Critique my rifle choice (s)? Looking for experienced advice?

IronCowboy

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New to the forum, hoping I can get REAL advice about an upcoming hunt, cutting through the gun mag and internet safari expert dogma that seems to run rampant everywhere else online!

I'll apologize in advance if this topic gets kicked around too often here, I did a few different forum searches and didn't really find any threads on the topic, so forgive me for starting a new one if it's a dead horse...

I'm looking for advice/criticisms for a DGR, headed to Africa in 2016 or 17.

I got hooked on big bore rifles about 15yrs ago, been on two hunts in south America for water buffalo and a moose hunt in Maine that got me on the "big bore juice". I went through a .375 H&H, a .416Rigby, .458WM, and a .458Lott, all of which I sold 'roundabouts 2007-8. I'm not unfamiliar with all that "safari cartridge" entails, but I'm needing to get back into the game for an upcoming hunt.

I'm looking to get to Africa in 2016 or 2017, and I'm starting on my rifle now. Rather than buying a factory model, I'm looking to build one. I'm looking for advice on what to build, based on experience. I'm not 100% what species I'll be hitting over the trip, but know for certain I want Cape Buffalo on the list. Elephant is also a highly desired player on my list.

I haven't committed to two rifles, a heavy rifle and a 'plains game' rifle - I have had advice to plan on two rifles, but haven't heard that from experienced hunters yet. So is it preferable to have 2 rifles? A heavy rifle and a lighter rifle? A heavy rifle and a potential back up? Or just one?

Cartridges: I have narrowed it down to .416Rem Mag or .458 Lott. Any reason to avoid either of these? (If I went with a second "back up rifle" I'd look at a .375 H&H, or a .338WM as a lighter rifle, with both rifles built on the same action - any thoughts?)

Rifles: I have had a Win 70, CZ550, and two Rugers in "safari rifles". I wasn't in love with the CZ, not head over heels with the Ruger, and I've been disenfranchised by Winchester since they stopped making their own rifles, so I'm actually looking at a Remington 700 for this rifle, with the win and Ruger tied as my "back-up" if I go away from the Rem. The gun rags always tout that DGR's should be nothing but controlled round feed, "because you can cycle them when you're laying on your back". I'm not necessarily convinced of that as a benefit, but I do want to hear from the experts whether the Push feed Remington 700 is a viable choice? Since I have such seldom use for DGR's, I'll look to rebarrel the rifle when I get home (keeping the big barrel of course) for more USA friendly cartridges, and I figure a 700 will be as easy to do so with as anything, and kinda takes me away from super expensive rifles like the Dakota. So convince me - is CRF a requirement, or is it really just hype?

Thanks in advance!!!
 

enysse

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As long as the Rem 700 cycles everytime I have no problem with it, they are usually super accurate. I owned one that didn't like to cycle....hence I would prefer a Ruger, Win or CZ. As far as calibers go they are all good.
 

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Welcome to AH.

You have had four great DG choices in your mitts already. Which did you like the most?
You hunted a Buffalo in South America, which did you use for that?
It will poke the same hole in an African Buffalo.

I have never figured out why anyone would ever want to hunt a Buffalo while laying on their back myself.

(I hope the USFWS changes its mind for your Elephant hunting dreams.)

Hope the gun wizards will help you out some more.

Good luck with your build and planning.
 

Norwegianwoods

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I had feeding/cycling problems with both CRF and push feed.
In my opinion is perfect cycling with not a hint of feeding problems the most important.
If you can't do it 100% of the time with the gun at your shoulder all the time, forget about it.
I cringe when I see people take the gun down from their shoulder to work the bolt...

In a video I have, there is a PH that has huge problems to work the bolt on his CRF rifle to get another round into the chamber in a charging wounded buff situation.
He took the gun down to his hip and struggled hard to feed another round in...
Luckily the buff dropped from the first shot/s from the party.

Personally I would bring one rifle only and I would choose the 416Rem Mag of your choices when an Elephant is on the list. For myself I would buy/build a 416 Ruger.

If you want a back up rifle for DGs that is great on PGs too, then a pair with one 416 Ruger and one 375 Ruger is great in my opnion.
 

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Welcome to AH, Ironcowboy !

For me, a Heym in .375 H&H is enough gun
 

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Welcome IronCowboy,

Whatever caliber/rifle combination you decide upon I wouldn't go on an Africa hunt or any costly and distant hunt without two rifles. A serious rifle malfunction doesn't happen often, but Murphy's Law will always make it happen when you least expect it.

When a malfunction can't be repaired in a remote camp and the option of obtaining parts or having the problem fixed at a repair facility doesn't exist, you're stuck. It's happened to me on two separate hunts over the years. Again, it may never happen to you, but if it does happen you'll be thankful that you had a second rifle along. . . . just my two cents.

