big game rifle


Panthera Pardus
May 26, 2009, 11:45 AM
Hi Everyone

I recently starting shopping for a rifle to hunt big game in africa. Not the elephant though. I have decided on two rifles, which i need to make a decision on. The H&H .357 Magnum and the .458 Winchester Magnum.

Do you have any advice?

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May 26, 2009, 12:48 PM
I suspect what you really mean is .375 H&H, not H&H .357. I suggest that the .375 H&H is a much better choice over the .458 Win., especially if jumbo is not included. The .375 H&H shoots much flatter, is plenty adequate for anything you're going to shoot (including jumbo, in fact), and MUCH more pleasant to shoot. It is THE African cartridge! Many others will suffice, but really, nothing is superior to a .375 H&H when you are enjoying the Dark Continent. Have fun--be forewarned, one cannot go to Africa once! Like the old chip advertisement, you can't eat just one!

May 26, 2009, 02:19 PM

I've just completed a very similar process. The quest for a sound African round raised several questions, the most basic being is dangerous game on the menu? If so, many places will require the .375 diameter with/or capable of 4000 ft.lbs muzzle energy. At best, the .375 will do it all. But what if things don't go as planned? If you are placed in a situation where you must depend solely on yourself and your shooting ability, will the .375 still be your choice? I've settled on a 2 gun battery. The calibers could have been different had I resided in another country. In Canada, ammunition for calibers above the .375 H&H is getting difficult to come by. The .416 Rigby and the 458 Lott are available on order within a few days. The 30-06, I can get at local gun shops. The 470 NE, 404 Jeffery, and the likes are all special orders and take forever; same goes for the guns. If I can get it here, I'm not worried about Africa. So I chose the 416 and the 30-06, the latter over the 300 WM, since the 300 WM doesn't offer enough more, within 300yds, to justify the extra recoil. As is for you, elephant is not my quarry. I can't say the .416 is a true ''stopper'' as is the 458 Lott, however I'm not sure I'd shoot the .458 as well as the .416. After all, a 450gr .416 round will truly send a stiffer message than any .375.

Have fun :D

May 26, 2009, 03:16 PM
Hi Panthera,

I must say that I agree with Fitasc666 but to me it all comes down to recoil.
No point in buying something that after the first shot you don't want to shoot your rifle again.

What can you handle?

If we wanna talk stopping power than start looking at any Nitro Express calibers from the 470's to the 600's.

There are so many makes to choose from in the 375's. You get the 375 Weaterby Magnum, 375 flanged magnum, 375H&H and the 378 Weaterby Magnum.

Then you get you over 40 cartridges: 404 Jeffery, 416 Remington Magnum, 416Weatherby Magnum, 416 Rigby, 416 Taylor, 416 Hoffman, 444 Marlin, 45-70, 458 Winchester Magnum, 458 Lott, 460 Weaterby Magnum, 500 Jeffery, 505 Gibbs and the list just goes on and on.

Did not want to confuse you though.....but think twice before you just buy.

To come back to your question .375H&H vs the 458 Winchester Magnum, I will go for the 375H&H.

If it was me that did a big game safari, my choose would be the 416 Remington or Rigby and a 338-06 but that is just me.

Enjoy your Hunt!

May 26, 2009, 03:20 PM
These guys sound right on the money, but you also might ask Mokwepa since he's a guide for big game over there.

May 27, 2009, 03:11 AM
Hi Surjimmy,

Mokwepa is using a 375 H&H for guiding.

May 27, 2009, 05:55 AM
If my understanding is correct, it is extremely unlikely that PP will be hunting large, dangerous game without a guide/PH.

There has been considerable material written to the point that the most important consideration - as far as guides are concerned - is that the client shoots well. While I'm not going to make assumptions WRT PP's ability to handle recoil, most of us will do far more practicing and shoot better with a rifle with which we are comfortable.

That is more likely to be the .375H&H than the .458.

It's also a better choice for the small and medium game which he'll spend far more time hunting.


May 27, 2009, 07:44 AM

I've been to South Africa twice and a 375 H&H Magnum went along both times though I took another gun as well each time. The Zebra was taken at a range of about 200 yards which might challenge a 458 Winchester Magnum a bit with its less flat trajectory.

In addition to the Zebra I took 2 Warthogs, a Blue Wildebeest, an Impala and a Blesbok with the 375 H&H Magnum. I guess you can tell I like that cartridge.

All that said, if you won't be hunting the so called dangerous game (even plains game can be dangerous if wounded), with the right bullet and good shot placement you could take all plains game cleanly with a 30/06 and if you exclude Eland could do well with an even smaller cartridge. Much more important than power is the ability to put the bullet in the animal's vital organs.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
May 28, 2009, 01:07 PM
You've been given good advice by people more experienced that me. But I'll throw this into the mix - if the day comes when I get to head to Africa, the larger plains game up to Eland will be taken with my CZ550FS in 9.3x62mm:

This rifle is topped with a Burris Safari Signature Select 1.5-6x40mm, in Warne Maxima rings.

