Dangerous Game Rifle Caliber for an Enthusiast

Captain Munro

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I hope this is the right section to post this thread...

I am a rifle enthusiast and I love the history behind African exploration, big game hunting, and rifles/cartridges. I was in a gun shop in Bedford, PA (Cove Creek Outfitters) one day and I was allowed to hand a 470NE Double rifle with the lowly price tag of $36,000.00. From that day onward, it was/is my goal to get one of those rifles.

BUT

I am just a government scientist with student loan debt...Fortunately for me, my soon to be fiancé, is willing to spend $2k on an engagement present for me. I know, lucky man here. With that budget in mind, I found new production rifle choices limited to Winchester Model 70 Safari Express and the Ruger Hawkeye African or Guide Gun. I love Ruger rifles, I have the Ruger Scout and it shoots like a dream, but the action on the Winchester is much smoother ( I have tested a few at the gun store). The Winchester is also offered in more traditional and non-proprietary cartridges.

My options for caliber, in the aforementioned rifles, would be 375H&H (the classic with a ton of history), 374 Ruger, 416 Remington Mag, 416 Ruger, and the 458 Win Mag. I am leaning towards the Winchester in 458 Win Mag to get the real big bore feel (and it seems right for the Winchester Model 70 to be chambered in a Winchester Cartridge), but I understand the practical merits of the 375 and the 416 (still big bore).

I have heard many good things about the Model 70 Safari Express as a good out of the box DG rifle. Is there anything else I should know to dissuade me?
I emailed Winchester and they told me the next run of these rifles would be out in early June, so I am watching all the dealers.

Is there any reason to pick the Ruger(s) over the Winchester? I like the ebony fore end, but I could get a custom stock for the Winchester down the road. No plastic stocks in my "hunting rifle battery".

Factory ammo cost comparison and availability?

Which of these cartridge's are the most versatile in for re-loading (bullet selection, availability, price, etc.)? I am not a re-loader yet, but will be eventually due to ammo costs. I am aware of the price tag there. I read a few forum posts about the 458 having re-loading versatility.

Recoil wise, the most I have encountered was a Ruger No. 1 in 45-70 shooting the Hornady LeverEvolution 325 grains off the bench. Those pounded pretty hard from the lightweight rifle, but I could shoot 4-5 rounds in a row on the bench. How would any of these calibers compare to that? I know the Ruger African and Model 70 are heavier firearms, but the rounds they fire have moor oomph than the old 45-70. I also do not plan to scope them as they would be for fun.

In my search, I have also looked into the CZ 550 (now out of production), Montana Rifles (too expensive), and the Kimber Caprivi (also too expensive). I wish I was a rich man, because I would have a safe full of double rifles. Someday I may be able to afford something like a Sabatti Big Five!

Any tips for sighting in one of these bad boys? I know the bench is somewhere I do not want to spend alot of time...Or so I have read.

Your expert assistance will be greatly appreciated. I also hope I did not say anything ignorant in my post! I tried to do a ton of research on the matter.

Happy Hunting!
 
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Opposite Pole

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I have a Winchester M70 in 416 Rem and it is a decent rifle. I understand the allure of big bores as I also own a 470NE double. However, there is no denying that 375H&H is a more practical choice for anywhere other than Africa and north Australia. Far be it for me to try to talk someone out of buying a big bore rifle but I'd give 375 a serious consideration. While it is a medium rather than a big bore it is in fact a very practical cartridge. If I was so unfortunate as to only have one rifle for the rest of my life it'd be in a 375H&H chambering.
 

Captain Munro

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I have a Winchester M70 in 416 Rem and it is a decent rifle. I understand the allure of big bores as I also own a 470NE double. However, there is no denying that 375H&H is a more practical choice for anywhere other than Africa and north Australia. Far be it for me to try to talk someone out of buying a big bore rifle but I'd give 375 a serious consideration. While it is a medium rather than a big bore it is in fact a very practical cartridge. If I was so unfortunate as to only have one rifle for the rest of my life it'd be in a 375H&H chambering.
The practicality and history of the 375H&H is why I cannot seem to get it off the list of contenders haha. Of course, down the road, I could have a rifle chambered in each...
 

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I leave most of the rest to other folks, but reloading...

You could probably load a 458 WM down to 45-70 velocities just for practice. I shoot GC lead alloy out of my 45-70, 425 gr and 525 gr, at about 1625 fps. Recoil is appreciable, though nothing like you'll get out of a full load 458 WM or any of the 416s. If you wanted to take this route, any load listed for a given weight in a copper jacketed bullet is a safe load for any lead alloy bullet of the same weight.