No matter what you decide, good hunting to you!
 

ornery

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I am in my 36th year as a gunsmith. To address the feeding issue directly.....Mauser type controlled feed. The push feed issue is one of manipulation of the rifle.....you have to decide if your nerves and abilities, as well as your motor-control skills are what is necessary to operate the push feed in a manner that keeps the rifle at the correct angle to avoid a possible bind in the feeding process. Putting the push feed aside your next concern is extraction. There are between 50 and 100 rifles in my shop at any given time. Mostly Remingtons. Not because they are necessarily poor quality, but because they pump out so many of the darned things. I don't like Remington extractors...they do fail. Will they fail on your rifle? Probably not. Would I take one on a pre-planned, long thought out, hard to pay for, once in a lifetime trip to Africa? No way. I know the product too well. Would I hunt North America with it? Absolutely...I have...but I wasn't worried about something EATING me either. Stick with Sako type pivoting extractors in a push feed rifle.

I'm not bagging on anybody's rifle choice...I'm just stating the facts as I know them to be from a lifetime in the gun biz. My pop was in it 60+ years before he passed. He didn't use certain types or brands of firearms either. As to caliber it's what you like and trust the most, as well as shoot the best.

I shoot three rifles for most anything and everything....Brno ZKK 602 375H&H, 1959 Mauser Supreme .270, CZ 527 Mauser .223 all very plain, all have iron sights, all have scopes, all as reliable as I can make them.

Have they failed? Yes actually. The .270 needed a new follower and I ignored it. The rifle did not fail, I did. ;)

Good luck with your search...happy to oblige with an unsolicited opinion...{as that is the ONLY thing I am an expert on..:) }
 

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Two rifles is good, but the plains game rifle need not be close to the DGR in power. An '06 coupled with your big gun is a good way to go. Or perhaps a 30 mag of some brand. I think its silly to take a .375 as the light rifle when the DG is just a bit more gune. I saw a guy show in Tanzania on a PG and buff hunt with a .375 for PG and a .458 for buff! Silly.
A Rem 700 would not be my choice for a DGR but others have done it with success, I prefer the Mauser type, at least for DG. I did take a Ruger 77 push feed in .338 for PG once, worked fine. There is also the .375H&H which can do it all. I have done that 3 times, no problems due to the rifle or caliber.

I like CZ rifles and Ruger rifles both. Any man made product can fail at any time for any number of reasons. No system is infallible.
 

IronCowboy

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The Rugers were my favorite of the 4 DGR's I've owned, but I've had enough nervousness about Ruger's tiny recoil lug and enough frustration bedding Ruger's "crooked" action screw that I've turned away from it for this DGR. Plus, it seems quite difficult to find Magnum actions from Ruger these days, since they've gone whole-hog on the .30-06 length long action "compact mag" route with the Ruger DG cartridges.

I'd be pretty easily convinced to jump back to the Ruger, but they don't sell factory actions EVER, and the only donor actions would be factory DGR's, so unless I stumble upon one at a steal, I'll have to go a different route. :( The good news is that I'm keeping my eyes open for one. :)
 

IronCowboy

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Reluctant to adopt?

So the Ruger 375R and 416R are built on .30-06 actions. I have been worried that these magnum cartridges would beat up a standard action, and that they might have been ill-advised...

BUT, I'd love to have someone prove me wrong!!!

I have an old M77 Mark II in .30-06 that I'd be more than happy to convert over to a .416R, if that could ACTUALLY be done. Or would be willing to take the chance on the Hawkeye long action, if somehow it is stronger than the M77-2.

Thanks for all the info so far fellas!! As you can tell, I'm still in the prelim phases of this thing.
 

sestoppelman

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Dont get hung on this idea. The length of the action has probably nothing to do with strength. I seriously doubt Ruger would invest all this effort and money to promote an action that they think will fail. It aint gonna. If you dont want to use their action fine, but you should find a better reason.
 

IronCowboy

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I'm actually a massive Ruger fan, even if I rarely shoot their rifles anymore since most of my rifle shooting is long range varminting or benchrest competitions where push feeds rule. My "go-to" North American big game rifle is a .30-06 Ruger M77 Mark II that I'm actually rebuilding this spring to put some life back into it before I pass it down to my son.

I'm not familiar with the .375/.416Ruger's, and not sure whether I can convert one of my M77MkII or if the Hawkeye action is actually different/stronger. I do trust that Ruger knows what they're doing in producing the M77 Hawkeye in .375 & .416 Ruger, I just don't know anything about whether the Hawkeye action is beefier than the M77MkII or not?

