Best Caliber for plainsgame in Africa ? Your opinion

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Frederik, Jun 6, 2009.

?

Best caliber for plainsgame

  1. various 7mm's

    22 vote(s)
    10.2%
  2. 308

    14 vote(s)
    6.5%
  3. 30-06

    35 vote(s)
    16.3%
  4. various .300's

    69 vote(s)
    32.1%
  5. 338 win mag

    32 vote(s)
    14.9%
  6. 358. norma magnum

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. 9.3 x 62

    12 vote(s)
    5.6%
  8. 375 H&H

    31 vote(s)
    14.4%
  1. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Obviously a .375 is not needed for most plains game, however eland which can average as much or more than buffalo is a good excuse to use one and do in fact require a .375 or something similar in some countries. And if a hunter is a good enough shot to, as Sully claims to be to, "hit a man size target at 500 yards", from as (I) said a FIELD POSITION, great! I said that most cannot, I didnt say no one could. Shooting at game in the field is much different than doing it from a bench or from a solid, take all the time you need, slung up prone position at the local match. I have done both and wish like hell I could shoot as well in the field as I can during a match or from the bench! I think we can all agree that a good bullet in the right place will do the job regardless the name of the round.
     
  2. Sully

    Sully New Member

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    Obviously since I stated a man sized TARGET...I was at a bench..fully locked into position...but..by doing that I have no doubts with better equipment ( the 500 yd shot was with iron sight...Springfield M1A rifle) and the scope of my choise I can do as well from 250 in the field.

    Personally I doubt Id take a shot at 250...more likely at 150...and if was somehing that might "bite me" Id want to be at something like 50 yards to make DARN SURE I hit exactly where I wanted.
     
  3. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Sully
    I assumed thats what you meant and your 250 shot is about the max that most can reliably place their shots on game in the field and less is always better for sure. I used to shoot 5 and 600 yard prone with my M1 and my M1A with irons as well, before age degraded my once good eyesight!
    Sully, have you done much hunting? You dont list as most here do, where you have hunted. Just curious.
     
  4. Sully

    Sully New Member

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    My eye sight went bad..so bad in fact in my right eye it was 20/200.....I could barely see the big E on the chart. Had operations on both eyes and now its ( both eyes open) 20/12 1/2. Almost good enough to see the birth of bacteria on a tabletop....:)

    Hunted some..deer..boars..elk..but never had the $$ for Africa.....now that I have the $$..dont have the health. On oxygen all the time and just got out of critical hospital 9 weeks ago...spend 2 1/2 weeks strapped down and drug induced "coma". Had a tube in me everywgere you could stick a tube...an dhad so many IV's..etc..catheters etc..I'll have scars the rest of my life...
     
  5. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Jeez Sully, I sure am sorry to hear all of that going south with your health, I really am. It is my sincere hope that you recover enough to perhaps be able to fulfill your dream of African hunting. It surely is worth the effort and cost if one can do it. I certainly hope you can continue to post here and keep us all updated on your health concerns. Sure hope you get better and I mean that and I am equally sure everyone here feels the same. Best of luck to you!

    Scott
     
  6. trigger creep

    trigger creep AH Enthusiast

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    Sorry to hear about your health. I am going to be praying for you.
     
  7. Sully

    Sully New Member

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    Thats OK..save your prayers...:) Im recuperating...just slowly is all. They told me Id be on Oxygen the rest of my life....and so far Im weaning myself a little bit at a time from it....and just yesterday I went from 7 AM until nearly 4 PM without it and my Oxygen level stay about the Doc's minimum number on my Oxygen meter. I'll get there...Im just glad Im retired and dont have a job to contend with along with all th ehealth problems ( for now...:).)
     
  8. trigger creep

    trigger creep AH Enthusiast

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    I am not saying the .243 in innadequate for deer. Heck, I used a .243 for my 2nd year of hunting and I thought I had the best deer cartridge in the woods. I have since overcome my recoil intolerance and have moves up in caliber. I still would use a .243 for Deer, but not for Bear.
     
  9. trigger creep

    trigger creep AH Enthusiast

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    That is one reason why I like "bigger" calibers. I think one of the best brush cartridges is the .45-70, a big slo cartridge that isn't easily deflected. I do belive that some cartridges are better than others at "brush busting". My dad once did a test, using a 7MM Rem. mag, a .30-30 Win, and a .450 Marlin. The target was a metal silhouette covered by brush, you could hardly see it. He fired several rounds with all 3 and the 7MM never hit the silhouette, the .30-30 hit it 50% of the time, and the .450 Marlin hit every time (or almost every time). I would definitely take a less than ideal shot with a .450 Marlin, and I wouldn't with a .243 Win.
     
