MOZAMBIQUE: Buffalo Hunting With Craig Boddington In Mozambique

Travis2282

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Red leg would love to hear a few stories about your paradox guns!
 

BigBore

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Yes that is Tony Makris. He has hunted with the same outfit I just wrote about and where Craig shot his 100th buffalo. I don't know Tony Makris personally but I like his show. We do have a mutual acquaintance Bill Jones who lives about an hour from me. He let me handle all of his famous rifles including the Hemingway 577 that Tony Makris used in one of the shows. Bill Jones has hunted the same outfit too.

Craig has not only shot 100 buffalo, he's been to Africa 140 times and shot over 420 different species world wide. That's going to be a hard record to break.

I have to say the Zambeze Delta Safaris is one heck of an outfit. A bit expensive but you get what you pay for. The only thing about hunting there is a buffalo hunt is a one day deal. So you end up shooting a bunch of other game which is extremely abundant. I shot my 2 buffalo in the swamp in one day and Craig took one of his on the same day. I had many other opportunities to shoot more buffalo in the forest too, but had already exceeded my budget. Anyone wanting a sure thing on buffalo and maybe multiple buffalo on the same trip then ZDS is your ticket.

I was fortunate to be invited to sit at one of Craig's tables in Dallas went he got the Weatherby award last month. I'm also fortunate to be going on another hunt with him in a few month.
 

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BigBore

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The Sabatti rifles have to be the best deal in a double rifle you can get. Ever since IFG took over the importation of them, they have taken off with top quality doubles. Unfortunately IFG has stopped importing the plain big five rifles except for special order. But they are focusing on the more expensive and fancier version EDL which is basically the same gun but with Flux side plates that are engraved, a higher grade of walnut stock and finer cut checkering. Most people don't know this but you can order a new Sabatti with spare barrels in other calibers or shotgun barrels. I also own a double 9.3X74R with a spare set of 20 gauge barrels. But the spare barrels have to be ordered at the same time as the rifle. There are only a few new Big Five rifles in circulation for sale going for around $5,000, the EDL version sells for about $7,000. I own a 500 NE, a 450/400 3" in the Big Five and 9.3X74R in the smaller frame. All shoot exceptional well. the 450/400 and the 9.3 guns with scopes on them can easily be used out to 150 yards or more. Craig used his 9.3 out to a think 175 yards. Most people don't know that Sabatti use to make the Remington Pro Bore shot guns at one time they also made shotguns for Holland & Holland.
 

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The Sabatti rifles have to be the best deal in a double rifle you can get. Ever since IFG took over the importation of them, they have taken off with top quality doubles. Unfortunately IFG has stopped importing the plain big five rifles except for special order. But they are focusing on the more expensive and fancier version EDL which is basically the same gun but with Flux side plates that are engraved, a higher grade of walnut stock and finer cut checkering. Most people don't know this but you can order a new Sabatti with spare barrels in other calibers or shotgun barrels. I also own a double 9.3X74R with a spare set of 20 gauge barrels. But the spare barrels have to be ordered at the same time as the rifle. There are only a few new Big Five rifles in circulation for sale going for around $5,000, the EDL version sells for about $7,000. I own a 500 NE, a 450/400 3" in the Big Five and 9.3X74R in the smaller frame. All shoot exceptional well. the 450/400 and the 9.3 guns with scopes on them can easily be used out to 150 yards or more. Craig used his 9.3 out to a think 175 yards. Most people don't know that Sabatti use to make the Remington Pro Bore shot guns at one time they also made shotguns for Holland & Holland.
They seem to have finally worked through most of the accuracy issues on these guns. Time will tell with regard to durability. I own and shoot a few English guns and rifles. Holland & Holland builds approximately eighty guns a year. Which were built by Sabatti?
 

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I was aware that Grulla built many of the William Evans doubles and Schultz and Larsen built their bolt rifles, but this is the first I have heard of Sabatti building Hollands!
 

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When I visited the Sabatti factory last year, Mr. Sabatti took me in to their firearm collection room where they had guns they had made over the centuries. He handed me one on the Holland & Holland shotguns they had made that was in his collection. He said the hand engraving work alone was worth over $40k. They don't publicize that fact but if you get invited to tour their factory, they will show you the guns. So I'm giving you this information first hand because I held the gun in my hands. I know they are not currently making them for Holland & Holland and I forgot how old the gun was that I was holding. My best guess is the gun was 40 years old.
 

