if you can afford it a .376 styer scout would be nice.:)

April 17, 2003, 08:01 PM
I agree with H&H - if you want a "one rifle fits all" approach, the .375 H&H is probably your best bet. It's big enough to handle buffalo if necessary, but light enough that you won't be overgunned for the smaller game. Hint - take solids with you as well as expanding bullets! A solid will take even small game such as springbok without tearing up the meat.

However, by far the best approach (IMHO) is to take a general-purpose rifle in the 7mm./.30 caliber range, plus a "heavy" for the big stuff. My personal choice if I were to return to Africa would be a .308 Steyr Scout for general-purpose work, with a .416 for the big stuff on occasion. However, I'd take a .375 instead of the .416 without any worries. My PH would have a heavier rifle if needed for backup purposes.

April 17, 2003, 09:36 PM
I don't know anything about huntin in africa other than what I've got from reading about people's exeriences here. It really seems like when your traveling that far,and putting that kind of cash into the trip you should take back up gun though. At least with my luck, if something can break, it will break.
I wouldn't want to only take one rifle, and then have to make my dream hunt with a borrowed gun I wasn't familiar with, or with a hasty repair on the one I brought.

April 17, 2003, 09:38 PM
My two Africa rifles are a combination of the two; Either a Steyr Scout in .308 and a .375H&H for plains game or If I'm on a dangerous game hunt I bring a 375H&H and a .458Lott.

My reasons are such: On a plains game hunt I use the .375 primarily in country where I have a chance of running into a bad situation with a nasty Buff, Lion, elephant, rhino whatever. I carry the .308 in tamer country and I also have it available for the smaller delicate anteolope. However the .375 with good solids or well constructed expanders really does not tear up stuff that much. Also you never know when you may get a chance to shoot a buff or a trouble Hippo or even an elephant on your plains game hunt it has and does occur so I Like to have those avenues covered should the oppourtunity arise.

On dangerous game I carry the .458 primarily and the .375 as a back up in case the big gun gets busted I'm still legal to hunt with the .375. Also the .375 makes a great all around kudu, zebra, croc ETC gun to have in case the opportunity arises.

I heard a priceless radio conversation on this last hunt. My buddy was talking to one of the land owners on the radio and enquired if that nasty black rhino was still around our area. The land owner replied that it was. My buddy asked what to do if we got into a bind with this rhino. The land owner replied that we should at all costs avoid having to shoot it. To which my buddy relpied well I've got a bad knee so I won't shoot the rhino but by the way I'm not going to die with a rifle in my hands either....over.:D

April 18, 2003, 09:11 AM
What did your professional hunter advise?

I would take the 375 H&H and the 458 Win Mag if I were going for the big game species. The other guys have mentioned the 30/06 class weapons and to carry heavy solids for good penetration, so that is pretty much all the info. Anything less than .375 caliber is not legal for the interesting species so I personally would shoot everything with either 375 or 458. The CZ company makes good quality affordable Mauser clones with good iron sights, controlled feed, and Circassian walnut stocks that minimizes recoil of the safari calibers.

I agree that skimping on a gun is poor economy on a trip like this that would be the trip of a lifetime for me.

April 18, 2003, 09:32 AM
To me, the .376 Steyr is the general purpose cartridge for African plains game, which can range from a few pounds to a ton in weight. In the Steyr Scout and ProHunter, which have 19" and 20" barrels, respectively, the factory 270-grain loads achieve 2500 fps.

The .376 Steyr would benefit from a 24" barrel, in which it would equal the .375 H&H in the same length barrel (300-grain bullets at 2500 fps), but with noticeably less recoil. It would also benefit from handloading with premium bullets if you're going after the larger plains game.

I used 300-grain Woodleigh SP Protected Points at 2300 fps out of my Steyr Scout on my last African hunt with perfect satisfaction on bushbuck, nyala, waterbuck, and eland. Ranges were 50, 12, 150, and 65 yards, respectively, and I got full penetration on the smaller two and stops under the far side skin on the larger ones.

