Rifle / Bullet recommendations for plains game?

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by BryceM, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. BryceM

    BryceM AH Veteran

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    I'm planning a plains game hunt sometime in 2011, location yet to be determined. I've been debating about getting a new rifle specifically for the experience, but after working in a few new rifles lately I'm really considering taking my tried & trusted .300 Weatherby Mark V that I've had for 20 years. It shoots like a dream and what's more, I instinctivelly trust it. I haven't touched the scope in well over a decade and it'll put bullets into a pop bottle at 250 yards every time (at least when I'm shoting well, never the rifle's fault). Other newer guns that I've acquired are OK too, but I'm never quite as confident in them and they don't feel as natural.

    I've been using 180g Nosler partitions with 81 grs of H-4831 with great success. I'm looking at the ballistic-tip Barnes-X though (tipped TSX).

    For plains game, dik dik through kudu (maybe eland) I suppose that's plenty good enough. Any reason to choose the TTSX over the Nosler?

    I know people have all sorts of issues with Weatherby's in general but I've fallen in love with them hunting mulies and antelope out west. Any reason not to use that particular gun? It's obviously small for anything dangerous except maybe leopard.
  2. Big5

    Big5 AH Enthusiast

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    You must by now realize that no matter what rifle, caliber or cartridge you pick someone will have an issue with it, or have a personal choice that in their opinion will work much better. Well, so be it, that may be true. However, over the past 20 or so years and many safaris later I still take a .300 Weatherby along with 180 gr Nosler partitions.

    Granted, it has at times been along as a secondary rifle, but with few exceptions it has been my rifle of choice on plains game species for the reasons you cited. It is extremely accurate and has the ability to knock animals down quickly. It's been on four continents with me now and it has not once let me down.

    I've got a handful of 'favorite' calibers that I 'selectively use', but I 'use the hell' out of my .300 WBY. If you shoot yours well and use it appropriately it will work for you the same as it has on your previous hunts.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2009
  3. Big5

    Big5 AH Enthusiast

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    BTW. . . I advocate taking two rifles along on all out of the country hunts, therefore I wouldn't disagree with those who will suggest that you also take a .375 H&H, a .340 WBY or a 338 Win Mag, or a 'whatever' along on your plains game hunt.

    Obviously my main point was if you are comfortable with it and shoot it well then take it and use it.
  4. BryceM

    BryceM AH Veteran

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    Two rifles is probably good advice. The last thing you want is a broken something to ruin the hunt.
  5. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    I have a rifle chambered in .300 Wby and use it a lot......have been shooting a .300 Roy of one description or another for about 35 years. I would not hesitate to take it on a plains game hunt with good 180 or 200 grain bullets from Barnes, Nosler or Swift.
  6. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    What's not to like about that .300 Wby? It would not be my first choice, but that is only because I have a .338 with which I am particularly confident. 180gr partitions will slay anything you will meet up to and including eland. And on anything other than that eland, you will likely not recover one of of those bullets. Nothing like a nice exit wound and blood trail, regardless of how good the trackers are.
  7. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    ,,,That should be a great choice of a gun & bullet! I use the same bullets in a 30/06 & have had great success with them! The 300 is a little more gun & should do a great job if you do your part!!
    ,,,I wouldn't be afraid to try Eland with a 180 gr bullet, but I would consider a 200 gr or even a 220 gr bullet. A little more bullet might help on a much bigger animal!!
  8. BryceM

    BryceM AH Veteran

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    Thanks for the input everyone. The .300 Wby it is then. It's got a 2x-7x leupold that should be just fine I'd imagine. I'll probably take the .338 as backup. It's a solid gun too and could withstand a few dings if it had to.

    The hard part now is finding some primers. It might be easier to find a 60" kudu than a box of Federal 215's these days. :(
  9. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    Too bad we are across borders from each other. I have a couple of thousand Fed. 215 primers and could 'loan' you some. A friend of mine in Alberta that is coming to bear hunt with me in a couple of weeks just picked me up another thousand as well...............the store he was at just got in a shipment of primers and he was there in the store when it arrived so he bought a case for me and one for himself. The primer shipment was all sold out that morning.

    Sad times.
  10. TerryR

    TerryR AH Veteran

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    The PH's that I have do tend to look askance at a first time client who shows up with a brand new Weatherby. They fear that he has not shot it very much, if at all, will get intimidated by the recoil and develope a flinch and miss, or wound, everything that he shoots at. They have all seen it before and now and associate it with the Weatherby brand, perhaps unfairly. In addition most PH's that I've met subscribe to the big bullet moving at a moderate velocity school of ballistic theory, the opposite of Roy Weatherby's philosophy. However, if you have practiced sufficiently and can shoot well you won't have any problems. If the trophy goes down, everyone is happy.
  11. BryceM

    BryceM AH Veteran

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    Yeah, but hopefully they'll quickly see that this particular Weatherby has seen its share of mountains & deserts. I've probably taken 80% of my game with this rifle.