375 HH and 375 Ruger will be the most versatile you could bring and reload for. In the lighter bullets, you'll get similar ballistic arc to 30-06
 

chashardy

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Do yourself a favor and buy the Model 70 Safari Express in 375H&H. Once you have gotten used to it and maybe had the chance to take it to Africa and you are able to save up for a second DG rifle, then you could consider the bigger bore options. The 375H&H will give you much more use and there really isn't a reason to go for the 458 winmag unless you are hunting elephant and you will beat yourself silly with a 458 on the practice range.
 

Captain Munro

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Do yourself a favor and buy the Model 70 Safari Express in 375H&H. Once you have gotten used to it and maybe had the chance to take it to Africa and you are able to save up for a second DG rifle, then you could consider the bigger bore options. The 375H&H will give you much more use and there really isn't a reason to go for the 458 winmag unless you are hunting elephant and you will beat yourself silly with a 458 on the practice range.
I am already silly haha, but point well taken.
 

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THREE SEVEN FIVE Not even close.

A .375 is the most versatile rifle in Africa. I have several forties of various configurations, but when it is time to pack for a trip it is a .375 that I grab. Mine have taken many dozens of game animals ranging from tiny Suni to multiple cape buffalo. Moreover, it is a reasonably practical rifle to take bear or elk hunting in North America.

Moreover, if any cartridges' have souls born in Africa, then the .375 H&H leads that list. A .458 barely makes honorable mention.
 
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Captain Munro

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THREE SEVEN FIVE Not even close.

A .375 is the most versatile rifle in Africa. I have several forties of various configurations, but when it is time to pack for a trip it is a .375 that I grab. Mine have taken many dozens of game animals ranging from tiny Suni to multiple cape buffalo. Moreover, it is a reasonably practical rifle to take bear or elk hunting in North America.

Moreover, if any cartridge's have souls born in Africa, then the .375 H&H leads that list. A .458 barely makes honorable mention.
What 375 rifle do you use?
 

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Hi Captain Munro,

Sooner or later you will want a .375 H&H.
Might as well just get it now.
My vote is for either the controlled round feed version of Winchester Model 70 (current production) or the CZ 550, as you mentioned, no longer made.
Fortunately, CZ made so many Model 550’s in .375 H&H that, they’re still available here and there.
Both have always been under priced rifles IMO.

Anyway, the .375 recoil is about twice that of a .30-06 and so, it will satisfy some, perhaps all of your interest in recoil.
Personally, I can only fire a few shots from the seated position with this cartridge.
Then the smile on my face begins to turn upside down.
Regarding recoil, I promise you that if you can tolerate it from a .458, with factory loaded 500 grainers, while seated, you are a lot tougher than me, I said so.

Also, upon firing a full power .458 rifle, you will notice that the .45-70 cartridge recoil suddenly seems almost feeble.
That having been said, it is not very difficult to work your way up to tolerating heavy recoil.
If I can train up to tolerating .458 recoil, anybody can.
Again, I’m not one to shoot a .458 from sitting but from standing, I can handle it without undue discomfort.
Once you get used to the heavy recoil, it is pleasantly surprising that the .458 Winchester cartridge is quite accurate.
Sometimes shockingly accurate.

As for the Ruger .375 cartridge, I guess it is ballistically a good one.
But, I much prefer the original H&H version.
(“If it works, don’t fix it”).
Generally speaking, I do however like 2 or 3 other Ruger products.
However, Ruger’s re-invention of the .375 and .416 are not included in my likes.

Their No1 single shot is a very fine rifle and their no longer made, truly magnum sized bolt action in .375 H&H, .416 Rigby and .458 Lott was a good rifle (except that, just like the CZ 550, it needed a larger bolt handle, LoL).
I like their also no longer made “Old Army” cap & ball revolver, but I digress.

Anyway, good luck and we are all glad you joined this forum.

Cheers,
Velo Dog.
 
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Captain Munro

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Hi Captain Munro,

Sooner or later you will want a .375 H&H.
Might as well just get it now.
My vote is for either the controlled round feed version of Winchester Model 70 (current production) or the CZ 550, as you mentioned, no longer made.
Fortunately, CZ made so many Model 550’s in .375 H&H that, they’re still available here and there.
Both have always been under priced rifles IMO.

Anyway, the .375 recoil is about twice that of a .30-06 and so, it will satisfy some, perhaps all of your interest in recoil.
Personally, I can only fire a few shots from the seated position with this cartridge.
Then the smile on my face begins to turn upside down.
Regarding recoil, I promise you that if you can tolerate it from a .458, with factory loaded 500 grainers, while seated, you are a lot tougher than me, I said so.

Also, upon firing a full power .458 rifle, you will notice that the .45-70 cartridge recoil suddenly seems almost feeble.
That having been said, it is not very difficult to work your way up to tolerating heavy recoil.
If I can train up to tolerating .458 recoil, anybody can.
Again, I’m not one to shoot a .458 from sitting but from standing, I can handle it without undue discomfort.
Once you get used to the heavy recoil, it is pleasantly surprising that the .458 Winchester cartridge is quite accurate.
Sometimes shockingly accurate.

