Pattern for an African Big Game Rifle...

IvW

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Let’s ignore the caliber for a moment. You guys are spot on that 375 is a better all around caliber or even new client caliber.

I’m interested...why do so many suggest a scope on a 50-100yd high recoil rifle? Can most people get a quick short range aimed shot better with sights?....or maybe a red dot?

We are referring to a DG rifle for somebody to bring to Africa not a charge stopping big bore for a PH..I would never scope my 500 Jeff. I do however use a 1-6 X DG scope fitted with QD mounts on my 375 H&H makes it so much more versatile. As mentioned at low power(1x) it would also be faster than open sights for somebody who is not use to using open sights.

If it is cranked up to full power when following up then that person should probably need more practice...you always have the scope on the lowest power setting. Even after the initial shots have been taken and you start the follow up the scope gets cranked down to minimum.

For a visiting hunter the answer is quite simple, the scope is needed for..initial accurate shot placement...you need only one well placed shot to kill any animal.
 

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IvW, you mention more effective ways to reduce recoil than mercury reducers. What do you suggest?
 

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I've just been looking at Edwards recoil reducers, they seem smart. No idea how they work but they don't seem to weigh a lot. I'd be keen to hear people's opinions of what works best too
 

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I've just been looking at Edwards recoil reducers, they seem smart. No idea how they work but they don't seem to weigh a lot. I'd be keen to hear people's opinions of what works best too
Recoil reducers are a bit of a gimmick in my opinion... they do nothing but delay the smack a little and only reduce felt recoil because they weigh so much. The other issue is, unless your gun is already front heavy, balancing it with a reducer in the buttstock is tricky. How are you with general shop and woodworking/ metalworking? I did a lead cast weight for my .416 ruger before I sold it and it slowed recoil some and had to be placed exactly and weigh within a half ounce of 10oz. I don't think 10oz of mercury sloshing around would have done much better except require me to remove more wood and weaken my stock. Plus if you make the weight yourself, you can tailor it. Good luck finding a 9.6oz. Mercury reducer if you needed one
 

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I’m posting this because I wonder if I’m searching for the wrong thing....I’m just wondering what the group consensus is on the ideal big game rifle. I’m thinking Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino, etc. I think these are usually shot 25-75 yards.

My thoughts:
Bolt Rifle
Winchester model 70 type 3 position safety
Slick action; controlled round feed
458 Lott, but 416 rem mag - 505 Gibbs would work
4-5 round magazine
22” barrel
3.5-4.5lb trigger
Hooded barrel band front sight like NECG makes....without anything loose
Island or quarter rib rear sight with 1-2 leaves...1 is likely best, but I wonder if a 100 or 150yd leaf would be nice in addition to a fixed 50yd leaf
Walnut or composite stock; bedded at both recoil lugs; real crossbolts, especially the front one aligned with the action lug
Inlet rear sling stud
Barrel band front sling stud
Mercury recoil reducer installed
Thick recoil pad...ideally leather covered for quick mounting of the rifle

So, I’m a total amateur, what am I missing?
Sights, age plays a big factor also the the immediate area that you are hunting in!
Scope or reflex can quickly be changed for a particular hunt or segment of the hunt and of course simple iron sights should always be available. Always buy the best optics available and make sure that they are properly mounted.
Caliber, personal preference for client .404 J
 

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IvW, you mention more effective ways to reduce recoil than mercury reducers. What do you suggest?

Recoil, there are two types: Actual recoil which is calculated based on the caliber and rifle weight and then perceived or felt recoil.
For some reason bigger folks get hammered harder by the same rifle than smaller folks.

What I would suggest before installing a Mercury recoil reducer.

