1st Traditional Dangerous Game Rifle

One Day...

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I’ve been to Africa 3x and will be going back, God willing, in August of 2021...
There are so many choices, sizes etc... I don’t know where to begin...
I will admit to being a blue collar guy, so I don’t have 5 figures invest in a rifle...
it’s what I could afford and still follow some of my dreams...
I’d like to be in Africa with something a bit more traditional...

This is pretty straightforward Trout Tracker, you have laid the specifications...

To your question "I don’t know where to begin," there is a clear answer: caliber. Then things flow...

Operating words...
In your post, I read "traditional" and "affordable."

Caliber...
You do not specify what DG game is in your future, but you can hardly get more "traditional" than a .375 H&H and it will do it all in a pinch on DG, as well as handle PG at reasonable distance on a 1 rifle safari. Darn near ideal... Especially from a client's perspective.

Additionally, there is ammo everywhere and you can get very "affordable" practice ammo. I am shooting Prvi Partizam PPU .375 H&H 300 gr for around $1.75/round, and the brass is great quality too.

Yes, .404 Jeffery and .416 Rigby also qualify as "traditional" but they struggle a bit with the "affordable" ammo test...

Action type...
The single shots were once famous in Africa (e.g. Farquarson) because indeed the round in the chamber was a safe bet and strong/reliable big bore turn bolts did not exist back then, but the bolt action has been pretty much synonymous with "traditional" in Africa since the early 1900's.

CRF or PF...
Let us be real: CRF was perfected by Paul Mauser at the request of the Imperial German Army in the 1890's when the two objectives were to:
1- insure extraction of soft pure copper shells loaded with black powder; and
2- prevent double feeding by peasant conscripts who handled a bolt action for the first time in their life.

To this day CRF has its ardent defenders. I personally do not care about the extraction side of the equation - modern ammo solved that issue a long time ago - but a friend of mine was involved in an accident where someone stupid unwittingly left a round pushed into the chamber of a push feed rifle when checking smooth feeding, and a woman died when the loaded rifle was later accidentally discharged by someone who thought it empty and hit the trigger while taking it out of the truck. CRF would likely have prevented this tragedy...

Let us be clear: you do not need CRF to hunt DG, but CRF is hugely "traditional" and can be "affordable" so it seems like it fits your criteria.

Wood or Kevlar stock...
I do not take wood that can swell or crack to Africa or Alaska anymore (I painfully paid my dues...) but there is no question that Kevlar fails both "traditional" and "affordable." Just be sure to bed the action and to have a cross bolt behind the recoil lug of the wood stock...

Iron sights...
As a client, you will likely never use them - although you never know when a scope is going to give up the ghost - but quality iron sights are very "traditional" and can be had with "affordable" rifles, although a lot a crappy, purely ornamental, unregulated iron sights adorn may so-called DG rifles...

Suggestions...
To meet your "traditional" and "affordable" requirements, as recommended by the AH Fraternity, it looks like your options include:

New rifles (in alphabetic order):
- CZ 550
- Winchester 70
- Zastava 70

Used rifles (in no specific order):
- CZ 550, Winchester 70 CRF, Zastava 70, ZKK 602, etc.
- Any of the beautifully made Mauser clones: e.g. 1950's to 1970's Browning, etc.
- Any of the reasonably well made Mauser clones: Santa Barbara, Interarms Mark X, etc.
- Endless list of rifles built on salvaged K 98, VZ 24, etc. military actions - although WARNING! not every bubba project turned out to be reliable, so be careful...

And of course, you can ditch the "traditional" requirement and a Remington 700, Sako, Tikka, etc. will kill just as well...

Or you can ditch the "affordable" requirement and from Kimber to Dakota to Mauser to Rigby you can climb the price ladder from $1,000 to $10,000...

Or you can ditch both "traditional" and "affordable" requirements and a Blaser R8 Kilombero, Selous, or Big Bore PH becomes quite attractive, etc.

