Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 24

Rifle Lessons Learned from the Zimbabwe Professional Hunter Proficiency Exam

This is a discussion on Rifle Lessons Learned from the Zimbabwe Professional Hunter Proficiency Exam within the Firearms & Ammunition forums, part of the HUNTING EQUIPMENT, FIREARMS & AMMUNITION category; Rifle Lessons Learned from the Zimbabwe Professional Hunter Proficiency Exam by Don Heath Big Bore Rifles Every year Zimbabwe holds ...

  1. #1
    AfricaHunting.com's Avatar
    AfricaHunting.com is online now Jerome Philippe, Founder of AfricaHunting.com
    Joined
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    15,690

    Member of AfricaHunting.com

    Hunted Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, France, Spain, USA

    Default Rifle Lessons Learned from the Zimbabwe Professional Hunter Proficiency Exam

    Rifle Lessons Learned from the Zimbabwe Professional Hunter Proficiency Exam
    by Don Heath


    Big Bore Rifles

    Every year Zimbabwe holds two events which provide the perfect testing ground for rifles. These are the Rifa Professional Hunter and Guides training/refresher course, and the actual proficiency exam itself. As shooting is an important attribute of both a hunter and a guide, marksmanship and speed and dexterity of handling and reloading a rifle under great stress are fully tested with quite high grades required to pass. Consequently a fair amount of time at the Rifa refresher course is set aside to riflemanship. Most of the hunters have grown up with firearms, but a great many of the guides have simply grown up in the bush and the only hunting they may have done before commencing with their apprenticeships has been with spear or bow. The confidence with a rifle needed to protect one's clients in a close quarters contact with lion, elephant, hippo or buff requires complete familiarity with the rifle and a good deal of practice as well. During this year's Rifa course about 600 heavy caliber rounds went down range whilst on the proficiency some 50 shots went into dangerous game and over 500 crashing down range on a variety of shoots. All in all the five day refresher course and the week long exam provide an excellent opportunity to evaluate the different makes of rifle.

    Most rifles work perfectly on range when zeroing a rifle or shooting off sticks in an accuracy test. A surprisingly large number fall apart as soon as the pressure is on and you have to shoot and reload in a hurry. Ten rifles out of 32 on the Rifa course came up with a problem, whilst 17 out of 51 came up short in one way or another on the actual exam. Only training can render one competent to carry a rifle in the bush and that is not the topic of this article, but it pains me to see poorly paid apprentices shelling out hard earned cash for sub standard rifles, especially sub standard new rifles. Also many of the student/candidates were well aware of the flaws with their rifles, but with all the hassles of licensing plus the costs involved in doing a trade, they were unable to change them. This article is intended as a guide so new purchasers don't get burned.

    To set the tone, I think nobody sums up the American attitude to rifles better than W.W. Greener in his classic book The Gun and its Development (1910 edition). "In no country are better sportsmen to be found than in the United States of America, nor does any country posses keener buyers or better men of business, yet in no country is so much worthless rubbish of the (mass production) gun-factories offered for sale. The Boers are a race of sportsmen, but it is of no use to offer them rubbish at any price, and the author can hardly believe that the astute American will sacrifice everything to cheapness". That fortnight in the Zambezi valley showed that not a lot has changed in the last 90 years except that nasty rather than purely cheap describes most of America's offerings in the dangerous rifle field.

    I'll start with my least favourite rifle:- the Weatherby. We don't often see them out here, thank goodness. The one we had this year exhibited the usual Weatherby failing of going off when the safety catch was disengaged. Like all I've seen with this problem, they work fine on the range. It is only after they have been bounced, bumped or jolted whilst loaded and on safe that they do this. I'm sure the problem is correctable and not all do it, however, this one would also not extract at all after the eighth round. It showed decidedly sticky extraction after the first three shots and finally died on number eight. It gives me great pleasure than to dig out my 2lb hammer and beat the bolt of a new rifle open whilst giving the owner a lecture on the benefits of reloading. Weatherby factory ammo always gives extraction problems and needs to be down loaded for use in hot conditions. The .460 is notorious and this .416 proved no different.


    .275 Rigby

    Remington 700. The 700 may be a very fine hunting rifle. I don't know because I've never used one, but I do know that it is a piss poor dangerous game rifle especially in .416 Rem caliber. Apart from the odd inexplicable misfire, a broken extractor cost us an elephant wounded and lost at Rifa. This is not the first year that I've seen a broken extractor on a Remington 700 in .416 either. In addition they are just about the hardest rifle to refill the magazine in a hurry. My memories this year of students and candidates using them is that of youngsters frantically trying to thrust cartridges into the mag, only to have a double feed, the rounds pop straight back out or many other problems. A two round reload took on average, twice as long with the Model 700's as it did with just about any other make of rifle. The difference between the Remington and the Weatherby is that the latter can be downloaded a little so as to operate flawlessly and the safety fixed, whilst I do not know that anything can be done with the Remingtons except to re-barrel them to a plains game cartridge and leave them at home when out after the dangerous stuff. To be fair though, all of the extraction problems seem to be confined to rifles in .416 and .375. and they seem reasonably reliable in .458 provided you are prepared to tolerate the awkwardness of the reload. I am not. A good single shot or even a Weatherby is a better choice.