1. Correct weight for the caliber. A 7lb 375 H&H will recoil more than a 9lb one all else being equal.
2. Balance-the rifle has to be properly balanced.
3. Stock fit-probably one of the most important. Not only will a ill fitting stock cause more perceived recoil but it will also make you shoot bad. Just try hitting flying objects with a shotgun that has a stock that does not fit you. Easy to do when building a custom but not so easy on mass produced rifles that come with standard dimensions.
4. Proper high quality recoil pad.
5. Proper shooting stance-you need to hold a big bore correctly, standing too far back will result in getting shoved back further, creeping the stock will result in a half moon cut above the eye. Takes practice but goes a long way to reducing felt recoil.
6. Trigger pull should be crisp and not too heavy, if you need to hang onto the trigger to fire the rifle the recoil felt will be more due to the anticipation.
7. Caliber, many people just cannot handle the recoil of DG rifles yet they persist. Some caliber designs will increase recoil velocity. 404 Jeff will produce a lot less felt recoil than a 416 Rigby, therefore a 404 Jeff is preferable to anybody wanting a easily shoot able 400 caliber. The effect on the front side is the same and the animal would not know the difference. The shooter will also be able to place his shot better. Many hunters would be better off with a 404 Jeff than a 416 Rigby...
Some cartridges achieve the same velocity with the same bullet but do so at higher chamber pressure, some significantly higher. Again all this means is that you get the same performance on the front side but with greatly increased recoil.

I honestly believe that many visiting hunters(hunting DG), are too obsessed with velocity and trajectory. The old recipe of a heavy for caliber premium bullet travelling at a reasonable velocity and placed in the right spot will kill every time on DG. This velocity being 2100 to 2300 fps with a max of 2400, anything over that is just greatly increased recoil and wasted.

If after all this the person can still not handle the recoil, step down in caliber or try a milder recoiling one. Try a 404 instead of 416 Rigby or WM or go down to 375 H&H with a heavy bullet at 2300 fps.

Last resort should be some or other inertia recoil reducer.

Muzzle brakes are a big no no on a DG rifle.....
 

njc110381

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Recoil reducers are a bit of a gimmick in my opinion... they do nothing but delay the smack a little and only reduce felt recoil because they weigh so much. The other issue is, unless your gun is already front heavy, balancing it with a reducer in the buttstock is tricky. How are you with general shop and woodworking/ metalworking? I did a lead cast weight for my .416 ruger before I sold it and it slowed recoil some and had to be placed exactly and weigh within a half ounce of 10oz. I don't think 10oz of mercury sloshing around would have done much better except require me to remove more wood and weaken my stock. Plus if you make the weight yourself, you can tailor it. Good luck finding a 9.6oz. Mercury reducer if you needed one

I cast my own bullets and have a lathe/drills etc. I was thinking yesterday of doing a silicone cast of the hole in the stock and then making a sand mould to cast an ingot to fit in it. Could be the way to go. I could then cut it into slices so I can add/remove discs of lead to alter the weight and balance.
 

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I cast my own bullets and have a lathe/drills etc. I was thinking yesterday of doing a silicone cast of the hole in the stock and then making a sand mould to cast an ingot to fit in it. Could be the way to go. I could then cut it into slices so I can add/remove discs of lead to alter the weight and balance.
You don't need to go to the trouble of a sand cast with greensand. Just get a piece of copper pipe the appropriate diameter, it doesnt need to be exact to the hole and if it is a brand new rifle, YOU will be the one drilling the hole. If you go this route, dont cheap out with a paddle bit to drill the hole... a good forstner bit is worth its weight in gold. cap the pipe and fill it with lead. Sand casting would be more reserved for things with much higher melting points in my opinion, like copper, iron and steel. The other advantage to the copper is you should be able to calculate the exact dimension you need to fill with lead by determining the weight needed to balance the rifle, then running the calculation based on the density of lead and the internal volume of the pipe.
 
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Hunting Hitman

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I see it a similar way....I may shoot it my whole life at 45-70 level. I doubt that based on my 45-70 and 375 Ruger experiences.

This is also why I want to take caliber out of the conversation. I feel like there is lots to be shared related to the rifle features over caliber.