I'd borrow or buy another rifle if I can afford the tags for the big 5 / big 6, probably in .458 Lott - a CZ 550 American Safari Classic if buying.

Panthera Pardus
May 28, 2009, 01:40 PM
Hi Everyone,

Thank you all for the advice. Grumulkin, that is very beautifull trophy southern hartmans Zebra. I am however still faced with a question. The H&H .375 magnum shoots a flatter trajectory but only allows for a 300 grain bullet. Where the .458 winchester magnum allows up to a 400 grain bullet, will this not give me better 'stopping' power?

May 28, 2009, 04:26 PM
Technically, yes, but you really don't need more stopping power. It is better to hit where you need to hit, and most folks are less likely to do so with a .458 because the recoil is such that the majority of folks don't shoot it well. No one will criticize you regardless of which you choose, but you will find the .375 H&H far more popular, and indeed, more useful.

Thr 9.3 x 62 is a fine cartridge, probably would be my second choice. It isn't quite as potent as the .375 H&H, but quite close.

May 28, 2009, 07:21 PM
The H&H .375 magnum shoots a flatter trajectory but only allows for a 300 grain bullet. Where the .458 winchester magnum allows up to a 400 grain bullet, will this not give me better 'stopping' power?

Actually, the 458 Winchester Magnum is commonly loaded with 500 grain bullets and even heavier bullets are available. Furthermore, if I were to choose a .458 caliber rifle, it would be a 458 Lott and not a 458 Winchester Magnum since the price for ammo and rifle is similar and the Lott packs more of a punch; ah...I remember...I have one of those.

There are a lot of misconceptions about bullets and ballistics. Take the 458 Lott for instance; it will make at least a .458 caliber hole in an Impala and will go through it with ease but won't necessarily kill it any faster or deader than a 308 Winchester whose bullet is faster, expands violently and doesn't exit. On the other hand, the lighter bullet of the 308 with it's lower momentum would not be what I would use against a Cape Buffalo where I needed both energy and penetration.

It's all a question of how much stopping power you need and how much recoil you can handle and shoot accurately. The 458 Lott will work on anything and so will the 9.3X62 and the 375 H&H Magnum. You could use a fly swatter to kill a fly but sometimes it's fun to take out a fly with a hand grenade.

The rabbit, by the way, was taken with my 458 Lott.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
May 28, 2009, 08:52 PM
The rabbit, by the way, was taken with my 458 Lott.

:eek: :D

May 29, 2009, 12:15 AM
One big plus for the 375 is how shootable it really is. I am not a big guy at 5'11 and 155 pounds and my cz 550 375 is fun. I wouldn't sit at the bench and shoot a box stright but it is no worse than my ruger 300wm. I have never shot a 458 but I would befor I spent money on one. A 500 grain miss is still a miss.

May 29, 2009, 11:47 AM
The .35 Whelen and .416 Rigby are most likely the two I would have for African hunting.

Also, pick up a .22 LR, no camp is complete without one, but it should be a CZ to keep pace with the Euro / African safari flare. Also get a side arm in 454 or 480 Ruger. Don't want to be caught in the woods attending to your bodily functions and stumble upon something large, furry and hungry.

May 30, 2009, 10:29 AM
Don't want to be caught in the woods attending to your bodily functions and stumble upon something large, furry and hungry.

That is why you never walk away from camp without your rifle. Carrying a handgun only gives you an excuse to do something that is considered deeply unwise.

.333 Nitro Express
June 1, 2009, 04:01 PM

It really depends on what's on the menu. If you're tackling hippo, rhino or buffalo, a .375 should be the absolute minimum. If you're going for any of the larger antelopes, I think it's a really wise choice too. If your are going for a mixed bag, you couldn't do better.

The .375 H&H still eminently shootable, it has a flat trajectory out to 200 yards and ammunition is easily available in every corner of the world in case of a snafu with the airlines.

Also, you would have the pleasure of hunting with something historically-African, which I sense is not unimportant for you (a sentiment I also share).

For everything smaller, a 338 Win Mag or 30-06 should serve you extremely well, although nothing prevents you from using the .375 on smaller game too.

If you want to go up in caliber and power, there are two things you need to take into consideration.

1) Your actual needs in comparison with the (almost always) harder recoil; a .375 H&H with a full-house 300gr load will generate 4,200fp energy, wich is still a far cry from the 5,100 of the .416 Rigby, the 4,900 of the .450 NE, the 5,500 of the .458 Win or the 5,800 of the .458 Lott.

