Me and my .458 Lott

chino_cba

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Hello there, this is my first post. I am not the writing type since my command of English language is really bad. This time an official translator is helping me. I bring you here my story about my .458 Lott rifle and a buffalo hunting experience. My dream is to hunt in Africa someday. If you know any magazine or blog editor who would like to upload this story, you are welcome to do so (as long as you name me as the writer). Thank you very much in advance, I hope you like it.

Federico Šprljan






This rifle came into my hands in 1998 when I was a young student of History Professorship at UNC (National University of Córdoba), which building was near to an old friend´s armory that no longer exists nowadays. So, I used to wander over there after classes. In that armory I knew lots of arms I had only seen in mags, and which along with my uncle Carlos could not afford. A Ruger Super RH .44 Mag. revolver, a Brno Stutzen 7x57mm Cal, beautiful, a FMk3, an S&W 629 Cal .44 Mag and many more... Now I can enjoy some of these arms mourning the premature loss of my uncle a year ago. Nevertheless, I can feel his presence by my side every time I shot a new arm at our field. It was a hot afternoon back in 1998 then I met both a .458 Cal Win. Mag. and a .300 Cal H&H 1909 Mauser. I liked that African classic style so I told the armory man that one day I would own one of those. I was not sure which caliber. Years went on and, on my first graduated year as a Police Officer, and having already a fixed income, that armory man tells me he is selling his .458 Win. Mag. He knew about my preference for this rifle. Therefore, I was the first to know about this selling and along with my uncle we bought it halfway. Adjustable rear sight, strap holder on the barrel, straight stock, red butt plate, quite African style. Now owned by me, a regular guy from Córdoba... poor rifle.

That Mauser was my first rifle. Some other came to my hands but they rapidly gone. I had few moments to go hunting and the preys I had unsuccessfully chased did not require a so much powerful 500 GN ammunition.

I knew about the .458 Win. Mag extraction trouble in relation to high temperatures, and its real speed of 1950 ft/s. Relatively lower than the 2100 ft/s said by the Winchester. Currently some reloads can reach 2150 ft/s but I was worried about the extraction difficulties in extreme high African temperatures. By the way I have to make clear I have not been in African soil yet, give me some time guys.

So, in order to solve those troubles beforehand I decided to re-chamber it into a .458 Lott. This cartridge created by Jack Lott was a practical solution for it. I took a

.375 H&H cartridge case and just cut two millimeters. Then I assembled the same .458 cartridge. By doing this I could use the same 500 GN projectile between 2.250 or 2.300 ft/s without having overpressure and ...350 GN at 2.700 ft. It would be an all-around rifle even in Africa. These kinds of modifications had begun with some Brno Zkk 602 rifles in order to cheapen the costs, but when I saw the Matineo brothers from Mendoza had turned a 1909 Mauser into a well-known .416 Rigby for Humberto and as I am stubborn, I wondered...Why not turn it into a .458 Lott?

They did that job in a masterful manner. We waited for the new authorized code (CUIM) from the National Register of Arms (RENAR), and as soon as I could I went with my wife to test it. The shells used were from Hornady factory, 500 GN SP with 2300 ft speed. according to the packaging. The sight was another matter, I wanted one with good eye distance and it had to be strong, with little graduation, so the choice fell on a Leupold VX3 1.5 to 5x20 Heavy duplex crosshair. To be able to make a quick use of the metal sights, they added some Leupold removable rings.

In the torrid afternoon in Cordoba with 98° F in the shade and more than 105°F under the sun I took the first standing shots with rear sight and front sight at 30 meters. I think this kind of V-shaped rear sight is for short distance shots. I considered these shots of acceptable accuracy for the first time. Then I fired five shots at 50 meters with the sight installed using Hornady factory ammunition and two shots with my own reload with Hornady tips of the same weight, fulminating Stopping Power LR MAG and 78 GN of IMR 4046 powder, but now sitting on a bench.

The best is yet to come. My dear friend Javier got me the molds and gas check of Lyman's .458 500 GN. In this way practices are more intense because of the low cost, although my right shoulder doesn't like this very much.