For example, I find open sights valuable on most hunting rifles. I say this because if my scope goes whacky, I still have open sights to finish the hunt. When traveling to hunt, a broken or just not good enough scope can ruin a hunt. Open sights can get it going again. This is especially true under 150 yds.

I also find hooded front sights valuable for the consistent sight picture and because it protects the sight. My shotgun had the brass bead ripped out! A hood would have stopped that.

I wonder what lop is best....my limiting factor is often based on mounting the rifle over shooting.

Something I forgot to mention is that you will seldom get more than 2 shots at an animal in a follow up or God forbid charge situation. The magazine capacity at 4-5 rounds for a stopping Rifle is really almost beside the point.

I would grab your friends largest caliber gun and attempt to fire 4-5 shots accurately in less than 10 seconds just to give yourself a very modest idea of what your hopping to accomplish. The real thing is much faster and much more intense. I’ve been hunting for over 35 years and I can’t shoot more than 2 shots out of a big bore bolt in less than 5 seconds and keep it in a 3 inch circle at 50 yards. I’m sure many out there are better but I try to be realistic when dangerous game is the prey.
 

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Something I forgot to mention is that you will seldom get more than 2 shots at an animal in a follow up or God forbid charge situation. The magazine capacity at 4-5 rounds for a stopping Rifle is really almost beside the point.

I would grab your friends largest caliber gun and attempt to fire 4-5 shots accurately in less than 10 seconds just to give yourself a very modest idea of what your hopping to accomplish. The real thing is much faster and much more intense. I’ve been hunting for over 35 years and I can’t shoot more than 2 shots out of a big bore bolt in less than 5 seconds and keep it in a 3 inch circle at 50 yards. I’m sure many out there are better but I try to be realistic when dangerous game is the prey.
Exactly.

For that matter, the time tested formula for a really first quality stopping rifle has two barrels, two shots, and a respected maker’s name on the rib.

And such a logical solution for a PH is still normally a pretty bad choice for a typical client after his first buffalo.
 

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.........

Thick recoil pad...ideally leather covered for quick mounting of the rifle

So, I’m a total amateur, what am I missing?

I don't know that you are missing it, but I'll ask: A 375H&H with a 300 gr bullet in a 9 lb rifle generates about 36 lbs of recoil. A 416 Rigby with a 400 grain bullet (to equalize sectional density/penetration a bit, in a 10 lb rifle generates approx. 58 lbs of recoil, and faster recoil than the .375.

Unless you have the holding skill of an experienced PH, if you bring the .416 up just a bit wrong (placement of cheek, position in the pocket, etc.), you may well experience retinal detachment or other injury. If you go big you have to practice a lot, and with both good advice and incrementally-hotter loads. If you start very young, say 21 years-of-age, your chances of avoiding injury are less.

A .458 Lott with an equivalent SD bullet in an 11 lb rifle generates approx. 70 lbs of recoil. Food for thought.
 

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Recoil, there are two types: Actual recoil which is calculated based on the caliber and rifle weight and then perceived or felt recoil.
..............
7. Caliber, many people just cannot handle the recoil of DG rifles yet they persist. Some caliber designs will increase recoil velocity. 404 Jeff will produce a lot less felt recoil than a 416 Rigby, therefore a 404 Jeff is preferable to anybody wanting a easily shoot able 400 caliber. The effect on the front side is the same and the animal would not know the difference. The shooter will also be able to place his shot better. Many hunters would be better off with a 404 Jeff than a 416 Rigby...
Some cartridges achieve the same velocity with the same bullet but do so at higher chamber pressure, some significantly higher. Again all this means is that you get the same performance on the front side but with greatly increased recoil.

...........Try a 404 instead of 416 Rigby or WM or go down to 375 H&H with a heavy bullet at 2300 fps.

Last resort should be some or other inertia recoil reducer.

Muzzle brakes are a big no no on a DG rifle.....