Opinion...
To meet your "traditional" and "affordable" requirements, I am on record for finding the CZ 550 the best value for the money, as well as offering OBJECTIVE advantages:
- true magnum .416 Rigby length action (most other Mauser clones are 30-06 or .375 length);
- double square bridges with integral scope bases (they will never get loose);
- 5 rounds drop belly magazine capacity in .375 (not needed until ... needed);
- drop-forged steel action and 100% bottom metal steel (no risk of pot-metal stress cracks);
- integral rear sight barrel boss (rear sight will never get loose);
- barrel band front sight (front sight will never fall off the rifle - oh yes, it happens...);
- iron sights are actually regulated with test target (sights on many DG rifles are purely cosmetic);
- appropriate barrel contour and weight (recoil will not beat you to pulp);
- available used-as-new in "traditional" .375 H&H or .416 Rigby starting in the $900 range.

Sure, you will read plenty about the CZ 550 action being rough out of the factory (which is generally true but can be easily fixed within a few hours of polishing and deburring) and about feeding issues with .458 straight wall cartridges loaded to short overall length with wide flat meplat bullets (also easily fixed by rounding a few strategically located edges), but the bottleneck shaped .375 H&H and .416 Rigby feed like crap through goose in about any action. Polish gently the underside edges of the feeding rails and a .375 H&H or .416 Rigby CZ quickly become the functional (although not aesthetic) equivalent of the $10,000 rifles Rigby built on the CZ 550 action before Mauser resumed production of the M98 magnum length action in 2015...

Sure the Win 70 action is smoother (because it is looser), and it is machined on modern machinery so it is generally cleaner out of the factory, but it cannot house (easily) the Rigby or even the Lott, it has no integral scope bases, its magazine only takes 3, its bottom is generally pot-metal, its iron sights are screw-on attachments, its barrel is thinner, etc. It is still a great rifle - I own 3 and love them - but they miss a lot of what makes a DG rifle "traditional"...

But this is just an opinion, and others offer other opinions, which are just as relevant :)
 
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Red Leg

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I agree with the cats. It's like the modern 4x4s take no skill to drive in a sticky situation. As for rifles they all need skill to use well some more than others. For me personally a DG bolt gun should have CRF I'm not sure but I don't think a blaser has that.
No it doesn't - simply not needed. You can rack the thing hanging by your boot straps and it will feed perfectly - and lot quicker and with less induced motion than any turn bolt whatever the name on the barrel. It really is a better mouse trap. I used a R8 on my last two combo hunts for buffalo and PG. Simply perfection.

HOWEVER - I would be the first to agree that it is not a "classic." Nor does it even attempt to replicate a classic design. The R8 is very much its own thing. That doesn't mean that a "classic" has to be an older rifle - but it does, I think, need to reflect traditional design. And who knows, in another generation or so when the current curmudgeons finally die off, it may have achieved classic status as well. What I can say is that my R8's are the most "effective" hunting rifles in my gun room. However, I love and use the classics that reside there as well. In a few weeks I'll hunt whitetail with my Bradshaw "rising block" 7x65R. My R8 with .257 barrel in place would be a more "effective" choice, but the Bradshaw is pure classic elegance. When I go pester @spike.t I'll bring my Rigby in .275. The R8 with .300 barrel in place would be more effective, but the Rigby will be a classic for that particular hunt. Plus, I am genuinely concerned about raising Mike's blood pressure too much at his advanced age - no use losing a fellow curmudgeon before his time. :unsure:

And with respect to that .375 thing ...... I have worn this poor dead horse out already, but I do prefer the .375 for mixed bag hunts that include buffalo. I hate dragging along more than one rifle, and the .375 with a 300 gr bullet is simply superior for such a hunt. It does it all superbly - whether in a classic or modern package.

I think @One Day... has given a good list to the OP of modern rifles built with modern production techniques that replicate classic designs. No one will confuse any of them with an actual Rigby, Westley Richards, or Heym Express, but they reflect that tradition. I still have reservations about the 550 simply because so many don't seem to work as advertised out of the box. That would be a particular concern, I would think, for someone looking for a "classic" that won't cost additional expenses. I would list one other modern production rifle - the Ruger No. 1. It too replicates a classic English design and can be had in pure DG and mixed-bag calibers.
 
