Body Shots On Elephant (Does Caliber Really Matter?)

TOBY458

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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.
Depends on if it's Bull, Cow or tuskless cow. The tuskless hunts are around the same cost of a Cape Buffalo hunt. It also depends on whether or not it's importable to the country you live in.
 

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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.
Just for general reference, tuskless in Zimbabwe will run $750 - $1000 per day and $4000 tuskless trophy fee. If you plan $11K to $15K, depending outfitter, area, etc you won’t go wrong. If you can go on a late season or cancellation, short notice trip you might even shave a little off. Zim is not the only country with tuskless on offer, but probably the most common and likely the most affordable.
Of course, you will need to budget for some PG as well ;)
 

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Hydro....

I second this.

I have shot various calibre hydro's through different mediums-namely animals and small trees, water filled 5 gallon drums - as well as FMJ (no animals) and the Hydro performs best in visual effect, straight line penetration. I have been on hand when some mates have been using the Hydros and cleanly shot pigs by shooting through the tree. Result, dead pig.
 

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Actually it's part of a three barrel set based on a Krieghoff Teck box lock O/U double rifle, calibers .458 WM. .375 H&H and 20 gauge 3" Magnum. I chose 20 gauge because Krieghoff did not make a 12 gauge frame at the time and the other choice would have been 16 gauge, for which ammunition was increasingly scarce in the US.
 

Professor Mawla

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When taking body shots at an elephant , caliber does indeed matter ( based on my personal experiences ) . The reason is quite straight forward . When hunting elephants , only non expanding bullets should be used ( preferably steel jacketed solids which are slightly flattened at the point or monolithic solid bullets ) . When body shots are attempted , you are causing the animal’s death by boring holes through it’s vital organs so that it loses blood to the point that the creature hemorrhages . Larger calibres punch larger holes through the animal’s vital organs , which accelerates blood loss and causes the animal to hemorrhage quicker . In the case of non expanding bullets , your only method of punching a larger hole is by stepping up in terms of caliber .

Now , thousands of elephants have been shot with .375 Holland & Holland Magnums ( and with great success , I might add ) . When these are brain shots , you will not notice a difference between a .375 caliber 300 grain bullet and a .458 caliber 500 grain bullet . The animal goes down instantly . But I can tell you this . A elephant which has been shot through both lungs or the heart with a .505 Gibbs ( employing a 600 grain round nosed steel jacketed Woodleigh solid ) will definitely succumb to it’s injuries noticeably faster than an elephant which has been shot through the same region with a .375 Holland & Holland Magnum ( employing a 300 grain round nosed steel jacketed Woodleigh solid ) .

I am not saying that the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum is inadequate for elephant hunting . But yes ; when taking body shots at elephants , the larger calibres kill faster ( comparatively speaking ) .
 
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Professor Mawla

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Now that I have two R8s, both in 375 H&H. I wonder if it's worth the trouble to make one of them into a 416 or 458 for my upcoming tuskless elephant hunt. Or, just use a Woodleigh Hydro in 375 and shoot straight?
@TOBY458
In your context , I would highly recommend staying with the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum . You are a client hunter and your professional hunter will help you get into a suitable position from where you may land a fair shot at the elephant’s vital organs . In case the elephant charges, your professional hunter will take care of things for you . They carry a heavier rifle ( typically ranging anywhere from a .416 Rigby to a .505 Gibbs ) just for this reason . Besides , you only occasionally shoot elephants .

If you are required to hunt substantial numbers of elephants alone with some degree of regularity ( like professional hunters or elephant cullers or Problem Animal Control Officers ) , then you will do well to invest in something at least in the .450 Bore range ( my personal preference is for the original .458 Winchester Magnum , but you may also opt for the more modern .458 Lott or .450 Dakota or .450 Rigby ) .
 

One Day...

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Well, I amicably but totally and strongly disagree Professor Mawla...

Not to repeat endlessly previous posts (see my post #55 on page 3) but based on experience from many pros, there are two REAL differences. The .375/.416 will certainly kill them, we all agree, BUT:

1) a close miss to the brain with a .45+ will likely give you (not "guaranty" mind you, but "likely give you") one stunned second or two to place a killing body shot. A .375/.416 close miss to the brain will almost certainly not.

2) a .45+ will give you considerably more reliable stopping power than either .375 or .416.

You can decide for yourself whether you could use an extra stunned second for a backup shot, or if you are happy with your PH killing your elephant for you; and whether you need no "stopper" rifle, because your PH is supposed to do that job for you.

Call me selfish, but I personally prefer to kill my own elephant; and call me pessimistic, but I personally prefer to NOT gamble whether the PH will actually own a big bore (this is far from being certain!) and will shoot reliably that day (if they all did, no accident would ever happen).......

Live up to your screen name TOBY458 and get a .458 Lott barrel for that R8 :)

If truly the .375 is the only option, certainly a 350 gr slug gives you a bigger hammer than a 300 gr slug, and this seems to be important for brain shots.

If you have eliminated the brain shot as an alternative for yourself, then yes, a .300 gr AFrame or TSX will do the job on a double lungs shot.
 
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TOBY458

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Well, I amicable but totally and strongly disagree Professor Mawla...

Not to repeat endlessly previous posts (see my post #55 on page 3) but based on experience from may pros, there are two REAL differences. .375/.416 will kill them, we all agree, BUT:

1) a close miss to the brain with a .45+ will likely give you (not "guaranty" mind you, but "likely give you") one stunned second or two to place a killing body shot. A .375 close miss to the brain will almost certainly not.

2) a .45+ will give you considerably more reliable stopping power than either .375 or .416.

You can decide for yourself whether you could use an extra stunned second for a backup shot or if you are happy if your PH kills your elephant for you; and whether you need no "stopper" rifle because your PH is supposed to do that job for you.

Call me selfish, but I personally prefer to kill my own elephant; and call me pessimistic, but I personally prefer to NOT gamble whether the PH will actually own a big bore (this is far from being certain!) and will shoot reliably that day (if they all did, no accident would ever happen).......

Live up to your screen name and get a .458 Lott barrel for that R8 :)
How about the Winchester 70 458 Win Mag I already own?
 

One Day...

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Sell it and buy a R8 .458 Lott barrel :E Rofl:

At least, this seems to be my inclination now that I got into the R8 groove.

More seriously, there is tremendous value, I think, in terms of shooting form consistency, muscle memory in urgent self defense shooting, etc. using always the same rifle.

After all, the R8 gives a new dimension to the old say "beware of the one-rifle man, he likely knows how to use it", because this single R8 rifle now comes in whatever caliber is adapted to the task at hand that day :)
 
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Professor Mawla

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Well, I amicably but totally and strongly disagree Professor Mawla...

Not to repeat endlessly previous posts (see my post #55 on page 3) but based on experience from many pros, there are two REAL differences. The .375/.416 will certainly kill them, we all agree, BUT:

1) a close miss to the brain with a .45+ will likely give you (not "guaranty" mind you, but "likely give you") one stunned second or two to place a killing body shot. A .375/.416 close miss to the brain will almost certainly not.

2) a .45+ will give you considerably more reliable stopping power than either .375 or .416.

You can decide for yourself whether you could use an extra stunned second for a backup shot, or if you are happy with your PH killing your elephant for you; and whether you need no "stopper" rifle because your PH is supposed to do that job for you.

Call me selfish, but I personally prefer to kill my own elephant; and call me pessimistic, but I personally prefer to NOT gamble whether the PH will actually own a big bore (this is far from being certain!) and will shoot reliably that day (if they all did, no accident would ever happen).......

Live up to your screen name and get a .458 Lott barrel for that R8 :)

If truly .375 is the only option, certainly a 350 gr slug gives you a bigger hammer, and this seems to be important for brain shots.

If you have eliminated the brain shot as an alternative for yourself, then yes, a .300 AFrame or TSX will do the job on a double lungs shot.
That is quite alright , @One Day... .
People can agree to disagree . For example , your experience suggests that expanding bullets have proven successful for double lung shots on elephants . I would personally never use expanding bullets ( of any form ) against an Asiatic jungle elephant . Nor do I know of one experienced African elephant hunter ( and I am close with quite a few ) who recommends using any form of soft nosed bullet against an elephant . An expanding bullet might work on an elephant with a very perfect broadside double lung shot ( and that too , with a large caliber rifle of at least .450 bore ) , provided that the bullet does not hit any bone . However , the margin for error is completely nonexistent and it leaves too much to chance . If the elephant gives you anything short of the PERFECT shot , expanding bullets are completely useless . A solid bullet - Not so much .

I also did not know that Toby458 already possesses a .458 Winchester Magnum . If that is the case , then I will always recommend the .458 Winchester Magnum over the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum for an elephant hunt ( for the reasons which I have highlighted in my initial post ) . Especially since the .458 Winchester Magnum is a calibre which I use extensively and regard as one of my personal favorites for dangerous game hunting .
 

One Day...

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That is quite alright , @One Day... .
People can agree to disagree . For example , your experience suggests that expanding bullets have proven successful for double lung shots on elephants . I would personally never use expanding bullets ( of any form ) against an Asiatic jungle elephant . Nor do I know of one experienced African elephant hunter ( and I am close with quite a few ) who recommends using any form of soft nosed bullet against an elephant . An expanding bullet might work on an elephant with a very perfect broadside double lung shot ( and that too , with a large caliber rifle of at least .450 bore ) , provided that the bullet does not hit any bone . However , the margin for error is completely nonexistent and it leaves too much to chance . If the elephant gives you anything short of the PERFECT shot , expanding bullets are completely useless . A solid bullet - Not so much .

I also did not know that Toby458 possesses a .458 Winchester Magnum . If that is the case , then I will always recommend the .458 Winchester Magnum over the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum for an elephant hunt ( for the reasons which I have highlighted in my initial post ) . Especially since the .458 Winchester Magnum is a calibre which I use extensively and regard as one of my personal favorites for dangerous game hunting .

Good point! What I wrote does not read the way I meant it. Thank you for pointing this out.

I meant to say, a bit in a derisive way, that one can even lower the bar all the way to shooting a 300 gr AFrame or TSX for a double lungs shot at an elephant, which I reckon would likely work with an absolutely ideal perfect broadside shot presentation, even if it caught a rib bone, but I too would certainly never recommend it because the window of opportunity is so limited.

The meaning of my post was to infer that going down to .375 on elephant already reduces considerably the window of opportunity, and safety, compared to using a .45+, and I think that we both agree abundantly on this :)

PS: with modern fresh ammo, it does not matter so much whether the .458 be Win or Lott, but since a Lott chamber also fires Win ammo, it makes sense, to me, on new rifles/barrels to go for the Lott...
 
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Rule 303

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Now that I have two R8s, both in 375 H&H. I wonder if it's worth the trouble to make one of them into a 416 or 458 for my upcoming tuskless elephant hunt. Or, just use a Woodleigh Hydro in 375 and shoot straight?
Use the Hydros and shoot straight. Use the 375 if you can shoot well with it. If going for a brain or heart shot, first shot to brain/heart second shot into a leg to break it. As my PH pointed out to me an Elephant can not walk on 3 legs but can travel enough distance to squash you with a heart shot.
The larger calibres may give you a bit more insurance if you can shoot them as well as your 375.

My last Elephant (2nd one) was brain shot with a 416 Rigby using 400 grain Hydro. My PH said he had never seen an elephant drop that fast so bigger is not always better. However if going for a heart shot with solids I believe it would be. Just remember Elephant are poached with AK47's. Mind you the probably put 20 rounds into the heart area.
 

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All with one tongue.
History says it all. WDM Bell had good results with body shots on ele with 6.5mm/140 grain and 7mm/160 grain Mausers. Also a 450/400.
Ron Thomson pumped mainly 375 and 458.
But their operational costs were vastly different.
And Bell refers to larger rifle enthusiasts as the big bore frat. So. For what must be settled out of my wallet is 500 grains good enough for this job.

Bell advises. On the fore leg when straight up is your line. One thirds up from the brisket, your elevation. And Ron Thomson. You hunt ele with your feet........

What an incredible experience. Enjoy.
 

Flint

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On the WM/Lott issue.
Use a Lott chamber.
Load 458 to Lott COL and have 500 grains at 2000fps. Which is plenty for anything breathing. And with much lower chamber pressure. Which suits recoil shy individuals like me.

Great guns.
 

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I see a strong influence of John Pondoro Taylors, knock out value theory, in some of the above posts.
But I do not disagree.
My own view is that there is no such thing like over kill in hunting.
 

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You Will be using a solid, which I'm certain your PH will insist on. If .375, use the 350 gr solids (highest SD for best penetration-performs sort of like a .416, although lacking frontal area for a larger wound channel.) Read Kevin Robertson's books...If caliber made no difference, PHs would all carry .375s. A .375 will kill, but your PH's .500 will stop in a pinch! I also took the heart/lung shot on my first elephant (.416/400 Barnes banded Solid, 2,450 fps at ~30 yds) but it spun to run and I hit the liver and lung, then my son put a 2nd shot high into the back of its lung with his 375/300 Hdy DGS) which helped the matter successfully conclude even sooner. A 2nd shot in the hip would've dropped him on the spot (they cannot function with <4 of their solid legs), but it was too wooded/thick. If in the thick stuff, with only 1 heart/lung shot it will almost always run towards the nearest water and expire. The herd usually goes away, though I've seen the remainder of bachelor groups hang around like they are curious, not making much of a ruckus...Good luck! If you're a handloader, you can get the Woodleigh solids to 2,450 in a 375. If not, I believe the Norma PH ammo 350 gr'ers average 2,350 fps, which is also within the preferred V range for DG.
 

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