    Then we come to one that surprises me. Ruger. The early Ruger M77's with the non rotating claw extractors but still a push feed mechanism, in .458 Win could be relied upon to jam if the bolt was worked quickly. In the 1980's the National Parks culling teams found this out the hard way and the new Rugers were quickly disposed of or issued to stations where a heavy rifle was seldom required. The new MkII Ruger with a proper controlled feed seemed to be a vast improvement and were reputed to work a whole lot better and of course come at a top dollar price. I learned differently. All but one out of seven I've seen or handled this year (6 in .416 Rigby and one .458 Win) would not eject if the bolt was opened vigorously. Slow down just a fraction and they throw the empty case half way into the next province. For a client coming out to Africa this may be acceptable. Any really fast fancy shooting is going to be the PH's.


    For the Professional Hunter or Guide though, a rifle that is guaranteed not to eject when worked at speed is a death sentence waiting to happen. The fault lies with the sprung loaded ejector that springs into place as the bolt is withdrawn. Work the bolt at a moderate speed and the ejector is in place to cleanly throw the case clear. Work the bolt fast and the ejector is still on its way up when the case passes over it. A few will work provided the ejector is scrupulously clean and well oiled but many will not do even that (and how do you keep it clean AND oiled in the usual dusty conditions?). A much stronger spring and a little polishing of the raceway that it fits into may cure the problem, but they are not safe as they come from the factory. A local gun shop tells me that they have sent two new rifles back this year because of this problem, and our local top gunsmith tells me that while most can be made to work perfectly, some cannot. Ruger needs to wake up, their No.1, single shot rifle is a far safer and more dependable weapon than their bolt action.

    The Browning A Bolt. The Jury is still out on this as there are very few around at present and all the ones I've seen have been left handed models. One out of two had a problem with the magazine. Beating the floor plate back down with a rock is nearly as much fun as taking a hammer to a Weatherby. I must say I really LIKE the safety catch. It is certainly the best out of any of the rifles I've used this year, but I'm not sure on the push feed and extractor. Time will tell, but I have no intention of being the guinea pig.

    Winchesters new M70 with the controlled feed back, is light years ahead of the old version which just about rivaled the Remington 700. I have only three complaints about the new ones. The bolt anti bind rail on one of them bent and briefly jammed the rifle, but I threw it away and the rifle worked just fine after that. The stocks need to be properly bedded and pinned. They are a good shape, nice wood, but they crack (and worse) if you don't take them to somebody and have the bedding seen to before you start throwing a few hundred rounds down range. My biggest gripe about the Winchester is that the safety catch is on the WRONG side. On the right handed model, the safety catch is perfect for a left hander and visa versa on the left handed edition. Heavens to Hiawatha, surely somebody at US Repeating Arms (who make Winchester) has walked outside and tried to swing the rifle up for a snap shot from either the trail or from a sling! You cannot grab the pistol grip and take the safety off in one movement, and on average it took Winchester owners a second longer to disengage the safety and fire the first shot compared to Mausers or Browning A Bolts. Time and fumbling around with an awkward safety can get you killed in a tight corner, and the real insult is that they make both, and that the current left handed safety is quicker and easier to use for a right hander than a Mauser type flag safety. More and more PH's are seeing the light and fitting a good Ghost ring aperture sight to their dangerous game rifles so I suppose the pathetic excuse of a rear sight that Winchester fits at the factory can be ignored.


    .470 Nitro Express

    Interarms Mk X. Apart from the fact that the barrels are soft and wear out very quickly, these are intrinsically sound rifles that are simply shoddily put together. They are famed for springing the magazine floor plate open and dumping the contents on the firers feet. Never seen one that wouldn't feed reliably though, and with a little bit of gun smithing to make the safety catch more positive (it is also on the wrong side) so that it doesn't get accidentally swept on as the bolt is opened (or accidentally knocked off in the bush) and the stock properly bedded to cure the magazine dump they can be made into very workable rifles. They are though, very definitely rifles that you take first to your gunsmith and only then into the bush as the two students at Rifa discovered.

    That sums up the American offerings for this year. The Winchester is definitely the best, but it still requires work and a replacement safety and rear sight when it comes out of the box before it can be considered serviceable.


    Most of the European made rifles are priced well out of the reach of all learners and even most qualified PH's. The one Mannlicher in evidence this year worked superbly with much to recommend it if you can stomach the price. By far the most common big game rifles we see here, and the biggest single make on the exam, was the Bruno/CZ.

    This is one of the most rugged but also the cheapest heavy rifles available in Africa and has been for many years now. There have also been a variety of different models. The early ones dating from the fifties and sixties were absolutely tops (I have a 1950 model), and these probably represent the best buys on the second hand market along with the Fabrique National made Mausers. The current models coming out are not bad, but far from perfect. CZ has finally got around to doing something about the safety catch which was perfect on the 1950's models (which was superior to an original Mauser) and singularly awful there after as it worked the wrong way around (back to fire) and was located on the wrong side of the action. The safety still isn't great, being small and still located on the wrong side of the receiver for a right handed person. It also comes on and off too easily. The biggest problem that arose with them was the firer accidentally knocking on the safety whilst manipulating the bolt. At least five Bruno/CZ owners had trouble with this either during the training sessions or in the exam.