That also brings up a question for me: I have HEARD from the online gun 'experts' and the hunting magazines that a guy should choose a cartridge he could find easily in Africa, in case his ammo was lost/seized in transit. Is that a REAL concern? If so, are the Ruger cartridges readily available over there?

I'd be all too happy to have an excuse to buy TWO Ruger M77 Hawkeye Alaskan's in .338WM then rebarrel one of them to .416 Ruger to have a DGR and PGR at the ready, as well as a stout elk and bear rifle for US/Canadian game.

This is why I asked here! Lol, good advice that I can actually incorporate into my research for this build, rather than conjecture or speculation...
 

sestoppelman

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I cannot answer the technical aspects of a Ruger action, I just feel safe behind one and I think you could use any Ruger 77 action to build whatever caliber or cartridge one wanted provided its appropriate for the size. It used to be said that you had to have a magnum length action to build a .416 Rigby on, but Harry Selby's famous .416 was built on a std size 98 action.
 

enysse

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I own many variations of Ruger's actions...to me they are all good but I'm not a gunsmith either.
 

DOC-404

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It's actually all quite simple. You sound like an intelligent fellow who just needs a little friendly, albeit persuasive, guidance from a seasoned professional. No charges involved. Join an exclusive club. Do the Full Monty. Get yourself a Brno ZKK, CZ550 or Mauser action and build yourself a .404 Jeffery. Sorted. Enjoy the build. Send me photographs.
:biggrin2:
 

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It's actually all quite simple. You sound like an intelligent fellow who just needs a little friendly, albeit persuasive, guidance from a seasoned professional. No charges involved. Join an exclusive club. Do the Full Monty. Get yourself a Brno ZKK, CZ550 or Mauser action and build yourself a .404 Jeffery. Sorted. Enjoy the build. Send me photographs.
:biggrin2:

now Doc how did i know exctly what you were going to say before i even read your post........:laughing::beer:
 

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IronCowboy,

Welcome to the forum.

What Doc-44, and ornery said (plus parts and pieces of what one or two others all said), seems like very good advice to me.

I will however ad:

1. Consult your PH with all serious questions, including about rifles, (also bullets, scopes/mounts, general gear, clothing, hat, gloves, socks and all).
2. Perhaps he will have a loaner (or rental) rifle, either plains game type or DG type or both.
3. In Africa, they won't even look twice at a hunter who chooses to shoot impala, duiker, klipspringer, etc with a .375 H&H, or even a .416 or .458, it is a daily occurrence throughout much of Africa, and not always but sometimes with solids.
4. If 2 rifles are your conclusion, for the purpose of being ready for a broken rifle, consider the big one to be either a.458 Lott, or a .416 and the 2nd rifle to be a .375.
5. Either one CAN be used for everything from elephant to dikdik in a pinch, actually I really like the .375 for so called "plains game" and I have shot my share of caribou and deer with it here in Alaska as well, (does less meat damage than a typical .270 Winchester load).
6. HOWEVER, I have not brought more than one rifle at a time to Africa, in my meager 4 safaris so far, and no issues have raised their ugly heads (yet).
7. I know you said you don't like the Ruger bedding/recoil lug design, I don't either but you said that you do like Ruger rifles otherwise (I only like their huge Model 77-Magnum and their #1 single shot, so me too, sort of).
So, for a one rifle safari, would you consider buying a 2nd hand 77-Magnum in either .416 Rigby or .458 Lott? (too bad they don't make it in .404 Jeffery) then having a proper gunsmith (like ornery himself perhaps) install internal crosspins, extra recoil lug under the barrel, glass bedding (for strength) and that huge/clunky factory stock shaved down (and re-checkered if necessary), to look a bit more streamlined and sexy?
8. I would avoid the Ruger proprietary DG cartridges (.375 Ruger and .416 Ruger) personally, since I have never seen the ammunition for sale in either caliber. Besides, I'm not sure what they are supposed to do that the H&H and the Rigby have not been doing very well, for about a hundred years now anyhow, except for Ruger to save steel, by using smaller actions for them.

Note: My item #7 list describes most of the modifications I have had done to several CZ 550 Magnums (.375 H&H through .500 Jeffery) with immense satisfaction.
I promise you, all those modifications combined are WAY cheaper than building a rifle from scratch.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE from sticks and then PRACTICE SOME MORE from sticks.

"I spent most of my money on Mausers, double rifles and safaris, the rest I just wasted."

Best of luck to you,
Velo Dog.
 
