Which rifle for lion?

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Mtgoat, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. Mtgoat

    Mtgoat AH Veteran

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    I realize that I am probably going to regret start this thread, but here goes...

    I am getting serious about booking a lion hunt. If I do, it will be for a captive bred animal in RSA. (Can we please skip the debate about hunting captive bred animals?)

    My understanding is that in that case, it will be a stalk, with a good chance of it ending with a charge. With that as the premise, I'd like your opinions about what kind of gun would be good enough for this situation. Note - I said "good enough" not "best". The debate over best would be pointless and endless.

    Is double rifle better than a bolt action? What kind of optics - if any?
     
  2. Paw Print

    Paw Print SPONSOR AH Elite

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    My personal favorite for a client is a .375 calibre with a low magnification scope,using soft quick expanding bullets.A bolt action will be just fine.
     
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  3. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    Mtgoat,

    I've no experience hunting lion, but I'm going to throw this out for feedback from others. Lions are not particularly large animals and I'd dare say anything that will take an elk down will kill a lion. But I don't care if I may have to follow up an elk tracking him to get closer and put in a finishing shot. Obviously it's a whole different ball game if having to do the same with a lion.

    So I think I'd be carrying my .375H&H as a minimum, as I want something that will hit this animal particularly hard, there's just no such thing as overkill on something that will come back and kill you in my opinion. With the larger calibers shooting heavy projectiles, the name of the game is momentum to give superior penetration. A lion just isn't an elephant or even a buffalo however. So deep penetration and thus momentum would seem to me is not what's best called for here. What I'd be after is higher energy upon impact and a quicker transfer of that energy into the lion's vitals.

    So my personal choice would be the .375 with my 250gr North Fork bonded core. At lion range the bullet will be in the 2750fps range or faster giving a more rapid expansion of the bullet, but because of it high weight retention will still give plenty of penetration. I.e. light for caliber is what I'd be using in a caliber that will still make a bigger hole. My other choice would be my .458B&M shooting 260gr Cutting Edge Bullets.

    Optics, I shoot better with a scope than I do open sights. I'd be using something in the 1-4 range in case a charge is presented.

    So those are my completely inexperienced thoughts. For those with experience I more than welcome your comments / criticisms. Good thread Mtgoat.
     
  4. LIBERTY

    LIBERTY New Member

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    The only experience I have with lions is at the zoo!!!! However if I was to go on a hunt as you describe I would use 1. My 375 H&H mag loaded with 270gr Barnes TSX bullets at about 2700fps OR 2. My model 1895 Marlin lever gun in 45/70 with a 500gr hard cast wide meplate bullet at about 1700fps. I would prefer peep sights over glass but that's a real personal thing. Good Luck, Liberty
     
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  5. Mtgoat

    Mtgoat AH Veteran

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    A thought just occurred to me. I have no idea about the distance at which shots are taken. In Alaska, a 12 gauge with slugs is recommended for close encounters with bears of all sizes - including the coastal browns that can weigh up to 1,500 lbs. So, what about a shotgun with slugs if its going to be a close shot?
     
  6. KMG Hunting Safaris

    KMG Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Elite

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    Rick,
    I agree with Pieter here. Minimum legal caliber in South Africa is .375, which mine is loaded with 200gr'ers doing around 3000fps. Quite devastating on the cats.
    I would also recommend a bolt action with some form of optics. Can't speak for other outfits, but shooting distances where we hunt is never much more than 50 yds due to the vegetation and terrain. Your first shot will be crucial and a rifle scope will give you that extra bit of precision over the open sights of a double.
     
  7. Paw Print

    Paw Print SPONSOR AH Elite

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    Diatance will be less than 50 yards,the cats are soft and something fast seems to work very well on them,causing the shock effect.I will definitely not recommend a 12 guage.
     
  8. Bwannabe

    Bwannabe AH Member

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    I have acquired a CZ 550 Safari, in 375 H&H, Also a Trijicon 1-4x24 - Trijicon, Inc.. I also have a Weaver 40/44 2 to 10 for a back up scope. both scopes with individual rings.

    I have been shooting some from sticks with Double tap brand 350 grain bonded bullets, while those maybe over kill to some I dont believe in over kill.
     
