Planning the Next Plains Game Safari...

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by EGS-HQ, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. EGS-HQ

    EGS-HQ New Member

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    My partner and I just returned from our first African Safari last month. We are already planning #2...

    Our experiences were similar except in how our rifles/calibers performed. We both took one rifle; me, a Steyr Mannlicher ProAfrican in .338 RCM Improved (I now call it the .338 Kudu) with a 4-12 x 50mm Swarovski and he took a Ruger African in .300 Win. Mag. with a Zeiss 3.5-10 x 50mm.
    I shot a Blesbok, Blue Wildebeest, Kudu and an Impala. Other than the Kudu that ran for about 10 yards, all others fell where they stood*. He shot a Blesbok, Wart Hog, Blue Wildebeest, Red Hartabeest, Gemsbok and an Impala**.

    * My Blue Wildebeest required a second shot to the heart at close range to finish (not good bullet expansion from the 225 gr. Interbond) and the impala required the same (first shot was through and through). It was my understanding that the ammo needed to be factory made and no hand loads are accepted. Therefore, I was left with a couple of choices; 185 gr. SST and 225 gr. Interbond, both from Hornady. All shots were between 50-125 yards.


    ** My partner did shoot and recover an Impala, but took a shot at another Impala from 175+ yards and it was hit, but not recovered. His Blesbok was shot at about 125 yards, but ran another 40-50 yards after shot. It was recovered in a small brush pile. His Wart Hog shot was from 265 yards and dropped the hog in his tracks. He was using Winchester 180 gr. Super-X ammo. Most of his shots were through and through, except for the hog and Blue Wildebeest.

    Both of us are experienced elk and deer hunters and usually have more powerful scopes. Many times we were in close range and found we were at the 10x point; adjustment needed and we dialed down.

    I feel my choice did well, but the bullets were a weak link. I felt his cartridge was not good for short range/brush as he had the through and through and probably deflections from the brush on other non-hits. I did consider bringing another Steyr in 7mm-08, but decided to scale down the bullet size of the .338 to an option offered; 185 gr. for smaller game and had the 225 gr. in case I came across larger game such as Kudu and Eland. He likes the .300 Win. Mag., but may consider other options.

    That all said, would you recommend having two rifles/hunter or pick one?
    Either way, what rifle, caliber/cartridge/bullet and scope set up would you recommend?
     
  2. jduckhunter

    jduckhunter AH Veteran

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    My Ruger 77 in .338 WM worked wonders for me on plains game, from wart hogs to eland. Speer 250 gr. Grand Slams, Leupold 3 x 9 x 33, 11 animals with 11 bullets, don't know what else I can say.
     
  3. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    Welcome to AH !

    On my .338 WM, I use the 225gr. Swift A-Frame on large animals, as a wildebeest, and the 200gr. SP on the smaller ones as an impala.

    Rifle is an old Sako, scope a Leupold LPS, 2,5-10x45.
     
  4. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    On my 338 WM is use Barnes 225 gr and have not had any issues.

    shots from 20 yards to 350 yards...
     
  5. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Veteran

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    Everything I shot died with one shot and only one required 80 yards of tracking. It was running dead with a broken shoulder and heart/lung shot. I used a 338win mag with a 3X9X40 Leupold scope and handloaded(they are legal and fine in SA) 225gr Swift A-Frame bullets. Ranges from 125 to 480 yards. Animals included what you shot and others

    No need for a 4X12 scope.

    My daughter used a 257Roberts with 120gr Swift A-Frames for all one shot kills including Zebra and Red Hartebeest. Shot placement is key.

    All animals were spot and stalk

    The 300 mag is a good choice using 165gr Swift A-Frame bullets.

    A 7-08 would be ok a using Barnes or Swift bullets as long as you do not use too heavy of Barnes bullets. If too heavy(such a 140gr TTSX) you will have poor expansion at longer ranges.
     