My boy turned two on Friday, I had always thought whom he resembled and why he was so craze. Today his mother confirmed my suspicions as she wanted to try the .458 Lott. Today was the first time I denied her a gun. Even when the rifle kicks a lot, you can control it. It's safer than hunting. You don't even notice it. Anyway, she is just starting out with guns, and although the spirit she has shown I didn't think it was appropriate. The story of the 458, now Lott, it's just beginning. We'll see how it continues.



.458 HUNTING

Sitting in front of my computer my mind does not rest, somewhat confused and uncertain by the ideas that cross my mind, that play with me ... because I remember my .458 Lott rifle, 500 GN... at 2,300 ft... wild water buffaloes... dense bush... field with common wire fence. What happened a week ago was not a good recipe for a neophyte hunter like me. Thinking about that day is different now. I'm home, it's cold and drizzly outside. My wife and son are asleep, it's a good Sunday to rest.

The coffee is hot, but I haven't taken a sip of it. Because I have to make decisions, about what to tell and how to tell this story. I have read a lot about hunting and those "great hunters" in magazines or on the Internet rarely make mistakes “, don't they fail or do they lie? Others are different.

What must the great hunter-writers have thought and felt before, when they sat in front of their Remington typewriters? The great John Taylor, in his masterpiece "Pondoro", or Ernest Hemingway when he told us about his safari in The Green Hills of Africa. I am neither a great hunter nor a great writer, new and incompetent for both tasks.

But more than anyone else I remembered Peter Capstick when he narrates in "Death in the long grass" his first encounter with a lion. So, I decided to write the story as it was, with my mistakes to learn, with some virtues that I still have to look for, but more than anything a story full of friendship, adrenaline, some courage and a lot of anxiety. Where my theories and readings vanished to collide brutally with the deadly stiletto of reality.

Lucas, a young man from Córdoba, owner of some fields in the low mountain’s region of Córdoba, had told us about the problem he was having with some water buffaloes he had brought some time ago. This animal, original from Asia, would be like a younger brother of the Cape African buffalo, just a little smaller according to the books, and capable of being trained and turned out to be nice "fat cows". What happened next showed me that certain popular beliefs are held by people who have never seen one or have experienced realities different than mine. Lucas was already upset about the incidents with these beasts, one had horned a breeding bull and another one had the idea of lifting one of his rural workers when riding a horse, which caused him 40 stitches in one of the poor peon's legs. So, they were not very tame. Eager that my .458 Lott could try his first blood, we arranged with Diego, Javier, Pablo and Julio to go on a Sunday.

Julio works as a guide in South Africa and knows about this stuff. So, he was going to be my guide and Diego the tracker, since he knew quite well the field. I traveled with Julio in my car and grabbed the opportunity to ask him a thousand and one questions. He almost got out of the car in the middle of the road and walked back. But the most important thing he told me was: "when the buffalo sees you, it either runs away or attacks". I prayed that these would be coward buffaloes and have the good habit of running away.

We arrived there at 10 o'clock in the morning. Lucas, Diego, Javier and Pablo were waiting for us. From the first moment Javi offered to make the barbecue and enjoy it in full sun, since the day was beautiful. So, the rest of us got ready to leave on foot, since the area where the buffaloes could be was only five kilometers away from the house, in some ravines where there were two marshlands.

I carried my precious .458 with 500 GN Hornady projectiles, soft tip, which, according to the package and later confirmed by my chronograph, flew at 2,300 f/s. If we make the sum .458+500 GN+2300 feet we get a true flying piano as a friend from Santa Fe wrote once. I mounted a fixed magazine and put a cartridge in the chamber, as I wanted it to look "pretty" in the photos, I placed a leather cartridge-holder in the butt for five more shells.

Just for the photo, I thought. "Are you carrying more, Julio asked? " "More?" I thought to myself. There are nine projectiles and my intention was to hunt only one buffalo. "If I were you, I'd take more," said Julio. There was nowhere to take them. I had mounted a Leupold sight from 1.5 to 5x20 reticle 8 with removable bases of the same brand. It is a sight that allows me a good focal distance to the eye, but the powerful recoil of this rifle had already made me a small cut in the eyebrow in a practice.

