Help me decide on my first DG rifle

Which rifle should I get?

  • Ruger M77 Hawkeye African - 416 Ruger

    Votes: 4 7.1%
  • Ruger M77 Hawkeye African - 375 Ruger

    Votes: 8 14.3%
  • Winchester M70 Safari Express - 375 H&H

    Votes: 30 53.6%
  • Winchester M70 Safari Express - 416 REM

    Votes: 5 8.9%
  • None of the above

    Votes: 9 16.1%

  • Total voters
    56
  • Poll closed .

brushmore

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I am already in the early planning phases for my next hunt in Africa. One thing I know already is that I need a new rifle since a buffalo is my main goal. But I still will need something suitable for a plains game hunt. So I have narrowed down my choices. For caliber, I am leaning towards a 375 but figure I should also consider the 416, right?

Here are my two choices for a rifle:

Ruger M77 Hawkeye African: This is my top choice for two reasons. First is the price. It's almost $400 less than the Winchester. Second, I really like the feel of the Ruger rifles. My gun shop didn't have an African model but the standard M77 was a good fit for me and I really liked the way the action felt on it. Plus, I really like the looks and short barrel. But I have one hang up with the Rugers, ammo availability. For factory ammo, the choices are limited. However, I would really would like to get into reloading so maybe that won't be as much of an issue? The money I save with the Ruger could go a long way towards reloading equipment!

Winchester M70 Safari Express: This to me seems like a very solid choice but is the cost over the Ruger really worth it? It's a bit out of my budget but I'd be wiling to wait a bit save some more if need be. I tried out an M70 in .30-06 and it felt like a very good rifle. (One thing with this is that the .458 Winchester Mag is the same price and I am tempted to go all Dirty Harry here and go for the biggest gun I can get!)


Others on my list were the CZ-550 and Browning X-Bolt. The CZ-550 is OK but I put that low on my list because I wanted a barrel band sling point, it's heavier than the rest, and I haven't had a chance to see a CZ rifle in person yet. I really liked the action of the Browning X-Bolt (at least the .308 I tried was real nice). But the x-bolt in my price range that the gun shop gave me quote on didn't have iron sights so that's a deal breaker for me.

Please cast your vote and given what found on forum searches I am sure I'll get a wide variety of opinions! :)
 

colorado

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Of your choices I chose the M70 in 375 H&H. First for the cartridge, the 375 H&H has been around for a century and will probably be around for another. It's designed to feed and extract easily, be easy to reload for and ammo is available almost everywhere. Second, the Ruger is a good rifle for the price but the M70 is simply a better gun. As for the CZ 550, it comes into it's own with larger heavier kicking cartridges like the 450 Rigby, 500 Jeffery and 505 Gibbs. You'll appreciate the extra weight then.
 

Red Leg

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With Colorado on this one. Were I buying a first DG rifle, it would be either the .375 H&H or the .375 Ruger. I prefer the H&H, but no animal can tell the difference on the receiving end. Of the two rifles, I much prefer the new production Winchester. I owned a Hawkeye for a while and ended up getting rid of it. It's ergonomics are fine, it is reliable, but I just think it looks like the bargain priced weapon that it is.
 

shuter

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I have a Winchester M70 Safari Express in .375 H&H. Also have Rugers. Price difference is minor compared to any hunt; much less a Safari in Africa. As much as I think of Rugers, the answer to your questions is cut and dried: M70 Safari Express in the classic H&H caliber all day long.
 

LivingTheDream

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I have 2 in 416 ruger. The Alaskan and now the guide gun. I really like the cartridge and have great results at the range. So far I have had no problems getting ammo. I think the african has a muzzle brake which I am not a fan of. You can't go wrong with the M70 though.
 

jduckhunter

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brushmore buy the Hawkeye in 375 Ruger and then come hangout with me and the boy for a couple of days. We'll teach you how to load for it and take you to the range to see what she will do.
 

thi9elsp

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I have the CZ 550 in 375. I don't believe they use the barrel band sling point until you get to the 404 Jeff and higher. Since this was my first big caliber I liked the idea of the extra weight. And, frankly, it is as nice or nicer to shoot than my Browning Stainless 30-06.

I've only been DG hunting once for buffalo. I found after the first stalk, I removed my sling - too much noise. I carried the gun over my shoulder holding on to the barrel. It was quite comfortable.
 