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All of H&H's bespoke guns - which are all of their current production - are made to order in house. They flirted with an off the shelf game gun off and on in the 80's (when all the British gunmakers were struggling) which primarily were built by the trade (read Birmingham) on a boxlock action. It may be they sourced some actions or barreled actions from Sabatti during that time as well. However, these would have been, at least by H&H's standards, working guns - and there were very few produced. For instance, they produced an OU for a few years which was "finished" in London. Those actions and barrels were procured elsewhere - perhaps Sabatti? They sold in the 12k range at a time when a bespoke gun was well over 60k (now north of a 100k). All first quality H&H guns were and are made in house.

All that said, Sabbati has produced some very fine sidelock doubles on both the H&H and Purdey Beesley actions - I believe their best guns are now essentially a copy of the Royal action. But those upper end guns were not produced for either H&H or Purdey. They have been marketed by Sabatti touting their respective actions as do other makers using those designs.

Sabatti is an interesting company. They have been around essentially as long as Beretta. They have the ability to turn out mass-produced guns which compete at the very lowest price point. Their basic double rifle is a good example. At the same time, they are capable of producing works of the gun-maker's art which compete with some of the best Italian makers - such as Famars - who is a truly world class maker. Of course a Famar's double rifle will be a whole different investment proposition than the Sabatti.

Great that you had the opportunity to visit their production facility. And I am really glad to hear that their double rifle seems to have moved past its teething problems.
 
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BigBore

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Yes, the Sabatti Holland & Holland deal was not long lived and I don't believe they produced many guns for for them. But the shotgun I handled was a true side lock. I have a picture I took of it some where but it's a bit blurry because the room was not well lite. All I can state for a fact is that Mr. Sabatti handed me a shotgun that he said his company made for H&H and it appeared to be authentic. As I recall he said they didn't make very many and did not indicate why the deal ended. But it is rather common in Italy for one company to make guns for another. I also saw Lyman muzzle loaders being build in the Pedersoli factory, I saw Babby Desert Eagles being made in the Tanfogilo factory and I saw F.A.I.R. making receivers for Perazzi. So it's a rather common practice. I watched the barrel hammer forge in action in the Sabatti factory, it was rather amazing. I'm no expert in double rifles but Craig Boddington certainly is. He now owns 2 Sabatti's. He did choose to use my Sabatti 450/400 to take his 100th buffalo so that certainly says some thing about his confidence with the gun. Especially sense Sabatti is not one of his sponsors. Craig did say that all the Sabatti's he shot (5 that I know of), shot as well or better than any other double rifle he shot. Mike Scoby formally of Petersen's Hunting owns a Sabstti 500 NE that he used on Elephant in 2017 and loved the rifle too. Unless you're into just spending a huge sum of money for a rifle, the Sabatti double rifles are just as good or better than any on the market. Just because they are relatively inexpensive doesn't mean they are cheaply built. He planned on writing an article about the hunt but apparently writing about shooting Elephants was not politically correct in 2017.
 

Red Leg

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I appreciate your loyalty to their product. However, I doubt if you will find very many double gun users who would agree they are as "good or better" than any on the market. And that really isn't a knock on the rifle, it merely acknowledges its attributes. In production grade guns, I would prefer and trust a K-gun, Verney Carron, Merkel, Blaser S2, etc. more than a Sabatti. In best guns, the Rigby Rising bite, Holland Royal, Purdey, Hartman & Weiss, to name just the most celebrated are like comparing Lamborghini's to VWs - they are both transportation. I think Sabatti has done a great service to 21st century hunters in creating an affordable double. However, lets not forget they were attempting to re-regulate the early production runs with a dremel tool.

I have a lot of respect for Craig's work. I certainly respect his opinion on many subjects about our sport. However, I suspect there are quite a few members of this site with at least as much time as he behind the stocks of fine double guns - rifles and shotguns.
 

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. . .I really don't know Craig, have only met him a few times, but his business plan has not been quite so successful.

General, that has to the understatement of the day!
 

