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Bullets for Leopard

This is a discussion on Bullets for Leopard within the Hunting Africa forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; In the post about leopard hunting in Namibia, Roy Sparks commented that he prefers very soft bullets on leopard, which ...

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    In the post about leopard hunting in Namibia, Roy Sparks commented that he prefers very soft bullets on leopard, which is sort of traditional wisdom. I disagree, as long as you use a big caliber (9,3 and up) or a relatively fast bullet (2400 and up), even Barnes-X and Swift A-frames works wonderfully.

    I personally like my .450 Rigby for following up cats, be that lion or leopard, for 3 reasons:
    1) I know it very well, and it fits me well.
    2) It has open sights.
    3) Did I mention that I never want to be chewed by a cat again?

    I have even used solids on leopard before, when I did not have anything else, but mostly stick to 500gr Swift A-Frames or Barnes TSX at around 2400ft/ sec. The 2 times (out of around 12) that a leopard made it through, it chewed on me once, (I did not have a gun at all, only feet and hands...) and the other time I had my 9.3 there with scope on, and could not get a proper shot.

    What is the rest of the members opinion?
    Just to be clear, please state if you have any leopard experience or not, and whether you have experienced a leopard charge.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karl Stumpfe View Post
    In the post about leopard hunting in Namibia, Roy Sparks commented that he prefers very soft bullets on leopard, which is sort of traditional wisdom. I disagree, as long as you use a big caliber (9,3 and up) or a relatively fast bullet (2400 and up), even Barnes-X and Swift A-frames works wonderfully.

    I personally like my .450 Rigby for following up cats, be that lion or leopard, for 3 reasons:
    1) I know it very well, and it fits me well.
    2) It has open sights.
    3) Did I mention that I never want to be chewed by a cat again?

    I have even used solids on leopard before, when I did not have anything else, but mostly stick to 500gr Swift A-Frames or Barnes TSX at around 2400ft/ sec. The 2 times (out of around 12) that a leopard made it through, it chewed on me once, (I did not have a gun at all, only feet and hands...) and the other time I had my 9.3 there with scope on, and could not get a proper shot.

    What is the rest of the members opinion?
    Just to be clear, please state if you have any leopard experience or not, and whether you have experienced a leopard charge.

    Nope dont have any leopard experience or a leopard charge.

    But what I do know is that if I have the 1st shot my 303 Brit with 175gr Rhino bullets will get the pick.

    When I have to do a follow up my 500 Jeff will be the only option. Loaded with 535gr Steward SP bullets or something similar.

    Those would be my choices as a hunter with no leopard experience...
    Gerhard

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    Hi,

    Im with Gerhard on this one , i also have never had such an experience but i can add is that it mainly depends on the placement of the shot my cousins have shot leopards one shot with 223 - i think it was a neck shot below bottom jaw , also back in the days our worker on the farm took our 22 magnum and the dogs out and shot one in the tree. However to be safe and make sure you get your trophy i would say 300 mag , 416 , any big fast caliber.


    regards,

    Owen

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    My only (so far) leopard was taken from a blind, in daylight and in Namibia. One shot from a 300 grain A-Frame from a 375H&H. He did run about 20 yards but was dead as a hammer when we found him.

    The next time I go after leopard though, I think I'll try a fairly heavy barreled 338 WinMag I have, firing 225 or 210 A-Frames or TSXs.

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    A high quality soft nose like a Swift A frame or Nosler Partition out of a .300Win Mag an up will do great on Leopard. But regardless of what ammo or rifle used, shot placement should always be spot on.
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    300winmag is offline New Member
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    Karl, I havn't been attacked by a leopard but I did take one in Namibia in 2008. I used my 300 win mag with a 180 gr TBBC. Shot him in the chest, he dropped right under the bait, never moved.

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    Hi Karl,

    Please forgive me but I see now I never did explain one of the reasons I chose particularly the 250gr Sierra Game King in .375.

    Strictly I only shoot at a leopard in extreme conditions when I am left no alternative.Due to some bad experiences I and some of my mates have had due to the penetrating qualities of Swift,Barnes X, and even Nosler bullets, I deem them to risky to use when hunting with my hounds.Mates of mine have lost valuable hounds due to an exiting bullet.

    Because most of the clients I hunt with are shooting at a stationery leopard on their first shot under mostly reasonably controlled circumstances I advise them on bringing a relatively moderate rilfe ( Calibre ) eg. .30-06 - 180gr , .270 - 130gr or similar cartridge.Under these conditions one still has time to monitor the hounds positioning to see where an exiting bullet may travel.In circumstances such as these even the Sierra Game Kings for both the calibres mentioned would be more than sufficient for a leopard no matter how large, at the same time lowering the risk of an exiting bullet collecting a valuable hound.

    With the moderate choice of cartridge your hunter will in most circumstances make his first shot count as they are generally more comfortable with less recoil.

    As you know lots of these leopard land up in caves and need to be shot while still inside.Often hounds find themselves precariously positioned within the cave and a softer bullet if it exits will have lost lots of energy and weight thus minimising a ricochete from hurting or killing a dog.

    When I was mauled in Zimbabwe I cautioned the hunter not to shoot at the leopard when he did as my hounds were positioned opposite the leopard from our position.My instructions were not heeded and he fired two shots broadside with a 7mm Rem Mag at it at close range, with little apparent effect.What I feared would happen, happened and my hounds picked up shards of rock and tiny pieces of the copper jacket fragments which instantly put them off, albeit temporarily.It took those hounds a little while to get accustomed to a rifle shot at close range again.They associated the report of a gunshot with pain.The rest of that fiasco will be told another time.

    Friends of mine have not been so lucky having lost very good hounds in the process.I swear by the Swift A Frame under different circumstances, or the Nosler partion.I am not to keen on the Barnes X personally.I like lead in a bullet.

    Kind Regards,

    Roy Sparks - Sparks Hounds.

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    I have successfully hunted Leopard and have never had to face a charge.

    From a client perspective, the issue is mostly driven by the number of guns and amount of ammunition you can practically take to Africa. It is quite difficult to go to with two rifles and even more so with three rifles. I believe that most people going to Africa on a hunting safari just take a single gun.

    Generally speaking, I would go armed to shoot a variety of other game, not just Leopard. For me, this tends to translate into taking a 375 H&H with 300 grain bullets, mostly SN but some FMJ. I avoid having different bullet weights, because I prefer to have confidence in that all my bullets will shoot to the same point of aim.

    If I were going on a "pure" Leopard hunt, picking what I thought was the "right" Leopard rifle, then I would probably take my 300 H&H, using 180 grain Nosler Partition bullets. I would however, want to discuss this with my PH beforehand and might be influenced by his opinion.

    Follow up is a different question and it is not realistic to expect safari clients to arrive only with the sort of rifle that is best for following a wounded Leopard, in anticipation of them only wounding the beast. Should I only wound the Leopard then I would want to go along with the PH for the follow up and I would use the gun that I had, however, I would expect the PH to have a weapon more appropriate for the task in hand.

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    Give me Woodleigh soft nose bullets for a cat hunt. But for "follow up" with below .40cal I'd personally prefer the harder A-Frame.



    Woodleigh Softs, Woodleigh FMJ and two Swift A-Frames in 9.3mm

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    The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag, shot with the 275 Rigby. One shot, one kill. Bullet not specified but it was proberly a standard of the time, 1926. Perhaps someone can tell us what that would have been,

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    More than likley he used English Kynoch bullets that are simmilar to Woodleighs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by classicsafari View Post
    More than likley he used English Kynoch bullets that are simmilar to Woodleighs.
    175 grains?

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    I just recently shot a problem leopard on my farm. This was the first leopard that i shot and it dropped stone dead under the tree so no charge resulted. I used my 8x68s with 210gr RWS bullets. When the bullet struck the cat, slightly quartering towards me, on the tip of the shoulder the blood just started to gush out. The tree and ground around the leopard where covered in blood and he never moved an inch.
    Oliver Wettstein

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    Its no wonder you had such great results, with the soft RWS 8mm bullets at high vellocity. Great Cat kit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Sparks View Post
    Hi Karl,

    When I was mauled in Zimbabwe I cautioned the hunter not to shoot at the leopard when he did as my hounds were positioned opposite the leopard from our position.My instructions were not heeded and he fired two shots broadside with a 7mm Rem Mag at it at close range, with little apparent effect.What I feared would happen, happened and my hounds picked up shards of rock and tiny pieces of the copper jacket fragments which instantly put them off, albeit temporarily.It took those hounds a little while to get accustomed to a rifle shot at close range again.They associated the report of a gunshot with pain.The rest of that fiasco will be told another time.Friends of mine have not been so lucky having lost very good hounds in the process.I swear by the Swift A Frame under different circumstances, or the Nosler partion.I am not to keen on the Barnes X personally.I like lead in a bullet.

    Kind Regards,

    Roy Sparks - Sparks Hounds.
    I don't believe anyone has more experience with Leopard hunting with hounds than Roy Sparks, and under the conditions he hunts, his advice is golden. There is a real danger to the hounds when shooting the Leopard, so caution is indicated, and the PHs orders are to be followed to the letter. His was not followed in the FIASCO he sights here. I saw the film of the incident he is talking about, and it wasn't pretty, and I'm quite sure very painful.

    However no many use dogs to hunt leopard so the ball game has another side as well. This side requires some different bullets, and rifle types for shooting the Leopard, and a different one for follow-up if he's wounded, and gets into the weeds.

    The shot on a leopard is about the easiest shot a rifleman can make, yet it is the most often missed shot on any of the big five in Africa. I mark this down to "cat fever" (Buck Fever to deer hunters) . Most of the guys who miss this shot are very good shots, but just ge excited when they see the leopard in the tree, and know they have one shot, and it is over if they miss. The key in this case is to concentrate on one of the sopts on the leopard. This takes your mind off the leopard, and puts it on a TARGET just like when you are shooting on the fireing range at home, Now your job is not to hit the leopard, but to hit a very small spot on the leopard.

    The shot that fails to anchor the leopard is one that can be costly in money if he gets away, or costrly in body damage to you and/or your PH
    if you find him and he gets to either or both of you. In this case you need a big heavy bullet, and one that expands rapidly, but holds together, from a rifle that will get off a second shot as quickly as is posible with a legal firearm. That is a double rifle or a pair of them for at least two shots quickly, but a pair will get off four very quickly without a reload! I do not like shotguns for this work, IMO they are an almost a sure "FAIL TO STOP" weapon, IMO.
    DUGABOY1 www.doublerifleshooterssociety.com
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    Thank's Dugaboy. I would love to own a nice handling double rifle but at this point dont so my first choice is my .375 H&H built for me by Kevin Healey of Bloemfontein Custom Rifles. It originally had a 24" barrel but I had it taken down to 21". Its had to do in the meantime and handles very sweetly. I've had the fortune to have hunted many leopard in particularly demanding situations where your shooting apparatus counts in terms of success or failure.This has allowed me to make a lot of observations on choice of calibre and bullet type. I've seen almost all the premium grade bullets used on leopard and for my type of hunting I like the Sierra Game King 250 gr bullet.

    For lion I'm sure this bullet would work as well , but in honesty I'd rather go for the 300 gr Swift A Frame or Partition or a similar bullet.

    If I had no reasonable choice I'd reluctantly use a shotgun 12g with 3" mag slugs on leopard . I would not like to follow up on a lion with a shotgun at all.

    If you hunt enough leopard and want to get mauled carry a shotgun with shot ( AAA , SSG ,LG ) and your chances of you or someone in your party getting tangled with a leopard is very likely.

    Regards - Roy.

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    225 Swift A frames are very accurate (sub .5 MOA (200yds)) in my 338 at about 2750 - hope it helps.

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    Gentlemen , all those premium grade controlled expanding softs are fine on leopard especially on your first shot at a stationery leopard e.g. over a bait , where a complete pass through is acceptable and maximum penetration desireable especially if the cat may be at a slight angle.

    I recently had to cull five big mature eland bulls. I took my .375 H&H with the 250 gr Sierra Game Kings. I knew I had limited time frame to shoot all five as they would be quite wild and on the move and loading them would be a problem so they had to be dropped in a certain area close to one another.

    All five were shot on the move at ranges between 75 m and 250 m. They were all body shots at various angles and all 5 bulls were down in under a minute. There were some complete pass throughs on the broads side lung shots. The other bullets penetrated very satisfactorily and mushroomed very nicely.

    As most leopard I've had to shoot are from the front I like the 250 gr Sierra Game King as it has not exited on a frontal shot yet thereby not exposing my hounds in the rear to any danger from a bullet that over penetrates.

    I've experienced the opposite with Swift A Frames.

    I can vouch for the Sierra Game King as a sound bullet and super accurate.I've shot big Zebra stallions with my .243 Win using 100 gr SGK bullets and recovered the mushrooms below the hide on the opposite side on a broadside lung shot. I am happy with these bullets. I know what they are capable of used within limits.

    Roy Sparks.

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    The most effective bullet I've ever seen on thin skinned animals is the RWS H Mantel bullet. The front half literally explodes into MANY sharp cutting pieces of shrapnel, leaving the rear half to penetrate clear through cutting a clean wadcutter type hole that bleeds profusely. They are awesome on thin skinned animals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ikeda View Post
    RWS H Mantel bullet. The front half literally explodes into MANY sharp cutting pieces of shrapnel, leaving the rear half to penetrate clear through cutting a clean wadcutter type hole that bleeds profusely.
    This seems to be a typical trait of a lot of RWS bullets such as the TIG and the slightly harder TUG.

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