  10. AlSpaeth

    AlSpaeth AH Senior Member

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    At the risk of boredom

    My point exactly. Slow and heavy from 30-30 up has proven successful for hunting in the woods for generations for the exact reasons your dad demonstrated.
    I grew up in Michigan and had a Marlin 30-30 which I loved. One year I missed a buck at about 30 yds when my bullet hit a small twig. I came back the next season with my Win. mod 12 shotgun and slugs confident that even a sapling wouldn't stop me. This is not the place for a 7mm mag or a .243 - you'll spend a lot of time looking for wounded deer.

    But this thread is about Africa and Plains Game and One Gun - so lets go back to basics. I, as a retired PH and Outfitter often had to make the "one gun" recommendation to several first time plains game hunters. Here's are the reasons.

    1) Bullet placement is the most important - but it's not "Everything". My first experience with a 7mm Rem Mag was in the mid 80's. We found a kudu bull in a valley about 150 yds below us. I set up the shooting sticks and as the bull slowly walked out from behind a thorn tree I whispered "ok -shoot". I had already explained that he must aim at the shoulder and aim low as were shooting downhill. I saw the dust kick up on the shoulder. "Good" I said. The bull flinched, took a few steps and stood behind another thorn tree for about a minute but didn't go down - and then walked on. "Shoot Again" I instructed, but the result was the same. By the third shot I could clearly see blood on the shoulder through my binocs and grabbed my 300H&H. After the fourth shot he was over 200yds away and still walking. I aimed at the back of his head and dropped him with a lucky high neck shot. I was speechless - I loved the 7X57 so the 7mm mag could only be better. My jack russell terrier found the bull in thick cover at the bottom of the valley. We loaded it in my old Land Rover. Back at camp my skinner went to work while we had breakfast. When I examined the carcass I couldn't believe my eyes. Two shots had exploded on the shoulder bone and not penetrated any further but destroyed the meat from the neck back almost 3 feet. The other two shots has missed bone and passed straight through the lungs and exited without expanding leaving two tiny neat holes with some pink foam. All four shots were within an 8" circle in the "kill zone". Any one of the shots would have been fatal from a 30-06 or a 308. Either would have broken bone or expanded through the lungs. He was using 150gr factory ammo at about 3100ft/sec. This was a 7X57 bullet in a 375H&H case - how could it fail?? The client's favorite gun dealer convinced him to buy it for his African safari - and told him no lies. On paper the 7mm mag "Has superior ballistics to the 30-06". Unfortunately, there were many more wounded animals with 7mm mags and even 270's - so many that our brochure was changed to "30 cal minimum". African game can't read ballistics charts.

    2) Back to bullet placement. We are "Hunters" not "Snipers" We know that a 308 can take out a man at 800yds+ but that's not a good reason to choose a rifle. The challenge of the sport is to stalk or ambush our quarry within a a distance where we are confident of our bullet placement. I try to get a client within 100yds and try to never allow them to attempt a shot at over 200yds. That's hunting - so we'll select our one gun on those numbers. No rifle is going to make you a good shot at 300yds or more. We don't hunt here from a bench rest. I have seen 7mm mags perform well with 175gr hand loads - but why put up with the recoil when you are getting back to non-magnum ballistics by making it heavier and slower? Nothing destroys a hunters confidence quicker than excessive recoil. And don't bring a massive variable power scope. Any good 4X fixed power will do. Leupold is still my favorite "value for money" again based on experience. It's strong - doesn't need to be checked every time you bump it and good for low light shooting early morning and evening. Judging distance in South Africa is one of the most difficult challenges hunting here due mainly to two factors. First lots of huge wide open spaces and second the amazing variety of the size of our antelope. It's hard enough without the hunter looking through his scope wondering if it's on 3X or 12X and even worse being unable to find the animal due to the narrow field of view at high power and being afraid to shoot because he can't hold it still.

    3) Our "one gun hunter" is likely to use off the shelf factory ammo.
    On those three assumptions -
    a) A Proven caliber for Africa plains game-
    b) Accuracy - able to produce a clean kill at 200yds without excessive recoil using readily available factory ammo
    c) And a good 4X scope.

    My final recommendation would still be first a 30-06, second 308, and third 375H&H. The 375 is only necessary if you are hunting in an area where you are likely to encounter dangerous game.

    There are many many other great calibers. They can be broadly grouped into two main categories. First and by far the largest and most popular over the years are the "military" calibers. 30-06, 308 (7.62x51mm) , 7X57, .223, and even the British 303 have all proven themselves in Africa and worldwide.

