Body Shots On Elephant (Does Caliber Really Matter?)

Spooksar

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Ive only shot 1 Elephant and it was a side shot first one was through the heart and he went half way down second shoot was 2 inches from the first. Rifle was a Merkel 140 in 470 NE. I’m sure the same shots with a 375 would do the job but personally I would stick with 40 caliber or higher. Just my 2 cents with very limited experience. The Elephant didn’t go 6 feet so we where lucky in that respect.
 

Bob Nelson 35Whelen

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With a possible ele hunt in Zimbabwe planned for 2022, I feel I should resurrect this old thread. I haven't booked the trip yet, but am leaning hard on the fence.

Now I have a couple of R8's in 375 to muddy the water, if I take the Jaeger, I'll need to decide whether or not to buy a 416 or 458 barrel for it and get a larger forend to fit the larger profile barrels, or stick with the 375 barrel. If I take the Professional it will have to be in 375, because the stock won't accept a larger profile barrel, and I have no interest in opening up the stock.

OR....I will take my Winchester 70 416 Rem or Win 70 458 Win Mag for Elephant, and the Blaser 375 for everything else.

Having over a year to make the decision does help though.
@TOBY458
Youstarting to should like my wife when she is picking a pair of shoes to go with her outfit. Can't make up her mind.
Bib
 

Bob Nelson 35Whelen

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For a body shot on a small Bull like a Limpopo bull, or a binga or Zambezi valley bull, a 458 and it’s equals like 404 and 416 is more than enough.

for a hwange/ Botswana bull a 470 doesn’t get their attention much. It’s a chase, they may die a considerable distance away. I wouldn’t like to shoot them with less than 450NE and up.

the professionals are using 500jeff, 500ne, and 577 because they need that certainty that a shot to the brain (near miss) will stun them and an anchoring assist shot up the tailpipe will positively break the hip to quickly end the hunt. That’s for professionals, clients need to shoot the biggest thing they shoot well. 470 is pretty much the quintessential elephant rifle for a client whether heart lung or brain shot.
@rookhawk
No one has mentioned the best of the bunch yet, @TOBY458 should just get himself a 505 Gibbs and be done with it.
Bob
 

Foxi

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01471/800000000000000000000000000000/800//251822/25/881O7bjection…! .375H&H is far from being a "rat-gun"....it penetrates like crazy and is better than ever with all these wonderful new monolitic bullets..

I always bring my .375H&H as the reserve rifle when hunting elephant and have hunted them exclusively with it...try these:

I have seen hundreds of elephants at all possible distances and would not prefer frontal head shots as a beginning African hunting guest.A really difficult subject.The closer the elephant the harder it gets
A .400 and up on heart /shoulder area were also my opinion.Everyone should be able to hit this.
The professionals I know around and in Hangwe,are almost all black,are all poor and shoot beside the .458 Win Mag. ,mainly the .375 H+H, -nobody has a .500 or similar ,they can't afford it.All of them love the .375 and everyone of them has a threedigit elephant range on his account .They prefer head shots. Guests who have shot badly with "Dicke Berta" (the biggest Krupp cannon from the 1.WW :) ), they know enough.
The penetrating power you write about can be confirmed by all of them.But they can do it,that's what distinguishes them from the rest of hunting mankind.
The Phs of which we had to read here in recent years, unfortunately, that they were killed by elephants had all thick caliber in their hands.
 
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xausa

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For what it's worth, I have four bull elephants to my credit, all were brain shots, none got to their feet after going down after the first shot. I used my wildcat .505 SRE on three of them (570 grain bullet at 2150 fps) and my .458 Winchester double rifle on one. I missed the brain (both side shots) on the first two, but knocked both off their feet and they never got up again. On the last two I hit the brain and they were both dead in their tracks. I am a firm advocate of using the largest diameter bullet I can shoot with accuracy. I once had a .577, which was not unpleasant to shoot, but the recoil pushed me backwards two paces after each shot, and I found that unacceptable.

My .505 SRE weight 8 3/4 pounds, by the way, and I have never noticed recoil shooting at an elephant, buffalo or rhino with it.

Krieghoffsafari005_zpsb282cd22.jpg
 
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Philip Glass

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I am contemplating doing an elephant hunt in the near future. I realize that most people prefer a brain shot for Elephant, but in the case that a heart/lung shot is presented, wouldn't that make a much larger target? I also realize the Elephant could possibly run for quite some distance before succumbing to such a shot, but if placement was correct, the outcome should be certain.
That said, due to the large size of an Elephant, and the fact that solids would most likely be used, is there really a huge difference in effectiveness between a 375 bullet, vs something larger? Say 416, 404 or 458. I'm sure the bigger guns are always somewhat more effective, but on such a huge animal, they all seem relatively small bore when considering a heart/lung shot.
The elephants heart is huge. It’s like the size of a 5gal bucket and not too hard to hit. I shot mine in the heart and then followed up with a spine shot putting him down with a .416. The heart shot is a safer bet for those of us with little to no ele hunting experience. It will depend on your PH as to what shot you will take most likely. I am sure most will say go bigger than .375.
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I have read all these post with great interest. I am wondering how you get an elephant to lay on its back so you can drink from its navel???