  6. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog AH Elite

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    EGS-HQ,

    The .338 Winchester is quite popular where I live, for moose, grizzly and bison.
    Some of the most popular bullets for it here are/were:
    250 grain Nosler Partition, 250 gr Swift A-Frame and formerly popular were the 250 grain Hornady RNSP, as well as the old Winchester 250 gr "Power Point" and Remington "Core-Lokt".

    As for the .300 Winchester magnum, it too is somewhat popular here in Alaska.
    Seems like the 180 grain Nosler Partition has been a steadily popular bullet for it here.
    But currently it also seems like the .300 Winchester crowd is more of a light bullet/high velocity crowd and these days, I would guess the folks who have one might be shooting 165 grain Barnes TSX and TTSX.
    I have zero experience with Barnes latest bullets and I distrust hollow point bullets in general but, I know that thousands of hunters are satisfied with them so, there must be something there, and I totally get that.

    Personally, I do not have a .300 Winchester but if I did, and I wished to use it in Africa at closer ranges like you mentioned, I would opt for the 220 grain A-Frame most likely.

    I just cannot imagine why a .338, regular or wildcat such as yours, with 250 gr bullet and / or a .300 magnum with 220 gr bullet, especially something like the A-Frame would not work extremely well on African antelopes, large, medium and small.
    The .318 Westley Richards in it's day was an immensely popular cartridge for African PG and it was the ballistic twin of our .338-06 (it was a .330 bullet 250 grain, going about 2400 fps and the .338-06 is the same except diameter is .338).
    A PH I have hunted with multiple times said he wants a .338-06 to use with 250 gr RNSP at 2400 fps for his personal PG hunting but laws being what they are in his country, he doubts he will ever get one.
    Point being that you do not need blistering velocity in bushveld conditions.
    Fact is, high velocity combined with a light bullet is exactly what you do not want in such conditions.

    As for the scopes you two used, they seem a bit large for such large animals at such close range but I am the oddball who likes small scopes, mounted down low over the bore for general hunting conditions but especially close range / large animals.

    Stay safe and good hunting,
    Velo Dog.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014
  7. RickP

    RickP AH Veteran

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    For the game you shot, you both had plenty of gun. I'm not a big fan of rifle recoil (handgun recoil is another story) so I chose to use a Remington 700 in .30-06 on both of my trips to RSA. The other guns used were a .480 Ruger in a Super Redhawk revolver and a T/C Encore handgun in .308 Win. The only problem that I had was poor shooting on my part, the cartridges were more than adequate. Of the 13 plains game animals that I shot on those two trips, only the two kudu were shot with the rifle w/ the longest shot being around 350 yds. Everything else was shot with the handgun, with no animals lost. I must add that I'm no exceptional shooter either.

    Without trying to sound like a jerk, some extra practice should help cure the shooting woes plus instill more confidence in the shooter's ability.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014
  8. EGS-HQ

    EGS-HQ New Member

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    Don't get me wrong, the .338 "Kudu" worked quite well, but I am looking for a better bullet/powder charge selection for that caliber. I am going to try the A-Frames here on hogs and see how that works. I never really gave them a trial. BTW, the recoil with the .338 Kudu is very manageable; somewhat like a 30-06.

    But, I am quite fond of my little Steyr Mannlicher in 7mm-08 Rem. and wonder if I should take it too.

    The point about the velocity/light bullet was well noted. Thanx...

    My buddy that used the .300 WM is considering his options in calibers. He had some disappointing results with his caliber/bullet selection.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014
  9. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    1. I cannot see any reason that either of your caliber choices should be reconsidered, other than you would never likely find the .300RCM Improved in factory ammo should the need arise. But from expected performance, it should be fine.

    2. Why were you under the impression that hand loaded ammo could not be used? I've never heard of handloaded ammo not being okay in any of the African countries.

    3. Nothing wrong with taking an extra rifle along, if for no other reason than backup should something happen to one of the rifles.

    Loading for the toughest animal I expect to hunt is how I approach things. On my last trip, I loaded 200gr North Forks for my .300WM (used to kill and eland bull btw) and 250gr North Forks for my .375H&H. Would either of these be overkill for an impala? Of course, but not for zebra or eland.