We started the hike to the encounter, if the buffalo wanted to, of course. We climbed to the high area of the mountains and tried to see them from a long distance. We calculated that there would be a gap of 1 kilometer between the two marshlands. After three hours of walking in a spine dense mount we were able to see them in the distance, the black moles moved silently among the undergrowth, camouflaging themselves amazingly. At one point I had a chance to shoot at about eighty meters but I gave up because they only offered me a foot shot to the head, and it was a bit difficult because of the bush, it was not my intention to leave one of the beasts wounded. Surely some hunter will say that they would have shot him in the eye, but that's up to them. My situation was different.

Diego and Lucas stayed on top of a hill while Julio and I went down to the marshland where theoretically they had gone. Pablo had returned to the truck to wait for us in the other area of the field where we could go out. Every now and then we turned our heads in Diego's direction in case he gave us a sign. At one moment Diego waved her arms showing us the north. We walked slowly and saw that the male and the two females had laid down under a carob. They had not yet noticed our presence. We were about fifty meters away and walking crouched down, Julio asked me to stop so he could lower his heart rate, the heat seemed greater, as if the sun had neared the earth. We walked ten meters and looked over the bushes to see if they noticed us, so we approached them to 30 meters away. I would wait for his signal, stand up and shoot. He was about to give me the signal when a small swirl of wind changed the air flow and the wind blew at our back so the buffaloes detected us and ran away. I could not believe it, if that airflow had been a few seconds later, I would have had the chance to shoot them, I could not get over my astonishment and my anger. This time they had decided to run away, it seemed right to me. By escaping through the marshland area, it was easier to follow the tracks. After following them for a while, we managed to spot them 200 meters away and I decided to shoot the male since I could see his antlers and part of his body.

The only supporting point I got was a bush, my body was a bit uncomfortable for the shot, but I still decided to do it, I shot and felt the recoil, an astonished Julio told me looking from his binoculars that I had hit 2 meters (yes, 2 meters) above. Without being able to believe what I heard, I loaded again and shot. I hit exactly the same as the previous shot. This meant that I was shooting well but there was something in the sight or mount that made me hit badly, very badly.

I was stunned, but taking the bull by the horns, I quickly removed the optical sight and we moved in to 150 meters. Using the rear sight and front sight, I fired. The male acknowledged receipt. So, we went after him, the idea was to wait a moment and then approach the buffalo. We had to skirt the field because of the terrain's surface we were approaching, small ravines blocked our way, some of them 2 meters high and others even higher.

We went around where the beast probably was. One of these ravines separated us. With a cartridge in the chamber and a full magazine, I approached. I went down the ravine without ever letting my rifle out of my right hand. As soon as I start to climb, I raise my head up the embankment and see the buck lying on his left side and on his elbow, a little high, the impact of the .458. I happily turn my head back and tell Julio what I see, looking back to the front as I hear a noise...there were the females, this time they had not decided to run away. One was five meters away and the other ten meters away and I still did not have a firm footing on the high part since I was climbing the last part of the ravine. And that's when the problems started, the one that was five meters away looks at me and makes a small step towards me. I don't hesitate and shoot her in the head, but as I was not firmly standing the recoil makes me stagger backwards trying to reload. Julio who came further down puts his hand on my back giving me a supporting point and telling me to shoot her again.

I try to shoot her but the other female (the biggest of the 3) decides to come for me. She makes a noise with her mouth and small steps before the onslaught, so I shoot her in the head. The projectile enters a little above her nose, since the buffalo lunges with its head up and then at the last moment it lowers it. The sweating, the tiredness, the wounds caused by the thorns, and... the two females that want to get up, at that moment all my theories fall down, they had received the 500 GN from the 458 Lott at less than ten meters and still they wanted to get up. I load a new cartridge and fire at the neck of both of them. A mosquito would have hurt them more, as they kept moving, I shot each female in the elbow... using my last cartridges. I remain stunned looking how their last breaths of life and struggle expire. I still did not understand what had happened, would it be the will to live that makes them endure so much? Diego comes running and tells us the view from above. The animal's lunge and me shooting them but after falling down they still want to get up again. Finally, everything ends.