  9. bassasdaindia

    bassasdaindia AH Enthusiast

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    minimum of 375 with a 270g is what I would recommend
     
  10. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I agree a good 375 H&H is all that is needed and a low power scope.
     
  11. christophe morio

    christophe morio SPONSOR AH Enthusiast

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    Hi Mtgoat,

    Hope you will enjoy your hunt.
    First, forget the shotgun, some guys played with this type of gun on lion and they are not here to talk about their experience.
    Second, why do you say you will get a charge???? of course you can provoke the lion, but it is not a great experience and it is a big mistake ...
    Use a 375 HH with 300gr soft bullet, perfect for lion..
    Christophe
     
  12. DOC-404

    DOC-404 AH Elite

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    ..excellent advice. The only time you might ever use a 12g pump, loaded with 000 shot, would be as back-up on a wounded leopard. I have used hand-loaded 250gr Sierra Gamekings from my 375 with great success. Federal's 270gr Power-Shok is also excellent on lion. Obviously, your first shot is seriously important.. as Christophe says, do not even allow a charge, it could go terribly wrong and become a widow-maker..

    Nothing could ever prepare you for the real thing, but watch these anyway...
    http://www.africahunting.com/hunting-video-clips-watch-instantly/6251-lion-charge.html
     
  13. A.Sharpe

    A.Sharpe BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    I'd go 375 with the 270 Power-Shock, especially if you already have a 375 H&H. Docman in my opinion nailed it. I personally would take my .577 double but I love the nostalgia of the double rifle and the smell of black-powder.
     
  14. Shumba Safaris

    Shumba Safaris AH Senior Member

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    A .375 is adequate for lion and , if you plan on doing any other hunting , as most hunters do , it will work for your plains game species also. Scope it with a low power variable scope and shoot premium grade bonded bullets , Barnes X's( triple shocks ) or CEB's.
    A shotgun with slugs will certainly kill a lion. It is however illegal and not practical. A shotgun with buckshot will certainly get you killed ( on lion or leopard ).
     
  15. classicsafari

    classicsafari AH Enthusiast

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    The quick fire power of a Blaser (this one in 9.3x62) was put to good use on my first tracked Zambezi Lion;
    [​IMG]

    The next was worked over by a large and fast moving 425WR woodleigh soft as it was departing the scene in the Niassa area;
    [​IMG]
     

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  16. TMS

    TMS AH Veteran

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    375 H&H is all you need for lion. Your first shot is the vital one, try get at least 40 yards. Blaser is a good rifle, but unless you have grown up with one, I suggest stay away, I have had plenty clients that practice plenty with Blaser, but on nearly every charge I have had, they try open it like a bolt action.
     
  17. spike.t

    spike.t GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    that must be an interesting experience for them!! :D
     
  18. BnC 04

    BnC 04 TITANIUM SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    I think a lot of solid advice has been given and I believe that you just can't go wrong with a soft nose spit out of a good ol' 375...Worked great for our cat hunt and I would make the same choice if I did it again.
    Practice Practice Practice as familiarity of whatever weapon you choose is paramount to success and also staying healthy...
     
  19. Warbird782

    Warbird782 AH Veteran

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    Great advice from all on here. I was on my first African hunt May 2013 and I am planning my next. I too would like a lion hunt as Mtgoat describes although for a lioness. I could spend the bucks on a male but that would stretch my budget too much. For the price of the male I could hunt the lioness and many species of plains game plus pay for taxidermy. I have been considering a CZ 550 in .375. I had the chance to shoot one while in Africa and it "fit" me quite well. I really appreciate the advice from the PH's on this subject!
     
  20. Upepo

    Upepo AH Member

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    alright - let me turn some heat up on this thread.
    but first I will be humble. I have never hunted in Africa ... and certainly not lion.
    perhaps i will be lucky and do some hunting in the future ... but more likely it will be bowhunting for antelope.

    anyway ...

    I would be curious about how many hunters could really "keep their cool" and make a good shot at a charging lion. forget what rifle you are holding. think about the man himself (or the woman). a charging lion is a pretty frightening situation. i'm not sure that many people have really "been there and done that". I do expect that some of the PH's on this thread HAVE really done this. So I would like to hear their realistic comments about how many clients could keep their nerves and make a good shot at a charging lion.

    Upepo
     

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