Witold Krzyżanowski

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My suggestion M70 or CZ550. My favorite and best calibres are 9,3 x 62 and 404Jeffery.
Witold
 

CAustin

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Brushmore as it is well documented on this site I like the Ruger products. I have the compact M77 in 308, the model #1 in 300 win mag and now also 458 Lott, and the M77 Guide Gun in 416 Ruger. I love the Guide Gun and have taken dangerous game, lioness and Cape buffalo, with no issues. I plan to use it later this year on Elephant and will take the 458 Lott as the backup rifle. I plan to take 4 of the big five with the guide gun so you might say I'm sold on the rifle.
 

buchnerl

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@brushmore the bug has bitten, and there is no antidote! Glad to see you are planning ahead my friend, we have a deal and will surely see you one of these days.

Keep going, I like them Big DG Rifles!!!
 

ActionBob

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Brushmore lots of good advise. I own several of your considerations including both versions of the 375's and a 416 Rem mag as well 2 Ruger RSM's in 416 Rigby (not one of your choices), and one in 375 H&H, so I feel I must add my 2 cents worth.

To answer your specific questions to my best ability without the below mentioned factors, the M70 in 375 H&H is the clear choice.

If your on a budget and think you may want to hunt Alaska or parts of Canada with the same gun, that is the only reason I would consider the Ruger over the Model 70 personally. And I would go with the Guide Gun or a laminated and stainless version to stand up against salt water and just wet miserable weather. Or like Charlie if your really that big a Ruger fan, go for it! Now your comments on fit may trump my following points on the M70, but M70 Safari Express models are certainly out there in enough numbers that you should be able to find one to check fit.

If you do decide on the Ruger, try your best to take up @jduckhunter on his offer and then buy reloading equipment. I would want more options on ammo. However I cannot argue with the success @CAustin has had with factory Hornady loads.... However if you want to use the gun on PG, I'm going to recommend the 375 for flatter ballistics and less overkill. I will begin working with Factory Hornady Superformance loads with GMX bullets in 375 Ruger for an eventual brown bear hunt.. With my wife's little Ruger Guide gun... Just because all the rest of my guns are too pretty to subject to the Alaska Coastal Regions.. Although I would take my M&0 375 H&H if I had to, but take oil and cleaning supplies dry her down tuck her away each evening!

Now the reasons you should buy a M70! It looks better! It has the classy wood, shape and feel of a classic bolt gun and African rifle. The action is smooth as butter. The calibers are classic, solid performers, and available everywhere! The M70 has a longer barrel and is accurate to the point of being a tack driver in 375 and 416, if you do your part.. Not to take away from Ruger, the 375 Ruger is designed to compare ballisticly with a 20" barrel to the H&H in a 24". It is most likely that a M70 will arrive working perfectly, and it is just as likely that a new Ruger will need some break in time, at best. And at worst will need to be sent back for work... Which Ruger will perform timely and happily!

Winchesters come out of the factory working, but on any new gun.. Do yourself the favor of checking screw tightness and sight alignment. If you like stiff actions, the new Rugers might be for you.. If you like buttery silky smooth, the M70 excels.

As for the Browning, forget it. And CZ has lots of fans but to get a nice one you need the custom shop model w/barrel band, etc. And then you will likely need to send it back to have the action re-worked/fixed... Then it will be a good gun albeit a bit heavy. In a 375, you don't need that weight. Even a 416... I love the extra weight in my 505 Gibbs, and very likely would want it in a 458 Lott.... If you want to go "Dirty Harry", you need a Lott as a minimum! Skip that 458 Win Mag or use it as a stepping stone then spend the money to convert it.

I have had issues getting a scope on paper with some Rugers and their proprietary mounts... You will likely want a set of Alaska or other QD mounts/Rings... On a model 70 you can go with nice common simple Warne mounts and QD Rings. The M70 system is more standardized and flexible.

Calibers; Forget the 458 if you want it to flexible for PG... Of course the H&H as well as Rem Mag are much more available everywhere than the Rugers... The ultimate for available factory ammo (of these choices) is of course the 375 H&H. And you can get 350 grain bullets for heavy hitting on big critters, and down to 235 grain. For the most flexibility and best ballistics, stick to the 375's... Those are both great PG cartriges... The Hornady 250 grain GMX is one I have not tried but plan to! I love the 270 grain for PG and expect the 250 be just a bit flatter and the GMX to penetrate a bit further and mushroom less but more consistently.