The 9.3x62 with 286-grain bullets at 2350 fps would also fill this one-gun plains game requirement nicely. It's very similar to the .376 Steyr (.366" vs. .375" bullet) in that it offers reliable killing power with modest recoil. A CZ550 in this chambering would be a very classic and classy Africa rig.

And both the .376 Steyr and 9.3x62 with heavy bullets can handle dangerous game in a pinch, should an unexpected encounter go bad on you.

April 20, 2003, 10:53 AM
Unless you're going on a specialty hunt for birds or pygmy antelope, it would be hard to imagine circumstances where taking a .375 H&H would be a mistake in Africa.

But if you're truly hunting "plains game only" then there's nothing wrong with a .30/06. Loaded with a 180 Nosler Partition or some other "premium" bullet, a .30/06 is adequate for all non-dangerous thin-skinned African game with the possible exceptions of giraffe and eland, which I haven't taken. I have personally used a .30/06 on kudu, zebra, Cookson's wildebeest, warthog, impala, and various other plains game, as well as a leopard, with no problem.

I have some reservations about some of the "non-standard" cartridges mentioned. Ballistic performance is fine, but if your rifle arrives and your ammo doesn't - I've met people this has happened to! - you MAY find .30/06, .375, or .458 ammo locally. If you have something like a .376 Steyr or a 9.3 x 62, you're probably out of luck.

April 20, 2003, 06:03 PM
Plains game only, something like a .35 Whelen or .300 WSM would seem to be the ticket for a fairly light-recoiling "enough gun".

If I was headed for bigger stuff, a .416 or .458 Lott would prolly travel with me.


April 27, 2003, 08:47 PM
seeing as its a one time trip... go ahead dont be outgunned, get a .50BMG

nah, only joking. .300 mag should suffice

April 28, 2003, 10:17 PM
My buddy took my advice (and Craig Boddington's) and bought a .375 for his safari (plains game only) but after going through all the red tape of getting a rifle to the RSA and Namibia, he opted to use a rifle his PH had, namely a Remington 7mm Magnum.

Now there isn't anything 'traditional' about a remmy or the 7mm magnum cartridge' but it worked for him. He took kudu, zebra, and gemsbok with the 7mag.

Personally, after hearing how tough zebra is, that's why I'd want the 375.

April 29, 2003, 09:34 PM
:scrutiny: I'd take what I took my first trip. For the small and medium sized plains game, I took a .280Remington. A .270 or '06 would be good, too. For the large and dangerous stuff, I took a .411/.416Remington.

These two worked very well and I wasn't way overgunned for duiker, steinbuck, caracal, etc. :cool:

April 30, 2003, 09:31 AM
Boddington's latest article in RifleShooter (May/June 2003) suggests the .338s for the largest African plains game, although his personal favorite is the venerable .30-06.

Quotes: "...for a normal plains-game safari I do not recommend a .375 as the one and only rifle." "...the .33s are ideal for the larger antelopes, and a .35 Whelen would be wonderful in thornbush."

cleve land
April 30, 2003, 03:23 PM
I highly recomend the 375 H&H. That being said the35Whelan has served well as an "all purpose" rifle. The Remington Classic with a 4 power scope works.:D

May 1, 2003, 12:57 AM
Absolutely agree that .35 Whelen is a WONDERFUL "all-round" African cartridge. It's not powerful enough for buffalo, etc. if they know you're around, but it will take any plains game at reasonable ranges, and deliver more "punch" than a standard .30-caliber rifle. However, in a "one-rifle" scenario, it just doesn't cut the mustard, because "in Africa, everything bites", as Peter Capstick so memorably said, and one's rifle had better be capable of stopping the teeth before they get to you! Hence, I'd still go with a .308-class rifle for general plains use, and a heavier rifle (.375 H&H/.376 Steyr and up) for the bigger beasties.

