Would you use one?
I've got a Weatherby Vanguard in .257 Weatherby - 110gr bullet at 3300 fps. Would you use this on leopard? I'm going to Namibia in 2013.
My other gun in the safe is a Ruger Hawkeye in .416 Ruger. I know dead is dead, but do you think the .416 is a tad bit of overkill?
Or, should I sell the Weatherby and buy a Hawkeye in .300 RCM?
Decisions, decisions ...
WHILE I LIKE WEATHERBY'S THE 257 IS NOT THE RIFLE FOR LEOPARD...
FIND OUT WHAT IS THE BARE MINIMUM FOR RIFLE CARTRIDGE FOR NAMIBIA.
YOU WILL NEED TO PURCHASE FOR RENT A RIFLE FOR YOUR LEOPARD.
James, I know you are not the irritable type, so I guess CAP LOCK was stuck. I agree with James, I personally would not go with a marginal gun, so why undergun yourself, the 416 Ruger (at the range you will be shooting) would be perfect. I would not sell the Vanguard unless you found a buyer that wanted your rifle, they don't seem to hold their value as others do.
Originally Posted by James.Grage
The .257 Wby is a long range gun, leopard is a short range game. Your 3300fps MV bullet will still be doing roughly 3200fps or more at leopard range. I'd be a little concerned about how the bullet would act at that high an impact velocity.
Originally Posted by poprivit
The .416 may be a bit heavy and the bullet will hardly know it hit anything, but it will bore at least a .416 hole all the way through.
As far as selling the Vanguard, I'd hold onto it. But maybe adding to the safe something in the .30 cal range for this leopard hunt would be good to do. I recently bought a Tikka T3 in .308 Winchester for my son. With 165gr Accubonds it's lights out accurate. I'm beginning to think that may very well be the perfect leopard caliber and bullet combination.
Never hunted leopard, so I'm not qualified to pass judgement on a .257 Wby for this use. I would question why one would consider a .300 RCM as the next choice if the masses say a .257 Wby is inappropriate. Not many ammo choices in this caliber unless you're handloader.
As someone who has hunted Africa 2x with the .257 my vote is for the .416. The .257 has proven itself a quick and efficient killer with 100gr TSX on game up to the size of Waterbuck with more DRT performance than even short sprints and no wounded or long tracking jobs (knock wood). However as mentioned it is a high velocity long range gun and even with well constructed bullets like the Barnes it blows big holes. My .338 Lapua consistantly put game down just as quickly and efficiently and did it with less hide damage on all sizes of critter (also with 210gr TSX).
My guess is the .416 with a TSX is your best bet for a small exit wound and dead cat.
I think the 257 is a great cartridge, but it would be far from my first choice when hunting Leopard.
The 416 is a much better choice of those 2 in my opinion.
For a pure Leopard hunt included shooting bait, I guess some sort of .30 or .338 caliber would be ideal.
Agree with most of what you are hearing from the others, though I don't think the .416 is a real great choice either.
In Namibia, you can shoot a cat with just about anything your PH will tolerate. A lot of leopards have been killed with .243's, and I have no doubt that a .257 Roberts, 6.5x57, 6.5x55, and a number of other similar .24/.25 calibers would do fine. The issue with the .257 Weatherby is its speed on what is essentially a very soft structured animal. You could easily end up with extensive pelt dammage to what is often a true once in a lifetime trophy. I am also not a fan of the .416 for such work (or any of the .40+ DG calibers.) This not because they won't do the job - they will - but because they add complications to a situation which already has plenty. You will have to make the most precise shot of your life, and will likely have to it in very marginal light. You will also likely have to do it while wraped around the rifle in a blind. Heavy recoil can only compicate that shot (or after the shot, if you bury your scope in your face). Finally, most leopard rifles are only as good as their scopes. Most heavier DG rifles are not equipped with scopes optimized for low-light conditions. This is a hunting situation where that extra investment in quality and light transmission qualities can pay real dividends. Remember, our primary contribution to any DG situation is the accuracy of that first shot.