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RayAtkinson

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I can't imagine such tripe...The 404 and the 416s are both reliable in all respects...I know some PHs also, some are experts and others are as counterfit as can be...I have never met a PH that didn't like the 416, some that preferred other calibers...Ive shot more buff with the 404 and 416 than most, If there is any difference in them I couldn't tell it..they shoot the same bullet weight at the same velocity in modern rifles..The 404 has the advantage of better cross section, the 416 has better SD, so its a push..

Some experts tend to baffle us with BS..
 

One Day...

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I think @One Day... has given a good list to the OP of modern rifles built with modern production techniques that replicate classic designs. No one will confuse any of them with an actual Rigby, Westley Richards, or Heym Express, but they reflect that tradition.

Well said my friend.

I still have reservations about the 550 simply because so many don't seem to work as advertised out of the box. That would be a particular concern, I would think, for someone looking for a "classic" that won't cost additional expenses.

As to the CZ 550, we agree too, but with one caveat.

I have never seen or heard of a factory CZ 550 in .375 H&H or .416 Rigby that did not function 100% out of the box.

Rough, with scratch marks on the brass? Yes. Unreliable? no.

If one looks carefully at the factual record, CZ 550 issues typically involve:
  1. factory .458 Win (short magnum, straight wall, cartridge in long magnum action - bad idea to begin with...) trying to feed flat nose, wide meplat, truncated bullets of "modern" design ... which are a challenge in even London's or Germany's best;
  2. re-chambering jobs from .458 Win to .458 Lott that only involve pushing a reamer in the chamber and do not address the feeding rails and feeding ramp ... which is hardly the rifle or cartridge fault;
  3. custom rifles or re-barrel jobs (including from CZ's own US shop) in a wide variety of cartridges (.404; .425; .500; .505; etc.) with widely different case diameters, lengths, shoulder configurations, etc. all indiscriminately force-fed into a one-size-fit-all action configuration ... which, again, is hardly the rifle or cartridge fault.
The facts seem to indicate that factory CZ 550 in .375 H&H or .416 Rigby are as reliable out of the box as any other rifle, with the caveat that there is no such thing as an out-of-the-box DG ready rifle. Admittedly, the WIN 70 in .458 Win generally feeds better - which makes sense because it is a shorter "standard length" action handling a "short magnum" - but Winchester 70, like any other rifles, are by no mean guaranteed to work out of the box. For example, one of mine had a safety that simply could not be engaged - easy to fix, but here goes the legend of "out-of-the-box-ready".

In any case, as we both agree, ALL rifles, from ANY make, must be extensively tested with the actual ammo that will be used on the hunt. It seems that some bullet makers these days, are so hell-bent on flat nose slugs, that they forget that a bullet must feed into a chamber...
 
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spike.t

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Trout Tracker

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By traditional do you mean classic? If so Witold has given you two of the best. If you want to match them to a classic action you will want to go with some variant of the Mauser. The .375 H&H is a little newer but has become a classic in its own right. I will ruffle some feathers, but the most classic .375 IMO is a pre 64 M-70.

I apologize for not being as clear as I had hoped in my original post. Clearly, everyone has their own definition of “classic or traditional “. What I should have said, was that I can not afford a double rifle, nor was I interested in a single shot-and even though the 45-70 is more than adequate for DG, to me it is not a classic DG round, nor is a lever action for Africa. I can see my current setup for North American Bison as a Classic and Traditional combo.
 

Trout Tracker

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All I can say is dont let your size hold you back. Im smaller than you and I use a 416 Rigby with no problems. I would go with something in the 400 category. The 458 Lott is a good option as you can also feed it 458 WM ammo

I certainly trust your opinion about you being able to handle the recoil and that I too should be able to. I can shoot a 12ga. With 2oz turkey loads, but that doesn’t mean I like too. . I honestly should try to find an opportunity to shoot some of these guns so I can see what I like and how they fit.

Sounds like a fun project that will expose me to some nice firearms. I wouldn’t mind paying a fee to shoot someone else’s gun to feel what it’s like-to experience the recoil and feel the balance. I would feel quite awkward about asking another shooter to let me try their gun-sort of like asking another man to take his wife to a dance. Are their big bore shoots in the DFW or OKC area that may lend itself to trying some other firearms?
 

