Renting A Rifle

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Finn fan, Mar 25, 2016.

  1. Finn fan

    Finn fan AH Member

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    I found this article interesting
    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/20...n/going-on-an-african-safari-read-this-first/


    Going On An African Safari?
    By Tom in Oregon

    [​IMG]

    Recently, I realized a 30+ year old dream of going on safari in Africa. While planning this trip was a long 14 months in the making, I quickly decided I wanted to take my own rifle and not rent one from the outfitter. If you have something like this in your future, I hope what I share here can make your trip a bit easier than mine was . . .

    Rifle Selection: What I really wanted was a classic double rifle in .375 H&H. After getting over sticker the shock of even a well-used double rifle, I opted for a Remington bolt gun in .375. No semi-autos allowed in South Africa. In reality, unless you’re going after the big five, a .308 bolt gun would work just fine.

    U.S Customs: You will definitely want to locate and go to your local customs office a week or two before travelling. The form to fill out is only a one-pager, but without it, you won’t be taking possession of your firearm when you return to the states. The form can also be used to memorialize anything that has a serial number. I was told to log my camera, laptop, scope, rangefinder, etc. on it. It keeps you from having to pay duty on your own stuff when coming home. Avoid paying duty? Yup, gimmie some more pages. The folks at customs will inspect what you’ve described, then stamp and sign your form(s).

    Airlines: Our flight was a three-leg journey. Portland to Seattle, Seattle to London, and London to Johannesburg. Leg one was simple, all Alaska Airlines wanted was a simple 3×5 card signed and dated indicating that the firearm isn’t loaded and it’s in a locked, approved case. Original goes in your pocket, carbon copy goes in the gun case. In order to place the CC in the case, it had to be opened. I ask the gal if she wanted me to open it up with all the public standing behind me. She says no, and points to the counter next to her.

    Leg two: Uh-Oh. From the U.S to the U.K. — yUcK. Transferring from Alaska Air to British Airways. Apparently, the Brits don’t like guns. But you probably knew that. They most especially don’t like Americans with guns. Man can they hold a grudge.

    They require another form. (more about ammo later). We get their form filled out, tuck it inside the gun case, (mistake), and barely make the flight to London. Nine and a half hours later, I’m looking for the exit at Heathrow so I can have a cigarette. At hour 6 of an 8 hour layover, we check back in to the secure area of the airport in time to hear our names over the P.A system. Ruh roh.

    We saunter up to the counter, and are rather rudely escorted down into a basement room where there are two SWAT-looking, kitted-up police officers standing next to our gun cases. Quick scan…yup, the locks are intact. A rather smarmy gent in a suit then informs us that we are not allowed to possess firearms in his country. He then turns to the officers and demands that they do something.

    They ask if we have documentation for our journey and we both answer yes, inside the cases. Yup, shoulda had ze papers on our persons. After a few more minutes of Mr. Smarmypants, I inform him that “we” aren’t in possession of our guns, “he” is. This actually brought a smile to one of the officers’ faces. The coppers wish us a safe trip and walk out. We watch as a baggage handler carts off our cases. We leave the office with about five minutes to spare, just time enough to catch…

    Leg three: London to Johannesburg. About 10 hours later, we walk into the airport lobby and see our guide. Wow, it’s really happening. He escorts us into the South African Police Services (SAPS) office to get our SAPS 520 form notarized and completed. Oops, it’s in the case. Not a big deal really. What we are missing is our Hunting Invitation Letter signed by our outfitter. Slight delay as our guide calls the office. The office faxes our letters to the SAPS office. Good to go. Finally. They notarize our forms, and off we go.

    Having watched plenty of safaris on the Sportsman Channel, I thought gun bearers handled your guns for you in the field, then handed it to you when you were ready to shoot. Um, no. I was rather glad that we were allowed to have our rifles the entire time we were there. Even keeping them in our rooms at night. Loaded. But please don’t shoot the warthog that wanders the property. It’s a pet.

    Return trip, leg one: Johannesburg to London. Now things get really interesting. We get to the airport with 4 hours devoted to checking in. While you are allowed to bring in up to 80 rounds per caliber, a maximum of two guns, not of the same caliber, you can’t leave with ammo. Having gifted my Professional Hunter, (P.H.), most of my ammo, I had five rounds left. My hunting buddy had 70.