    Personally, I think Roy Weatherby's philosophy was a bit ahead of the bullets that would make it truly work well. Today, with good controlled-expansion bullets it's a pretty hard recipe to beat, especially for the wide-open spaces we have out west. My last animal was a Wyoming antelope at 380 yards. Before that it was a mule deer at around 325. If I limited myself to only shots under 200 yards I'd have probably gotten out of hunting long ago.

    I'd guess that the PH's in Africa are shooting animals at least twice as large on average as what we're typically hunting in the US, even leaving out the dangerous game. I certainly have no personal experience in Africa, but the shots sound like they're much closer too. It stands to reason the PH's would grow tired of inexperienced US hunters with shiny new magnums that they don't shoot well.

    I admit that I've been slowly backing down the recoil list. I've started using a .257 Weatherby for more and more. It's a fine caliber for where I live and plenty big enough for everything we usually hunt except for longer shots on bull elk. I got that in a Vanguard primarily for my sun to hunt with. Sadly, I wasn't too impressed with the Vanguard. The trigger had a tremendous amount of creep and I found it difficult to shoot as well as the Mk V. I've had the trigger re-worked, but I'm still not as confident in it as I am with the Mk V.

    I'm starting to side more and more with those who emphasize bullet placement over brute force. Mule deer go just as far with a superficial wound from a cannon as they do from a .243.

    I've slowly exhausted the 100 or so rounds of .300 ammo that I worked up several years ago and I'm looking at loading another 200 or so to keep me going up through the trip to Africa.

    Do you think there's any reason to change bullets? I've been using Nosler partitions but I'm tempted to go with Barnes tipped TSX. The noslers have a tendency to get the tips banged up over time and I really like the uniformity of the polymer tips. I'll admit that within 200 yards any effect that might have on accuracy is probably negligible. I'm worried the Barnes might not expand enough on smaller thin-skinned game to have equal killing power.
  12. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    Many years ago, the first grizzly hunter I guided was from the southern US and showed up with a brand new Mark V in .300 Wby. It had been bore sighted, but he had never shot it. The outfitter and I looked at each other and immediately took him out to check the zero. First round through the chamber and he had as bad a case of scope bite as I have ever seen to this day. A beautiful half moon that bled like a stuck pig.:D

    After patching him up he was immediately Mr. Flinch. We stuck the camp .30-06 in his hands and that was what he killed his grizzly with.

    I like a number of the Weatherby cartridges, but just am not a big fan of the rifles. The Mark V is just a bit too glitzy for my tastes...............I've got nothing against them, but I am more of a classic stock design type of guy and/or synthetic for Canada's weather in the north.

    My current .300 Roy is built on an older Sako action.

    The Nosler Partitions should work really well and I would be tempted to go with the 200 grain Partitions. As for the Barnes bullets, I would net hesitate to use the TSX or the new TTSX. I have not used the TTSX yet, but I did in fact just receive some in .257, .308 and .338 caliber and will be working up loads and using them this fall. I suspect that the new TTSX will open up a bit faster with the polymer tip and newly designed expansion chamber, but then provide the usual deep penetration and pass through I have come to expect with the X bullets. So I would think they should open up fine on the smaller antelope.

    If all goes well I should send about five or six head of big game to heaven with the TTSX this fall, including black bear, moose and pronghorn...........so I will let you know what I see in the expansion department.

    I get a lot of tip deformation with the Partitions as well. The tips really get pounded in my .375 and I wish they would just make all of the Partitions with the protected point as they did in the past. Those who want sleek and pretty plastic tips can use Accubonds.;)
  13. DUGABOY1

    DUGABOY1 CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    Both of the above posts are absolutely true, A rifle you have experience with, and confidence with has a lot to recommend it for the game involved on any particular Safari. The actual chambering depends on what animals you will likely encounter in the bush, not just the ones you are hunting. If the area where you hunt plains game has only plains game then the chambering that is best suited to the largest, and toughest animal you are hunting is the chambering, and bullet choice that is the prudent choice. In other words, load for the largest, and shoot everything with that load. I find that most wounded animals are caused by the guy who shows up with a dozen different loads for everything from tit mouse to mastadon. He never has the right on in the rifle at the right time, and never learns to shoot any of them well.

    In my case I never book a plains game only safari, so my main quarry is the Dangerous game, usually Cape Buffalo. So I always take two rifles with me, one that is a dedicated DGR, and my back-up rifle is smaller, and usually scoped, but is also legale for shooting the dangerous game as well, if My big bore goes south. In this case my plains game ( back-up rifle) is always a 375 H&H, with 300 gr Nosler partitions, or a 9.3X74R double rifle, also scoped, and using 286 gr nosler partitions with a hand full of solids for each. Either of these two back-ups will do a fine job fore plains game, but will handle Cape buffalo in a pinch, without a problem.

