.404 Jeffery - To Scope or Not to Scope?

DmacD

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Hello all,
I am in need of some advice regarding my optics options for a BRNO 602 chambered in .404 Jeffery that I have acquired. I am preparing to hunt for Cape Buffalo, most likely in 2025, and would like to hear what those with experience have to say. I have no dangerous game experience, and this is the largest caliber I own, having previously shot a little with a .375 H&H, and a lot with a 9.3x62. Both are topped with variable scopes.

First Option - The rifle came with an AHR quick release mount that will hold a Trijicon SRO (or RMR), so I purchased one to fit. Slick setup, works well. Does anyone run with a similar setup exclusively on their own dangerous game rifle?

Second Option - I have a Meopta 6 power fixed scope that I really like, clear glass, rugged, oodles of magnification for the .404. I would mount this in QD mounts, in conjunction with the SRO. The thinking being that I could perhaps stretch the legs of the .404 and go after a plains game animal or two once the Buffalo hunt was over.

Third Option - I have also looked into the purchase of a quality 1-4, or 1-6 scope, something illuminated with suitable eye relief. I am looking at a used Zeiss Victory HT 1-4, and a used Leupold VX6 HD 1-6 (available funds will dictate, blue collar budget). This could be the dedicated optic, or also in conjunction with my SRO.

What works for you guys that have hunted the Dangerous ones with a .404 Jeffery?
 
I took my 404J for my buff hunt last year and it was scoped with a swaro Z8i .75-6. With QD mounts. Great scope but a tad pricey. We were hunting in the thick mopani and I really appreciated the scope, it would be very difficult to pick out a target without it. Plus for me it adds about 100 yards for longer range PG shots - my eyes can’t do much with iron sights past 75 yards or so. You have some time to look for a good deal on a scope - my $.02 is to look for a used swaro Z6 1-6 - I have two of those and they are really good. There are obviously many scopes in the $500-$1,000 range that will work nicely - I’d look for a good deal and snag a brand/model you like in a lower variable than a fixed 6. You will most likely be on 1-2 power for DG.
 
I'd suggest a 1-4 or 1-6 type scope. You might have a shot at over 100 yards or even 200 for a PG animal. I bought a slightly used Swarovski PH, 1.5-6 x 42 from another AH member and put it on my 404J.

1685580598422.png
 
Mine is sporting a 1-4 Nikon Monarch African. As is my 375 and my Lott if needed. Definitely a fan of scope for buffalo. QD Talley mounts. Iron sights sighted for 25 yards for elephant. Dead on at 100 with scope for buffalo.
 
For the love and expense of a DG hunt, a suitable scope is a must in case irons are compromised for the short shot. Cheap insurance in my book.
 
Assuming your eye sight is good … then iron sights would be my pick. If you can’t use iron then a red dot. But I reckon I’ll be in the minority for choosing iron sights.

I’ve seen a couple of experienced shooters with Weatherby eyebrows over years. Including myself. For me….anything over 375H&H I only use iron sights or an Aimpoint.

If you buy a scope…..remember buy once, cry once.
 
I took my 404J for my buff hunt last year and it was scoped with a swaro Z8i .75-6. With QD mounts. Great scope but a tad pricey. We were hunting in the thick mopani and I really appreciated the scope, it would be very difficult to pick out a target without it. Plus for me it adds about 100 yards for longer range PG shots - my eyes can’t do much with iron sights past 75 yards or so. You have some time to look for a good deal on a scope - my $.02 is to look for a used swaro Z6 1-6 - I have two of those and they are really good. There are obviously many scopes in the $500-$1,000 range that will work nicely - I’d look for a good deal and snag a brand/model you like in a lower variable than a fixed 6. You will most likely be on 1-2 power for DG.
Good recommendations. Another option is a S&B Exos 1-8. I love the Z6i EE; however, have come to prefer the Exos. True 1x setting in CC mode and works much like a red dot in CC. Nobody struggles to keep both eyes open and it is great at 1x through 8x.
 
I use a Trijicon Accupoint 1-4x24 with the red triangle in QD type mounts. I also have a red dot sight on a QD mount. Under all types of conditions the 1-4 or 1-6 scopes are the most versatile for me. In thick brush, shaded areas, and low light conditions the problem is not the fact of being able to see the sight mechanism, but being able to see obstructions between yourself and the animal or exactly what part of the animal you are aiming at. Cape Buffalo standing in brush under shade look like a big black blob to me without some kind of optic. I have killed two Buffalo under these conditions that would not have been possible for me to make a good shot without a scope.
If possible, you could set up some shooting situations like you may encounter in your hunt. Then shoot with irons, red dot, and scope to see how well you can quickly acquire the target and make a good shot.
 