May 2, 2003, 04:58 PM
Thanks for all the replies. It is quite coincidental that Boddington has an article that almost exactly answers my question that came out a week or two after I asked. :p

I've found two local guys that have gone to Africa. One said he took a 280 Ackley Improved and the other said he always takes a 270 and a 375.

Like I said, my wife will be shooting this rifle and while she's plenty good with smaller rifles, I'm not sure she would even want to try the 375. She shoots my 700ADL in 270 with authority and anything within 200 yards is in a real danger of getting a well placed hole put in it but she says that's just about the most recoil she would want to put up with. I've shot a 375H&H owned by a friend when I lived in Texas. It was a pretty heavy rifle - I'd guess close to 10 lbs including scope. My ADL weighs 7.9 with scope so it's pretty hard to compare the two other than to say that the 375 was in an entirely different recoil class than the 270. Looking at Chuck Hawks website, it looks like in general, a 375 is going to have two to two-and-a-half times the recoil of the 270. I just don't know if my wife will be comfortable with that and really, the trip is more her idea than mine.

Of course, the 280 is about the same as the 270, the 30-06 should be fine, the 35 Whelen and the 350 Rem Mag both look like they shouldn't be too hard for her to learn to shoot well with. How's the 8x68 fare in Africa? It looks like it should be in the right ballpark.

Or maybe we should just resign ourselves to take two rifles. For some reason, I just get the feeling that I would want to keep it very near me at all times during the trip and that would be much easier with one rifle than with two. Or am I just stressing too much about this? :confused:

May 5, 2003, 10:00 PM
As a matter of policy, I feel it is my duty to carry a firearm wherever and whenever possible.

"Even if I'm just the observer." Take a .35 Whelen, .338, or .375 for you (if you contemplated DG, I'd say take a good .45-70 and stout ammo, at the mildest), and something in the 6.5mm-7.6mm range for your wife. YMMV.


May 11, 2003, 01:43 AM
to H&Hhunter (and those who have been there)

why not a 45-70?

Art Eatman
May 11, 2003, 09:24 AM
Doc, Rich Lucibella has quite a few pictures at TFL about his success with a .45-70.

Seems to me a drawback would be trajectory when hunting plains game; and if one has iron sights on a dangerous-game rifle, low light becomes a problem.

Almost all accounts of hunting lion or buffalo seem to concern hunting during times of good daylight. And, rather up close and personal. Plains game such as antelope might be seen very early or very late as well as mid-day, and possibly at distances beyond a couple of hundred yards.

The "shooting package", then, is the usual set of compromises if one is to use one gun for various types of hunting and differing sizes of animals.


May 11, 2003, 12:47 PM

so how about that 45-70 (say in a Marlin guide gun) for that up close and personal back up gun?



Art Eatman
May 11, 2003, 04:23 PM
Rich had a takedown rig built. He used the hot Garrett ammo, IIRC. Got a couple of good buffalo with no difficulty. Excellent bullet performance.

Somebody else has spoken of successful use of a .45-70, but I don't remember if that was here or back at TFL.

All I can do is repeat what somebody else has said about African stuff; I'm just armchair...


May 12, 2003, 12:55 PM
In Africa, the heaviest rifle I've used is .470 NE. I did most of my shooting with either .308 or .375 H&H. I only "discovered" the .45-70 after moving to America.

That said, I think the hot-loaded .45-70 (specifically Garrett Hammerheads) is a wonderful round for big, dangerous stuff in Africa. Having BTDT on African game (lived there for the first 37 years of my life!), I think that this round (again, I'm talking specifically about the Garrett ammo. here, not the "standard" .45-70, which is anaemic by comparison) would be perfectly usable on anything there, up to and including elephant and rhino. I would not use it beyond about 125-150 yards, but within this distance, I would have full confidence in it, and if I had to defend my life against a charging lion or buffalo, I would not feel undergunned. The penetration of this round is spectacular, and I know of two cases where it shot through Cape buffalo end-to-end (on one, including the skull on the way in). That's pretty impressive in my book...