    I walked outside, opened my suitcase, took the five rounds and put them in a garbage can. My buddy called the PH who was only five minutes away and gave them to him. They, British Airways, were rather butthurt that they didn’t catch the ammo thing on our way in two weeks before.

    Next, we go through security. Apparently, the dude running our particular line really liked my walkie talkies. In some mixture of Afrikaans and English, they aren’t allowed on planes. They are only allowed in his house. For his kids. Then British air extracts an $80 dollar firearms handling fee, a $60 dollar extra bag fee, and a fee fee. Payable only in pounds sterling. They also insist on a bright orange flag that says “FIREARM” on the pelican case. Three and a half hours later, we’re boarding for . . .

    Leg two: An 11-hour flight followed by a nine-hour layover in London. I’m good with the layover, though, as my sister moved there and I haven’t seen her in a year and a half. Good, but really expensive lunch. Pretty much everything in the UK is really absurdly expensive. Petrol was a bit under $11.00 per gallon. Maybe my math was wrong between litres, pounds sterling, carry the 3.14159, divide by 1 stone.

    As we make our way through security, My buddy Sean wants to make a bet with me about a gun hassle before boarding. I’m still on cloud nine over the hunting, fishing and sight-seeing. After five countries over the past two weeks with nary a problem, I take him up on his bet. That was stupid.

    In order to make it difficult on a gun thief, I have the habit of removing the bolt from my rifle and keeping it in my luggage. But that rather bored-looking guy sitting in front of the x-ray machine was actually was paying attention when I went through. He spots it. They make me empty my back pack, then tell me that since it’s a gun part, I have to check my bag. There was zero argument I could come up with to change his mind or the two supervisors’ or the Bobbie’s. Another $60 extra bag fee. Then it’s off for a nine hour flight to Seattle for…

    Leg three: We arrive in Seattle. I’m kind of in a bad mood. OK I’m in a pissy mood. I want a cigarette and this snippy bitch in a British Airways skirt-suit (not pictured above) insists on a 2-hour hassle to move our guns from “her” line 50 feet away to the Alaska Air check-in line. We miss our connecting flight to Portland. Then miss the next one. I reach down and grab my gun parts back-pack from her cart. She protests and tells me that I can’t open checked baggage. I tear the tag off the backpack and advise Her Bitchiness that it’s now a carry on. She was one of those “Can’t Understand Normal Thinking” types.

    I go outside and have a couple of smokes. When I return, nicotine mercifully coursing through me, we finally locate an Alaska employee who rolls her eyes and quickly takes care of us. We catch the third flight for the short hop to Portland.

    Lessons Learned: It would have been easier and cheaper to rent a gun in Africa for the $25.00 per day fee.

    If you’re dead set on bringing your own rifle, have all of your customs docs, SAPS 520 paperwork, your Hunting Invitation Letter and — most importantly — your passport with you at all times. Keep duplicates in the gun case. The paperwork is rather easy to fill out, and not very time consuming. If you plan on hunting with a hand cannon, you must have prior approval from SAPS at least 60 days in advance. If you plan on hunting in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, or Namibia, the same 60 day rule applies. I was told it’s the same for Mozambique. Have your paperwork done WELL in advance.

    Pro tip: you are not allowed to buy ammo in South Africa. Not from a store, anyway. Your outfitter will gladly sell you what you need. You are, however, allowed to buy a suppressor for your rifle at the local gun store. For about 500 rand, ($50), a rather nice .30 caliber suppressor can be bought with no paperwork, no approval, no waiting list, no fingerprints, no photographs. No shit.

    When, not if, I go on another hunt in South Africa, I will bypass British Air and any stops in London. I learned from two other couples there that they flew Delta from California through Atlanta then J-burg. Their flights were shorter, and they suffered zero hassles.

    Go to whatever bank you bank with and get currency for the countries you will be travelling through. Get a mix of small and large notes. A lot of places will not make change. They just take whatever you hand them. Whether it’s rand, pula or pounds sterling. One hundred dollars each will likely work. ATMs aren’t behind every Baobab tree.

    While the travelling portions of this trip had more than a few hiccups, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. If you plan a trip like this, I hope just one of these tips help to make your trip easier than mine was. Oh, and try the blue wildebeest. It’s delicious.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 1, 2016
    CAustin, BWH, gizmo and 2 others like this.

