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Shooting large powerful rifles

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by guitarguy314, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. guitarguy314

    guitarguy314 Well-Known Member

    Hey guys,

    So I've become infatuated with elephant (powerful, large bore) rifles and stories about old safari Africa.

    Anywho, I got to wondering, what does one need to do differently when firing a large elephant rifle (.375 H&H, 458 win. mag., 450 NE etc.) as opposed to firing say an AR or an AK?

    Also, for those of you who own these kinds of guns, which caliber/rifle do you like best? I keep hearing 375 H&H is enough, but I feel like if I were looking for a gun this size, I'd go all out.

    Thanks guys,

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  2. 56hawk

    56hawk Well-Known Member

    The most important thing is to make sure you have the rifle tight against your shoulder. Leaning into it is also good with some of the bigger rifles. I can shoot my 458 Lott like it's a normal rifle, but I'm a lot more careful with my 460 Weatherby. I've actually had the bolt handle cut my hand when I got too relaxed one time. Also it helps to shoot standing up. Sitting down and shooting off a bench can really hurt.
  3. guitarguy314

    guitarguy314 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for replying! Now by leaning into it, do you mean before you shoot? Doesn't that throw you off balance?
  4. 56hawk

    56hawk Well-Known Member

    Here is the general idea:

  5. Flatbush Harry

    Flatbush Harry Well-Known Member

    If shooting from a bench (and you'll probably want to do so to sight in), sit up reasonably straight with a slight forward lean, hold the rifle tight against your shoulder, have a good cheek weld, and let the recoil push you back somewhat. Importantly, ensure you have 4-5" of scope clearance or a ride to a good emergency room for brow repair.

    If you have done a good job of bore sighting you should be able to sight in with 6-9 shots. Thereafter, you'll want to shoot standing, with shooting sticks, or sitting. I recommend against prone until you've become quite comfortable with the rifle and then only if an alternative field position just won't work for you. I've found rifles up to .375 H&H eminently controllable and reasonable to shoot; beyond that, I find recoil increasingly unpleasant. BTW, I'm 66 but reasonably experienced. A .375 H&H from a 9+ lb. rifle generates on the close order of 40 ft-lbs. of free recoil, approximately twice that of a .30-06. When I first got my .375 H&H (a Rem 700 XCR II), I put a B&C stock of Weatherby design on it to help with recoil, I also used handloads with 260gr Nosler AccuBonds over 63.0gr of IMR 4895...good starting loads per my Nosler manual. For comparison, my match .30-06 loads use 168 or 175gr bullets over 47.0gr of IMR 4895. After getting used to the 260gr loads with 63gr of IMR 4895, moving up to full loads with a 300gr bullet was not a big step. YMMV.

    Last edited: Oct 8, 2012
  6. Joe_m107

    Joe_m107 Active Member

    I live and hunt in Alaska. I use a Sako A5 chambered in 375 H&H for moose and eventually Grizzly.

    I avoid shooting from the bench except when necessary. I also can't comfortably shoot it from the prone.

    The biggest difference I make when shooting it is I sling wrap almost every time I shoot. The sling pulls the rifle tighter into my shoulder and reduces the amount of muzzle rise. The rifle has kissed my brow only once, and it was when I neglected to wrap up.
  7. Kyle M.

    Kyle M. Well-Known Member

    I've got a ruger No.1 in .375 H&H and don't find it being uncontrollable. I'm good for about 20 rounds in a shooting session, after that it gets to be a bit much. I have heard that once you get into the .416's, .458's, and bigger the recoil gets heavy enough that your average shooter just can't shoot them well. I can shoot my H&H just as good as any other rifle I've owned, and better than some I just can't do it all day and shooting it from the bench is ok as long as I keep it to 20rds or less. I also do not have to have a deathgrip on it, I hold it just like I would an AR, AK, or other smaller rifle. I actually shot some 3" 12 gauge slugs through my baikal sxs last week and they kicked alot more than my .375 H&H.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2012
  8. huntershooter

    huntershooter Well-Known Member

    The only "stopping rifle" I own is a .450 Alaskan (400 gr. Barnes @ 2300 fps).
    Load development/sight in from the bench was an endurance test.
    Shooting offhand (especially at game) was not bad; forward stance, good cheek weld, as said.
  9. StrawHat

    StrawHat Well-Known Member

    IF available, a standing rest helps with the large bores. I have fired afew of the larger ones and found that offhand was the most comfortable way to handle recoil. Followed by sitting, as in on the ground, with the knees up and elbows on the knees. With the 475 Jeffery, I was very nearly overturned but my accuracy was better than offhand and I could still manage to get off the second barrel accurately and quickly.
  10. Kyle M.