If your going to do lots of DG, the 416 is a great alternative that still shoots flat enough for some PG use. Of course you can talk to @matt85 who is the reloading, load customizing, big bore fanatic of all time! And he will fill you full of 416 rem mag info!

But my vote in the M70 375 H&H.. .I think I have shot more critters with mine in Africa than all the rest of my guns combined.
 

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I have a Winch 70 Safari Express 416RM scoped with Leupold VX3 1.5-5x24 (very good eyerelief) : 400grs (V0 2400fps) & 300grs for plain games (V0 2887fps)
Reliable, accuracy, well balanced. Perfect .. for me.
Just before this rifle, I owned the same but cal .375H&H. With 400 & 300grs, 416Rm is "all round" ... 416 Rm is cheaper than 416 Rigby and available all over the world.
But ... used the ammo with which you are the most comfortable and accurate !
 

Bullthrower338

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Brushmore,
I voted the M70 375 just for the cartridge, although be warned that is just a gateway drug into a spiral down to an empty wallet. You will have a 416 shortly after your 375 quits giving you that feeling you got at your first trigger squeeze. You will eventually wonder if you are missing something not having a Ruger short mag and you will sneak one into the house. You will find yourself late at night after your wife goes to sleep, ordering brass and large diameter bullets off the internet. When she asks where all the money is going you will lie to her and tell her you have another woman on the other side of town.
So buy a 375 H&H my friend! Big Bore Addiction Group awaits your arrival.
Cheers,
Cody
 

Ado

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Your first DG rifle - that's easy, a 375.

M70, Ruger or CZ550?

I would recommend the CZ550. Two things to say here: I have had four new CZ550's and none have ever needed any work on the action. they have worked flawlessly and are built tough and well. I have not owned the Ruger or M70, so really it's just what I know works.

Finally I would ask yourself which one has the largest magazine capacity? It is DG you are going after!!!

Just my 2c worth...

Ado
 

rookhawk

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How about a nice vintage pre-64 Winchester model 70 in 375 or 458, or a customized one? What about a custom magnum Mauser?

I'm thinking a $4000-$10,000 high quality gun in replacement cost dollars, but purchased used in great shape for the exact kind of money you're thinking of spending on a new gun?

The world is full of $12,000 DG rifles built for Africa, used once or twice, and then sold by somebody's heirs for reasonable money.

Hunting for a great gun at a good price is part of the fun!
 

Boela

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My vote: Mod 70 375H&H all day long!
 

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If you're looking for a rifle that will be specific to DG, then i would look at 416RM and 458WM.
I dont think it is necessary to include the 458lott as a first time DG rifle/owner.
The 500gr in the 458WM will be fine as a dedicated first time DG caliber.
Remember, once you start shooting the bigger bores, you will want more so leave room to expand that safe! thats when you can look at the 458Lott and the rest of his friends!

My personal preference would be the Winchester's, i have handled the Ruger's (I think it was the guide gun not the Hawkeye African) and they are ok, not as smooth as the Winchester brand new, but you will also not be bringing a brand new unfired rifle on your hunt so either of them will be fine.
Pick the one you prefer and get it working smooth.
I went with 416 Rigby as my first "big gun" after shooting a 375H&H a bit and feeling i wanted a bit more "oomph". i have other rifles for PG so this was dedicated to bigger game.

The question that brings in more variables is if you intend to use this rifle for PG as well, then it is fairly simple, the 375 is the caliber you should settle on. it will also be easier to shoot than the 416 or 458 if you are not used to big guns.
I would stick with a 7mm-8mm for PG and a 375-404-416 for DG. you will be able to use any of the bigger calibers up to the 416 for PG if the need arises.

I think ammo selection this side of the pond is getting better, the ruger ammo is still a little harder to come by but i am sure that will improve and if you are booking your hunt 6months to a year ahead of your trip, i would be fairly certain that your ph or his friends would be able to keep their eyes and ears open for some ammo should there be any problem with yours not arriving.
 

William W.

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CZ 550 in 375 H&H. You can smooth the action by repeatedly cycling the bolt with generous applications of J-B Bore Cleaner, followed by a thorough cleaning and oiling. My do-it-yourself scope sunshade "adjustment" to retain use of the nice iron sights with the Warne removable scope mounts is shown.
image.jpg
 

Wheels

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No place to vote for the 404J!

 

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