    Another problem patently apparent with all of the .458 Win models is that they will not reliably feed soft point ammunition until quite a lot of work has been done to the magazine box and feed. The .458 Win case is simply too short for the huge Bruno magnum action (which comfortably accommodates the .416 Rigby round), and the rounds slide around in that cavernous magazine under recoil and then feeding problems occur. The best thing anybody can do with a Bruno/CZ in .458 Win is to have a competent gunsmith re-chamber it to .458 Lott. This not only solves the feeding troubles but also gets away from the problems of the .458 Win cartridge. The only problem now though is that the stock needs to be properly bedded and pinned or it will crack. The other interesting phenomena arose with some of the older rifles chambered in .375 H&H. The chambers were fantastically oversize, and the spent cartridge cases emerge looking like an Ackley or Weatherby improved round. The head space is fine and it is not dangerous but forget about reloading. One thing is for sure, a little dirt in the action isn't going to tie up these rifles!

    The remainder of the field was made up of Mauser actioned rifles. The original Mauser in .404 and the FN in .458 worked great, as expected. The trouble for a learner Hunter or Guide is that these makes are hard to come by. Original Mausers are beginning to wear out, and apart from .404 and 9,3x62, most are chambered for rounds unsuitable for serious hunting. As soon as you see a Mauser chambered in .458 or .375 you know that it is a conversion, (see my comments on custom rifles below). FN's are seldom seen on the second hand market. They represent the peak in the Mauser rifles development, and those lucky enough to own one seldom find a reason good enough to sell it.

    Custom Rifles. The Mauser is one of my all time favourite rifles, but apart from a very few original rifles all the ones we see arecustomī built. This year's exam reiterated that a custom rifle can vary greatly in quality. Two were fine, the other two not. There are an awful lot of armourers out there posing as gunsmiths, and only the best gunsmiths should be allowed to build a dangerous game rifle. The biggest problem with all custom Mausers occurs with the feed. Mausers were originally built with the magazine boxes machined to match the cartridge for which the rifle was being chambered. The magazine box on a 9,3 is quite different from that for a 8x57. Too many gunsmiths simply screw on a .458 barrel and forget that the magazine box must be altered (best option) or the feed rails extensively worked. I had a .308 Mauser that had been converted from a 7x57. It gave endless feeding trouble until I got it to a top smith. The conversion from 8x57 to .308 works fine but the 7mm magazine box is too narrow at the front and problems arise. One custom Mauser on the exam would not feed more than one round from the magazine and even loading a second round half way in so that it could be chambered (giving the shooter two rounds before a reload) was a bother. The fancy stock, the Ghost ring sight, etc did not alter the fact that this was a useless rifle. One of the two candidates who's custom Mausers worked on the exam told me that she had had feeding trouble and had taken the rifles to a competent gun smith to have the problem solved. It had cost a considerable amount of time and money to get her rifle into full working order. The last was from a local supplier of custom rifles who knows about such things and the requirements for absolute reliability, and it worked great. I retain an intrinsic mistrust of any custom rifle unless I've tried it thoroughly and I know who built it. That is the biggest advantage of purchasing a new custom rifle locally. It's guaranteed and you can take it back at the slightest sign of trouble. It should also come with all the required extras such as sights, safety and stock bedding already attended to.


    .500 Jeffries

    We didn't see any of the English made rifles this year, but as a warning to potential purchasers there is a considerable difference between an English top grade rifle and a second or third class weapon. Back when they were originally sold the purchaser knew what he was getting, but these days any rifle with an English makers name on it is taken as being a good quality rifle. This is decidedly not true. Perhaps the two best examples are the Westley-Richards .425 "White Hunter" models and some (but decidedly not all) of the Cogswell and Harrison .404's. Westley Richards turned out a great many superb .425's but they also produced a cheap line intended for government service or the "native trade", known as the "White Hunter" model. These were built on war surplus K98 Mauser actions, without due attention to magazine box dimensions or the feed rails. They make a Weatherby cross Remington 700 look like a dream rifle. Much the same can be said for some of the Cogswells built on war surplus P14 actions. The second grade guns work fine, but the third grade weapons are on a par with the "White Hunter".

    That completes the overview on this season's rifles. Too much rubbish is being sold, at vastly inflated prices that will get a tyro hunter killed. It annoys me, to put it mildly!

    Jerome Philippe, Founder of AfricaHunting.com
    Visited by over 240,000 hunters monthly, viewing 2.5 million pages, generating 14.5 million hits over 11,000 members (statistics Jan 2014).

    Click HERE to Support AH

    If you enjoy this site then tell fellow hunters about it!

    Our community is a place for seasoned African hunters and those who dream of someday hunting in Africa. I hope that you will find AfricaHunting.com a great place to spend time preparing for or dreaming about your future African hunting safari or reliving your last.

