Carrying your rifle

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by timbear, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. timbear

    timbear AH Enthusiast

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    Hi,
    There is something I have wondered about for quite a while:
    A lot of hunters in Africa seem to be carrying their rifle across the shoulder, held by the barrel. Now, I don't doubt that is quite impressive to look at, but what is wrong with a good rifle sling? Is there a special reason for this, or is it more a tradition? Also, doesn't carrying a rifle muzzle forward increase the risk of inadvertently pointing it at someone? I would be very interested to hear the opinion of the experienced Africa hands on this.
     
  2. shakari

    shakari AH Enthusiast

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    African rifles tend not to have slings fitted because when you go into the thick stuff to look for a wounded big 'n ugly, they get hooked up on branches and stop you getting the rifle into action quickly.

    As for safety. It's the same as carrying any other firearm. Keep it pointing in a safe direction at all times.
     
  3. fhm3006

    fhm3006 AH Enthusiast

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    Timbear...being a South and Western -African myself i can tell you one thing - it is not tradition.
    Mind you i have also noticed it numerous times on photos.

    Shakari may have hit the nail on the head there - it is mostly photos of a hunter / PA carrying a considderable caliber rifle like that. Considderable calibers are used for DG almost exclusively - so his opinion get my vote as well.
     
  4. DOC-404

    DOC-404 AH Elite

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    It's actually quite simple,we carry over the shoulder or in the hand when in the thick stuff and/or after DG,and on a sling,with QR swivels or buckles,when out in the plains.I often keep mine on the sling until just before the action starts.You never want to get caught up in a sling in a SHTF situation.
     
  5. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Docman has it exactly right. If hunting plains game, use a sling. Have detachable swivels so you can take it off if you need to complete a stalk through really thick stuff.

    As a client, even when hunting DG, I use a sling. I take it off before entering a leopard blind, and I would take it off before doing a follow up on something that just ran away and might decide to come running back.
     
  6. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    The first thing my last PH did was to take my sling of my rifle plus the scope covers...

    Reason was that if and and when a shot presented it self he did not want my rifle sling getting caught in the sticks and having to untangle a mess and lose an opportunity at and trophy animal...yes we did walk through some very thick stuf and the rifle just slid through...

    Getting used to carrying your rifle over your shoulder or in your hand was easy and i have used this before hunting antelope and deer and it is like bird hunting you do not have a sling on your shotgun.

    Safety no shell was in the chamber while you were walking until you are getting ready for a shot at an animal.

    As indicated and stated many times on this forum many times you only have a brief chance to make the shot. And you do not want to muff it when the opportunity presents it self...
     
  7. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    I agree on taking off the scope covers, but not the rifle sling.

    You don t have the time to set up the sticks always, and I use the sling as support when shooting offhand.
     
  8. Upton O. Good

    Upton O. Good AH Veteran

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    I was wondering about not having a sling on the camp rifles I used in SA. My hunting buddy had his own rifle and used the sling to tote it up and down kopjes and across the plains. I carried my assigned rifles, no round in the chamber, by the barrel, over my shoulder which went against everything I had been taught before. But here is the kicker: when we were closing in on game, I was directed to chamber a round and the bolt on the rifle was closed but not locked down. It was very easy for my PH and the tracker to do a visual confirmation that the rifle was safe, even from a distance. This wouldn't have been possible if we were relying on the safety alone. When it was time for the shot, I locked the bolt, usually after it was positioned on the shooting sticks. If we were going to be trekking a good distance the rifle was carried with an empty chamber but with full magazine. On the one situation where a quick shot was necessary I chambered a round quickly. Now if there had been a lot of dangerous game in the area I'm sure we would have had other arrangements but I only saw buffs once and they were in the distance and departed quickly. The rhino cow and calf, well, their presence was noted by the trackers early so we could divert out path. The .300 win mag wouldn't have done anything anyway. Wow, ain't Africa great?
     
  9. timbear

    timbear AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks, everybody, that has cleared this up for me admirably.
     
  10. nsok

    nsok AH Veteran

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    For me, the most comfortable way to carry it
     
  11. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I like to sling the gun over my shoulders or carry it in my hands. I find putting the stock over my shoulders and barrel in hand uncomfortable.
     