    The rifle caliber choices you made were fine. Any trouble experienced was either the load or less than optimal shot placement. The latter happens even to the best shots.
     
  10. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog AH Elite

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    EGS-HQ,

    My very best good friend's wife shoots a Kimber rifle in 7mm-08 and only uses the 160 grain Oryx bullet (Norma makes them).
    She is an above average rifle shot from standing with shooting sticks and has taken animals as large and tough as gemsbok with it.
    Many others here in this forum have used that cartridge in Africa and around the world with satisfaction.
    Personally, I see no advantage in it because we already had the 7x57 (since about 1890-something).
    Many hunters disagree with me on this cartridge and that is not a bad thing.
    Likewise, I do not see any 7mm as the bore size for me on larger PG species, in my case specifically.
    For those who prefer it though, it does have some quite excellent/tough bullets available and a wide variety of them to choose from as well.

    Incidentally, I tried to look up the .338 RCM that you converted to .338 Kudu by changing the shoulder angle but could find no reference to it.
    You must be very happy with it to risk arriving on the other side of the world, with the airlines possibly "loosing" your ammunition in transit.
    I am not much better off since I chose to bring a .450 No2 double on my last trip over.
    Even in Africa, where it was designed to be used, the ammunition is difficult to impossible to find sometimes.

    Cheers,
    Velo Dog.
     
  11. Paw Print

    Paw Print SPONSOR AH Elite

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    Nothing wrong with the choice of calibers, should perform excellent with heavy (220gr for .300 and 250gr for .338) well constructed bullets, such as the A-Frame. These are two of my favourite African plainsgame calibers, no need for anything else.
     
  12. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Veteran

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    I used 225gr Swift A-Frame bullets in my 338win mag and not a single problem with 20+ animals shot. All one shot kills except one which was my fault due to 1st shot too high.
    For a 300mag I would use 165 or 180 Swift A-Frame bullets. All of my animals were spot and stalk at ranges from 135 to 480 yards
     
  13. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Fanatic

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    300 Win mag and different .338's are among the most popular in Africa. Bullet choice will cause some difficulties as well as bullet placement. I would suggest looking at the TTSX. Lots of folks like them in Africa. Usually go all the way through with a good wound channel. A Frames are also popular. Anything you would use for elk will work. If you are in the brush a slightly lower magnification range might help. I like more than some on here. Bruce
     
  14. billc

    billc SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Ever round I took was a reload in factory boxes and had no problem.I would say all the problems you had were from avg bullets not the caliber.The 300 mag with 200 grain aframes or 180 ttsx work well for us.Also use a 257 weatherby with 100 grain ttsx and must dropped from the little right were then stood.I myself like taking 2 guns just in case something happened to one.You could take most anything in SA with that 7-08 with some good bullets.
     
  15. EGS-HQ

    EGS-HQ New Member

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    The only problem for US hunters using cartridges such as the 7x57 is that, as you stated, it has been around for over 100 years. The manufacturers of ammunition feel there is a potential for liability issues if they fully load these cartridges in rifles that are just as old.

    The .338 Kudu has been my personal project, so no articles would have been written about it. Using .338 RCM factory ammo is not an issue and is actually a way to form the cartridge for the .338 Kudu; Fire Forming. Plus, I had a way to get my ammo there prior to my arrival.

    As for the issue of not bringing in hand loads, I read it a number of times in articles about traveling to S. Africa.
     
  16. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    Not sure where you read that, but suffice to say I'm sure a bunch of hunters got off the plane today in Jo'burg with handloads. And there's plenty of us here on AH that have done the same.

    There's been at times people thinking they had to have their ammo in the boxes you get with factory ammo, but that isn't actually true either.

    What is wanted is for the ammo to be in containers specifically designed for ammo. You can't just put it in a coffee can and have it sloshing around. MTM boxes work just fine.

    Now as for your wildcat cartridge, I would leave your receiver alone with regards to the caliber and thus you'll be matching with the headstamp on the brass.
     

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