  2. #2
    daggaboyblog's Avatar
    daggaboyblog is offline AH Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    179

    Member of Peninsular Firearms Academy

    Hunted Australia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malta

    daggaboyblog has no Articles
    View daggaboyblog's Photos

    Default

    Jerome,
    No surprises in any of your commentary above. I have the ZKK602. Bought it in 458 Win and went straight to 450 Ackley. We had to do some work to get it to feed properly and it needed an extra cross bolt as I split the first stock first time on the range, but she hasn't missed a beat since 1996!
    I regularly take her out pig shooting in hot (over 100°F) and dusty country and there's a lot of fast shooting going on. And I often fire the full compliment of six rounds as quickly as I can work that bolt and other than a slightly heady feeling (me), the rifle is fine! Never had an issue with the safety as I refuse to use one - the rifle is either loaded or it is not.
    Agree that the ZKK602 is the most rugged, workhorse of a rifle around!
    A double would be a dream, but the Brno (CZ) is certainly very achievable for us every day guys operating on every day budgets!
    Attached Images Attached Images

  3. #3
    AfricaHunting.com's Avatar
    AfricaHunting.com is online now Jerome Philippe, Founder of AfricaHunting.com
    Joined
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    15,690

    Member of AfricaHunting.com

    Hunted Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, France, Spain, USA

    Default

    schembridan, This article was actually written by Don Heath. As to the safety, I never use it and just like you refuse to. As you said it is either loaded or not and I always know where I'm at!


    About Don Heath
    Don joined the Zimbabwe National Parks Department on leaving school, eventually rising to the post of Senior Ecologist responsible for safari hunting and guota setting. Of course, being the government officer on the ground meant that rogue elephants and man eating lions were also his responsibility. Don planned and organized the last big elephant culls (1993) and participated in the buffalo eradication culls, organized by the veterinary department. He has personally dissected more than 2000 elephants within the framework of a bullet testing project. His doctorate focused on the sustainable hunting of four key species by Zimbabwe’s hunting industry - elephant, buffalo, sable and impala. He started examining prospective professional hunters in 1996. Since retiring from National Parks in 1998 Don has worked as a freelance professional hunter and a full-time writer, as well as taking over the position of Chief Examiner for the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association.
    Attached Images Attached Images

    Jerome Philippe, Founder of AfricaHunting.com
    Visited by over 240,000 hunters monthly, viewing 2.5 million pages, generating 14.5 million hits over 11,000 members (statistics Jan 2014).

    Click HERE to Support AH

    If you enjoy this site then tell fellow hunters about it!

    Our community is a place for seasoned African hunters and those who dream of someday hunting in Africa. I hope that you will find AfricaHunting.com a great place to spend time preparing for or dreaming about your future African hunting safari or reliving your last.

  4. #4
    Skyline is offline AH Fanatic
    Joined
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    649

    Member of SCI Life Member, MLOA, DU, MWF, MTA

    Default

    Don knows his stuff and I have read this a couple of times. No surprises and in fact I was glad he is so blunt and points out the problems with Rugers. I have seen Rugers malfunction many times, but most American hunters seem to think they are like Mom and apple pie.........so when you start to point out that they are not the best things since sliced bread, many become instantly indignant.

    Same goes with Weatherby. I do admit to liking a couple of their cartridges but have never liked the rifles. I had a hunter from Florida pull the trigger on a B&C grizzly in BC one fall at about 30 yards. His very fancy Weatherby Mk V jammed and he could not get the bolt opened, so I had to finish what he had started and later on I got to do the hammer trick back at camp.

    Remington 700's..........I have never understood the rabid followers, especially if we are talking a rifle to be used by ardent big game hunters.......not guys going on little home safaris in the back yard or executing drive by shootings from their pickups. All I have seen over the years is a never ending problem with extractors and always at the worst possible time. I guess there are some that just work without fail for many years in standard cartridges, but it has not been my experience and even now I have a good friend with 3 of them in heavy calibers and he has one problem after another since I have known him.

    What this article really points out though is that few hunters ever truly wring out their big game rifles. Hardly anyone takes the time and many more do not really know how to do it. Heck, most of the hunters I have guided don't even know how to take the bolt apart on their rifle................

  5. #5
    Gloucester is offline AH Member
    Joined
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    42

    Member of NGA, BDS

    Hunted Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, England, Scotland, Norway, Austria

    Default

    This is a good article, which I have read before. Don makes his points with great authority.

    I agree with his leaning towards Mauser action rifles. Reliability is key in Africa and I would now only go with a Mauser when taking a bolt-action rifle. A few years ago I went to Namibia with a Steyr-Mannlicher and had a series of misfires: my colleague had the safe thing happen with his Steyr. We eventually put it down to fine dust getting into the safebolt system. I took a Blaser to Zambia the following year: it was better than the Steyr although I was never completely happy with it. A good Mauser action gives you absolute confidence that the rifle won't let you down.

    I've never owned a Weatherby although I have looked at them and looked into them. They have their place in the gun world but in the African context I have been put off by too many stories of unreliability.

