Is there a sweet spot in the performance/cost spectrum for safari-grade rifles

Matt_WY

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I'm less concerned about the specific cartridge choice at this point (though I'm leaning towards 375H&H) and more concerned about selecting a make of rifle to acquire. Need something that I can count on as a reliable hunting rifle, including for dangerous game (though I probably won't ever use it on an elephant).

After perusing this forum (including the experiences from Zimbabwe PH exams post), reading other places, receiving input from my PH, etc:

Win Model 70: not favorable review in the Zimbabwe PH exams; my PH recommended against it

Sako: seem like quality rifles, but not truly CRF from what I understand

CZ: seem widely recommended, though lots of people have work done on them

Rugers: seem to be mostly chambered for the various Ruger calibers; I'm never been particularly please with the accuracy of any of my (several) Ruger rifles

Montana: getting up there in price; not chambered in desired calibers

Kimber: having a hard time finding many reviews/experience with this one; I have no experience with their rifles, but I wouldn't rest my life on one of their 1911s

Dakota: way out of price range

Remington: Trying to stay away from push-feeds​

I can't justify spending 10k on a rifle. Was hoping to stay under 2k. I do realize that you get what you pay for and I am not expecting a masterpiece, but I think it's reasonable to expect a rifle that will not fail (even under stressful/adverse conditions) and is reasonably accurate.

Also, lots of us (myself included!) have experience with one or two rifles of our own for some of these models. That's helpful, but I'd hugely value input from PH's, gunsmiths, and other folks who have seen LOTS of EACH make of rifle, when and how they fail, etc.

What's a working stiff to do?
 

ChrisG

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Rugers are actually pretty good, but need to be glass bedded. My M77 MkII in 6.5x55 would shoot better than 2.5MOA until I glass bedded it. Now it puts almost any load into 1 MOA or better.

I know that the Winchester didn't come off so well in Don Heath's review, but you have to understand that he is reviewing them as a professional hunters rifle. VERY different from what a client needs. My guns don't get beat 1/100th as bad as a PH rifle probably does... nor do I pound them with minimal cleaning through as season of hunting and then need them to stop an elephant at 6 yards. The several that I have had (1 of which was a push feed, super reliable and slick as snot) have been fantastic.

I just got a New Haven in .300 Win mag CRF and I had a push feed .375 H&H and a I have a Safari CRF .375 H&H. My .416 Ruger in the Hawkeye African is nothing to scoff at either. CZ's almost universally come from the factory feeling like they dumped a truckload of sand in the action. If you get a smooth one, and they are rare, all the better. They are robust and reliable as the tide when they are smoothed out and tuned. My little 527 even came like that so I sat down with it at night and cycled it over and over and it is smooth as silk now.

I have never owned a Sako but that is because I like the look and function of the big mauser extractor.

Also, you will NEVER EVER regret buying a .375 whether it is an H&H or a Ruger. They are accurate, recoil is fairly mild and ammo and components are available anywhere there is oxygen in the atmosphere and for a decent price. They reach out to 300 yards just as well as they are a sledgehammer on critters in close. It has been repeated ad nauseam, but the .375s really are THE all-around rifle for hunting the world over.
 

TTundra

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I'm a working stiff. Brought a model 700 in 300 Win on both my PG hunts. I did upgrade the barrel and trigger.

Have a Buffalo hunt in 2020 which I will be using my CZ550 in 416 Rigby... I do abide by the CRF for DG 'rule of thumb'.

I don't think you can go wrong with either a 550, 70 (CRF model), or Ruger, and abide by a 'working mans' budget.
 

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If you look in the used rifle market, you may find a jewel. Some of these may fit your need, they are all crf. In no particular order:

Whitworth

FN made Browning Safari (1960's)

Ruger RSM no longer in production but made in standard calibers

Bruno/CZ

BSA

Model 70 pre64 or newer production. Not the in between years.

Mauser

Mannlicher Shonauer

There are others. These just come to mind off hand.

All the best in your decision.


PS: Pretty good rifle for the dollar right here if it is still available.
https://www.africahunting.com/threads/whitworth-458-winchester-magnum-for-sale-725.45716/
 
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HWL

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Shopping used safari rifles is a minefield.....

Mannlicher-Schoenauers are extremely rare and hard to find in cartridges usefull for african hunting.

Most of the few made .338 Win-Mag, 9,3x64 Brenneke, 10,75x68, and .458 Win-Mag are in the hands of collectors.

Sometimes a 9,3x62 or a 8x68S appeares, but it is not easy to figure out, in what condition they are.

They never were made in .375 H & H or .404 Rimless.

Steyr-Mannlicher came in 8x68S, 9,3x62, 9,3x64 Brenneke, .375 H&H and .458 Win-Mag and Don Heat called they flawlessly!

Mauser 66(S) is a fine rifle, also the Sauer 80/90, and nontheless the Heym Express.

But since 120 years, the best way is, to find a good gunsmith and order a handmade Mauser M98.

https://www.africahunting.com/threads/mauser-98-in-10-75x68.37193/


HWL
 

npm352

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Love my CZ 375. PHs seem to think they are really reliable...good extractor/ejector. Mine works every time all the time. Yes, people do work on them. In my opinion, they shoot fine as is unless you are brainshooting hippos or crocs, then maybe alter for better performance.
 

Edge

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Model 70, purchased new last year in 375 H&H has been perfect out of the box.

Feeds and ejects everything I have put through it, spritzers to flat points from 235 to 300 grains, flawless.
 

sgt_zim

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If you're trying to avoid spending a fortune on your rifle, Ruger would probably be your best bet.