There are a host of "deer" calibers out there, with the right bullet, which will make a superb leopard/PG rifle. They are also easy to equip with a quality scope which will do good work in low light conditions (the same combination makes an excellent PG rifle as well). You could also get with Superior and create a "leopard load" for that .257. But heck, everyone can use a third rifle.
I too, agree with most that has been said. The thing is, with a question like this one, alot of different calibers will "kill" if placed in the correct spot and the bullet holds together. This can be from a 100gr .243 to a 700gr .600NE. Yes, the .257 Weatherby Will kill a leopard. Is it the best caliber for this task? No. Why? Velocities are too high and the bullet is too light. I think the best answer to most questions about "is this or that caliber good to use on specific game", two things need to be addressed. 1) What is the minimum grain bullet that I should use for the task? 2) What type bullet should I use? In answering #1, to me (and this is just my humble opinion) the minimum on leopard should be 160gr. This will put you into the .284 - .308 diameter catagory as a minimum. .7mm Rem. Mag, 30-06, .300WSM, 300Win. Mag, etc.. any, and all of these will work perfectly. Getting into the big dia. calibers, bleeds over into the next question - bullet construction. Most bullets in the bigger calibers are designed for penetration in heavy muscle mass and bone. (Not needed in a thin skinned leopard) You are looking for hydrostatic shock with bullet expansion & weight retention. These are readily available with, you pick, Swift A-Frame, Nosler Partion, Nosler Accubond, Federal Fusion, etc.... In dealing with the most feared animal on the planet to follow up wounded, why take a chance with your choice of weapon? Other factors will be coming into play at the time of pulling the trigger, without doubting your choice of weapon. Lighting, nerves, excitement, adrinaline. Walking up to that bait tree after the shot, hoping for a dead leopard.....that .257 will really seem really, really small.
I agree the .257 is the wrong gun for this purpose but not for the same reasons. The .257 with premium bullets is more than enough to kill a 200lb (max) Leopard. There is not a bone in them that will slow a .257 down much at the ranges they are shot at and my experience is when the shot hits vitals animals 3 or more X the size are more often than not DRT, courtesy of the same velocity and energy dump that causes a big exit hole, extensive bruising and lung butter, if the critter runs it is usually 20-30 yards with the odd exception. The extensive amount of bruising through muscle tissue (sometimes the entire side of the animal) is testament to the huge energy and vital liquifying force the .257 exerts on your quarry. A 26" bbl gun with high magnification scope and the likelyhood of causing excessive hide damage simply does not lend itself to the task of a once in a lifetime leopard hunt in the dark.
Originally Posted by Buff-Buster
.257 performance in Africa to date:
Nyala Spined requiring a finishing shot
Bushbuck 30yd sprint
Impala 20yd sprint
Mountain Reedbuck DRT
Mountain Reedbuck 5yd stagger
Vaal Rhebok DRT
Blesbok 5 in the guts in gusting high winds +1 miss and 1 finishing shot (not the guns fault or one of my finest moments) 150yds
North American performance is another long line of DRT up to the size of Elk although I do not consider it to be the best choice for anything bigger than Mtn Caribou.
Just set your Hide up at about 200 yards and you should be fine with the 257! Just kidding.:)
7mm is the listed minimum rifle caliber in Namibia as I recall.
From every last bit of Reading (never hunted a leopard with a gun) A Soft Nose Bullet of proper weight for caliber will take this soft skin kitty, if shot placement is on.
Given the potential issues for deflection:
Which bullet will deviate less if it touches a branch on the way to your kitty?
Which rifle do you want to use on follow up? (If required of course.)
Which one do you shoot the best?
Good luck and I want to see pictures of course.
I'm sitting here looking at three cartridges - .257W; .300WM; .416 Ruger. I think I'm going to look for a good rifle chambered in .300 something. 180 grains through the proper rosette and my wife gets a leopard coat. The .257 does blow some mighty large holes. The .416 MIGHT slow down a whole 100fps on its way through, but I doubt it. I'd hate to have to use a Maglight to find a wounded kitty with a bad attitude. Rumor has it that a cat with a hole in him is a fairly unpleasant critter to go play Hide-and-Seek.