The only way I would not scope a 404, is if I was original. I would hate to drill and tap a piece of history like that.
In your case a set of QD rings will put it back to original in less than a minute. A good 1-4 or 1-6 will serve you very well and come off in no time if you want the irons.
 
404 is not a 375. If you decide to shoot plains game with a 404, I doubt you would be shooting past 150 yards. 4x is max you would need for that range. I did very well for more than thirty years shooting North American game with a 30-06 wearing a fixed 3x Weaver scope. Only a few of the scores of animals taken were past a hundred yards. I'm having a 404 built now and it will wear that old 3x with Warne QD rings and optional backup iron sights.
 
404 is not a 375. If you decide to shoot plains game with a 404, I doubt you would be shooting past 150 yards. 4x is max you would need for that range. I did very well for more than thirty years shooting North American game with a 30-06 wearing a fixed 3x Weaver scope. Only a few of the scores of animals taken were past a hundred yards. I'm having a 404 built now and it will wear that old 3x with Warne QD rings and optional backup iron sights.

I am taking my 404 to Zambia in a couple of months for a PG hunt. The PG hunt will be it's first and I thought it would be a good test, prior to taking it on a DG hunt. A month or so ago, I took the 404 to the range and shot a few shots at 50, 100 and 200 yards. Certainly have to be frugal with large rifle magnum primers and Swift A-Frames these days! Two inches low at 200 and a one inch group (~0.5 MOA). I am quite confident with my 404 out to 200 yards. The 1.5-6 power scope is ideal in my opinion. Maybe not a Tiny 10, but a sable, lechwe or waterbuck is fair game out to 200 yards.

Your decision to to put a 3x Weaver will certainly work. Is it the best option? Certainly debatable. You are building a custom 404, why not do it justice and put a proper scope on it? Proper doesn't have to be expensive either. Having a 1 or 1.5 power on the low end and something in the 4 or 6 power on the high end will cover the 20 yard close encountered charge and the 200 yard shot on a trophy opportunity. A fixed power, 3x scope is a compromise that misses on the low end (no 1x) for close in shooting.
 
Scope or a Red Dot
 
I am taking my 404 to Zambia in a couple of months for a PG hunt. The PG hunt will be it's first and I thought it would be a good test, prior to taking it on a DG hunt. A month or so ago, I took the 404 to the range and shot a few shots at 50, 100 and 200 yards. Certainly have to be frugal with large rifle magnum primers and Swift A-Frames these days! Two inches low at 200 and a one inch group (~0.5 MOA). I am quite confident with my 404 out to 200 yards. The 1.5-6 power scope is ideal in my opinion. Maybe not a Tiny 10, but a sable, lechwe or waterbuck is fair game out to 200 yards.

Your decision to to put a 3x Weaver will certainly work. Is it the best option? Certainly debatable. You are building a custom 404, why not do it justice and put a proper scope on it? Proper doesn't have to be expensive either. Having a 1 or 1.5 power on the low end and something in the 4 or 6 power on the high end will cover the 20 yard close encountered charge and the 200 yard shot on a trophy opportunity. A fixed power, 3x scope is a compromise that misses on the low end (no 1x) for close in shooting.
3x is fine for close in shots. I hit this gemsbuck twice through the heart on full gallop at less than twenty yards with Nikon turned down to 3x. PH said I should give em a chance to fall over. But it was incoming and they can be dangerous.
2019-08-24 gemsbuck.jpg

Same trip I took this management cow buffalo at 110 meters, one shot through the heart. I used my PH's 375 with scope also turned down to 3x (we were chasing them around in thick stuff then caught the herd making a break for it across an opening).
2019-08-26 buffalo posed(2).JPG

This old Weaver 3x of mine has taken a PILE of game over the years. I guess there are sentimental reasons for bringing it out of retirement. As far as I know it's still serviceable. If it can kill deer and elk in -20, I'm sure it can handle RSA winters.
Deer Gun final 3.JPG
 
Sweet scabbard
 
I got a Kahles on my .404 Jeffery. I love this scope...

Another Austrian quality brand on scopes, once a subsidiary of Swarovski

 

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