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I'm sure many have more experience than me with a larger number of different manufacturers. I know the fit and finish on the high end guns can't compare either. But I have shot dozens of Sabatti's and they are fine guns. The people that I know that have new Sabatti's and other makes of doubles all share the same opinion. So I'm writing about my own experience and first hand experience being directly relayed back to me by owners of Sabatti's. It is a fact that 8 or 10 years ago some one dremiled a hand full of them in a hurry to meet production demands. But I don't think management was behind that. I honestly believe the pressure was on the few people who were regulating them and they made unauthorized short cuts. But although Cabalas left the buyers out to dry. IFG who took over the line, fixed ever one of the problem rifles asked of them. But that was years ago. Craig has published several articles about the new Sabatti's, he has reviewed then in Petersen's Hunting last year and like them so much that he bought one of the test rifles. When a left handed 450 became available this past year he bought that too. He has a new article coming out in Sports Afield in a few months where re reviews affordable doubles and I believe he said he spoke favorably about them in the same class as other doubles in the $10k to $15k range. I bought my first Sabatti double from Cabalas and it was one of the guns that had the ground muzzle and the fifty yard group was 10". When I called Cabalas for help they basically told me tough luck and wouldn't help. But I got in touch with the imported and sent the rifle back. 6 months latter I got the rifle back and it shoots 2 1/2" groups. When IFG took them over I added 2 more to my collection and they shoot terrific. Last year I got to tour the Sabatti factory and spend some time with Mr. Sabatti including hunting with him. I'm 63 and have my own private range at home where I shoot every week all types of guns. I may not be an expert on double rifles, but I certainly consider myself an expert on firearms and I know a good gun when I shoot one. I'm just trying to say that if you are in the market for a double and your budget is below $15k then it's my opinion can't do better than the new Sabatti EDL for around $7k. In fact you may have a hard time finding one because they sell out about as fast as they come in. I'm willing to bet the price is going to continue to rise on them soon too.
 

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Well I'm 65, and I have my own range at home where I shoot every week - all types of guns. Been shooting one thing or the other for a while.

Look I think we are probably closer to agreement than we might seem to be. If we limit our discussion, as you note above, to under $15k - not what I understood from your previous post - then I am happy to put the Sabatti into the mix. Your opinion is as good as mine - I'll not trot out my list of gun writer and TV dudes who agree with me, if you will allow that I can be permitted to not be particularly overawed what Craig may think about the gun.

So, if I had 15k to spend, I personally would purchase a Krieghoff, Verney Carron, used Blaser S2 (no longer in production), Merkel or Heym before I purchased a Sabatti (assuming I could find the Merkel or Heym at that price point). None of that says that the Sabatti is crap. If I had 8k to spend, I likely would buy a Sabatti (though I would be looking really hard for a lightly used VC in that price range). It is an excellent value for that money. But an excellent value at that price does not make just "as good or better" than rifles produced by other established double rifle makers which cost twice as much.

Perhaps an analogy would be the Mossberg 930. It is a robust dependable shotgun. From a quality perspective it probably isn't a Benelli Super Black Eagle. But it isn't trying to be.

And you and I can both absolutely agree that the Zambezi Delta is an incredible place to hunt buffalo!
 
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Craig shot a buffalo the first day in the sand forest with his double 9.3X74R.

Would you happen to know what ammo Craig was using in his 9.3?
 

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Yes to my surprise Craig used Hornady DG ammo but in the 9.3 it comes loaded with a Interlock bullet. One shot is all it took and showed me the recovered bullet which appeared to retain about 70% of it's weight. I did not expect it do that well.
 

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Congrats on your nice trophies!
 

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Well I'm 65, and I have my own range at home where I shoot every week - all types of guns. Been shooting one thing or the other for a while.

Look I think we are probably closer to agreement than we might seem to be. If we limit our discussion, as you note above, to under $15k - not what I understood from your previous post - then I am happy to put the Sabatti into the mix. Your opinion is as good as mine - I'll not trot out my list of gun writer and TV dudes who agree with me, if you will allow that I can be permitted to not be particularly overawed what Craig may think about the gun.

So, if I had 15k to spend, I personally would purchase a Krieghoff, Verney Carron, used Blaser S2 (no longer in production), Merkel or Heym before I purchased a Sabatti (assuming I could find the Merkel or Heym at that price point). None of that says that the Sabatti is crap. If I had 8k to spend, I likely would buy a Sabatti (though I would be looking really hard for a lightly used VC in that price range). It is an excellent value for that money. But an excellent value at that price does not make just "as good or better" than rifles produced by other established double rifle makers which cost twice as much.

