Preferred calibers for Rhino and Hippo?

Northern Shooter

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For those that have been fortunate enough to hunt either of these species, what was your preferred caliber of choice for the hunt?

It sounds the .416s are ideal for Cape Buffalo and 0.458 and .50cal for Elephant. What about Hippo and Rhino?

Is a .416 enough gun for either or is more reccomended due to their greater size and anatomy?
 
For Hippo, I used a .375 H&H and my daughter a 9.3x62.
The first was a head shot on land at 25 yards.
The second hippo was more of a rodeo, the water deflected a 9.3 bullet just enough that resulted in finding it the next day and multiple shots to finish.

A head shot in the water requires ample practice beforehand, as the target can be small and moves. One should be able to reliably shoot a squirrel sized target with with the big gun.
 
With hippo I was thinking more so on land where a body shot or two may be required.

I've heard that when hunting hippo in water the front of their skull isn't actually that thick and that a well placed 375 will do the job.
 
Shot my hippo in water at ~200 yards with a 300 grain Hornady DGS.

Ask an outfitter before going with the outfitter I used for this hippo about hunting hippo on land he recommended a 458 WM or Lott.
 
Shot my hippo in water at ~200 yards with a 300 grain Hornady DGS.

Ask an outfitter before going with the outfitter I used for this hippo about hunting hippo on land he recommended a 458 WM or Lott.
458 WinMag is what I initially had in my mind as well. That's what I was planning to use when I eventually get to hunt one on land.
 
I shot my hippo on land with 400 grain, flat nosed Barnes solids out of a 404 Jeffery. Worked like a charm. Hunting hippo on land can be quite exciting.

I don’t have any experience with rhino so I’m no help there.
Hunting on land does sound like quite the hunt. Especially at night, in the sugarcane fields as @Hunter-Habib has detailed before.
 
I've shot my hippos in the water and on land using a Heym 500 Nitro Express with a Trijicon RMR. Projectiles used were the 570gr Barnes TSX backed up by 570gr Barnes Flat-nose Solids. The hippo bull I hunted just last month was shot at 27 feet, on land, at night, in an orange grove next to the river where the hippo pod stayed. The night hunt certainly was something I've never done before....may never do again....not sure my adrenal glands could handle the overload.
 
Hippo require accurate bullet placement, brain only. Even a heart shot hippo MAY make it to the water. Then the wait and work begins.

Rhino, I assume you are going to have a lot of conversation with the owner/PH. I am sure he will give you his very strong opinion of caliber and bullet.

Lon I would use a quality solid.
 
For those that have been fortunate enough to hunt either of these species, what was your preferred caliber of choice for the hunt?

It sounds the .416s are ideal for Cape Buffalo and 0.458 and .50cal for Elephant. What about Hippo and Rhino?

Is a .416 enough gun for either or is more reccomended due to their greater size and anatomy?
With hippo I was thinking more so on land where a body shot or two may be required.

I've heard that when hunting hippo in water the front of their skull isn't actually that thick and that a well placed 375 will do the job.
I'm no expert marksman. My second deadly 7 kill was a hippo at about 85 yards in Zambia in the water. 375 H&H 300 grain Swift A Frame. 1 shot 1 kill just like that. You need a steady rest & quality optics. Hippos aren't that hard to kill in the water with a brain shot provided you have a good rest with patience. 375, 9.3x62 Sako 370, 338 Win Mag, 340 Weatherby. Ive seen hippos shot with 300 win mags and 30.06s in the water in the head on you tube.

But hey if you want to use something north of a 375, dead is dead.
 
I personally consider hunting hippopotamus on land (esp. in the sugarcane fields at night) to be the second most exciting form of dangerous game hunting that all of Africa has to offer (first being hunting truly wild lion). A hippopotamus is most dangerous when you’re standing between him and the water.

I have shot 10 of them over the years (till now). Mostly with a .375 Holland & Holland Magnum, except one with a .404 Jeffery and one with a .600 Nitro Express.

Bullets which I have used for hunting hippopotamus (till now), were:
-RWS 300Gr round nosed steel jacketed FMJ solid factory loads
- Remington 300Gr round nosed steel jacketed FMJ factory loads (which employed Hornady bullets)
-Norma 300Gr monolithic solid factory loads
-Cutting Edge Bullets 300Gr monolithic Safari Solid (custom load)
-Barnes 300Gr TSX factory loads
- RWS 400Gr round nosed steel jacketed FMJ solid factory loads
- Labor Fur Ballistik 900Gr flat nosed tombac jacketed FMJ factory loads

I will answer the “Solids vs Expanding Bullets For Hippopotamus“ question which many gents here always end up asking:
For hippopotamus shot in the water, an expanding bullet is better. You only get the brain shot. The skin over the top of the head is relatively thin & so is the skull. An expanding bullet works best because not a lot of penetration is required and shock is far more important.
For hippopotamus shot on land, you’re essentially looking at both a brain shot or a body shot. The hippopotamus body skin is very thick (more than 2“) and a good deal of penetration is required in order to reach the internal vital organs. So solid bullets here really come on their own.