Anyone here interested in a Weatherby Vanguard that throws 90-gr. Hornady bullets at 3650 fps into sub-MOA? Maybe I'll advertise it as a trade for larger caliber. I've got a couple hundred rounds of ammo, too.
Photo taken last week 180 miles from home. Today it's 112 degrees here in Las Vegas. Definitely no snow!
My vote for the perfect Leopard gun would be a lever action carbine with an 18"bbl and a quick detach low power scope with a decent size objective lense (40mm) chambered in a cartridge shooting meduim to heavy bullets at modest velocity. Make the first shot count and it would do the job, if you had to track a kitty off comes the scope (and possibly hang a red dot off the bottom of the barrel) and you have a fast handling weapon that is ideal for quick shots at close range in thick brush. My guess is alot of doubles would be as good or better but I have no experience with them.
A defender shotgun with slugs would also suit me just fine for the tracking portion.
I think perhaps everyone is getting a little too fancy here
Something simple, a 375 Holland with A Square Lion Load will get the job done while at the same time providing you with a substantial margin for error.
At the end of the day you have a dead kitty and a rifle that would continue on to serve you quite well for many other African game.
Winchester makes a good one that won't break the bank and is pretty much good to go straight from the box.
Get some Brockman bases with the pop up peep sight, some QD Tally rings and a Leupold scope in either 1.75 - 6 or 2.5 - 8 and I think you are as well armed as you might ever hope to be
If this is just a pretext to justify a purchase then let's go all in
Perhaps a nice Merk or K-Gun in a 500 NE throwing a 600 grain A _ Square Lion Load
Now we have a really really dead kitty and the gun you wanted anyway
And, what's even better, rather than being accused of being overly extravagant, you can offer that you went this direction
only for "safety" reasons
Second Wind - wish it was so. I'm going to have to get my wife a second job, sell the weather by, sell my Class III toy and live on Alpo to pay for the safari. The only rifle I take will have to do the job on the leopard, a zebra, and an oryx. Plus, if the gods of the checkbook smile, I might try for a non-trophy els, but that's may haps an impossibility. That's why the .416 is being looked at very hard.
But - who knows. No ele in the offing and some sort of .300 will do.
I like that!
Originally Posted by Second Wind
Well, if you're hunting leopard, I'm already jealous. That little kitty-cat is as cool as trophies come.
I love the Wby .257, but not for this. The reasons have been abundantly stated. It would kill a leopard as dead as Thor's lightning bolt, and if you used the right bullet like a Barnes TTSX it would probably be OK. I think you risk blowing apart half of the trophy, especially if you connected with any bone. I really wouldn't hesitate to take a .308. At the ranges that you'll be shooting it's as good as any .300 mag at 200-300 yards. If you're looking for one gun to do it all, I'd go with a .300 Win, .300 Roy, or .300 short mag. My primary consideration would be a gun that you TRUSTED and KNEW - inside and out. I'd spend more on the scope than the gun and more on practice ammo than either of the first two. If you really need to bust an ele, you'll probably have access to a suitable gun once you're there.
.416's are great, but I just don't think they're ideal for the most typical shot's you'll see on safari. They're really limitted out past 200 yards by ballistics and they kick hard enough that precision shooting is hard for most people. Bullet choice for little antelope would be solids. For leopard solids would be a really poor choice.
Take the 416 loaded with 300 - 350 gr bullets! You can get the speed up to the 2600fps range easily without so much recoil. Your good ole 30 06 with 180 gr softs will do very very well for your Leopard. I think nearly every American hunter has either a .06 or a .308! In fact either will do for the Zebra and the Oryx nicely!
Limit the ranges of your shots to no more than 150m. Rather a well placed shot from a marginal caliber than a bad one from a big bore!
Originally Posted by Buff-Buster