  2. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    PHs always have a rifle one can use at reasonable rates! But for me there is nothing like hearing the crack of one of my big boys! Then watching what I was shooting at fall.
     
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  3. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Elite

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    We flew from California (San Francisco) to New York then to Joberg. No problems with the rifles or ammo.
    When flying in SA we had to take the ammo out of our checked bag but was not charged extra.
    We flew to Cape Town for several days sightseeing. The hotel locked up our guns in the cases. Then flew to Port Elizabeth where our PH picked us up. Hunted for 13 days then back to Joberg from PA and on to Washington DC and San Francisco.
    In SFO the TSA "Inspected" my bag which makes a lot of sense since my trip and flying was now done. However the lady(?) who left her little tag in my empty TSA locked ammo box which had trinkets and Rand in it felt she should steal my Rand and my Bushnell GPS. I called but TSA could care less and stated the bag should not have been inspected in SFO but should have been in DC.

    We did not use a gun service but I plan to in 2017 when I go back to hunt. Just easier and faster. I also will only take a direct flight from the USA to SA. I was warned about going thru Europe the 1st time.

    I also prefer to use my own rifles and my own handloads. That is part of any hunt for me. I
    We also got the USA customs forms for computers/cameras/rangefinders/binos/scopes etc before we left. But I did mine several months in advance.
     
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  4. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I have rented rifles on all three of my African hunts, since I live overseas and the guns are back in the US. It sure makes traveling easier, but I do miss that pride of ownership thing. No issues with the rented rifles as they were all quality firearms and well maintained. The only issue I had was with one of the scopes, as it was an el-cheapo Bushnell and not very clear. When I move back to the US and plan an African hunt, I will most likely take my own rifles, just to say I've done it.

    I'm looking forward to my eastern cape hunt in May with Game 4 Africa Safaris, as they offer Sako rifles and Swarovski scopes for rental rifles. Also have the option of with or without a suppressor. So I'll get to check out some new for me, quality shooting iron, as well as have a great hunt in a new and different area.
     

  5. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I have both used the PH's gun and taken my own, the PH will usually have an adequate or better gun for the clients to use
     

  6. Mbizi Safaris

    Mbizi Safaris SPONSOR Since 2016 AH Enthusiast

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    Yes you are right Reedy, but it should be a nightmare to arrive to any place in the world on a expensive hunt and you must use some old cracked rifle... that's why we decided to only use Rigby rifles for our clients, it's a magic moment when you squeeze that trigger with sometimes years of planing a safari, so why don't do it with a bit class and confidence...

    Cheers,
    Michael
     
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  7. Aaron Nietfeld

    Aaron Nietfeld AH Fanatic

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    I have to say flying from Canada through heathrow to joberg, I had no issues.

    Is it true you can't take ammo back home? I was never questioned....
     

  8. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Of course you can bring ammo home to Canada.
    You are not technically allowed to leave it behind. (beyond expended bullets ) :)
     

  9. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    On my first four hunts, zero problems, as I had a direct flight from Madrid to JHB.

    On the fifth, the direct flight was not operating, so I had to go Madrid-Zurich-JHB. Well, Switzerland is gun friendly, and Swiss a serious airline, so I took my gun again. No problem in, but my gun and luggage did not make the connection in Zurich, so I had to go to the airport on next day to collect them.

    This year I am traveling Madrid-JHB-Kimberley, and am not taking any chances, the Outfitter will provide me with a rifle.
     

  10. bassasdaindia

    bassasdaindia AH Elite

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    I have used an Outfitters rifle on one occasion, I swore to never again !
     

  11. lcq

    lcq AH Elite

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    But I'm such a crappy shot I shot every last bullet, honest officer
     
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  12. lcq

    lcq AH Elite

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    A member Cliffy (former pilot) advised against using TSA locks. I now know why.

    I will never fly with a gun through England, ever. Some shooting buds (one an RCMP officer) were at Bisley and had no end of grief with the smarmy anti-gun Brit creeps.
     