Perhaps an analogy would be the Mossberg 930. It is a robust dependable shotgun. From a quality perspective it probably isn't a Benelli Super Black Eagle. But it isn't trying to be.

And you and I can both absolutely agree that the Zambezi Delta is an incredible place to hunt buffalo!
I certainly would not go as far as saying owning a Sabatti is like owning a Mossberg. I own a Benelli and I have shot Mossbergs. I guess you will need to own or shoot a Sabatti to understand them. They look good, they feel good, they hit to point of aim and they are very reliable. I can't say that about a Mossberg. Sabatti will guarantee a minimum of 2 1/2" groups at 50 yards. Most do much better, I don't think any other manufacturer in a starter class will guarantee that. Sabatti doesn't sponsor Craig so he has nothing to gain by writing about the gun. It's his honest opinion. He is simply amazed they can put out such a high quality rifle so inexpensive. Sabatti's main market is Europe where small bore double guns are common and they build thousands of them with a seller reputation. They also build combo rifle/shotguns and sxs and o/u shotguns. They have been making guns longer than we have been a country. They are not the new guy on the block on the world stag. I have fired many hundereds of rounds in Sabatti doubles, they function flawlessly, they hit to point of aim and group well. I don't know what else you expect a rifle to do. I guess a better comparison is would you be happy with a CZ 550 magnum rifle or do you have to have a Dakota. I buy the CZ and use the money I save to go on another hunt.
 

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Yes to my surprise Craig used Hornady DG ammo but in the 9.3 it comes loaded with a Interlock bullet. One shot is all it took and showed me the recovered bullet which appeared to retain about 70% of it's weight. I did not expect it do that well.

My outfitter in Oz who apart from being a PH is a gun nut (man after my own heart) spoke highly about 9.3 for Water Buffalo. When I hunted with him he had several guns available for use by the clients including two Merkel doubles, one in 470N.E. and the other in 9.3x74R with a reflex sight. His wife who is also a hunter had a lovely custom 9.3x62. He also had some 375H&H and 458 rifles in the cabinet and personally carried a 500NE double but reckoned that the 9.3 did most of the buff shooting. I would illogically feel under gunned with my 9.3 against buffalo but it is clear the experienced fellas don’t mind it and prove it is perfectly adequate. I know 9.3 was quite popular in parts of Africa where Germans were present, but obviously availability was an important factor. 9.3s are quite popular in Europe and for good reason but we do not hunt buffalo here.
 

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My outfitter in Oz who apart from being a PH is a gun nut (man after my own heart) spoke highly about 9.3 for Water Buffalo. When I hunted with him he had several guns available for use by the clients including two Merkel doubles, one in 470N.E. and the other in 9.3x74R with a reflex sight. His wife who is also a hunter had a lovely custom 9.3x62. He also had some 375H&H and 458 rifles in the cabinet and personally carried a 500NE double but reckoned that the 9.3 did most of the buff shooting. I would illogically feel under gunned with my 9.3 against buffalo but it is clear the experienced fellas don’t mind it and prove it is perfectly adequate. I know 9.3 was quite popular in parts of Africa where Germans were present, but obviously availability was an important factor. 9.3s are quite popular in Europe and for good reason but we do not hunt buffalo here.
In my opinion the 9.3 is a bit light for buffalo except in an experts hands like Craig. He certainly made it work with one shot. He used the Hornady Interlock 286 gr bullet. But I have only shot 5 buffalo, 2 with a 375 H&H, one with a 460 Weatherby, one with a 416 Rigby and one with the 450/400. For me I felt the most comfortable Rigby. But in the big heards the PH's are worried about through penetration so they perfected softs with the 375 or the 450/400. All 5 buffalo I shot where hit at least partially through the heart so all the guns worked for me. The 460 was just way more than you need, the 375 certainly worked good but that 416 was manageable and dramatic.
I usually use my hand loaded ammunition. In this trip I used 300 gr swift A-frames in my 375 and Hornady DGX in my 450/400. All worked great but I really like Barnes in certain circumstances. I did not expect the Hornady 9.3 Interlock to work so well for Craig. So I was surprised. The new Hornady DGX bonded bullets seem to do very well at double rifle velocities. Two other hunters had borrowed my Sabatti 450/400 on this trip and that rifle accounted for a total of 5 buffalo with Hornady 400gr DGX bullets. So we are satisfied the a Sabatti double in 450/400 3" makes for a good buffalo gun.
 

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