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One rifle to Africa

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by cratz2, Apr 16, 2003.

  1. cratz2

    cratz2 Well-Known Member

    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?
  2. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

    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.

  3. one-shot-one

    one-shot-one Well-Known Member


    if you can afford it a .376 styer scout would be nice.:)
  4. Preacherman

    Preacherman Well-Known Member

    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.
  5. redneck

    redneck Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

    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
  7. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    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.
  8. Slingster

    Slingster Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. HankB

    HankB Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    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.

  11. sasnofear

    sasnofear member

    seeing as its a one time trip... go ahead dont be outgunned, get a .50BMG

    nah, only joking. .300 mag should suffice
  12. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

    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.
  13. JOE MACK

    JOE MACK Well-Known Member

    African battery

    :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:
  14. Slingster

    Slingster Well-Known Member

    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."
  15. cleve land

    cleve land Active Member

    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
  16. Preacherman

    Preacherman Well-Known Member

    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.
  17. cratz2

    cratz2 Well-Known Member

    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:
  18. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    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.

  19. Doc

    Doc Well-Known Member

    to H&Hhunter (and those who have been there)

    why not a 45-70?
  20. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    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.


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