2) Related to this, the many African PHs with whom I've spoken have warned me of the fear they have of clients who bring too much rifle for the intended quarry. Their motto to clients: it's your job to kill without wounding; it's mine to stop a charge in the extremely rare occasion it happens; it's also mine to have to track an animal wounded by an inaccurate shot from a flinching client--and the more accurately you place your shots, the less the chance of either. :)

I've recently taken interest in the .450-400 Nitro Express, which I find extremely pleasant to shoot compared to even the .375 H&H. It is a low-pressure cartridge that generates less muzzle energy than even a .338 Win Mag, while giving me plenty of penetration and a flat-enough trajectory out to 150 yards. I've always been a chicken as far as taking longer shots at game, and the older I get, the more this range shrinks.

I'm not advocating the .450-400 for you, just a note on personal preference.

I am, however, warmly advocating the .375 H&H.


Panthera Pardus
June 2, 2009, 03:33 AM
Hi All

I see that most of the great advice I have received is favouring the .375 H&H magnum. Is there a reason that no one really likes the .458 winchester magnum. Also what is the difference between a .458 winchester magnum and a .458 lott?

June 2, 2009, 08:46 AM
Is there a reason that no one really likes the .458 winchester magnum

You asked us to make a suggestion for your situation and intended usage. in that context, the .375 is the better calibre. We're responding to the parameters that you set us.

June 2, 2009, 09:24 AM
I load my Winchester Model 70 .375 H&H with Barnes 300gr. Triple Shocks for Alaskan Brown bear, I have not used the solids but probably would if I was hunting in Africa.

Al Thompson
June 2, 2009, 09:32 AM
.458 is slower and more of a "stopper". .375 is a very well balanced cartridge and with a 270 grain bullet shoots quite flatly, with a trajectory like a 165 gr .30-06.

The .458 drops too much to be a comfortable 300 yard rifle. The Lott version is a longer case for more velocity, but still requires a good eye for range.

Not sure how much research you've done, but be aware southern Africa is very much like the American south west - long shots are available. The flatter your rifle shoots, the eaiser it is to quickly hit at longer ranges.

Also, take TWO scopes - both already zero'd, one on the rifle, one as a spare.

You really need to be at the top of your form, shooting wise. Practice snap shots to 100 yards off hand and be quick with the rest. :)

.333 Nitro Express
June 2, 2009, 10:11 AM

To your first question. The .458 Win Mag was born under an unlucky star--metaphorically speaking, of course. Winchester decided that they wanted a dangerous-game caliber that would fit a 30-06 action. Why? Nobody really knows. But anyway, they crammed as much powder as they could into a short, stubby 2 1/2" case to match the ballistics of a classic African cartridge, namely a 500-gr bullet traveling at a nominal 2,100 fps.

This never quite panned out. At first, the pressure revealed itself to be way too high, so the company quietly backed the load down. And sure enough, horror stories of wounded game and deadly charges followed (hyped or not), which did nothing to contribute to the cartridge's good reputation.

So, unless you handload and you are not phased by very high pressures, the .458 Win Mag's ballistics fall quite short of those of the cartridges it was meant to replace, while of course, in certain conditions they would be plenty adequate for the job, which is why the cartridge never quite died out.

To your second question, the .458 Lott is what many think the .458 Win Mag should have been in the first place--namely a (quasi) full-length .375 H&H case resized to .458 caliber, pushing a 500-gr bullet comfortably over 2,000 fps, thus matching and beating the ballistic of classic African cartridges.


Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
June 2, 2009, 12:14 PM
Quick side tangent: girlfriend made me watch a movie called "Out of Africa" over the weekend - I really liked a couple of gun-related aspects of this movie (set in Africa in the 1910s & 1920s):

1. When they were defending themselves from the lions, how Robt Redford's character pulled two more rounds and held them between his fingers of his rifle support hand, for his double rifle - very realistic.

2. How the Rifle Rack in the farm house was intentionally used as a metaphor for how happy/full her life was, versus the lonelier times in her life. At the beginning, it was shown full of rifles. After her husband left, it was down to just one or two rifles. Then when she shacked up with Redford, it was full again.

Much to my chagrin however, no mention was ever made of brands, calibers, etc., nor was any actual hunt shown, even though many characters in the movie were PHs for a living. :(

Panthera Pardus
June 3, 2009, 11:08 AM
Hi All

Thank you all for the great advice. You have seriously helped me into getting a .375 H&H magnum.

Do any of you have .375 Hunting pictures?

June 3, 2009, 11:38 PM's another 375 H&H Magnum hunting photo.

Cpt. America
June 4, 2009, 01:09 AM
What about the .458 lott?:evil: I think the .375 would be the best choice.

June 4, 2009, 01:13 AM
458 winmag in garand platform

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