Politics of Cartridge Minimums?

Drexel64742

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I just got back from a spring bear hunt in Idaho. Sitting for days on glassing knobs looking for bears generates lots of interesting conversations with your hunting partners...haha.

I figured I'd throw this out there for the guys that know the most about hunting in Africa, dangerous game cartridges and so on.

One day we concluded that the dangerous game cartridge minimums in Africa are largely a result of British politics. Tons of evidence exists where dangerous game has been cleanly harvested with smaller calibers. The Rhodesians were culling elephants with .308 military rifles...and they were very proud of how quickly and cleanly they could put down a large herd. We all have read about how Bell shot lots of elephants with a 7mm.

I believe in the early colonization of Africa, the British dominated the medium/large bore firearms and ammunition market. It wasn't until the 1950's (I believe) that the US jumped in with the .458 Win Mag. Could it be they wanted to force visiting hunters to have to use their rifles/ammo so made rules to ensure this? Almost like creating a club and the price of entry was you have to have these certain rifles and calibers?

I'm not challenging the minimums as I enjoy shoot medium/large bore rifles and I've hunted dangerous game in Zim. I'm just always wondering why the rules came to be when the governments themselves have and continue to contradict the minimums for dangerous game.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
 
IMO - A lot of these minimums have to do with the likely level of experience of those doing hunting.

Traveling hunters harvesting a few elephants over the course of a lifetime is much different than a local game warden/white hunter in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Times have changed and the rules have evolved as a result of how hunting is done today.
 
All of these stories about big game which was shot easily with small calibers are stories from novels. None of us were there to verify whether everything always went as well as written. Minimum calibers have nothing to do with economics or politics but are the result of practical experience with what works well. A caliber minimum, especially for big game, is a necessity that not everyone shoots at this game with something.
 
I'm not sure I'd agree with your theory Drexel. The British banned some of the larger calibers (.450 and, I think, the .577 as well as the .303 in 1907. I believe the banning of the .450 NE gave rise to the very popular .470 NE? So the Brits weren't trying to force people to a particular range of calibres (they just didn't want military calibres to be used for hunting . . . and other things). And I don't believe that the US ever had enough influence - or if they did, it didn't extend to this level of minutia - to dictate the choice of calibres for dangerous game hunts (which is pretty much the only hunts which specify minimum calibres).

I'm sure there is someone here who will know the history of the minimums, but I note that while some famous elephant hunters used fairly 'small' calibres, other experienced elephant hunters used some pretty large calibres on a regular basis.

For the 'regular' guys like me, I think a larger calibre has a couple of advantages:

1. More energy provides more margin for error. I once muffed a side brain shot on an elephant with a .375. If I'd been using something like a 7mm, my guess (and it's only that) is that the elephant would have been gone before I'd have gotten another shot. As it was, he took a second to recover from the missed shot and by that time I had a second round into him, which brought him down (though it took yet a third shot to finish the job quickly).

2. I don't see most North American calibres being much use in terms of stopping a charge, which is what the larger calibres are supposed to do. And why most of our PHs carry them on dangerous game hunts.

I'd add a final advantage - I really enjoyed buying my .404 Jeffery and my .416 Rigby! And bringing those calibres to Africa adds immeasurably to the experience and ties me in to the history of African hunting in a way that the .270 Winchester just can't.

But it's thoughts like these that make hunting so interesting!
 
Really it’s up to the PH more than any regulation until something goes wrong. 9.3x62 (0.366) is frequently used in place of a 375 even though it’s technically less than legal. I also know of several buffalo taken with 30/06 and 300 win. I don’t disagree with the legal minimums and have no interest in using less, but a 375 H&H in 1960 with cup and core bullets doesn’t compare to a 375 H&H today with a bullets like swift A frames. The legal minimum is much more effective today than it was then.
 