  12. Bert the Turtle

    Bert the Turtle AH Enthusiast

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    My understanding is that peculiar carry style is a holdover from the days when there was a gunbearer carrying the rifle. He would walk in front of the hunter, and the rifle would be immediately available to the hunter. (seemingly available to shoot the gunbearer in the back, to me!)

    As to why people still do it, it is probably like the old story of the young bride who cut the ham slice in half before putting it in the pan. Told her new husband that was the right way to do it because her mother did it that way. Her mother did it because HER mother did it. When the young lady asked her grandma why she cut the ham slice, she told her that when she was raising her children, she only had a small pan and had to cut the slice to fit.

    The people who carry their rifle that way probably saw dad carrying it that way, who learned it from grandpa, who saw their gunbearer do it when he was a kid.
     
  13. fhm3006

    fhm3006 AH Enthusiast

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    You will probably find this post interesting
    http://www.africahunting.com/firearms-ammunition-general/5508-when-do-i-load-lock.html

     
  14. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    I like the sling when plains game hunting, and you have to have a detachable sling in case you have to go into the thick stuff. The sling if used correctly keeps the muzzle pointed up in the air & safely. I have seen enough tv shows where there is some very poor gun handling & carrying. It doesn't send a very good message to the kids who are taking gun safety courses. I know because I have had a daughter comment on this after taking the course & i must agree with her.
     
  15. Ole Bally

    Ole Bally AH Enthusiast

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    Hunters carrying their rifles over their shoulder by the barrel is pretty dumb! The triggers facing forward and if the safety comes off the next twig is gonna pull the trigger and kill someone!
    'The African carry' as it's called was originally adopted by the likes of Courtney Selous. The rifle was carried thus by the tracker walking in front! He - Selous -was but a step behind so that he could take hold of the stock and use the trackers shoulder for a rest (4 bores etc) and be instantly ready to fire!

    Always carry your rifle ready to use! Even when your PH is there and ready! Opportunities knocks only briefly at times..be ready!

    having said that, a sling is useful up to a point!
     
  16. timbear

    timbear AH Enthusiast

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    I have done this often with my 6.5x55mm Mauser, and with Mausers it's safe. A warning, though: some rifles (Remington700 definitely, but I hear some others as well) will lock down the bolt when you inadvertently pull the trigger (or catch it on a twig) and fire! If I carry a rifle that way, I make sure I always have the bolt firmly grasped between thumb and index finger.
     
  17. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    That is easy to avoid, when you load the chamber, before you lower the bolt handle, press the trigger.

    Thus the firing pin is not cocked and the rifle is unable to fire unless you work the bolt, which can done quite fast.
     
  18. Ole Bally

    Ole Bally AH Enthusiast

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    @ Nyati, Please believe me...for your own safety's sake. The rifle IS NOT SAFE like this! The firing pin is unsecured (by the safety) and the only thing holding it back (from hitting the primer) is the return spring. If the gun is dropped onto the butt with enough force...IT WILL FIRE! If the spring is weak or in any case you'll never know how much or little pressure that'll take! If the safety isn't working (in which case leave the rifle at the gunsmiths) rather leave the chamber empty! Lifting and closing the bolt can be just as noisy as taking the safety off BUT more time consuming!
     
  19. colorado

    colorado AH Veteran

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    I'll listen to my PH about taking off my sling, but once told to load the rifle, I'm happy to carry with no round in the chamber. Once instructed to cycle the action and put a round in the chamber I will keep my rifle on safe until ready to shoot and of course keep muzzle control at all times. I will not carry it over my shoulder holding the barrel, and I will not carry it with the bolt half closed. If that's what he wants, I will pick another PH. I just finished following my guide into the willows after my Alaskan brown bear and I really can't imagine stuff much thicker than that. When he ducked under a brush my safety was off and I was covering him, when he had his rifle at the ready again I put my safety back on and would duck under the brush. It took us 10 minutes to go 30 yards where we found my bear dead from my first shot. We had to be prepared for a charge at under 5 yards in the thick "pucker brush". My guide was awesome and we were both confident that we were at the same time as ready for a charge as we could be yet handling our weapons safely. There has to be a real trust in that situation and clear understanding of the rules of engagement.
     
  20. timbear

    timbear AH Enthusiast

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    That is firearms handling as it should be. Nothing to add, really.
     

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