I very much agree about the .404 Jeff. The .416 Rigby generates about 70 lbs of recoil. The .404 Jeff produces approx. 42 lbs with an same-weight rifle and bullet.
 

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But... if you load up the .404 beyond its somewhat anemic traditional velocity, and move it towards the Rigby, which one can do, the big difference isn't there anymore.
 

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But... if you load up the .404 beyond its somewhat anemic traditional velocity, and move it towards the Rigby, which one can do, the big difference isn't there anymore.

That anemic traditional velocity and the 404 killed more DG game than the 416 could ever wish for...

Even if hand loaded to higher velocity it still recoils less. The case design also ensures that recoil velocity remains lower. The 404 Jeff has a more efficient case and although it can be loaded up to 416 R velocity the 416 R does not do so well when loaded down.

The same action will hold one more 404 in the mag when compared to the 416 Rigby.

They are both great cartridges, but the 416 Rigby with full power loads is not for everybody and that is the point.

The 400 calibers are better choices for DG rifles, if you can handle the recoil. If the 416 R cannot be handled the 404 Jeff is a great alternative, if that cannot be handled you are left with the 375 H&H.

In the end it will be each ones own choice but he will have to make sure he can handle the chosen caliber and be proficient with it.
 

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I don't know that you are missing it, but I'll ask: A 375H&H with a 300 gr bullet in a 9 lb rifle generates about 36 lbs of recoil. A 416 Rigby with a 400 grain bullet (to equalize sectional density/penetration a bit, in a 10 lb rifle generates approx. 58 lbs of recoil, and faster recoil than the .375.

Unless you have the holding skill of an experienced PH, if you bring the .416 up just a bit wrong (placement of cheek, position in the pocket, etc.), you may well experience retinal detachment or other injury. If you go big you have to practice a lot, and with both good advice and incrementally-hotter loads. If you start very young, say 21 years-of-age, your chances of avoiding injury are less.

A .458 Lott with an equivalent SD bullet in an 11 lb rifle generates approx. 70 lbs of recoil. Food for thought.

"If you start very young, say 21 year-of-age, your chances of avoiding injury are BETTER." –Typed too fast! Sorry.
 

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If you go big you have to practice a lot, and with both good advice and incrementally-hotter loads.
Regardless of caliber this is good advice...practice, practice, practice.
Our PH told horror stories of clients showing up having never shot the gun they brought and the scope was only bore-sighted.
And to top it off they were usually .40 caliber or better...hello flinch.
The 400 calibers are better choices for DG rifles, if you can handle the recoil. If the 416 R cannot be handled the 404 Jeff is a great alternative, if that cannot be handled you are left with the 375 H&H.

In the end it will be each ones own choice but he will have to make sure he can handle the chosen caliber and be proficient with it.
Personally I have a 375H&H that I shoot comfortably and will be using it on a Cape Buffalo hunt.
Is this ideal...no.
Would I be better with a rimless 400 caliber for a DG hunt...absolutely.
However, I have very little experience with the 400's and as such will be sticking with my little 375.
I'll save the cost of a new rifle and spend it on practice ammo, range time and probably another Safari animal as well.
I will be comfortable and confident with my rifle, scope (with QD mounts) and open sights for the hunt.

"A man's got to know his limitations" Dirty Harry
Gotcha Harry, I know mine.
 