    In my experience, too many people stint on the quality of their rifle and the quality of their scope, which to me is a big mistake. I would rather save money by going on a shorter less-expensive safari with a good firearm, than take a longer more expensive safari with a cheap gun and scope.

  6. #6
    Cliffy's Avatar
    Cliffy is online now AH Elite
    Joined
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    1,066

    Hunted Hunted Zim, RSA (2), Namib(2), going again, Calif, Oregon, Arizona, Texas, Virginia, Idaho, South Dakota, Montana, Nevada, MO

    Cliffy has no Articles
    View Cliffy's Photos

    Default Just dug up an old AH article Makes interesting reading

    I wonder if anything has changed?
    IF YOU GO ONCE-YOU WILL GO AGAIN-DEAL WITH IT

  7. #7
    ornery's Avatar
    ornery is online now BRONZE SUPPORTER
    Joined
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    20

    Hunted South Africa

    ornery has no Articles
    ornery has no Photos

    Default

    Hi all....just thought to chime in on this as it is sleeting and I've nothing better to do. Beginning my 36th year as a gunsmith. (Good Lord am I getting old or what?) Almost everything written in that article is 100% FACT. Now try and sell that to US hunters that are A) Inundated with marketing or B) Traditionalists by birth.

    It was like reading from my own litany! When my customers ask me what I "think" they hear a lot along the lines of what is written here, then they blow it off to the fact that I hunt Africa and that they don't need that type of equipment or I can't afford it or Bambi doesn't bite, or some such.

    I think poor rifle choice is really about education. 99% of the customers I ask the following question to, give primarily the same answer. My question is, "Where did you learn to shoot?"
    The answer is almost 100% the same. When I was growing up with Dad/Grandpa/ military, other male relative. I have had ONE CLIENT IN 36 YEARS tell me he learned from a professional how to use his rifle. None have said that they consulted a professional for proper information regarding action type, brand quality, fit or caliber... let alone shot placement or animal anatomy.

    Now don't get me wrong. I'm not slamming US hunters. I'm just saying that most of the information I have spewed back to me by hunters is anecdotal at best. Some DO read good popular books, but most say they read it on the internet. Most, however, did no fact checking. It is inherent, in my limited life experience that most people learn by what I term osmosis. "I am a male adult so therefore I know stuff." (How's that for a PC sentence? Besides, if someone does it in the movies it has GOT to be real, honest and accurate! (Sorry on this one, but I've been in the movies and it's what looks good on camera that counts.)

    Anyway, I agree with the writers statements. All hunters, especially DG hunters, need practice and should seek out professional advice before choosing their equipment.

    Really a crackerjack article! Thanks Jerome!

    By the way...picked up a 1989 Brno ZKK 602 in .375 , UN-FIRED, for myself for Christmas. I am so HAPPY!!!!!!
    Last edited by ornery; 12-08-2013 at 05:26 PM. Reason: lousy typing and grammar

  8. #8
    enysse's Avatar
    enysse is online now AH Ambassador
    Joined
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    5,190

    Member of Northeast Wisconsin SCI chapter, Lifetime member of NRA,RMEF

    Hunted Namibia, South Africa (East Cape, Guateng and Limpopo)

    enysse has no Articles
    View enysse's Photos

    Default

    Great pick-up on the Brno ZKK 602 in a 375 H&H, it should bring many happy days in the field.

  9. #9
    PHOENIX PHIL's Avatar
    PHOENIX PHIL is online now AH Elite
    Joined
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    1,867

    Member of SCI

    Hunted USA, S. Africa

    PHOENIX PHIL has no Articles
    View PHOENIX PHIL's Photos

    Default

    Interesting article. But a couple of points I'd take issue with.

    I've never shot or hunted with a .458 Win, but referring to the "problems" of the caliber seems like really ancient news which no longer applies today. Powders and bullets are nothing like they were back in the 50's.

    Cracking stocks on the M70, he doesn't say just how many of these were seen. I've hundreds of rounds through my .375H&H bought the same year as this article. No cracks in mine, but then again it's only one data point. I keep planning to glass bed mine, but I hate to tinker with something that is clearly not broken.
    U.S. Contact for HartzView Safaris
    Email: philip.clayton@cox.net
    480-861-9232
    www.hvsafaris.com

  10. #10
    Rob44's Avatar
    Rob44 is online now BRONZE SUPPORTER
    Joined
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    389

    Member of NRA, Member Minnesota Horse and Hunt,,Caribou Hunt Club

    Rob44 has no Articles
    Rob44 has no Photos

    Default

    So whats a fella to do who wants a Big 5 Rifle and doesn,t have massive money to spend,,,Most PHs here Brag about CZ550s and they are 1000.00 rifles,,I,m liking a Whitworth Mark X 375 built On a Zastava Mauser action and known to have harder barrels than the Interarms according to what my research tells me,,,

  11. #11
    PHOENIX PHIL's Avatar
    PHOENIX PHIL is online now AH Elite
    Joined
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    1,867

    Member of SCI

    Hunted USA, S. Africa

    PHOENIX PHIL has no Articles
    View PHOENIX PHIL's Photos

    Default

    An article I read today about the .458 Win:

    "NOTHING IS EVER NEW IN THIS BUSINESS" is an oft-repeated epigram in the shooting world, and not without good reason. Thus it is a near-historic event when a nugget of information comes to light that completely reverses what we know--or thought we knew--about a long discussed shooting topic.
    I won't keep you in suspense long, but to get events in perspective, let's go back to a column I wrote called "America's Gift to Africa" (August 2002), in which I praised the .458 Winchester Magnum and expressed some skepticism about rumors of its failing on Africa's biggest and most dangerous game. Rumors began filtering back from Africa not long after Winchester's 1956 introduction of its .458 Mag., alleging incidents of game that got away after supposedly being well hit at close range, and even elephant and buffalo charges that turned deadly because of the .458's lack of stopping power. These are mighty serious allegations against a cartridge on which a hunter might have to stake his life.
    A LESS EXPENSIVE OPTION
    Such reports, even if second- and third-hand, did not bode well for the future of a cartridge that Winchester heralded as an antidote to the quadrupling prices of traditional British and Continental dangerous-game rifles and cartridges. With a muzzle energy of more than 5,000 ft-lb (as then advertised), the .458 virtually duplicated the elephant-stopping power of the legendary .470 Nitro Express, and did it at a fraction of the cost. Moreover, its companion rifle, Winchester's Model 70, possessed a worldwide reputation for accuracy and reliability at, again, a fraction of the price of double rifles or even carriage-trade bolt rifles.
    Thus an M-70 in .458 caliber looked to be the best of all worlds for professional guides and certainly for sport hunters who wanted to go to Africa or other places where big and dangerous animals lurked. Except, that is, for the reports of it not doing what it was expected to do when its full-jacketed solid bullets encountered hard muscle and solid bone.
    Such anecdotes were completely at odds with my own experiences with the .458 in Africa, such as my first elephant, which was a head-on upward angling shot (it was that close) with my hand-loaded 500-grain steel-jacketed bullet smashing through the thick skull, into the brain, and exiting behind the head. Other elephants fell just as surely, as did Cape buffalo, safari after safari, causing me to become all the more skeptical of rumors about the .458's shoddy performance. A skepticism which was reinforced by conversations with the professional guides with whom I hunted.
    Anyway, my African hunting began in the early 1970s, by which time rumors about the .458's failings had begun to fade. As well as I could connect the dots, reports of the .458's sub-standard performance were circulated only during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the cartridge was still a newcomer.
    NOT ENOUGH POWDER?
    These were the reports that stirred some amateur ballistics theorists, in their usual rush to judgment, to speculate that the problem with the .458 Magnum was that its case didn't hold enough powder. Never mind that it delivered two and a half tons of energy at the muzzle--as much as, or more than, several British bluebloods of hallowed repute; somehow it needed more powder. As it turns out, they were on to something. But not because the .458's pudgy case didn't hold enough powder. It was because, at times during the production process, it wasn't being loaded with enough powder!
    This came to light when I happened to read an astonishing "Letter to the Editor" in a 2004 issue of Precision Shooting magazine, a nicely done, semi-technical journal devoted mainly to rifle accuracy. The letter's author, Walter Engel, a former Winchester engineer, described his intimate involvement in the development of the .458, and his subsequent discovery of quality problems with Winchester's ammo production line.
    In his words: "The production loading machine has a large flat disk that rotates intermittently and there are slots along the periphery that carry the case to each station. This results in a start-and-stop movement, so that a distinct loading operation can occur at each pause. This jarring motion caused the powder to spill out [emphasis mine] of very full cases." In his letter, Mr. Engel goes on to describe the obvious effects of the lost powder as "a loss of velocity." So there you have it.
    PROBLEM CORRECTED
    How much velocity and energy were lost depended, of course, on how much powder was tossed out of the open cases, but it's reasonable to assume that the amounts varied from round to round. Thus, within a single 20-round box of .458 ammo, velocity/energy levels could vary cartridge to cartridge by hundreds of feet per second and thousands of foot-pounds of energy.
    Nowadays, we seldom hear reports of the .458 failing when the chips are down, except when the failing turns out to have been the result of poor shooting, and it's safe to say that once the powder spillage problem was observed, it was immediately corrected.
    Meanwhile, in its half-century of existence, the .458 Winchester Magnum is firmly entrenched as the world's most used and recognized cartridge in places where men hunt dangerous animals and put their faith in the cartridges they fire. This in spite of a cloud that once hung over its future, a cloud at last blown away by the simple explanation of a former Winchester engineer who was, in fact, instrumental in the development of the .458, Walter Engel. Thank you, sir.
    U.S. Contact for HartzView Safaris
    Email: philip.clayton@cox.net
    480-861-9232
    www.hvsafaris.com

  12. #12
    enysse's Avatar
    enysse is online now AH Ambassador
    Joined
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    5,190

    Member of Northeast Wisconsin SCI chapter, Lifetime member of NRA,RMEF

    Hunted Namibia, South Africa (East Cape, Guateng and Limpopo)

    enysse has no Articles
    View enysse's Photos

    Default

    I tend to ignore all the rubbish wrote about the .458 Win years ago, there may have been poor bullets and bad gun built, but that has all changed with modern guns and bullet components it is one serious gun.