The only drawback to the .45-70 is the weapons platform. A Guide Gun is a great short-range defense weapon, but I'd love to see this round in a longer-barreled bolt-action weapon or a good double. I think in a double, it would rank right up there with the .470 NE as a great African round. Certainly, I'd class the Garrett .45-70's as vastly superior in terminal performance to the standard .458 Win. Mag.

Note, too, that we're not talking so much about the energy of the round as its terminal effects. The broad-meplat, heavy-for-caliber Garretts seem to have a spectacular effect in meat, that is simply not matched by conventional jacketed rounds with more energy. I'm pretty much sold on this stuff for dealing with animals with teeth and halitosis - especially at halitosis-identification range! :D

May 12, 2003, 01:43 PM
I'd class the Garrett .45-70's as vastly superior in terminal performance to the standard .458 Win. Mag.

Quite impressive testimony. I was a little dubious of this when Rich said he was taking the guide gun for Mr. Buff, but it took them out just fine. I take it one should look to get similar bullets into the .458 and the performance would go up accordingly?

s&w 24
May 12, 2003, 02:05 PM
A family friend went to africa for plains game and only brougt one rifle. A rem 700 in 7 mag, no problems and all game shot went down quickly the thing he said helped him most is that he knew how the rifle shot because he has shot it often. When he goes back to africa he isn't changing a thing.

Art Eatman
May 12, 2003, 02:24 PM
Correction on .45-70: Rich Lucibella shot 3 Cape buffalo on a trip to Africa. He used both Garret and Buffalo Bore loads to do so. He said the Buffalo Bore was by far the better performer. (From a comment elsewhere.)


May 12, 2003, 06:38 PM
The .45-70 is a fine choice with the correct ammunition. I perfer a .458 Lott or a .375 or even .470 NE for one reason and one reason only.

I can purchsae Ammo in country If I need to. Especially for the .458 lott ,.375 and I've found .470 NE to available as well. I don't know that .45-70 is very available on the continent.

As far as Rich's .45-70 trip and buffalo he went to RSA last summer with Ashley of AO sights and they did a lever gun plains game hunt with grerat success. Ashley shot his custom marlin in .500 Alaskan and they killed game past 150 yards on occasion with no problems.

But keep in mind that these two guys are lever gun ghost ring fanatics.:)

May 14, 2003, 04:48 AM
Thanks again for the additional replies.

Yeah... I will definately be taking a bolt gun, scoped. Dangerous game is not, I repeat, NOT on the agenda whatsoever! I think if I just decide that kudu and zebra are off limits, then something like 6.5x55, 270 Win, 7mm Rem Mag should work just fine. Again, my primary concern, at least at this point, is getting something my wife can shoot and not be afraid of. She's shot my 700ADL in 270 and my heavy 7mm Rem Mag and didn't shy away from those. I'd hate to go undergunned but the success I've read about with the heavier loads in 6.5x55 make me look to it though I've never had one and I'm comfortable with a .270 Winchester forwards and backwards.

Still, if a BAR in 338 Win Mag doesn't have much more recoil than a my light 270, that might be an option. But then I question the reliability of a semi auto. Or maybe I should just take a BAR in 338 and a bolt gun in 270.

Can you tell I'm becoming a worrywart on this whole Africa thing? :D :uhoh: :what: :confused: :barf:

May 14, 2003, 06:18 AM
Bear in mind that most African countries won't allow you to bring a semi-auto rifle into the country - security risk, and all that sort of thing. Certainly this is the case in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. Bolt or lever (or double) are the only options available.

May 14, 2003, 11:42 PM
Well, I guess that clears that up pretty quickly. ;)

The more I talk with folks, the more recommend something in 338 or 35 caliber. Was looking at one of those new Model 600... calling them the 673. Not crazy about the light colored stock but I guess I could strip it and finish it in something like translucent black.

Is .350 Rem Mag ammo readily available in many African countries? Since that is a concern as well.