It is time for hugs and thanks. To my friends who accompanied and helped me with the .458 project, to God, to my wife and baby, to my uncle Carlos (my hunting patron), and to the faithful Mauser 1909 performance.

The photos, posing, showing a brave face when everything is over. The adrenaline that goes away, has already fulfilled its function, the recoil of the rifle and its noise have gone unnoticed for me. I start to feel cold, more sweat and I lie down on the floor, my blood pressure goes down! A moment lying down and I am fine again, surely many would have omitted that part if it had happened to them, or they would tell how they were calmly shot without even sweating, but I... why would I lie, I was afraid.

Then it was a matter of getting the animals to the area where we could butcher them. We alerted Lucas and he came with the tractor and chainsaws to clear the way. We all set to work to move the buffaloes, butcher them, skin the heads, distribute the meat, clean up, eat the celebration barbecue, remove the thorns we have.

This is how I feel most alive, sore, tired. I return home at two o'clock in the morning, I sleep just a couple of hours when the alarm clock alerts me that I must return to urban reality. I enter my office and while having breakfast a naive and somewhat materialistic workmate asks me what I was doing yesterday, looking at the marks on my hands and arms. Remembering a story by Ambrose Bierce I answer "I was gardening at home".

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PHOENIX PHIL

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Great first story, thanks for taking the time to post it!
 

meigsbucks

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Welcome to AH. Great story.
 

Rell

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Great story and learning experience.

I always carry a full 20 rounds for my double 450-400. Rodeos happen and the weight of a few more rounds don’t hurt much.

A piece of unsolicited advice, get rid of the shell holder on the stock and get a good leather cartridge holder for your belt. The height on the rifle is felt and it can snag or just get in the way. Also faster to reload from the belt.
 

Shootist43

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Chino_cba, thanks for sharing your hunt with us. Things seldom go according to plan. You will learn a lot from this hunt. Have you considered taking your 458 Lott to a gunsmith to make sure the scope is mounted properly? The 458 Lott requires a scope that provides a lot of eye relief (clearance.)
 

Shootist43

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chino_cba, permit me an observation please. Looking at the close up photo of your rifle and scope the front and rear mounts appear to be reversed. What I'm trying to say is that the back of the scope looks much higher than the front. It may just be the camera angle. To check it out, put the rifle into some kind of rest or a very steady supported position on sand bags then simply remove the bolt completely from the rifle and look directly through the bore at a "target" 10 or 15 meters away from you. Lift your head and look through the scope The cross hairs should be centered on the "target" you saw through the bore.
 

Velo Dog

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Hello chino_cba,

Khomas Highland Hunting Safaris of Namibia, welcomes you to the greatest forum on earth.

Best Regards,
Velo Dog.
 

sierraone

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Welcome to our forum @chino_cba . Looking forward to future hunting stories from you.
 

Forrest Halley

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Welcome to the forum and thanks for a very bracing .458 Lott story. I can hear the thunderous cracks of the rifle and feel the earth shaking. It makes one wish to be standing right beside you thundering away at the buffalo.
 

CAustin

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Welcome to AH. I enjoyed your story.
 

Longwalker

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Welcome to AH! Muchas gracias for sharing your good story! With the lessons you learned you will soon be ready to travel to Africa to hunt a different species of buffalo!
 

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NTH wrote on JimT's profile.
Hey Jim, I read that you’re from Dequincey and just returned from Africa. I’m from Lake Charles and went there in April. What outfitter did you use and would you share your experience and pics? I won our trip to Kuche through DU.
gprippers wrote on SAFARIKIDD's profile.
Hello! Nice rifle! I have IDENTICAL rifle in 375 H&H so i was wondering what gunsmith did the work on it? Appreciate it and if you decide there is anything you are willing to take in partial trade, let me know. I have quite a few pistols, long guns and sxs & o/u shotguns as well.

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Nice “meeting” you Rick. I made my first trip to S. Africa this year through Kuche Safaris. We had an incredible time. What outfitter do you use? Neal
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