Really it’s up to the PH more than any regulation until something goes wrong. 9.3x62 (0.366) is frequently used in place of a 375 even though it’s technically less than legal. I also know of several buffalo taken with 30/06 and 300 win. I don’t disagree with the legal minimums and have no interest in using less, but a 375 H&H in 1960 with cup and core bullets doesn’t compare to a 375 H&H today with a bullets like swift A frames. The legal minimum is much more effective today than it was then.
Excellent point about the bullet.
 
aside from cartridges above the minimum being more effective, the minimum also sets a barrier for entry on game that really shouldn't be hunted by novice hunters. Yes, anyone can and some have purchased a 458 Lott and asked their PH to sight it in because they were afraid of it but most of the time, people work their way up to a dangerous game rifle and gain some experience along the way.
 
I think that practical considerations define a 'range' for the minimum, and then politics usually defines the exact minimum.

For example, in most of the ex-British colonies, .375 is the usual legal minimum. In ex-German colonies, it's usually 9.3mm.

This makes a degree of sense. Minimums are usually set based on practical experience of common calibers that are in use. Somewhere around that 9-10mm range is probably a sensible cut off in terms of terminal effect to mitigate for inexperienced hunters, sub-optimal shots, some knock down ability in a charge and maybe the less effective bullet technology of the day.

If the common cartridge your DG hunters and game warden types use in that range is .375, it'll be the minimum. If those hunters and officials use 9.3mm because that's what is imported and available, then that'll be the minimum.

I expect that if the US had more influence in Africa at the time, more energy limits and caliber limits might lean towards the 45-70 as a result.

You also see specific caliber restrictions based on the military arms present. For example, the .577, the .450 and .303 were all illegal at one point or another because the bullets could be used to reload rounds for captured Snider-Enfields, Martini-Henrys and SMLEs which was considered problematic if commercially produced ammo for hunters got into the hands of rebellious local groups.

You also see this in Europe. Most have similar cartridge and caliber restrictions for hunting Moose, Boar, larger deer, but the exact wording of these laws vary by nations to either include a specific cartridge commonly used locally, or to exclude a common (usually mil-surp) cartridge that was commonly used and was viewed as unsatisfactory.

As an interesting, but unverifiable, anecdote in this area, it is said that the UK large deer minimum is .240 calibre and 1750ft/lbs because that's the exact figure that the .240 Apex 'guest' rifle used at one of the Queens stalking estates made back in the day...
 
I have heard a couple of reasons as to DG minimum caliber and velocity. I'm ok with using 9.3m and 375 as the minimums.

The strangest and somewhat confusing when discussing and planning a PG hunt seems any rifle caliber, with any barrel length is ok. But if planning on using a handgun, not only is caliber, and caliber velocity minimums regulated for specific species so are the barrel lengths. I ended up contacting Henry Rifle Premits and asking If my 4 inch barreled, 44 mag, revolver would be legal to import into RSA as I had planned on using it as a back up on my Zimbabwe buff hunt.

For hunting purposes the 4 inch came up somewhere between 3, 4, or 5 mm short IIRC. Basically I needed a 4 & 1/2 to 4 & 5/8 inch barrel length to be legal for DG and I shouldn't have any problems importing a revolver into either Zimbabwe or RSA. Good enough for me reason to purchase a Magnum Research 4 & 5/8 inch, 44 mag, BFR.
 
Denmark banned lead rifle ammunition for hunting from 2024

Ensuring 6,5x55 remain legal for all huntable species, became a major point in the negotiations. It was debated in the open and got a fair amount of press coverage.

This was accomplished by changing the criteria used in the hunting law, from projectile mass & energy at 100 meters, to projectile diameter and energy at 100 meter and adjusting the numbers to include 6,5x55

For red deer, wildboar, fallow deer, sika deer and muflon:
The old minimums were: 9 gram and 2700 Joule at 100 meter or 10 gram and 2000 Joule at 100 meter
The new lead free minimums are: 6 mm and 2000 Joule at 100 meter
 
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In Germany the minimum caliber for heavier game species, mean above all red deer and wild boar, but also chamois, is 6,5mm and at least an energy of 2000 Joules at 100m. Roe deer are not included and can be shot with smaller calibers but with an energy of 1000 Joules at 100m.