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IronCowboy

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3. In Africa, they won't even look twice at a hunter who chooses to shoot impala, duiker, klipspringer, etc with a .375 H&H, or even a .416 or .458, it is a daily occurrence throughout much of Africa, and not always but sometimes with solids.
4. If 2 rifles are your conclusion, for the purpose of being ready for a broken rifle, consider the big one to be either a.458 Lott, or a .416 and the 2nd rifle to be a .375.
5. Either one CAN be used for everything from elephant to dikdik in a pinch, actually I really like the .375 for so called "plains game" and I have shot my share of caribou and deer with it here in Alaska as well, (does less meat damage than a typical .270 Winchester load).
6. HOWEVER, I have not brought more than one rifle at a time to Africa, in my meager 4 safaris so far, and no issues have raised their ugly heads (yet).

I'd honestly prefer to just haul ONE rifle, just from the weight bearing perspective if nothing else. But, I also don't want to end up with a tanked out, rifle-shaped paperweight 4000miles from my spare. If I DO take a second, I'd plan on something like you suggested, a big 458Lott or .416Rem Mag, then a 375H&H. For 'plains game', I'd consider a 338WM, but I'd probably rather carry a DG capable "back up" than two rifles with different purposes - or plainly: I'd rather carry a .416RM and a .375H&H than a .416RM and a .338WM. At least I THINK so, in my inexperienced thought process.

7. So, for a one rifle safari, would you consider buying a 2nd hand 77-Magnum in either .416 Rigby or .458 Lott? (too bad they don't make it in .404 Jeffery) then having a proper gunsmith (like ornery himself perhaps) install internal crosspins, extra recoil lug under the barrel, glass bedding (for strength) and that huge/clunky factory stock shaved down (and re-checkered if necessary), to look a bit more streamlined and sexy?

If I go the Ruger route, this is the plan. Can't buy Ruger actions anyway, so I'd have to go with a donor of either a factory new rifle, or a used rifle. Planning on starting with a semi-inletted stock, and doing the "magnumizing" and "hunter friendly" paring down, bedding, checkering, cross-bolting, etc myself. Considering the angled front action screw, I can never decide how I feel about 'sandwich style' (rem 700 style) recoil lugs on Rugers, but I know I could bed it "in theory". :D

Seems like used Ruger 77 Magnums are easy enough to find if I can wait long enough. Good news would be that so many of them share the same 0.532" boltface, so I wouldn't have to find THE particular rifle I want, I just need to find a 77 Magnum in .375, 416, or either 458.

I can also buy CZ 550 Magnum actions, but aftermarket support for them isn't as strong.
 

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ironcowboy if you want to take 2 rifles and the smaller cal has to be capable of being used as a back up in case something happens to your bigger cal rifle for your buff/ele then you have to have a min .375 simply for legal reasons, so that is sorted. from then on up to you maybe go for .458 win and rebarrel to .338 win after. if you just want a plains game rifle then anything you shoot your deer/elk there with is perfect, and then just go with what you want for the bigger cal.....you dont seem to like cz, ruger or winchester actions/rifles why?over the years i have had 4 rifles built by Rigbys (not when they were built in the usa) in .416 rigby on brno/cz actions and great rifles. i have a ruger 77 .375h+h rechambered and bored to .458 lott and that seems to work fine as well.......................
 

IronCowboy

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I haven't really spelled it out but definitely don't take me wrong as to why I "don't seem to like cz, ruger, or Winchester actions/rifles."

For this project, I'm hoping to buy a new rifle/action.

My beef with the Win 70 has nothing to do with the action, everything to do with the business. For me at least, Winchester isn't Winchester any more. I hold a grudge for them all but discontinuing the Winchester 94, let alone that both the Win 94 and 70 suddenly jumped price like crazy when they STOPPED BUILDING THEIR OWN RIFLES. So maybe I'm cutting off my nose to spite my face, but I'm not so intrigued with "Winchester" these days.

The CZ, I really don't have any gripes other than given the choice between CZ and Ruger, I'd build a Ruger. I CAN, however, get CZ actions. Although aftermarket short chambered barrels, stocks, triggers, etc aren't as readily available in the US. Considering I'm working this rifle myself as much as possible, that's a hurdle.

Ruger, I'm actually a HUGE Ruger fan. My first deer rifle was a Ruger 77MkII .30-06, and if I could only own ONE brand of revolver, it would be Ruger. However, I haven't had stellar results with accuracy from Rugers, and the small recoil lug and angled action screw present their own hurdle.

Of any bolt action, I'm not really a Remington fan, or for that matter, ANY factory action fan. Most of my rifles are built on custom actions - but nobody really makes custom CRF actions that I'm noticing. For factory rifles, I would say I'm more of a Savage guy, then Ruger. But I have a bunch of Savage bolt actions, so I want something different for this. Savage isn't making a Magnum action anymore either, so I'd have to convert a 338Lap Mag Savage over, which is easy enough - just swap bolt heads, rather than complete bolts.

I know it's all very persnickety, that's just how my cookie crumbles these days. I know I could BUY a proper rifle, but where's the fun in that? :D
 

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