    The second group I call the African group. The early "white hunters" in Africa soon found that dangerous game often needed something heavier than the conventional "military" guns. Starting with F C Selous' famous 4 bore elephant gun (4 bullets to a pound - each shot fired a quarter pound of lead) through the famous nitro express doubles like the 500s, 470, 465 and bolt actions like the 416 Rigby and 404 Jefferys , British gun-makers developed many calibers specifically for hunters in Africa and India. They also developed many calibers specifically for plains game hunting. Holland & Holland developed the first 7mm Rem mag called the .275 H&H Magnum in 1912. It was also based on a 375H&H case and a 7mm bullet. It became the 7x61mm Sharpe & Hart in 1953, and eventually the 7mm Remington Magnum in 1962. The .275 H&H had been a cartridge ahead of its time.

    375 H&H is the most popular calibre invented by Holland & Holland, and was introduced in 1912 as a Nitro Express cartridge using cordite, but worked its way into becoming also the world's most popular African safari calibre to date, due to its versatility.

    Holland & Holland alone developed and made rifles for more that 15 hunting calibers from the .240 Apex to the .700 Nitro Express firing a 1000 grain bullet.
    Joseph Lang developed the .470NE in 1900. It was produced from 1907 until today and many experienced African hunters still prefer it to the .458 Win mag which was developed to replace the 470 NE.

    The abundance of game in the "new world" and commercial hunting meant that these calibers were tested on untold thousands of animals. John "Pondoro" Taylor's book "African Rifles and Cartridges" is one of the best books ever compiled on real world performance. Taylor was a famous PH and shot thousands of animals. He preferred the big bore double rifles but he said that the 375 H&H was "Undoubtedly one of the deadliest weapons in existence. I've had five of these rifles—two doubles and three magazines—and have fired more than 5,000 rounds of .375 Magnum ammunition at game. One of them accounted for more than 100 elephant and some 411 buffalo, besides rhino, lions and lesser game." Having hunted over thirty years on the African continent, Taylor is credited with over 1,000 elephant to his bag. He also developed a stopping power mathematical formula called the "Taylor KO Factor". It's very good as long as you remember it was developed for solid bullets. The Germans developed the 9.3X62 and later the 9.3X64 as their answer to the 375H&H. The 9.3X64 "Brenneke" H-mantel was the first "partitioned" bullet construction long before Nosler came along.

    "Karamojo" Bell shot over 1000 elephant with a 7X57. It's the thickest and hardest skull to penetrate but the 7mm mag I mentioned earlier failed to penetrate a Kudu's shoulder blade. This is the mystery of ballistics.

    The third group I call "varmit" calibers including many of the "wildcats". 22-250, 220 Swift are two of my favorites. A bench rest, powerful scope, and spotting scope are the perfect combo for testing your "sniper" skills. At high speeds the heads are meant to explode on impact when shooting prairie dogs at over 300 yds. I would probably choose a 7mm rem mag for coyotes at similar distances. It's a great varmint caliber. They are meant to destroy at long distance.

    There are dozens of great calibers for specific purposes.

    For hunting we also need the following for effective bullet performance:
    Penetration - the bullet should fully penetrate the body.
    Expansion - a soft head should mushroom for maximum internal damage but ideally finish as a lump under the skin with no exit wound. 100 percent of the energy is absorbed.
    Retention - the bullet should retain at least 90 percent of it's weight. It should not break up or explode and the core should not separate from the jacket. Minimum meat damage.

    In my experience 7X57, 308, 30-06, and 375H&H have all met the criteria. So has my 300H&H - but only if I hand load with 180gr Nosler partitions. Unfortunately 7mm mags, 243, 270, 264 Win mag have all failed here on plains game when it comes to bullet performance and knock down power. Granted, you can hand load any of them for better performance but you are really attempting to change them into something else. Most of the magnums have too much recoil for the average hunter - especially the Weatherbys.

    One small caliber that still amazes me is the 6.5X55 SKAN (1894). I don't know why but I have never seen a kudu walk away from a well placed shot. It has also proven itself on deer and even elk in the USA and is still very popular with moose hunters in Norway and Sweden ( see Petersen's Hunting article The 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser). The 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schonauer is nearly identical. The bullet performance is still amazes me.

    At the risk of boring everyone further we have to wonder why, with today's technology, our most popular, proven, hunting calibers are 100 years old?
    Don't get me wrong - I'd like to own a hundred rifles but this this is a "one gun" thread.
     
  11. Nyatiboss

    Nyatiboss AH Senior Member

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    The 30.06 with 180 grns and a tough , perfectly expanding tip have worked for me.

    I've had problems with the ultra fast rounds over the years and have learned to stick with calibres such as 30.06 / .375 H&H / .416 Rigby

    Bullets that hit hard and expend their energy IN the animal are preferable to decorating anthills and thornbushes with bits of their innards !

    But we are all different and thank God for that !
     