    One other thing I'll NOT use in dangerous game country, be it Africa, or Alaska's coastal areas,is a bolt rifle that is built on a PUSH FEED action! In Alaska I use a 375 H&H Whitworth African Express rifle in a synthetic stock, with quality iron sights, and a 3-9X40mm scope in Warne QD rings and mounts, with a full load of H-4831sc, and a 300 gr Nosler partition, to hunt caribou and Moose because there are a bunch of Costal Brown bear that migrate through our hunting area from Katmai park back to the hills for den up after the salmon runs are over in September. The same reason I use the 375 H&H there is the reason I use it for plains game in Africa, the larger cartridge will kill the smaller animals, very well, and do the same for the bite-backs if need be!

    So as the poster above has stated, no matter what you choose, some one will have something he thinks is a better choice. That is a natural thing, and not a bad thing. That is how we are informed about things we may not have thought of otherwise!
    ....................................Good hunting, and above all, enjoy your Safari! :thumb:
  14. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    Dugaboy.......those Whitworth's are getting hard to find. They use to be cheap and easy to get and I am kicking my prolific arse I did not get off it and buy more of them.
  15. Ray Atkinson

    Ray Atkinson AH Enthusiast

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    The 300 wby is an outstanding caliber and has been proving that for a long time...I always liked the 180 gr. Noslers but when I tried the 200 gr. Nosler I liked it even better..The 200 gr. Nosler in the Big 300s is an awesome killer and really reaches out there and taps them..Try'em, and you'll never shoot another 180 gr.@! :) :)
  16. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    X 2........I think I said that somewhere else. First sign of old age.:confused:
  17. DUGABOY1

    DUGABOY1 CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    Yes Kelly, they are getting hard to find! I was lucky enough to get a buy on four of them new chambered for 375 H&H, of which I still have two. The one I use in Alaska and canada is in a sythetic stock, and the other one is in wood, that i use in Africa. The other two are in the hands of my two youngest sons, (45, and 48 yrs old). Wish I had bought several when they were retailing for $425.00. :headscratch:

    Well if a bullfrog had wings he wouldn't bump his butt every time he jumped!
  18. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris AH Fanatic

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    I have got a 300 wby myself and use it as often as I can on plains game hunts in RSA. The calibre is frowned upon by a lot of guys over here but who cares. I would agree that it would be a wise choice to load it with 180gr Nossel Portion and you should not have any problems.

    It is not the calibre that wounds animals 9 out of 10 times it is the person behind the rifle and poor quality bullets.

    All the 300's are great plains game hunting rifles in my opinion::acclaim:
  19. wolfhunter2

    wolfhunter2 New Member

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    300wby

    Your 300 will work fine on planes game. you might gain a little edge with heavier bullets. you can find magnum primers on gunbroker. com reloading sec. good luck (better lucky than good) if construction and economy straighten out I would go back to Africa yearly those big buffalo can realy get you going.
  20. BryceM

    BryceM AH Veteran

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    Thanks! I didn't know about that auction site.

    I'll admit to being a bit curious though. I'm seeing lots of recommendations to use 200 gr bullets in the .300 Wby for larger game, say for critters from elk/kudu up to moose/eland. Maybe I'm looking at this incorrectly, but it seems to me from the ballistics/energy charts that the 180gr Nosler Partition has a muzzle vel of 3,240 fps and 4,195 ft-lbs of energy. At 200 yards it's down to 2,826/3,193 and at 400 yards it's at 2,449/2,395. Assuming a zero at 200 it has dropped 18" at 400 yards.

    If I move up to the 200gr partition, I get 3,060/4,158 at the muzzle, 2,668/3,161 at 200 and 2,308/2,366 at 400 yards. There is 20" of drop at 400. Velocities with the 200gr bullets are of course slower, but energy is also slightly lower all the way from the muzzle out to 500 yards.

    With almost identical energy levels, why sacrifice a little bit of velocity for a slightly heavier bullet? Does it really make any noticeable difference? If so, why? Is the 180gr bullet passing straight through, wasting too much of it's energy? Is the smaller, faster bullet fragmenting too severely due to higher velocities? I've never recovered one yet, BTW. Does the larger, slower bullet expand enough? Does it penetrate better in larger, heavy-boned animals? What's the theoricial advantage?

    I'm looking at all of this theoretically without any real-world experience to compare with. I've used the 180gr nosler in this gun exclusively for 20 years and I've never had a reason to change. It's unusual for me to take more than one or two animals in a year though. I've never had a well-hit critter go more than a few dozen steps before piling up. Usually they flop over in their tracks. I've lost animals before, but I severely doubt it was the bullet's fault, just poor shot placement in my too-rushed youth.

    I'm looking to load about 200 rounds soon, and for this particular rifle I want to keep it simple. Once load to last me a few years - nothing to mix up in the field. Admittedly I use it mostly for longish (300-400 yrd) shots on mule deer and elk. Is there enough difference to change to the 200gr noslers before going to Africa?

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