A Modest Proposal: 50BMG on Safari...


August 23, 2003, 08:08 PM
I was chatting with a customer in the shop this morning, and the conversation turned to the African calibers and African game, specifically Cape buffalo and elephant and how often a PH, his client, and others will wind up emptying multiple .375s and .416s into an animal before it finally drops. Just as a casual aside, I said:

"The only way I'd want to hunt Cape buffalo would be to camp out with a .50 Barrett 500 yards away..."


Why don't the African game agencies use .50BMG rifles to control/cull herds of dangerous game, like Cape buffs, elephant and hippos? It just seems so logical - why get that close, with a traditional African rifle, when you could just pick them off from long distance with a Barrett? Just have the shooter lay down in the back of a pickup, drop the tailgate while parked half a mile away, and pick your shot - even if the whole herd stampedes in your direction(which would be HARD for a buff or tusker to tell, that far away), all ya gotta do is throw the truck in gear, and boogie.

Or, better yet, have the game agencies advertise in the Fifty Caliber Shooter's Association newsletter - I'd bet that FCSA members would pack the Jo'burg airport to the rafters if they were offered the opportunity to take their rifles and loads on a discounted safari to help thin the herds periodically(say, only $1000 per shooter, plus trophy fees).

Anyway, it seemed like such a logical idea, that I thought I'd wonder out loud here if anyone else has thought of it - and if not, WHY NOT?!?

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50 Freak
August 23, 2003, 09:14 PM
Probably because the average 50 bmg rifle weighs about 30 pounds. Even the light ones run about 20ish pound and are single shots. Can you imagine shouldering something like that?

August 23, 2003, 10:00 PM
Yeah, but he was primarily talking about firing from a prone supported position 500 yards away, not shouldering and firing.

If you can make a hit on an animal from 500 yards offhand, no matter what the weight of the gun, then mister your a greater man then I. :D

August 23, 2003, 10:21 PM
I think its becuase the best part of the hunt for most people is the adrenaline rush of going in close to take on big dangerous animals.

August 24, 2003, 12:12 AM
Carrying the weight of the Barrett 82 thru the brush to get within 500yards of the buffalo are going to undo any man. Now gun bearers could do it, but then what is the point of varminting dangerous game? As for control work it has been found that a .416 or greater well designed bullet at about Mach 2 penetrates perfectly on the biggest game. The pointed FMJ spitzer of a 50 BMG would probably tumble after a few feet of penetration with an impact velocity of 2600fps or so. A nice 500 grain round nose or better yet bluff nosed .458 impacting at 2100fps drills a nice straight hole to the vital organ it was directed at. Want bigger get a .505 or .700 you can shoot from the shoulder and carry.. Most (sane and experienced) PH's wouldn't allow you to shoot a buff much outside of 200yds with ANYTHING as follow up shots and tracking would be difficult.:rolleyes:

August 24, 2003, 01:42 PM
Wow. We're going into territory now that is wayyy above my head. Thats a whole new world over there. I don't think there is an animal in Maine that couldnt be killed by a 30-30 or 30.06 :uhoh:

August 24, 2003, 06:16 PM
I recently read an article in a Swedish gun rag, written by a Norwegian. The subject was long range shooting with a .50 BMG rifle. In passing he mentioned that although the .50 is not suited for hunting, it has been tried on a number of African game and will give fist size exit holes. He also said it was useless on smaller game. Paraphrasing: "A beaver hit by a .50 will react the same way a crow does when hit by a high velocity varmint bullet".
He didn't say how he knew...

I also read some time ago that poachers in some parts of Africa use RPGs on elephant. One shot and you can just walk over and pick up the tusks, the only part of the animal they're interested in.

August 24, 2003, 06:38 PM
shooting it isn't the same as hunting it. As far as using it as a culling rifle? Most PH's still want to get up close to make sure you cull the RIGHT animals.

50 is just overkill.

August 24, 2003, 07:12 PM
Dr.Rob, maybe that is why this thread is in the Rifle forum, not the Hunting forum... ;)

August 24, 2003, 10:27 PM
Reminds me of a story my dads co worker told me. He was out in the woods with his sights set on a deer about 75 yards away. he was preparing to fire when the deer dropped like a brick and a thunderous report echoed through the woods. He said about 10 minutes later a guy with a barrett walked up.

He got it from 600 yards away. Just got the new rifle and was eager to see how it would perform.

50 Shooter
August 25, 2003, 12:55 AM
There are hunting bullets for the .50, people use Hornady's 750gr AMAX as well as Barnes' 650gr hollow points. Hawk bullets also makes a hunting bullet for the .50, there are some people that have custom stuff made also.

I don't see a .50 as overkill, if you take an animal at ranges over 500 yards. The .50 will still have enough power to ensure that your going to kill the animal and not just wound it.

Check out the cover of VHP, www.fcsa.org

Art Eatman
August 25, 2003, 09:18 AM
Skill is skill, and shooting is shooting, but somehow the idea of planning on shooting a critter like an elephant or buffalo or lion out at 500 yards or more just doesn't seem right. I dunno. Somehow it just doesn't seem like "hunting", to me. Not for some animal that has real character and importance, anyhow.

I'd probably have a different attitude about sitting on a kopje and shooting a hyena at 1,000 yards, of course...

:), Art

August 25, 2003, 12:24 PM
Expanding HP 50 cal bullets? :uhoh: :eek: :scrutiny: :evil:

August 25, 2003, 03:16 PM
I don't know, 500 yards for a 50BMG almost seems too easy. Those who made references to "varminting" the poor things seems about right.

About the only African game that seems to deserve such treatment, in my opinion, would be Hyenas which seem to be the dirty filthy jackboots of the African prarrie. But I have too much respect for other animals in the "dangerous game" list to hand them their fate from 500 yards out with a 50BMG, something doesn't seem quite right.

Now that said, the www.accuratereloading.com site has a LOT of video captures of various cartridges taking down game. Everything from Baboons to Hyena to Cape Buffalo. Some of those shots seem to have been made at pretty long distances and the performance of the round still seems to be quite devistating, shot placement is everything obviously.

Then as far as 50BMG varminting, LONG TIME ago on AR15.com's forums there were pictures of somebody who had gone out javelina shooting with fragmenting rounds. Pretty gruesome results, guess the person was sick of having the things on his property and decided to exterminate with extreme predjudice.

August 25, 2003, 03:39 PM
gun-fucious say:

when volume of temporary cavity
is greater than size of animal,

insides become outsides

August 25, 2003, 03:53 PM
LOL, true enough.

Years of varminting and watching squirrels land some 10-15feet away from original point of impact certainly lends quite a bit of proof to your statement.

How would it be stated in mathmatical terms?

The altitude of critter launched above the ground is directly proportional to the ratio of wound diameter to critter diameter? Boy, wouldn't that be a fun physics experiment.

Wonder how Javlina would react when hit by a Raufoss round?

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