Back when I first started going on hunting safaris in Africa in 1974, the universal rule was to always use nothing but the most strongly constructed solids for hunting hippopotamus. And indeed, I have successfully shot most of my hippopotamuses over the years with solid bullets. The only cartridges which ever gave me a difficult time, were the RWS 400Gr round nosed steel jacketed FMJ solids for the .404 Jeffery. They used extremely thin jackets, which were also quite brittle. Penetration, thus was severely impacted.

On my two most recent African safaris (including last year), I shot two extremely large bull hippopotamus on land with 300Gr Barnes TSX all copper monolithic hollow points. The results were most startlingly satisfactory and It was the first time in my life that I had ever used an expanding bullet on this type of game. I think that for future hunts, a magazine full of Barnes TSX cartridges is the right answer. For hunting hippopotamus on land, they are the only expanding bullets which I can safely recommend.

Is the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum an adequate caliber for hunting hippopotamus in the water ? Definitely. Is the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum an adequate caliber for hunting hippopotamus on land ? The answer is a little more complicated.

When using solid bullets in the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum to hunt hippopotamus on land, I have observed (over the years) that the animals frequently manage to make it into the water before succumbing to the gunshot wound. Solids fired from a larger caliber (such as a .600 Nitro Express) tend to drop the hippopotamus much quicker, when body shots are taken. But when premium grade expanding bullets (such as the 300Gr Barnes TSX) are fired out of the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum on hippopotamus, then even a reasonably placed body shot proves to be fatal very quickly. For this reason, I strongly believe that your .416 Rigby (loaded with 400Gr Barnes TSX) would make for an excellent hippopotamus rifle.

I hope that this helps.

I unfortunately have no experience with hunting rhinoceros, since it's the only member of the African Big Five which I'm yet to hunt even a single specimen of (till now). Hopefully, that's going to change real soon. But the general consensus is that any caliber above .400 bore (loaded with heavy-for-weight solids) is the correct medicine for them.
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Last edited:
For those that have been fortunate enough to hunt either of these species, what was your preferred caliber of choice for the hunt?

It sounds the .416s are ideal for Cape Buffalo and 0.458 and .50cal for Elephant. What about Hippo and Rhino?

Is a .416 enough gun for either or is more reccomended due to their greater size and anatomy?
.416 would be great and really anything above .375. I have personally taken a rhino with .470 and hippo with .375 and .450/400.
 
I have taken both and any 40 caliber will suffice. I personally prefer either the 458 Lott or 505 Gibbs in Bolt actions.

You will be using solids on both. Of which I’m currently liking the Cutting edge or North Fork solids.

HH
 
I shot a dry land hippo using my .416 and 400 grain Cutting Edge Safari Solids. It worked splendidly. First shot was broadside as the hippo was running at about 20 yards and through the heart. 2nd shot was quartering hard away at about 35-40 yards. That shot hit midway back and penetrated about 4 feet, transiting through about 18” of spine and was lodged in the back of the skull. Of course, that shot dropped the bull instantly. The Cutting Edge solid is excellent, I could reload and shoot it again if I wanted.
I’ve never hunted rhino, doubt I ever will.
IMG_0582.jpeg
 
MY HIPPO WAS A PROBLEM ANIMAL HUNT WERE THE HIPPOS WERE COMING UP AT NIGHT AND DESTROYING THE CROPS. WENT OUT AT NIGHT WITH MY GUIDE AND THE GAME WARDEN, WE ALL HAD .375H&H WITH THE PLAN BEING I WOULD SHOOT FIRST AND THEY WOULD BACK ME UP BECAUSE WE COUDN'T LET HIM GET BACK INTO THE RIVER WOUNDED. I SHOT 3 QUICK SHOTS, THEY EACH SHOT 2, ALL BODY SHOTS AND I DON'T THINK HE TOOK A STEP.
 
Hippo and crocodile are top on my shortlist for my next African trip. I purchased a custom pre 64 model 70 416 Remington, and am intending on 350 gr tsx for my poison.
 
I used my .375H&H with Barnes TSX bullets to take a hippo, I've not hunted rhino.
 

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