WAB

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I certainly trust your opinion about you being able to handle the recoil and that I too should be able to. I can shoot a 12ga. With 2oz turkey loads, but that doesn’t mean I like too. . I honestly should try to find an opportunity to shoot some of these guns so I can see what I like and how they fit.

Sounds like a fun project that will expose me to some nice firearms. I wouldn’t mind paying a fee to shoot someone else’s gun to feel what it’s like-to experience the recoil and feel the balance. I would feel quite awkward about asking another shooter to let me try their gun-sort of like asking another man to take his wife to a dance. Are their big bore shoots in the DFW or OKC area that may lend itself to trying some other firearms?

I’m sure there are members there that can help you out. If you find yourself in Bama you are welcome to shoot anything in the vault on my private range. No charge necessary, but a good bottle of bourbon for post shoot discussion greatly appreciated.
 

Red Leg

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I certainly trust your opinion about you being able to handle the recoil and that I too should be able to. I can shoot a 12ga. With 2oz turkey loads, but that doesn’t mean I like too. . I honestly should try to find an opportunity to shoot some of these guns so I can see what I like and how they fit.

Sounds like a fun project that will expose me to some nice firearms. I wouldn’t mind paying a fee to shoot someone else’s gun to feel what it’s like-to experience the recoil and feel the balance. I would feel quite awkward about asking another shooter to let me try their gun-sort of like asking another man to take his wife to a dance. Are their big bore shoots in the DFW or OKC area that may lend itself to trying some other firearms?
THREE SEVEN FIVE

It is an easy transition from the typical deer rifle, has a century of "traditional" behind it, and guys like me use it because we prefer it to the 40 somethings that also reside in the gun room.

Like @WAB, come to central Texas and we'll walk out back and you can try any thumper in the gun room.
 

Trout Tracker

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This is pretty straightforward Trout Tracker, you have laid the specifications...

To your question "I don’t know where to begin," there is a clear answer: caliber. Then things flow...

Operating words...
In your post, I read "traditional" and "affordable."

Caliber...
You do not specify what DG game is in your future, but you can hardly get more "traditional" than a .375 H&H and it will do it all in a pinch on DG, as well as handle PG at reasonable distance on a 1 rifle safari. Darn near ideal... Especially from a client's perspective.

Additionally, there is ammo everywhere and you can get very "affordable" practice ammo. I am shooting Prvi Partizam PPU .375 H&H 300 gr for around $1.75/round, and the brass is great quality too.

Yes, .404 Jeffery and .416 Rigby also qualify as "traditional" but they struggle a bit with the "affordable" ammo test...

Action type...
The single shots were once famous in Africa (e.g. Farquarson) because indeed the round in the chamber was a safe bet and strong/reliable big bore turn bolts did not exist back then, but the bolt action has been pretty much synonymous with "traditional" in Africa since the early 1900's.

CRF or PF...
Let us be real: CRF was perfected by Paul Mauser at the request of the Imperial German Army in the 1890's when the two objectives were to:
1- insure extraction of soft pure copper shells loaded with black powder; and
2- prevent double feeding by peasant conscripts who handled a bolt action for the first time in their life.

To this day CRF has its ardent defenders. I personally do not care about the extraction side of the equation - modern ammo solved that issue a long time ago - but a friend of mine was involved in an accident where someone stupid unwittingly left a round pushed into the chamber of a push feed rifle when checking smooth feeding, and a woman died when the loaded rifle was later accidentally discharged by someone who thought it empty and hit the trigger while taking it out of the truck. CRF would likely have prevented this tragedy...

Let us be clear: you do not need CRF to hunt DG, but CRF is hugely "traditional" and can be "affordable" so it seems like it fits your criteria.

Wood or Kevlar stock...
I do not take wood that can swell or crack to Africa or Alaska anymore (I painfully paid my dues...) but there is no question that Kevlar fails both "traditional" and "affordable." Just be sure to bed the action and to have a cross bolt behind the recoil lug of the wood stock...

Iron sights...
As a client, you will likely never use them - although you never know when a scope is going to give up the ghost - but quality iron sights are very "traditional" and can be had with "affordable" rifles, although a lot a crappy, purely ornamental, unregulated iron sights adorn may so-called DG rifles...