Sorry - its been a long week:rolleyes:
 

xausa

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I didn’t know elephants had navels. I thought they were hatched from eggs, like ostriches.

Our tracker had a typical African sense of humor and after I had shot my first elephant, which was raiding a sisal field in the midst of a plantation, a large number of hopeful locals had gathered with baskets, buckets, knives and axes to avail themselves of the meat bonanza. The deceased was lying on his right side with his belly exposed to the meat hunters who were waiting for the go-ahead.

Sabuni, the tracker, approached from the opposite side and leaned over the backbone of the elephant. He plunged his large skinning knife into the distended belly, releasing a mighty stream of liquid propelled by the pent up gasses which had been accumulating inside the carcass, drenching the hopefuls. Instead of voicing their objection to this very primitive practical joke, they roared with laughter and proceeded to the task at hand. At one point there were some on the inside of the carcass, cutting outward and others on the outside, cutting in. How they managed to avoid stabbing each other was a mystery to me.

I was more interested in the tusks and their weight, which came out as a respectable 68 pounds per side. The one pictured below weighed in at 94 pounds. The other tusk had been broken off recently. The nerve was still festering and the owner was not in a good mood.

pix039_zps457398d6.jpg
 
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IvW

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Bottom line is that any legal caliber for elephant is adequite for the task at hand with the correct bullet....
If you are comfortable with a 375 H&H it is more than adequite.....
Yes it is common knowledge that bigger calibers are more effective than smaller ones so a 404 Jeff or 416 Rigby would be more effective than a 375 H&H and a 450 more effective than 400 and a 500 more effective than a 450 caliber....that is logical......the question is can you handle whatever caliber you have chosen?

However does a visiting hunter need a true stopping caliber to hunt elephant? By no means....you need a caliber that is adequite and legal for the job with a premium bullet nothing more nothing less....simple as that....your job is to place the first bullet where it needs to go with competance, if it is a side heart lung shot side brain shot or full frintal that is what needs to be done..
If your competance level is 375 then use it...thousands of elephant have been succesfully hunted with 375.....
The visiting hunters job is not to sort out any charge or worse case cenarios this is the job of the PH and he will be adequitly armed to do so or should be if he is guiding on elephant.

Bear in mind that no matter the plan you can never predetermine the shot that will be presented so be prepared to take side heart lung side brain or full frontal brain.....

If you are not comfortable with the shot do not pull the trigger.....
 

xausa

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If you have never shot an elephant, it's pretty hard to understand the psycholiogical effect it has. It's nothing like shooting a buffalo or even a rhino. Rather than to try to describe it, I prefer to recount the chain of events following the first shot.

We drove up within about 100 yards of the elephant, who was contentently munching on sisal leaves, without a care in the world. We silently debarked from the car and walked toward him until we got to "can't possibly miss" range. We were standing on the elephants right side, slightly to his rear. I aimed my wildcat .505 at the spot on the side of the head which I needed to hit to strike the brain and fired. The elephant immediately collapsed, but then started trying to get up, so I shot again and again until my magazine was empty. The PH emptied his .470 as well. The elephant appeared to be very dead.

As I stook there collecting my thoughts, it occurred to me that I should reload my rifle, so I started to open the bolt. To my surprise, there was a round in the chamber and the magazine was full. My first thought was that I had somehow decived myself into thinking that I had shot, but then I saw the empty cases lying on the ground and I realized that I had automatically reloaded, without giving it a conscious thought. All those practice sessions had paid off!

As the photo shows, I was still a little dazed afterwards.

e8a2d8ab-f743-469e-8fd0-17b1a46276f1_zps221leago.png


Those sisal leaves have sharp thorns at the tips, which is the reason for the spot of blood on my right forearm.
 
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Rule 303

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I have only shot two smaller cull elephants, both brain shots 15 and 18 meters. I was using a 416 Rigby with 400grain Woodleigh Hydros. So extremely little experience, though I have been up close to a couple of very large bulls and inside a herd. Awesome experiences.

Every time and from what I have read you always stick a second shoot into the elephant even if it has dropped like a rock. My second PH took the time to drive into my thick head it does not matter if heart or brain shot, the second shot is to break a leg. Elephant can not walk on three leg so he told me. Seems good advice to me.
 

9412765

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Just out of curiosity, what does one budget for an elephant hunt? Like an ugly one. It would love to hunt africa one day, not sure if I'll ever make it, but I enjoy reading about it on here and I keep the dream alive with an "african caliber" or two.
 

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Hello! Nice rifle! I have IDENTICAL rifle in 375 H&H so i was wondering what gunsmith did the work on it? Appreciate it and if you decide there is anything you are willing to take in partial trade, let me know. I have quite a few pistols, long guns and sxs & o/u shotguns as well.

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