Here's the thing - if you go with a 416 or 458, you don't need to be able to drive tacks from 300 yards. Odds are good that 150 yds will be your longest shot, and probably 100 or less. A cape buffalo has a heart that's probably 6", maybe a little bigger. A big medium that'll hold 2 MOA will get the job done. What kind of groups do you imagine can be had with a 470 NE and iron sights? Granted, it's a much bigger bullet than a 416, but they're both right at 2.5 tons of energy at the muzzle.

Couple questions - are you only bringing one rifle? If you're only bringing one, I'd go with 375, Ruger or H&H. Especially with the Ruger shooting 250 gr bullets, the ballistics are about the same as a 338 WM with 250 gr bullets. But even the 300 gr bullets will give you a similar trajectory to a 30-06 shooting 180s.

If you're bringing 2 rifles, then that sort of changes the metric. So that's the real question: 1 rifle, 375; 2 rifles, .4xx plus whatever else.
 

curtism1234

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Imo "safari grade rifle" is just code word for "luxurious"

Imo the $400 mossburg 375ruger is going to work just as well as, say, a Sako. It's up to you if you want pushed or controlled (99% of the time it's not going to matter). Other than that aspect, you are really just paying for overall fit and finish. Rarely is there a serious defect in a new rifle that is not brought to light shortly after purchasing it.

If I was to buy a new 375, I would probably buy a Weatherby Vanguard for less than $700 and replace the trigger/safety with a timney. That or a remington 700 or browning xbolt. At least you don't worry have to worry about the scratching the stock. I understand I gave you all pushfed guns though.
 

cagkt3

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I have 2 - 375's. One is a Ruger RSM and the other is a pre-64 Win M70. Love em both. Neither was terribly expensive in my opinion (Under $2k)
 

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I own and have hunted with my 375 Ruger Guide rifle, taking the buffalo in my Avitar. Gun is very accurate and handles like a dream. I love mine. Only issue that always get mentioned is availability of ammo overseas. I ve never had ammo/gun lost on any hunt I ve been on in 35 years of traveling. Yes may have missed getting on my plane but has always showed up on the next flight in. I know of a few members here that own a guide rifle and love theirs too.
 

Don458

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Imo "safari grade rifle" is just code word for "luxurious"

Imo the $400 mossburg 375ruger is going to work just as well as, say, a Sako. It's up to you if you want pushed or controlled (99% of the time it's not going to matter). Other than that aspect, you are really just paying for overall fit and finish. Rarely is there a serious defect in a new rifle that is not brought to light shortly after purchasing it.

If I was to buy a new 375, I would probably buy a Weatherby Vanguard for less than $700 and replace the trigger/safety with a timney. That or a remington 700 or browning xbolt. At least you don't worry have to worry about the scratching the stock. I understand I gave you all pushfed guns though.
My weatherby Vanguard in 30-06 actually has a very good trigger , most people would not want to change it ,As in a hunting rifle it probably has the best trigger available in comparible rifles.
 

BeeMaa

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Matt_WY - I have to recommend CZ for several reasons but I'll start with two.
Price - cost of a CZ550 in 375H&H is about $1200.
Your location is WY - and Wayne at American Hunting Rifles is right over the border in MT.
If you do the rifle and a #1 upgrade with Wayne, you are under your $2K budget.
The #2 upgrade will cost you a little overtime, but it's worth it.
My CZ after a #2 upgrade.
 

WAB

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I have crf M-70’s in .243, 7x57, .375 H&H and .458 Lott. I have never had a malfunction, including many, many days hunting coastal Alaska. They are accurate, reliable and reasonably priced. My buddy shoots an AHR CZ in .458 Lott. Both our Lotts are custom guns. I don’t think there’s a nickels worth of difference between the two and would highly recommend both as valid options.
 

Rick Cox

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My vote was a CZ550 - .375 HH. It just works really well. Never had feed or cranky action issues. It looks good, and oh yeah it shoots. The middle target right side was off sticks @ 100 yes.

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John J

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I have a CZ in 416 Rigby, it feeds just fine. The action isnt absurdly rough, maybe alittle rougher than Rugers I have encountered. Mine may make the trip to Montana one day for a #2 upgrade but it's not imperative. I have a rifle that has been to SSK and there is a difference in the smoothness but for a hunting rifle you should be ripping the bolt open and getting ready to send another. It's more something you notice at home.
 

curtism1234

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My weatherby Vanguard in 30-06 actually has a very good trigger , most people would not want to change it ,As in a hunting rifle it probably has the best trigger available in comparible rifles.

I say Timney trigger for two reasons

1) personal preference - I am not a fan of two stage triggers

2) the safeties on the new production rifles are imo cheap and janky. So much so I think it could be bent rather easily. They used to be more solid before the latest generation of vanguard / howa. The aftermarket timney trigger solves that problem as they provide the same style aftermarket safety built in.

Good solid rifles overall though
 

Matt_WY

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Matt_WY - I have to recommend CZ for several reasons but I'll start with two.
Price - cost of a CZ550 in 375H&H is about $1200.
Your location is WY - and Wayne at American Hunting Rifles is right over the border in MT.
If you do the rifle and a #1 upgrade with Wayne, you are under your $2K budget.
The #2 upgrade will cost you a little overtime, but it's worth it.

MMM...Now that's a very interesting suggestion. need to look into this one more.

Your rifle looks sharp, BTW! Thanks!
 

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