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Scope or no Scope for Elephant hunting

This is a discussion on Scope or no Scope for Elephant hunting within the Hunting Africa forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; You guys have been great about giving up good advice, backed up by real experience. I have learned a lot ...

  1. #1
    Cleathorn is offline AH Senior Member
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    Default Scope or no Scope for Elephant hunting

    You guys have been great about giving up good advice, backed up by real experience. I have learned a lot from this site. I hope you do not mind another, probably asked and answered already, question.

    When hunting elephant, do you think it is better to use a low power (1x4 type) scope with a German #4 reticle or, given that you are likely to be taking that shot at 25 paces or less, to use open sights?

    I can shoot well and I shoot often. What I cannot do is shoot with both eyes open. I am right handed, left eye dominant, and have tried everything, included a left-handed gun, but cannot get the results I want. So I am relegated to closing my left eye - which is now instinctive for me to do. I have taken game out to 500 yards ( a Newfoundland Moose with a .300 Win Mag using a Tikka T3 Hunter out of the box with hand loads) so I know I can deliver a good shot.

    That said, I have never faced down an elephant at 25 paces, which is a game changer of certainty.

    So, I am trying to decide if I should use an open sighted rifle for elephant (I have a hunt coming up this year) and use my .375 with its low power scope for Leopard, Lion and Buffalo.

    That leads to another question. Since it's possible to probable that while on the tract of an elephant we are likely to encounter Bufs or something else I might want, will a skinner or scout carry my back-up gun (i.e., the .375) while I carry the other.

    If I am on the track of an elephant, I would carry the open sighted .458 Lott and have my skinners carry the .375 H&H. IF we encounter fresh Buffalo tracks or actual Buffalo, I can make the switch.

    I would likely need to make a switch anyway because I will load only solids for the Elephant but would likely start with an expanding bullet like a TBBC for the Buf, especially if its in a herd, with solids behind it.

    At 25 paces I would think the scope could cover too much of the elephant, making the precise top of the heart shot difficult to locate, especially if its in the bush.

    So, if you were the PH, assuming I can handle the .458 Lott as well as the .375 H&H mag, which gun and sights would you most like to see me show up with for elephants? A scoped .375 or open sights on a .458 Lott? Would you let your skinners or other persons carry the back-up gun?

    Thanks for the help.

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    I think your plan of carrying a open sight 458 Lott and a 375 H&H with a scope is a fine plan. The trackers are usually pretty good about carrying your gun. Just remember, it's still not you carrying the gun and things can go wrong. I carry a scope on every rifle and shoot very fast. So for me I will always have a scope on my gun. I always find it amusing when people say they can't use a scope at short range....I would say it's because they have the wrong scope or don't practice enough. And this is just not my opinion...I know guys that do deer drives with a gun and use a scope all the time and shoot deer as close as 20 feet, when the situation arises. I'm not against open sights, if your eye sight is great, please use open sights, I don't have great vision either. I wish I could use open sights, alas I play with the cards dealt.

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    Either one will work. I would be willing to bet you would receive different answers from different PH's as to which they prefer a client to use.

    For me hunting in Africa is akin to a romantic affair, and iron sights for elephant is part of the romance. It was also the reason I chose the double.

    I would prefer the tracker not carry any rifle, his job of tracking is difficult enough. You will always have at least one person other than the tracker just to carry water. They should be able to handle carrying the extra rifle, which is not that uncommon. One guy I know of carried a double in Africa with iron sights and a scoped Ruger No. 1 of the same caliber for longer shots if the need would arise.

    So, if you were the PH, assuming I can handle the .458 Lott as well as the .375 H&H mag, which gun and sights would you most like to see me show up with for elephants? A scoped .375 or open sights on a .458 Lott? Would you let your skinners or other persons carry the back-up gun?


    The 458 Lott
    Yes I would let a water carrier carry my extra rifle.

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    A.Dahlgren is offline New Member
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    When my next elephant is up, i will carry a double and let the tracker carry my scoped 416 Rigby. You never know when you find the "big boy" and need to take the shot.