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I think you've got a really nice pattern there , worked out :) . My two favorite actions are the pre 64 Winchester Model 70 action and the BRNO ZKK -602 action ( preferably pre '78 ). Regards to Caliber... I use a .375 HH Magnum ( it's my heaviest rifle , and until l acquired a .350 Rigby Magnum and another .375 HH Magnum , was my only rifle ). My sentiments echo a lot of the others. The .375 HH Magnum is the " Swiss Army Knife " of Rifle calibers in that you can use it for anything. And it will be Versatile. However , like Von S suggested , it can prove a little under powered in some situations. Granted , these situations are at the " extreme " end of a bad day. But they do happen from time to time. I think the article below from Guns Magazine 1959 sums it up nicely. For a Client hunter , a .375 HH Magnum is a very appropriate choice. You are being backed by a PH who usually has anything from a .458 Lott to a .505 Gibbs. Your PH gets you into position for a perfect shot . You take it . Best case scenario , you bag your Elephant or your Cape buffalo.  Worst case scenario , you take the first shot and your PH puts it down ( although , as a responsible hunter this isn't something you should aspire for ). For A PH who's job is either to stop a charging animal or put down a wounded animal , using a .375 HH Magnum as your ONLY back up rifle can be a little ill advised. Mind you. A client shoots undisturbed beasts. A PH shoots charging beasts or running beasts with a lot of adrenaline pumping through them.
This is purely hypothetical , but if someone were hunting DG without a PH to back them up , a .416 Rigby or better yet , a .500 Jeffery , or best of All , a .505 Gibbs Firing 600 grain Cutting Edge Monolithic meplat brass Solids starts looking really good. Especially , when Bull Elephants are on the menu.
PS : Just my two cents , but the .505 Gibbs Magnum doesn't have a KILLER recoil. You definitely get pushed . But stock fit and weight are critical factors which can mitigate recoil easily down to comfortable levels. I speak from personal experience. I have shot a .505 Gibbs Magnum ( but admittedly with the 525 grain bullet and not the 600 grain Monolithic meplat solid ) and found follow up shots not impossible in the least. The owner of that gun has even used it on African Impala . He took an Australian Water Buffalo with it.
 

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Regardless of caliber this is good advice...practice, practice, practice.
Our PH told horror stories of clients showing up having never shot the gun they brought and the scope was only bore-sighted.
And to top it off they were usually .40 caliber or better...hello flinch.

Personally I have a 375H&H that I shoot comfortably and will be using it on a Cape Buffalo hunt.
Is this ideal...no.
Would I be better with a rimless 400 caliber for a DG hunt...absolutely.
However, I have very little experience with the 400's and as such will be sticking with my little 375.
I'll save the cost of a new rifle and spend it on practice ammo, range time and probably another Safari animal as well.
I will be comfortable and confident with my rifle, scope (with QD mounts) and open sights for the hunt.

"A man's got to know his limitations" Dirty Harry
Gotcha Harry, I know mine.
Just so everyone understands who feels like they may be “forced” to use a .375 for whatever reason ...... there are hunters like myself who own other options, in my case a .404, .470 and 500/416, but who prefer the .375. I have used mine and will continue to do so for buffalo because it is, at least for me, a superior choice. Recoil in the three 40’s that I own is a non-issue. But the .375, particularly for me as a client, is simply so versatile, so accurate over range, and so lethal with a proper bullet, that I can find no advantage to lugging along a .40. Sure, I may use one of the others sometime, but it won’t be cause they are “better.”

Rapier or broadsword - give me a rapier every day because I prefer it.
 

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Just so everyone understands who feels like they may be “forced” to use a .375 for whatever reason ...... there are hunters like myself who own other options, in my case a .404, .470 and 500/416, but who prefer the .375. I have used mine and will continue to do so for buffalo because it is, at least for me, a superior choice. Recoil in the three 40’s that I own is a non-issue. But the .375, particularly for me as a client, is simply so versatile, so accurate over range, and so lethal with a proper bullet, that I can find no advantage to lugging along a .40. Sure, I may use one of the others sometime, but it won’t be cause they are “better.”

Rapier or broadsword - give me a rapier every day because I prefer it.
If you find yourself not using your 500/416...I may know someone with some room in their safe.
I've always been a big fan of that caliber, wish it was more common and ammo a bit cheaper.
 

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;) It is part of a three-barrel set for my Blaser S2 double rifle (along with .375 and ‘06). Have shot a lot of game with the other two. At my age, keep an eye out for the estate sale. :(
 

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