May 15, 2003, 02:42 AM
I've never seen .350 Rem. Mag. ammo commercially stocked in South Africa, or any of the neighboring countries. IIRC, when Jeff Cooper went out there with his "Lion Scout" in that caliber, he took his own ammo. with him (he shoots handloads anyway...). You'll find .303 British, .308, some (limited bullet selection) .30-'06, .375 H&H are the freely available rounds: some others (e.g. 7mm. Rem. Mag., .270, .300 Win. Mag.) are available but you might have to look around for a decent selection. I'd advise you to take along as much as you're allowed of your own ammunition, and don't trust to local suppliers if it's anything other than the list I gave above.

May 15, 2003, 11:12 PM
Some guys go to Africa; I MIGHT get to Disneyland! (, you know...) ;)


At least you've got a couple of years to mull this over.
I'm reading this thread with great interest.
I don't know if my list of 'stuff' will assist you or not, but I'll throw it out. I tried to cover any hunting in North America with my choices.
It looks like if I ever get past Disneyland, I might be able to hunt Africa, too!
The WIFE will be happy to know that I've gotten all the rifles I'll ever need.
My current 'hunting battery' consists of:

.284/7mm Rem. Mag. - Remington 700 BDL & Browning BAR MkII Safari/BOSS-CR.
.30-06 Govt. - I say, "OTT SIX" - Remington 7400 Synthetic Carbine.
.338 Win. Mag. - Remington 700 BDL-DM.
.45-70 Govt. - Marlin 1895 'SS' full-size rifle.

I have ALWAYS wanted a .375 H&H, and I'm going to trade/sell off my .338 Win. Mag. because it was a compromise to begin with and it reminds me of an ex-friend who I was always at odds with over the two cartridges...he the .338, and I the .375 proponents.
I'm going to get a Remington 700 BDL of some sort in .375 H&H, everyone elses opinions of the rifle and cartridge be, uh, 'darned'.

The way I set the guns up:

700/7mm in a Bell&Carlson Thumbhole Sporter Stock.
Leupold 4.5-14x40 matte; Redfield JR rings/base.
Very comfortable to shoot this gun.

BAR/7mm in a Bell&Carlson stock.
Leupold 4.5-14x40, blue; Millett 'engraved rings' and 1-pc. base.
This is also very comfortable because of the gas operation, but, it sounds like you won't be able to take one to Africa.

.30-06 Carbine is in a Bell&Carlson stock. (current setup)
Redfield 2-7 Widefield Lo-Pro matte; Redfield JR rings/base.
Great little rifle. Accurate. Reliable. Not too bad on recoil, either.

.338 Win.Mag. is either blue/wood or blue/synthetic stock.
Redifield 1.75-5x20, blue. Redfield JR rings/base, blue.
Shoots NICE. Accurate. Reliable. Isn't a .375 H&H...

.45-70 Lever Action is standard issue, so far.
It's getting the .338's scope, and it yielded the 2-7 to the Carbine; Redfield JR base/bottom screw rings, blue.
Will be using a DRC large lever loop and WWG Bear Proof ejector.
The Buffalo Bore Ammo will have to be used in this gun, just because!

When I replace the .338 with the .375 H&H, I plan to put it into a Hogue Full Bedding Block stock and use some 'Tactical' rings and base to help with the power-to-weight ratio.
The scope is yet to be determined, but I'll probably go either Leupold or NIKON. Tactical, that is. A Tactical .375 H&H sounds like a helluva lotta fun to me!

Good Luck with your decision making process. I hope you find the 7mm Rem.Mag. is a good choice for both of you if you're only taking one rifle to 'the Continent'.

May 16, 2003, 12:09 AM
One thing to remeber guys,
It ain't the bringing it with you part that worries me. I can pack enough ammo to start a small war.

It's the oh S#$% my duffel bag with the ammo got lost in route. That's when your .350 rem mag just became a boat anchor in Africa. Or your .460 G&A for that matter as long as we're talking about J.C.

I totally agree with your .375 thinking. But a dangerous game cartridge in a push feed action!!??? That's akin to having the most awsome 4-wheel drive vehical on the planet and putting street slicks on it for tires.:D Come to light son, controlled feed mauser type action is the zen of dangerous game hunting.