As for the Ruger .375 cartridge, I guess it is ballistically a good one.
But, I much prefer the original H&H version.
(“If it works, don’t fix it”).
Generally speaking, I do however like 2 or 3 other Ruger products.
However, Ruger’s re-invention of the .375 and .416 are not included in my likes.
Their No1 single shot is a very fine rifle and their no longer made, truly magnum sized bolt action in .375 H&H, .416 Rigby and .458 Lott was a good rifle (except that, just like the CZ 550, it needed a larger bolt handle, LoL).
I like their also no longer made “Old Army” cap & ball revolver, but I digress.

Anyway, good luck and we are all glad you joined this forum.

Cheers,
Velo Dog.
Thank you for the response. The 375H&H would be my choice over the Ruger, for the history alone. I have no worries about handling its recoil. The 458 I think I would be fine in field positions (sticks or freehand), but I would be remiss if I bought one and while sighting it in, it broke me haha.
 

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Thank you for the response. The 375H&H would be my choice over the Ruger, for the history alone. I have no worries about handling its recoil. The 458 I think I would be fine in field positions (sticks or freehand), but I would be remiss if I bought one and while sighting it in, it broke me haha.
I have an old savage 12ga. I shoot it pretty cheap, keeps my mind use to heavier recoil.
U can pick up a cheap lightweight single shot used for 100. Might wanna try that for a day of slug shooting !
I only have 4 big rifles. But my old savage 12ga, is very similiar in recoil to my 500. To me anyway?
 

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@Captain Munro
I have evolved in time as a hunter, up to aspiration to hunt DG. It was not so long ago, untill recently, when I considered medium all round caliber is sufficient for all my hunting needs, including africa.

So, getting to next level, to plan DG hunt, I went through several caliber options, for bolt action rifle.
And, came down to one and only: 375 H&H.

After my long, and thorough research, and noumerous books and resources on the subjest, this is based on: tradition, performance, ballistics, availability of ammo, apeal, versatility and moderate recoil.
375 H&H, to me (a DG novice, and aspiree), is the sum of all qualities combined.

I am not saying the other DG calibers are bad, but none of them can bring all qualities togehter, in a same way as 375 H&H. While 375 H&H is allround african and DG caliber, next one (in my eyes) DG specilised, for bolt action would be 416 rigby, for same reasons, minus versatility (PG)

Speaking of bolt actions for DG.
In my view there are only two routes to choose from:
1. Traditional approach - CRF rifle, mauser 98, clone.
2. Modern approach: blaser r8, or some other fancy push feed rifle. But r8, shines the best in this department

I went, traditional route, CRF rifle, magnum action.
So, this was part of my reasoning, from similar position as yours now, as a DG newbie, who took the effort to reasearch the options thorougly.
Have I been wrong, we will see, on my next african trips but I took my best, educated decision. CRF +375 H&H.
 

Captain Munro

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@Captain Munro
I have evolved in time as a hunter, up to aspiration to hunt DG. It was not so long ago, untill recently, when I considered medium all round caliber is sufficient for all my hunting needs, including africa.

So, getting to next level, to plan DG hunt, I went through several caliber options, for bolt action rifle.
And, came down to one and only: 375 H&H.

After my long, and thorough research, and noumerous books and resources on the subjest, this is based on: tradition, performance, ballistics, availability of ammo, apeal, versatility and moderate recoil.
375 H&H, to me (a DG novice, and aspiree), is the sum of all qualities combined.

I am not saying the other DG calibers are bad, but none of them can bring all qualities togehter, in a same way as 375 H&H. While 375 H&H is allround african and DG caliber, next one (in my eyes) DG specilised, for bolt action would be 416 rigby, for same reasons, minus versatility (PG)

Speaking of bolt actions for DG.
In my view there are only two routes to choose from:
1. Traditional approach - CRF rifle, mauser 98, clone.
2. Modern approach: blaser r8, or some other fancy push feed rifle. But r8, shines the best in this department

I went, traditional route, CRF rifle, magnum action.
So, this was part of my reasoning, from similar position as yours now, as a DG newbie, who took the effort to reasearch the options thorougly.
Have I been wrong, we will see, on my next african trips but I took my best, educated decision. CRF +375 H&H.
I am a complete proponent of the CRF for practical reasons and just for the fact that my favorite rifles (bolt action) are CRF. For example, the 1903A3 Springfield that my Grandfather carried during WW2. All of my reading and many suggestions on this forum are driving to the class African darling, 375H&H.
 

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Capt, you wouldn't happen to be Left handed, would you?
 

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