Suggestions...
To meet your "traditional" and "affordable" requirements, as recommended by the AH Fraternity, it looks like your options include:

New rifles (in alphabetic order):
- CZ 550
- Winchester 70
- Zastava 70

Used rifles (in no specific order):
- CZ 550, Winchester 70 CRF, Zastava 70, ZKK 602, etc.
- Any of the beautifully made Mauser clones: e.g. 1950's to 1970's Browning, etc.
- Any of the reasonably well made Mauser clones: Santa Barbara, Interarms Mark X, etc.
- Endless list of rifles built on salvaged K 98, VZ 24, etc. military actions - although WARNING! not every bubba project turned out to be reliable, so be careful...

And of course, you can ditch the "traditional" requirement and a Remington 700, Sako, Tikka, etc. will kill just as well...

Or you can ditch the "affordable" requirement and from Kimber to Dakota to Mauser to Rigby you can climb the price ladder from $1,000 to $10,000...

Or you can ditch both "traditional" and "affordable" requirements and a Blaser R8 Kilombero, Selous, or Big Bore PH becomes quite attractive, etc.

Opinion...
To meet your "traditional" and "affordable" requirements, I am on record for finding the CZ 550 the best value for the money, as well as offering OBJECTIVE advantages:
- true magnum .416 Rigby length action (most other Mauser clones are 30-06 or .375 length);
- double square bridges with integral scope bases (they will never get loose);
- 5 rounds drop belly magazine capacity in .375 (not needed until ... needed);
- drop-forged steel action and 100% bottom metal steel (no risk of pot-metal stress cracks);
- integral rear sight barrel boss (rear sight will never get loose);
- barrel band front sight (front sight will never fall off the rifle - oh yes, it happens...);
- iron sights are actually regulated with test target (sights on many DG rifles are purely cosmetic);
- appropriate barrel contour and weight (recoil will not beat you to pulp);
- available used-as-new in "traditional" .375 H&H or .416 Rigby starting in the $900 range.

Sure, you will read plenty about the CZ 550 action being rough out of the factory (which is generally true but can be easily fixed within a few hours of polishing and deburring) and about feeding issues with .458 straight wall cartridges loaded to short overall length with wide flat meplat bullets (also easily fixed by rounding a few strategically located edges), but the bottleneck shaped .375 H&H and .416 Rigby feed like crap through goose in about any action. Polish gently the underside edges of the feeding rails and a .375 H&H or .416 Rigby CZ quickly become the functional (although not aesthetic) equivalent of the $10,000 rifles Rigby built on the CZ 550 action before Mauser resumed production of the M98 magnum length action in 2015...

Sure the Win 70 action is smoother (because it is looser), and it is machined on modern machinery so it is generally cleaner out of the factory, but it cannot house (easily) the Rigby or even the Lott, it has no integral scope bases, its magazine only takes 3, its bottom is generally pot-metal, its iron sights are screw-on attachments, its barrel is thinner, etc. It is still a great rifle - I own 3 and love them - but they miss a lot of what makes a DG rifle "traditional"...

But this is just an opinion, and others offer other opinions, which are just as relevant :)

Thank you very much for the detail involved in your response. Looks like I have some homework to do.
 

WAB

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THREE SEVEN FIVE

It is an easy transition from the typical deer rifle, has a century of "traditional" behind it, and guys like me use it because we prefer it to the 40 somethings that also reside in the gun room.

Like @WAB, come to central Texas and we'll walk out back and you can try any thumper in the gun room.

OK Trout Tracker, you now have two invitations and no excuses!
 

Forrest Halley

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OK Trout Tracker, you now have two invitations and no excuses!
Those two invitations are worthy of plane tickets and a two good bottles of bourbon all day long. The research you can accomplish in a day... especially if you are going to spend a minimum of $3,000 dollars by the time you get set up for the caliber buying ammunition and components. I for one, try not have anything sitting around as just a box or two of ammunition. I don't actually know how many .375's I have. I have a shelf full of components for it that's for sure.
 
 

 

 

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