In France, often only a few kilometers further, for the same game species, roe deer included, the minimum is 5,6mm and an energy of 1000 Joules at 100m. In practice much bigger cartridges are recommended, especially for hunting red deers, wild boars, mouflons and even chamois.
 
I just got back from a spring bear hunt in Idaho. Sitting for days on glassing knobs looking for bears generates lots of interesting conversations with your hunting partners...haha.

I figured I'd throw this out there for the guys that know the most about hunting in Africa, dangerous game cartridges and so on.

One day we concluded that the dangerous game cartridge minimums in Africa are largely a result of British politics. Tons of evidence exists where dangerous game has been cleanly harvested with smaller calibers. The Rhodesians were culling elephants with .308 military rifles...and they were very proud of how quickly and cleanly they could put down a large herd. We all have read about how Bell shot lots of elephants with a 7mm.

I believe in the early colonization of Africa, the British dominated the medium/large bore firearms and ammunition market. It wasn't until the 1950's (I believe) that the US jumped in with the .458 Win Mag. Could it be they wanted to force visiting hunters to have to use their rifles/ammo so made rules to ensure this? Almost like creating a club and the price of entry was you have to have these certain rifles and calibers?

I'm not challenging the minimums as I enjoy shoot medium/large bore rifles and I've hunted dangerous game in Zim. I'm just always wondering why the rules came to be when the governments themselves have and continue to contradict the minimums for dangerous game.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Im in Africa as we speak on a leopard hunt. This is my 4th time hunting in Africa. All the PHs basically say the same thing. Americans and a lot of Europeans can't shoot worth a ____ so it a little wiggle room with something like leopards. I'm using a 300 win mag, PH said 06 or 375 would work its just is the rifle sighted in correctly & do you have a steady rest. Things like buffalo, hippo, elephant nobody is willing to risk their lives letting a guy or gal shoot at an elephant with a 308. I can't say I blame them. That's probably has a lot to do with it. The thinking of a PH.
 
I have heard a couple of reasons as to DG minimum caliber and velocity. I'm ok with using 9.3m and 375 as the minimums.

The strangest and somewhat confusing when discussing and planning a PG hunt seems any rifle caliber, with any barrel length is ok. But if planning on using a handgun, not only is caliber, and caliber velocity minimums regulated for specific species so are the barrel lengths. I ended up contacting Henry Rifle Premits and asking If my 4 inch barreled, 44 mag, revolver would be legal to import into RSA as I had planned on using it as a back up on my Zimbabwe buff hunt.

For hunting purposes the 4 inch came up somewhere between 3, 4, or 5 mm short IIRC. Basically I needed a 4 & 1/2 to 4 & 5/8 inch barrel length to be legal for DG and I shouldn't have any problems importing a revolver into either Zimbabwe or RSA. Good enough for me reason to purchase a Magnum Research 4 & 5/8 inch, 44 mag, BFR.
The barrel length rules may have more to do with avoiding easily concealed handguns than any sort of ballistic reason.
 
.450 NE banned In India and Sudan , due to fear over rebels and such could use components in MH rifles and carbines .

And that lead to .470,465 and others .
 
Thanks for the all the replies so far everyone! The stories and points of view are exactly what I was hoping for on this post.
 
France had and still has quite the ban on hunting with calibers used by the military…..they still remember how sharp a guillotine is :whistle: ie revolution. Was only changed the other year and you can now once more use 7x57.
Still a lot banned due to the revolt threat.
Africa I feel is more down to big animals need a big caliber…….your a long ŵay from help if poo hits the fan and that bigger cal gives you a little more room for era then (y)
 

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