    Below is video clip is from my hunt in Zim last year, we found him just after the sunset and had to take the shot or let him go.
    It would had been impossible with ironsights IMO.

    Elephant Hunt in Zimbabwe

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    A.Dahlgren, thanks for sharing the video of your Elephant hunt with us, some great footage... a video really conveys what the experience is like, better than any words or pictures could ever do. I wish more hunters would video their hunts, as you did, and share them with everyone! Great shot, you really seized the moment and did not hesitate, well done!

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    Thanks for sharing Anton... great elephant you got and a damn good shot. Always good to take an elephant up close and with open sights - but you just never know how things are going to play-out and what will be best suited. Just make sure that when it happens - you are prepared to take the opportunity just like you did - well done,
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    No scope for me, but that is an individual thing..I grew up shooting iron sights. many of todays hunters have only shot scopes so they are better off with a scope, but only with a 2.5 or 3X on elephant, no varibles please, they have a habit of being on the high power and then your in trouble in a charge situation..I have seen this in several hunting situations and the hunter gets all bamboozled and can't think to turn it back down, and then its over as the PH and friends had to finish his mess.
    RAY ATKINSON

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    DLS
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    I"ve only taken two elephants, both with open sights. In both cases, I would not have been able to pull the shot off as easily if I'd been shooting a scoped rifle. One bull was stopped at about 10 yards as he was coming for us, and the 2nd bull was taken at about 25 yards, but was spinning to leave us as I brained him. It was very much like shooting a shotgun with that last bull.

    I can see where a scope would be an advantage in many situations, but I was fortunate both times to only have open sights on my rifles when it mattered. Next time, I'll most likely be hunting them with my 416 Hoffman, and I have a claw mounted scope on that rifle, so I can quickly go either way. Perhaps that is the best of both worlds when hunting eles.

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    Dhalgren,

    A real prize trophy , thanks for sharing the video.

    Monish
    ITS NOT THE RIFLE BUT THE MAN BEHIND THE RIFLE

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    Cleathorn,

    Never took a pachy ever, but I feel the open sights would be a better option with the big caliber rifle or I would say doubles are perfect as I believe the kill shots are taken at quite close ranges.

    Monish
    ITS NOT THE RIFLE BUT THE MAN BEHIND THE RIFLE

  11. #11
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    The place with elephant where the scope in dangerous is when you get into the thick stuff, and get a forntal charge from very close range. In that case the only thing that will stop the charge is a perfect brain shot. when looking through a scope at 3 -6 yrads all you get is a lens full of grey wrinkeled skin and it is almost imposible to pin point the correct placement for a brain shot. A brian shot is hard enough with open sights when you can see the whole head abd you don't have much time to guess when he charges you at less than 15 yrds.
    If you are shooting elephant at 50 yds, or even 30 yds from the side, then a scope is fine, but when he is faceing you closeing fast at less that 15 yds, you have only one shot and it better be spot on! It only take three steps for an ele to close from 15 yds! Others my use a scoped rifle if it suits them, but I certainly don't want one in my way. Give me a double rifle with iron sights every time in tight jesse with elephants.
    DUGABOY1 www.doublerifleshooterssociety.com
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    Dugaboy,
    Had written to you about a double John Rigby Rifle made in 1936 Sidelock Rifle in .416 / .470 for Maharaja Seo Saran Singh Deo of Surguja for his dark continent expedition , this game rifle was of substance, with magnificent wood and metal work. Fantastic figure is found in the walnut stocks, tasteful engraving with the Surguja State Crest on the locks embellishes a rock-solid action.
    This rifle was customised for the Maharaja of Surguja State on order in 1936. This is the only double of that caliber made by Rigby. Truly an unusual rifle. Makers case and accessories. This unique double rifle was completed by John Rigby & Co. and dispatched to the Maharaja of Surguja in 1939. Maharaja of Surguja was a great hunter and in his life time he hunted a record 1710 tigers. It is the biggest record made by anyone.
    This rifle was bought by some American Firearm company in 1970s, the present heir Maharaja TS Singhdeo of Surguja has conveyed it to me who is our close family friend , but could not trace more details on it, do you have any know how about this particular rifle ???
    Shall appreciate if some info is imparted.
    Monish
    ITS NOT THE RIFLE BUT THE MAN BEHIND THE RIFLE

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    No Africa experience, but I will throw in my two cents about low power scopes. If you shoot a 1x scope with both eyes open, even up close, you see the crosshair superimposed in your field of view like the scope isn't there. Doesn't seem to work as well once the true scope magnification gets barely above 1x. The problem is most 1-4 type variables don't go down close to a true one power, some are 1.5x or greater on the low setting.
    The inexpensive Weaver 1-3 V series goes down very close to true 1x and is a good toy to put on a light recoiling rifle to check this out. Not giving an opinion on DG hunting, but found it interesting how well a true 1x scope works close up.

    Cleathorn, I reread your original post and will say that many people can use a two or three power scope with both eyes open, I can't. Maybe my eye dominance isn't strong enough but the magnified view through one eye and normal view through the other confuses my brain. If you try a scope that goes down to a true 1x on your dominant eye (maybe on an AR or .22 auto that can be shot either hand), you might be surprised.

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    Scope or no scope for elephant? I think that if you can take two guns, one scoped bolt action and one iron-sights (preferably a double) and are prepared for the logistical and expense issues that this involves, then that is probably the best thing to do.

    I went elephant hunting in Zimbabwe last year with one rifle. I took my 375 H&H: it was wearing a quick-detachable scope on Smithson mounts. A good QD scope only takes a couple of seconds to take off and will return staright to zero when put back on.

    If the hunting environment is going to be in and out of fairly thick stuff then you never know whether you are going to shoot from 60 yards or 10 yards so for me the QD scope is the best option if you just have one rifle.

    I think that on balance the shooting range for elephant is more likely to be short, say less than 30 yards, than long. I shot my elephant full frontal from less than 10 yards, scope off, iron sights.

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    G'day Cleathorn.
    I run buffalo hunts in Northern Australia in typically thick scrub where shots on bulls average between 25 - 75 yds. Personally I back-up with an open sighted rifle ( 458 Lott ) but I reccomend to my hunters to bring the firearm and use the sights they are most comfortable and FAMILIAR with. I have 20/20 vision and am accustomed to shooting with both eyes open. I find an open sighted gun quicker to aquire a moving target at close range with and easier to load when the proverbial has hit the fan, BUT THAT'S JUST ME and that does not suit or work for everyone.It's no good hunting with iron sights if your eye sight is not up to it or if you havn't had plenty of familiarity with them. I have hunted ele's in zim during Nov when all the Mopane leaves were back on the trees and contact was at EXTREMELY close range. I did not take a bull as I only had a cull permit and we did not find an animal that fit the restrictions, but I did that hunt with my open sighted Lott and felt comfortable in the situation. A scope ( low powered ) is a damned handy asset for finding the killing zone in close quarters in thick scrub and if your comfortable and familiar with a scope, and can aquire target quickly, then use it. Either way you decide to go try make the effort to become at one with the set up you intend on using, an Ele hunt is no stage for learning new things about one's equipment. Best of luck with your hunt, hope you share the stories of the adventure with the rest of us unfortunates. Cheers, Paul.
    Paul Truccolo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleathorn View Post

    So, I am trying to decide if I should use an open sighted rifle for elephant (I have a hunt coming up this year) and use my .375 with its low power scope for Leopard, Lion and Buffalo.

    That leads to another question. Since it's possible to probable that while on the tract of an elephant we are likely to encounter Bufs or something else I might want, will a skinner or scout carry my back-up gun (i.e., the .375) while I carry the other.

    If I am on the track of an elephant, I would carry the open sighted .458 Lott and have my skinners carry the .375 H&H. IF we encounter fresh Buffalo tracks or actual Buffalo, I can make the switch.

    Thanks for the help.
    Sounds good to me.

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    How close do you want to get?....................


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