    I own one and it makes the .416 look very small. They are not to expensive to acquire thanks to all the bad press.

  13. #13
    PHOENIX PHIL's Avatar
    PHOENIX PHIL is online now AH Elite
    Joined
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    1,867

    Member of SCI

    Hunted USA, S. Africa

    PHOENIX PHIL has no Articles
    View PHOENIX PHIL's Photos

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by enysse View Post
    I tend to ignore all the rubbish wrote about the .458 Win years ago, there may have been poor bullets and bad gun built, but that has all changed with modern guns and bullet components it is one serious gun.

    I own one and it makes the .416 look very small. They are not to expensive to acquire thanks to all the bad press.
    Yeah I can buy into the challenges with the powders available in 1956 or so in meeting the goals of the caliber. But not now.
    U.S. Contact for HartzView Safaris
    Email: philip.clayton@cox.net
    480-861-9232
    www.hvsafaris.com

  14. #14
    sestoppelman's Avatar
    sestoppelman is online now SILVER SUPPORTER
    Joined
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    2,196

    Member of NRA, NA Hunt Club

    Hunted Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe (2), Namibia, South Africa

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob44 View Post
    So whats a fella to do who wants a Big 5 Rifle and doesn,t have massive money to spend,,,Most PHs here Brag about CZ550s and they are 1000.00 rifles,,I,m liking a Whitworth Mark X 375 built On a Zastava Mauser action and known to have harder barrels than the Interarms according to what my research tells me,,,
    I think I stated on another thread that I have a Whitworth .375 bought new in 1984 and it has lots of rounds down bore. Still shoots like the day I got it. I too have heard about soft barrels in these guns but I dont give it much credence. Its the rifle in my pictures taken in Tanzania, Botswana and my first Zim trip in '96. Interarms was the importer of all of the Mark X and Whitworth rifles, so there is not really a distinction as far as I know. I do know this, I wont live long enough to use up my Whitworths barrel!

  15. #15
    Rob44's Avatar
    Rob44 is online now BRONZE SUPPORTER
    Joined
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    389

    Member of NRA, Member Minnesota Horse and Hunt,,Caribou Hunt Club

    Rob44 has no Articles
    Rob44 has no Photos

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sestoppelman View Post
    I think I stated on another thread that I have a Whitworth .375 bought new in 1984 and it has lots of rounds down bore. Still shoots like the day I got it. I too have heard about soft barrels in these guns but I dont give it much credence. Its the rifle in my pictures taken in Tanzania, Botswana and my first Zim trip in '96. Interarms was the importer of all of the Mark X and Whitworth rifles, so there is not really a distinction as far as I know. I do know this, I wont live long enough to use up my Whitworths barrel!
    Thanks thats Great to hear,,It has an old school feel and is in close to pristine shape,and it,s not a caliber you spend shooting all day ,I hope to have it in my hands this week

  16. #16
    sestoppelman's Avatar
    sestoppelman is online now SILVER SUPPORTER
    Joined
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    2,196

    Member of NRA, NA Hunt Club

    Hunted Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe (2), Namibia, South Africa

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob44 View Post
    Thanks thats Great to hear,,It has an old school feel and is in close to pristine shape,and it,s not a caliber you spend shooting all day ,I hope to have it in my hands this week
    Let me know the serial number when you get it. Mine is B2704**. They made a few mostly cosmetic changes later on. They went to the later push button floor plate release instead of the trigger guard style like mine. Also some have the forward swivel on the stock instead of the barrel. Markings vary on these too. Some have Whitworth stamped all over them, mine has it on the forward receiver ring top and side and the recoil pad, but not on the barrel like some. They also have a second recoil lug under the barrel in the forearm that is bedded in epoxy, a good feature. Barring starvation, I will not sell mine.

  17. #17
    ornery's Avatar
    ornery is online now BRONZE SUPPORTER
    Joined
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    20

    Hunted South Africa

    ornery has no Articles
    ornery has no Photos

    Default

    Now please keep in mind that the only thing I am an expert on is my own opinion, but...............

    As regards the Whitworth....the actions tend to be just as rough as any mid/ lower end factory stock action, when new. Barrel softness....this is a statement that can be better clarified, in my opinion, based upon volume of fire, cartridge velocity and material. The Whitworth action was imported under several names and also suffered from QC problems at several times during it's manufacture. Stocks were an issue, if memory serves. I would not hesitate to use a Whitworth,( I own a 308 myself).

    As to budget, (and I am there with Rob44), one has to work within his budget. Like we used to say in the bass fishing tournament game, "You can catch fish with a stick, a string and a hook". The market forced me to shop for a deal as well, and the used Whitworth market (in the US) is , IMHO, about what the average guy can afford. I will say, ( and this may get me in trouble as well) that I sell new CZ & Winchester big bore guns at cost to my customers that are as financially challenged as I. If they want to go, I try to help get them there.