  13. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    On my 1st trip to Africa my rifle didn't arrive until day 3. So my PH offered me the use of his .300 WM. Problem was I was used to a 1.5 lb trigger pull and his felt like 10 lbs ! I got my Kudu with it, but was never comfortable with it. I practice a lot before I go. My preference is to use my own rifle. My record for flights is not stellar. In my 5 overseas hunting where I took my rifle I had 3 occasions where my rifle did not arrive with me. So 10 legs( 5 each way). That's a 30% failure to arrive rate.
    Another place to watch close is Washington DC. Couldn't recheck my rifle after customs. Had to lug it to another terminal a long ways away. Then the Police had to check it. Then TSA had to inspect. Bit of a PITA. Glad I had a 4 hour layover to accommodate.
    Once the rifle didn't arrive with me to check through customs. Took a call from my local customs guy and 30 days to get it back.
    Still rather use my own rifle. Bruce
     

  14. Ragman

    Ragman AH Fanatic

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    On my one and only safari to Africa, I went as a member of a group of 8, all of us taking our own rifles. Our journey was a 4-leg trip...Regina to Toronto, Toronto to Paris, Paris to Johannesburg and Johannesburg to Windhoek. All of our ammo was packed into our check-in luggage as we were told to do. Everything went smoothly until we arrived in Windhoek to find that our rifles did not. We hunted our first day with our PHs rifles. The one I used was a Weatherby Vanguard in 30-06, so not a big deal. By that night we had our own back, which hadn't made the trip with us from Johannesburg.
    On our return trip, we again stored our remaining ammo in our checked baggage. While boarding our plane in Paris for the flight to Toronto, two of our group were held back. Their checked bags had been pulled and there was some lengthy discussion over the ammunition. Finally the French officials confiscated both fellows ammo, about 80 rounds in total. They never explained why. Upon arriving home my rifle and two others did not arrive for another 4 days.

    I hope to make a return trip (like to the Eastern Cape) sometime before 2019. I haven't decided whether to rent from there or take my own. I would very much like to take my own, as I bought a new Tikka T3 with that intention, but I get pretty stressed out with the idea of missing flights. I opted to use @gizmo's rifle when I hunted the Rockin G in January because of very tight connection times even though I would have loved to have my trusty Browning BLR with me.

    One of the guys who had his ammo confiscated in Paris hunted the Eastern Cape last fall with Leopard's Valley Safaris and decided not to take his own rifle this time. He rented a rifle from them and says that he would do it this way again.

    Tough decision.
     
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  15. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Ragman, I think everyone on this site can relate to your comments and frustration. The lack of consistency on where to pack the ammo is a joke. TIA! I've mentioned this before, but since I live and work in Nigeria and all my guns are in the US, everyone of my 3 hunts have been with rented rifles. No issues at all and it sure does make travelling in and out of African countries easier. Hunt #4 is coming up in a couple of weeks and it will be with rented guns. Going to the eastern cape and do a PG hunt with Game4Africa. They offered up a Sako 7 mm mag, Swaro scope and the choice of with or without a suppressor. Sort of looking forward to that as I have never shot a rifle with a suppressor. One day when I am back living in the US (could be awhile given the upcoming presidential election), I will likely take 2 or 3 of my rifles to Africa, just to say I did it. For now, renting rifles is a good option.
     
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  16. wesheltonj

    wesheltonj AH Elite

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    WOW, now that a selling point.
     

  17. JGRaider

    JGRaider AH Fanatic

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    The good operators aren't stupid. It takes years to build a good reputation, and a short time to screw it all up. Good operators = good equipment IME.
     
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  18. Gemsbok Gangsta

    Gemsbok Gangsta AH Enthusiast

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    Take your weapon follow all rules and carry docs in your carry on!! And avoid going through the UK . VIP service and pre approved SAPS done!!
     
    KMG Hunting Safaris and siml like this.

  19. Hutch01

    Hutch01 AH Veteran

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    I've been over three times to SA and used Steve Turner's Travel With Guns out of San Antonio, Tx. They shop all airlines and prepare all gun documents for nominal fee. No problems.
     

  20. BWH

    BWH AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Renting a rifle is ok I guess.... Here's my opinion....

    1) I'm not used to it
    2) why rent/when you can buy
    3) the travel with ain't that big of a deal...
    4) if I rent.... I will either love or hate.
    5) if I love.... I will just come home & buy
    6) if I hate.... It's probably because I missed.
     
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