    Kyle M. Well-Known Member

    I also have found that sitting in the position you describe isn't too bad, I just sort of roll with the recoil and don't get the snot beat out of me.
  11. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    I don't own any of the elephant guns, I skipped over them and built a 50 BMG. Double the power of the 460 wetherby mag and the ammo costs less.
  12. El Tejon

    El Tejon Well-Known Member

    Bend your front knee, put most of your weight on it.

    Get your elbow up, way up. Contact=control.

    Move your thumb to the same side as your trigger finger so you don't crack your nose like a noob.

    Double up on hearing protection, plugs and muffs.

    Twist your hips in your stance (like Warrior 1 in yoga) and ensure that you are leaning into the weapon.

    Close your mouth (yes, really). I have seen dipwads open their mouths or even stick their tongues out and end up bleeding even AFTER I tell them that they look like 7th graders that have just failed math. Nothing funnier than seeing a moron jump and a down saying "Eye bit meye tonnnn!"

    You want to shoot an elephant? Why not ask a PH? I'd want something big, throwing a 500 grain bullet at least. Think heavy. You want a heavy, in weight, rifle.

    I've shot a lot of big stuff but what I really hated was the .378 Weatherby, nasty. Won't do that one again. I think it is 75 ft/lbs or similar; think the original weapon was too light.
  13. jimwill48

    jimwill48 Active Member

    Never had an issue with my .458. Find it easier on the shoulder than a 12 ga Slug load. Just hold tight, lean in a bit. From the bench, again hold tight, but don't lean in stay straight. If you need to, put a small sand bag between you and the gun. I've shot 40 or more rounds from the bench with no issue. Also no one says you have to shoot full power rounds all the time. Load down. My fav is a 405 gr Cast at about 1400 fps. Recoil no much more than a 30/30 in a heavy rifle.
  14. Robert

    Robert Moderator

    I own a Winchester M70 in 375H&H and have shot 404 Jeffery and 470NE. The 375 is a pussy cat. I get a good tight grip with my front hand and pull it in to my shoulder, back hand tight enough but not too tight and I lean in just a bit. Easy. From the bench is not too bad, but not something I want to do a ton of.
  15. Kyle M.

    Kyle M. Well-Known Member

    Just out of curiousity how bad is the recoil of a .470 NE? I've heard everything from it breaking collarbones, causing concussions, and detaching retinas, all the way down to people who say it's not too bad. I've also seen videos of people shooting .470 NE doubles and they were making it look easy. I've always wanted to shoot one but have yet to find anyone nearby with one, I also don't have tens of thousands of dollars to go spend on a nice double. Though I know I'd like to.
  16. Robert

    Robert Moderator

    I know a guy that can litterly double tap with the 470NE. It is not terrible if you know what you are doing. He gave me a quick lesson, told me to use the back trigger first to avoid a double, and turned me loose. After 5 or 6 rounds I tend to get a head ache but man is it fun.
  17. guitarguy314

    guitarguy314 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info guys! Just to be clear, I don't hunt anything (let alone elephants haha). I just like the...mystical qualities that large rifles seem to have. If you were going to buy this sort of rifle today, what would you look for (model/caliber) assuming a double is a bit out of your budget?
  18. Robert

    Robert Moderator

    The Winchester M70 Safari Express is one heck of a rifle. You can get it in 375, 416 and 458.
  19. luv2safari

    luv2safari Well-Known Member

    The best advice is NEVER get sloppy! You'll get hurt if you do. :uhoh:
  20. TwoEyedJack

    TwoEyedJack Well-Known Member

    Two words: lead sled.

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