    I don't think one should discount ALL of these rifles based upon the article. The use a professional hunter subjects his rifle to is far greater than the average client. While I do agree with the majority of the article, I think one has to look at the perspective from which it is written.

    Weatherby....Look at the upper end manufactured Mark V. The company has changed hands enough throughout the years that you have to be critical in which Weatherby you buy. I had a customer bring me a brand new Mark V, last month, that would not fire. (light FP strikes) This was a custom order. He waited a year for delivery and the thing wouldn't go bang. Thankfully it was found to be the FP out of adjustment and I was able to fix it immediately, but this is an example of what buyers have to look forward to. Over a thousand bucks and no factory test fire?

    Remington.... (Now I'm gonna' get it!) This rifle is the one I see most often...busted! Poor quality control, weak extractor, bad safeties, bad triggers, broken bolt handles ( a strong man can break one of the newer models clean off). The list goes on. A really nice deer and elk rifle...ok. A DG rifle? Not for my part.

    Winchester...I believe it to be one of the 2 best choices on the available market. (U.S.)

    CZ.....for the money, the best choice.

    Browning....push feed and light barrels. My problem with them is an accuracy one. Now I am sure there is going to be someone saying I'm wrong, but we have found them, in our shop to be 2 shot rifles. The first two go where you aim them, after that it's up to the Lord. We attribute it to light barrels.

    The safety comments, taken from the writers perspective are basically true. However, safeties are safeties. (raises trigger finger ) The hunter must adapt to the available equipment unless he wishes to go custom, and I'm talking factory stock here.


    (Just a quick aside to say to all of you how much I am enjoying the gentlemanly conversation here. This board is TRULY a breath of fresh air!)

  18. #18
    Rob44's Avatar
    Rob44 is online now BRONZE SUPPORTER
    Joined
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    389

    Member of NRA, Member Minnesota Horse and Hunt,,Caribou Hunt Club

    Rob44 has no Articles
    Rob44 has no Photos

    Default

    Well I looked at a Winchester built in the early 80s,,Q115xxxx ,,Really a Nice Rifle as most big calibers tend to be,These heavy hitters Calibers appear to be One and Done from what i seen ,,If you own a small collection of shooters like i do you tend to shoot the Hell out of the Fun Guns,,and the nasty stuff only see,s occasional range time,,

  19. #19
    Just Passing Through's Avatar
    Just Passing Through is offline AH Senior Member
    Joined
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    74
    Just Passing Through has no Articles
    Just Passing Through has no Photos

    Default

    I really appreciate the scientific approach the author has. He even timed exactly how long it takes to reload ("A two round reload took on average, twice as long with the Model 700's as it did with just about any other make of rifle."), compiled the data, and worked out the averages. I wonder if these were hand timed or electronically timed?

    Odd that he did not address accuracy.

    I am so glad to hear yet another opine on the "American attitude", and the shoddy American products (sarcasm intended). Perhaps we Americans should spend much more of our cash to buy wonderful European rifles (if it is not made in Europe it is absolutely substandard!) and less on taking expensive hunting trips to Africa.

    Perhaps he is correct in his opinions, but his approach is crude and a bit offensive. Perhaps he knows it all!

  20. #20
    PHOENIX PHIL's Avatar
    PHOENIX PHIL is online now AH Elite
    Joined
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    1,867

    Member of SCI

    Hunted USA, S. Africa

    PHOENIX PHIL has no Articles
    View PHOENIX PHIL's Photos

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob44 View Post
    Well I looked at a Winchester built in the early 80s,,Q115xxxx ,,Really a Nice Rifle as most big calibers tend to be,These heavy hitters Calibers appear to be One and Done from what i seen ,,If you own a small collection of shooters like i do you tend to shoot the Hell out of the Fun Guns,,and the nasty stuff only see,s occasional range time,,
    Nah, simply a matter of time and acclimating yourself. There are some exceptions. I shot a .505 Gibbs once and I'm done....forever. No intention of ever shooting one of those again.

    But a .375 is a piece of cake now. Load up some lighter bullets and it really extends the time. The last time I shot my .458B&M, somewhere between a .458 Win and .458 Lott, I touched off more than 20 rounds. Half of those were 250gr bullets that are just a hoot to shoot. Besides if you shoot at a public range like I do, it's kind of fun to see other shooters going all giddy over the size of the bullets your shooting. (Okay, perhaps that's some sort of compensation issue)

    Will you want to touch off 50 rounds the way you might a .223, doubt it. But it's not a one and done and honestly if you're planning a DG hunt, you really need to spend range time to where you're not afraid of the rifle so that you are only focused on that big bad whatever that will stomp/bite you when you cause it to leak.
    U.S. Contact for HartzView Safaris
    Email: philip.clayton@cox.net
    480-861-9232
    www.hvsafaris.com

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Lessons Learned from Shipping Trophies Home
    By desertloper in forum Before & After the Hunt
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 01-11-2013, 10:53 PM
  2. any help with becoming a professional hunter?
    By Deinotherium in forum Hunting Africa
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: 06-21-2012, 06:49 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •