Bring or Rent?

Mitchell Greenwell

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I am leaving for a South Africa plains game hunt in late May and I wasn’t going to bring my own rifle because of problems with the expiration date on my 4457 form. Now my outfitter is telling me my form will work. So I am on the fence on what to do. They have a list of decent rifles to rent and I’ve only owned my 300 win mag for a year so it’s not like I’m super used to it. Its my first safari and I’d rather not jump through the hoops to bring my own but it would be nice to have, what should I do?
 
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gesch

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Greetings! What an exciting time for you. Get ready to have a life changing experience. My opinion is that you should take your own rifle. You can easily hire a rifle “get me through the airport” company (a prominent one listed on this web site!) to take care of the details. Then for the rest of your life when you take out that 300 Win Mag you’ll remember shooting your first Kudu or Gemsbok! You can certainly rent a rifle but to me it is special to use your own firearm. Think about twenty years from now when your grand child can use Grandfathers Kudu gun! Priceless. Have a great trip.
 

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I have always tried to bring my own rifles for four reasons.

First, I've picked up some very nice guns over the years and it's a shame to leave them in a safe or only use them for target practice.

Secondly, I know my rifles, how they shoot, and the scopes are set up for me. I think - but I can't prove this - that I shoot better with my own rifles than with others' rifles.

Thirdly, when you bring your own, you can also bring ammunition with you, and that means you control the ammo you get. There's lots of .300 Win Mag available in many African countries, but little of it tends to be Triple Shocks or TBBC, or A-Frame, etc. In other words, you take what you get when it comes to ammo.

Lastly, I have great optics on my rifles. Even if you get a good gun, it's rare to get really good optics in Africa. They won't necessarily be bad, but if you're used to a Swarovski Z6i with an illuminated reticle, you will never, in my experience, find that on a rental gun.

Having said all of that, it's becoming harder and harder to travel with guns, and even harder to change an itinerary if you want to when you have guns. On my last trip to Cameroon I was assured by my PH that they had a decent rifle and scope to rent, and given the difficulties of travelling with firearms to, and inside, Cameroon, I decided to rent. As promised, the rifle was first rate, and the Leupold scope was fine. The ammo - well, we had a (real) problem with it initially, but eventually worked it out by getting different ammo elsewhere.

If it's your first trip, and you're not particularly wedded to your rifle, and you've been assured that a quality rifle awaits you, then by all means, fly unfettered by firearms and don't worry about it!
 

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My outfitter had a Leica Magnus on a Browning rifle for the camp gun. And now has a Blaser R8 with Leica Magnus scope for the camp gun. Ask.
 

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Take your own if you can. Most of what makes a firearm special is the memories that come with it. If in ten years time you can sit down and remember half a dozen really good hunts with the same gun, that gun is a really special thing to you.

I say that because I hunted Canada with a Brno 602 .375H&H that I no longer have, and I have around 7000 rounds of pest control memories with an old .22 Hornet CZ527, another one I've sold. My first deer rifle is long gone. Now I sit and think about it that saddens me a bit, it would have been nice to keep the deer rifle or the H&H. The H&H is the rifle featured in my profile picture.
 

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Take your rifle and build the memories!
 

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I would not use a 4457 with an expired date. If you are for some reason unable or unwilling to get a new one, then rent a rifle. Like Hank, I have seen fairly indifferent optics, and much more indifferent ammunition in Africa for camp guns.
 

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If you aren't attached to your own rifle all that much rent. One less hassle on your first hunt where you're worried about everything. I used my own for two trips and my last trip I rented. Zero regrets on renting. Have they got something you trust and maybe have never used? I rented two rifles, a Ruger M77 in 300 WM for my bushbuck and eland and a Mauser in 308 for my duiker. Both with good Leupold scopes shooting PMP ammo and each suppressed. Honestly, part of my memories is using those different rifles. I don't own either of those calibers or a suppressed rifle. I was pleasantly surprised how the suppressors reduced recoil. No issue with the ammo, which is probably the more common in RSA, I dropped an eland with a solid shot and an insurance shot when he fell.
Obviously take the rifle out and check zero with it before hunting, but you do that with your own too.

Oh, and according to the US side of things that 4457 never expires, it's RSA that's being twits wanting a recent date. Silly hoops to hop through on your first trip, so don't. If you warm up more to your own rifle later hop through those hoops the next trip.
Good luck!
 

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If you aren't attached to your own rifle all that much rent. One less hassle on your first hunt where you're worried about everything. I used my own for two trips and my last trip I rented. Zero regrets on renting. Have they got something you trust and maybe have never used? I rented two rifles, a Ruger M77 in 300 WM for my bushbuck and eland and a Mauser in 308 for my duiker. Both with good Leupold scopes shooting PMP ammo and each suppressed. Honestly, part of my memories is using those different rifles. I don't own either of those calibers or a suppressed rifle. I was pleasantly surprised how the suppressors reduced recoil. No issue with the ammo, which is probably the more common in RSA, I dropped an eland with a solid shot and an insurance shot when he fell.
Obviously take the rifle out and check zero with it before hunting, but you do that with your own too.

Oh, and according to the US side of things that 4457 never expires, it's RSA that's being twits wanting a recent date. Silly hoops to hop through on your first trip, so don't. If you warm up more to your own rifle later hop through those hoops the next trip.
Good luck!
I used the same .300 WM as you did. If I'm lucky enough to go back, I'll leave mine at home and use it again. Loved that rifle.
 

jduckhunter

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I used my own rifles on my first 2 safaris on my next safari in 2020 I'm renting one, just not worth the hassle to take my own anymore.
 

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If you can't get a new 4457 form for your rifle I would use one of the camp rifles but make sure your outfitter has quality ammo for you to use. Every Outfitter, PH and poster on AH tells you to use NP, Bonded or a Barnes type bullet for your PG hunt but when you use an Outfitters rifle you will often find it comes with inexpensive cup & core ammo.
 

Mitchell Greenwell

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Well the problem with the 4457 form is the customs office I went to had only old forms with no expiration date and no matter how many times I explained this he would not help me. I would go to a different customs office but I live in rural Wyoming and they are not down the street by no means. The one I went to was 8 hours away. So I’ve got one with no expiration date and my outfitter says it should work but I don’t want to risk it. This is the list of rifles they have for rent

Winchester Model 70 .338
Scope Burris 6.5 – 20
.308 Musgrave
Lynx 3X9 scope
30-06 Mauser
Zeus 2.5 – 10 scope
.375 CZ
Lynx 3 – 9 scope
.375 CZ
Zeus 2 – 8 scope
.300 WM Musgrave
Niko – 3 – 9 scope

I’m really leaning to renting on this one because it’s technically my honeymoon and the less stress I have on my honeymoon the better
 

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My wife and I have went to Namibia 4 times in the last 7 years. Took our guns each time. 1st trip was Shreveport-Atlanta-Frankfurt-Windhoek. Next 2 trips were Shreveport-Atlanta-Johannesburg-Windhoek. Last trip was Dallas-Doha Windhoek (flight was half what delta was). Used Steve’s TWG. No problems, no hassles, no worries. In 2020 we’re taking our 1st trip to hunt in South Africa and we will take our guns again!
 

One Day...

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To answer your question re. expired 4457, technically the US CBP Form 4457 has nothing to do with firearms in particular. It is a “Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad.” Its purpose is to certify when you come back in the US that your personal effects were not purchased abroad and therefore are not subject to import tax or possible import restrictions. Many people use the Form 4457 to register expensive cameras, jewelry, computers, etc. before traveling abroad.
However, the South Africa Police Service interpret the Form 4457 as a "rifle permit" based on the rationale that if you were not allowed to own the firearm(s) in the US, the federal authorities would not certify that you own them in the US. Therefore, because South Africa Police interpret the Form 4457 as a "rifle permit" (which it is not in US law), they require a Form 4457 that is not "expired" (even though they do not expire in US law). Period. Attempting to use an "expired" Form 4457 is simply inviting potential disaster. It is just not worth it... :E Nono:

upload_2019-3-24_16-3-52.png


Without knowing your circumstances, it seems that you have plenty of time to get a current year Form 4457 in the US, and a pre-approved SAPS 520.


To obtain a current year US CBP Form 4457, you need to download the template at https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2017-Jun/CBP Form 4457_0.pdf , fill it, and you need to physically bring your rifle(s) to the US Customs & Border Patrol office at the closest international air/sea/land port where they will check that the serial numbers on the rifle(s) match what you list on the Form 4457, and they will stamp and sign the form. This is free.

To obtain a SAPS Form 520, technically you can fill up the paperwork upon arrival at the Police Station inside the Johannesburg International Airport, but there can be long lines, and this can be a stressful experience. It is a much better idea to obtain in advance a pre-approved SAPS 520 and to have someone walk you through the process and get you to the front of the line...
A number of South African firms such as the Afton Safari Lodge (https://www.aftonsafarilodge.com/) or Rifle Permits (http://riflepermits.com/) specialize in helping hunters obtain pre-approved temporary import permits for their rifle(s), and provide “meet & greet” services at the airport. As of 2019, Afton Safari Lodge charges $100 for a pre-approved SAPS 520 and a standard “meet & greet” service at International Arrivals at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. This includes walking you through the custom and police processes and checking you in for your connecting flight if any.
You can download the SAPS 520 Form at https://www.aftonsafarilodge.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/SAP520.pdf . The form is long and daunting at first look, but your selected South African rifle import assistance firm will provide you with a sample of a completed form to use as a guide when you fill yours. Fill up the relevant fields on pages 2, 4 and 5, and sign page 6 in two different places.
The SAPS 520 is also the document that allows you to import your ammunition. You need to list on your SAPS 520 how many rounds you intend to bring for each caliber (maximum allowed 200 rounds per caliber). You can only import ammo for the calibers of the rifles listed in your SAPS 520.

Whether you bring your rifle(s) or not is a very personal decision. The cost of rental and ammo is often high, and the quality of the rifles, optics and ammo vary a lot from camp to camp. To use my own rifles is an integral part of my pleasure, so, to this day, benefits still outweigh constraints for me, but it is indeed one more thing to worry about...

I hope this helps. Enjoy your hunt :)
 

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Ryan

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Well the problem with the 4457 form is the customs office I went to had only old forms with no expiration date and no matter how many times I explained this he would not help me. I would go to a different customs office but I live in rural Wyoming and they are not down the street by no means. The one I went to was 8 hours away. So I’ve got one with no expiration date and my outfitter says it should work but I don’t want to risk it. This is the list of rifles they have for rent

Winchester Model 70 .338
Scope Burris 6.5 – 20
.308 Musgrave
Lynx 3X9 scope
30-06 Mauser
Zeus 2.5 – 10 scope
.375 CZ
Lynx 3 – 9 scope
.375 CZ
Zeus 2 – 8 scope
.300 WM Musgrave
Niko – 3 – 9 scope

I’m really leaning to renting on this one because it’s technically my honeymoon and the less stress I have on my honeymoon the better
Yeah, I get it, I'd be leery too without a date since RSA is known to be sticky about it lately. Sounds like Customs wasn't helpful. Keep it simple and rent. None of those firearms sounds bad. Musgraves prides itself on making well made rifles. For plains game I'd either use the Mauser in 30-06 with the Zeis 2.5-10 or the Musgrave in 300WM with the 3-9 Nikon. Great all around rigs. I lean towards the 30-06, but that's me.
 
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Michael Dean

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The two rifles I'm taking with me this fall are both custom rifles. THey fit me perfectly and have scopes that I really like. I simply can't see going to the trouble of having rifles made and then not use them. I practice dry firing every day with both of them and you really get a comfortable fit after hours of practice. I just think it gives you a decided advantage in having your own firearms.
 

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@One Day...
As the Op explained above, he's eight hours away from his closest Customs office, so it isn't as easy as you to drive to Phoenix or I to my local airport 20 minutes away.
 

One Day...

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@One Day...
As the Op explained above, he's eight hours away from his closest Customs office, so it isn't as easy as you to drive to Phoenix or I to my local airport 20 minutes away.
Yes, this is a pain, I feel bad for Mitchell Greenwell. The round trip for me from Flagstaff to Phoenix airport is 5 to 6 hours (depending on traffic in Phx), so I sympathize... From Alpine WY it seems that either Boise ID or Casper WY are the same long haul either way (325 miles / 5 1/2 hours), and Salt Lake City UT is the closest: 240 miles / 4 hours each way.

It is a personal call. To me using my own rifles would justify taking the trip again. If you download the 4457 from the link I indicated in my earlier post, you get the current form with 08/31/2019 expiration date.

The other option could be to get the Form 4457 stamped and signed the day of departure. I used to do that routinely in JFK in New York in the 80's and 90's when hunting a lot in Europe, but these were different days... It is still technically doable if planned for.
 
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meigsbucks

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To answer your question re. expired 4457, technically the US CBP Form 4457 has nothing to do with firearms in particular. It is a “Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad.” Its purpose is to certify when you come back in the US that your personal effects were not purchased abroad and therefore are not subject to import tax or possible import restrictions. Many people use the Form 4457 to register expensive cameras, jewelry, computers, etc. before traveling abroad.
However, the South Africa Police Service interpret the Form 4457 as a "rifle permit" based on the rationale that if you were not allowed to own the firearms in the US, the federal authorities would not certify that you own them in the US. Therefore, because South Africa Police interpret the Form 4457 as a "rifle permit" (which it is not in US law), they require a Form 4457 that is not "expired" (even though they do not expire in US law). Period. Attempting to use an "expired" Form 4457 is simply inviting potential disaster. It is just not worth it... :E Nono:

View attachment 274973

Without knowing your circumstances, it seems that you have plenty of time to get a current year Form 4457 in the US, and a pre-approved SAPS 520.


To obtain a current year US CBP Form 4457, you need to download the template at https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2017-Jun/CBP Form 4457_0.pdf , fill it, and you need to physically bring your rifle(s) to the US Customs & Border Patrol office at the closest international air/sea/land port where they will check that the serial numbers on the rifle(s) match what you list on the Form 4457, and they will stamp and sign the form. This is free.

To obtain a SAPS Form 520, technically you can fill up the paperwork upon arrival at the Police Station inside the Johannesburg International Airport, but there are long lines, and this can be a stressful experience. It is a much better idea to obtain in advance a pre-approved SAPS 520 and to have someone walk you through the process and get you to the front of the line...
A number of South African firms such as the Afton Safari Lodge (https://www.aftonsafarilodge.com/) or Rifle Permits (http://riflepermits.com/) specialize in helping hunters obtain pre-approved temporary import permits for their rifle(s), and provide “meet & greet” services at the airport. As of 2019, Afton Safari Lodge charges $100 for a pre-approved SAPS 520 and a standard “meet & greet” service at International Arrivals at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. This includes walking you through the custom and police processes and checking you in for your connecting flight if any.
You can download the SAPS 520 Form at https://www.aftonsafarilodge.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/SAP520.pdf . The form is long and daunting at first look, but your selected South African rifle import assistance firm will provide you with a sample of a completed form to use as a guide when you fill yours. Fill up the relevant fields on pages 2, 4 and 5, and sign page 6 in two different places.
The SAPS 520 is also the document that allows you to import your ammunition. You need to list on your SAPS 520 how many rounds you intend to bring for each caliber (maximum allowed 200 rounds per caliber). You can only import ammo for the calibers of the rifles listed in your SAPS 520.

Whether you bring your rifle(s) or not is a very personal decision. The cost of rental and ammo is often high, and the quality of the rifle & optics and ammo vary a lot from camp to camp. To use my own rifles is an integral part of my pleasure, so, to this day, benefits still outweigh constraints, but it is indeed one more thing to worry about...

I hope this helps. Enjoy your hunt :)
One Day has it pegged.
Personally I prefer to hunt with my own rifle and ammo. Although there are hoops to jump thru, I haven’t felt them to be overwhelming.
As far as form 4457, you have time to get an updated one.
The idea of not having to mess with the red tape as well as the additional luggage of rifle cases is tempting. Before opting for this, I ‘d find out the rifle/scope/ammo you’ll be provided and decide accordingly.
Whatever you choose, enjoy the adventure of a lifetime.
 

Mitchell Greenwell

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Thanks for the advice everyone, I think this time I am going to rent. I would get another form done but since I started a new job and already took a day off to do it once... Just this time to get my bearings on everything (especially since I’ve hardly ever left Wyoming and surrounding states) I think renting would be better for me. I may regret it but since this is my first time to Africa I’m going to focus more on the adventure. It really appreciate the help. My Booking guy for the safari sadly isn’t going into much detail to help me make my decision
 

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