I love the looks of that little kevlar stocked 20" Remington .375H&H available in your better sporting goods stores. But the fact that it has a push feed action and a trigger block verses a sear block safety makes it much like that really good looking super model after you just found out she/he is actually named George.

Looks like the real thing but it just ain't going to do the job you wanted it to.

May 16, 2003, 12:24 AM
IF I should make it to Africa and find out at the crucial moment my date is named 'George', my PH better damn well have a 'BETTY' in HIS hands!!! :D

May 16, 2003, 12:56 AM
Thanks for the detailed response BM.

Not knowing anything about the subject other than second hand info which, while better than nothing, ins't to be taked as gospel but when multiple sources agree with my common sense, it I sort of view the contenders like this:

.243, .25-06, and even .308, .270 and .280 are cartridges that I consider to be the lighter rifle of a two rifle battery.

The .338 Win Mag, any of the Ultra Mags and the .375 H&H and any of the .416s are in a recoil category that I just don't know that I would be comfortable with and I really doubt my wife would be willing to work up to. The .35 Whelen and .350 Rem Mag, while they seem to do a lot with relatively little fanfare, are still pushing into that category and the hot-loaded .45-70s are just as bad if not worse than many of the others.

So that pretty much leaves the .30-06 and the 7mm Rem and .300 Win Mags (and related short mags if you prefer) as the glaringly obvious choices for a one rifle trip. I have a heavy barreled 7mm Mag and I want to get a .300 WSM from Savage as soon as they offer the AccuTrigger in the standard weight rifles so the .30-06 seems to get the biggest nod here. My wife can handle the .270 pretty well and it's a 700ADL synthetic that's definately on the light side. I plan on picking up a CZ550, maybe the Mannlicher version. They make that in a .30-06 and certainly is a bit heavier than the 700ADL which will help a bit. Plus, I'll be on the lookout for a nice reasonably-priced custom built Mauser in 30-06. I've seen a few lately including one built on a VZ-24 action that seemed nice and well done but a bit on the high side at about $800. Maybe with some nicer wood or metal in perfect condition, but this one was pretty banged up. And for whatever reason, I'd rather bang the rifle up myself. :p Definately leaning towards a control-feed rifle and probably something like a Kahles or Swarovski 1.5-6x42 scope or even a fixed 6x42... something a bit smaller than my Zeiss 2.5-10x... that's a pretty big heavy scope which goes fine on a heavy barrel rifle, but just seems too big to be lugging all over the darn place.

I think, in general, that if someone is fairly comfortable with the .270 Winchester, the .30-06 shouldn't be too much of a stretch with a bit of practice. Pretty much everything points me in the direction of the .30-06... A couple recommendations in person, several on this thread, Craig Boddington's advice and my own reasonably sound common sense that strongly agrees with Jeff Cooper. Ammo sounds pretty available should it come to that and there are near infinite sources of quality factory loaded ammo in addition to my friend that reloads a few cartridges for me. And most importantly of all... I've managed to live my entire life without ever owning a 30-06! How is that even possible? :o

In all honesty, observation is our (at least her) primary goal and reason for the trip. I think she has visions of seeing a leopard taking an antelope and then struggling against a few hyena as the sun sets... I've told her that scenario is pretty unlikely but the trip is her dream. Ideally of course, game will be taken and brought back (along with feeding some folks with the meat). I'd like to take an impala and a blue wildebeest but an excellent nyala is what I would be most specifically after. And my wife has mentioned the sable and orex as game that would be tops on her list. Anything else just for the experience would be fine but these are the ones we are, respectively, most after.

Of course, I still have plenty of time to unmake my mind again. The 6.5x55 is still calling me and with good bullets, it comes pretty well recommend if on the light side of some of the larger antelope.

May 18, 2003, 02:24 AM

I'm 5'6" and less than 155 lbs. I have a Rem 700 .35 Whelen, and it doesn't beat me up much.


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