  12. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Hi AlSpaeth, I like your articles...they definitely don't bore me. I think the .308 Win and 30-06 are excellent rounds.

    I hunt with a 243 Win. a lot of times, because I butcher my own meat and to me....it's a lot easier to cut up a deer shot from a 243 Win. I hate all the meat damage from the big calibers. When I went hunting in the Northwest Territories of Canada....I saw people hunting caribou and polar bear with a 223. Now I'm not saying I would do it...but some people thought it was all right....and there theory was less meat damage too.

    I really like the 7mm Mag...especially with Horandy Interbond, SST, Swift A, Accubonds and Ultra-Corelokts. Would I pick it over my 300 Win. for Kudu hunting...."no". But a 7mm Mag should cut right through a kudu shoulder. The one thing I like about the 7mm Mag...is it's a flat shooter. And the recoil is "a lot" less than a 300 Win. Still I did vote for the "30 caliber".

    I see a lot of guys with there 300 Win Ultra Mag and 300 Weatherby and it makes me laugh....they talk about all the 400 and 500 yd shots they can make...to me it's funny. They can have it....and all the meat damage too.
     
  13. AlSpaeth

    AlSpaeth AH Senior Member

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    Thanks enysse,
    For meat hunting I also use a 243 and a 223. Have culled dozens of kudu - all head and neck shots. Smaller game like Impala and Springbok body shots but use hand load nosler heads with the 243 as factory loads can cause lot of meat damage. But this is really "culling" not hunting. All the heads you mention should be geat with the 7 mag - as long as they're no too light. I have to agree re ultra mags and weatherbys. Glad you voted 30 cal..
    Regards,
    Al
     
  14. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I choose the 300 because it is my favorite all around rifle. You can load a large number of different loads for it and I have taken animals all over North America with it from Whitetail in Alabama to Grizzly in Alaska and it never let me down. Bob
     
  15. 6MM

    6MM AH Veteran

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    I am taking a .375 H & H, and a 30.06 Ackley so from big to small I'll have it covered. I agree on watching your FPS so that you keep the bullet in the animal.
     
  16. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    .338 WM Remington 225gr Swift A Frame

    Used it in all my plaisgame shooting, 15 animals, with total satisfaction.
     
  17. Hank2211

    Hank2211 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    It's a great sport that can generate this many responses to a simple question!

    After three trips to Africa, my response is this: it depends on how you define plains game.

    I'm not worried about the small stuff - you can kill a dik dik with just about anything. It's the big stuff that gives me pause.

    I've used a .300 Win Mag with great success on a lot of plains game; it has more power and a longer reach than a 30.06, so I'd give it the edge there. Having said that though, I wouldn't want to shoot a giraffe or an eland with either a .300 or a 30.06. If you include those in plains game, then you need to step up, in fairness to the animal if for no other reason.

    So if I was stepping up, I'd step up to the .375 H&H shooting 300 gr. Not only will you be able to shoot anything from a giraffe on down, but you'll have a gun that's fine for use on cats, and at least adequate for use on anything bigger, like buffalo or elephant, which I admit are not plains game. But when I'm wandering around the African bush looking for a kudu, I like to know I can handle whatever I might come across, whether I'm looking for it or it's looking for me.

    I realize many will say that a .375 is too much recoil for some to shoot well. Having both a .300 Win Mag and a .375 H&H, and having shot both many times on and off a bench, I find that the .375 has recoil that's more of a push than a hit, like I get with my .300. So while the recoil charts say the .375 has greater recoil than the .300 - something I can't deny since it's based on physics - I can say that in my opinion, anyone who can shoot a .300 can shoot a .375 with no real adjustment.
     
  18. PalBS

    PalBS New Member

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    Hi, my first post as well. When it comes to the 7X64..... it is just fantastic! I`ve used it in africa, Norway and in Canada. Oryx and other plainsgame just dropped dead basicly on the spot. It`s easy to reload, ligth recoil, flat shooting and very accurate. I used 150 grains Nosler partition but unfurturnatly Nosler has stoped making these bullets but I`m 100% sure tha another premiumbullet will work for you. I missjudged the range terrebly on a black springbuck but the 7X64 saved my day.

    In september I`ll put my 9,3X62 to the test. With 250Grains TSX, it packs alittle more muzzle energy than a .300wby
     
  19. High Velocity

    High Velocity New Member

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    I used my 338 wm on my Plains Game hunt. I thought it was more than necessary. I will take my 300 wsm on my next hunt or rent a rifle. The recoil is not an issue with me for either rifle.
     
  20. johnfox

    johnfox AH Senior Member

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    Nice to hear all of the good things about the 7x64, I've got a Lothar Walther barrel ordered and I've assembled most of the other bits to put one together.
    Re the 150gr 7mm partition, they're still listed on Noslers site.
     

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