Rifle for Plains Game and Dangerous Game

Witold Krzyżanowski

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Yes, we also jaywalk without repercussions at times. However, what you can get away with vs what is legal are two different things. All it takes is an officious Parks guy to ruin a hunt.
In Zimbabwe and Namibia caliber 9,3x62 is legal for DG.
I suggest a copy of Dr Robertson’s book “The Perfect Shot”. Excellent info for many animals as to where to shoot them, what calibers and bullet recommendations.
Also check out all the excellent photos Jerome has put on AH of where to shoot. Look under “Shot Placement”.
If you’re looking for literature, there’s an excellent thread on AH with everyone’s recommendations. Search for articles on AH by Kevin Thomas. He has some good books very reasonably priced on hunting.
One of my favorite PHes, JA Hunter has some good books including “Hunter” I have enjoyed.
“Use Enough Gun” by Robert Ruark is a good tale of one of his Africa hunts.
Theodore Roosevelt’s tales of his Safari was very enjoyable...wordy...as are all his writings.
Craig Boddington’s and Capstick are always enjoyable reads.

A warning about reading all these and your first trip to Africa...highly addictive! It will become an obsession to return!
Enjoy!
I agree with you Ridgewalker.
 

Witold Krzyżanowski

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Don't forget "Death and Double Rifles" written by legendary PH Mark Sullivan. ;)
I would not refer Mark Sullivan.
Don't forget "Death and Double Rifles" written by legendary PH Mark Sullivan. ;)
I would not refer to Mark Sullivan.
 

Bert the Turtle

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The 375 that you chose is the classic and probably correct answer.

There is no reason to worry about the plains game side of the equation. Assuming you are using a scoped rifle, a bigger rifle isn't going to handicap you on most plains games hunts. Mountain hunting or really long range, sure, you might want something specialized. An iron-sighted double is going to handicap you on distance and longer ranges and dim light, etc. But I'd happily use nothing by my 375 or my 404 on plains game. Even if going on specifically a plains game hunt, I don't see any advantage of my 30-06 over my 375. The 404 is a bit heavier but still no real problem. And it makes tracking easier.

One thing I would STRONGLY advise against is to have one load for dangerous game and another for plains game. Otherwise, despite taking every precaution, despite the fact that the odds of you facing a charge are truly tiny, you will end up using a 235g frangible "plains game round" to try to stop a charging buffalo that is running away from a charging elephant. Whatever softs you are using on dangerous game, use that on plains game. I promise you they will not kill the zebras too dead.
 

Tanks

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...

One thing I would STRONGLY advise against is to have one load for dangerous game and another for plains game. Otherwise, despite taking every precaution, despite the fact that the odds of you facing a charge are truly tiny, you will end up using a 235g frangible "plains game round" to try to stop a charging buffalo that is running away from a charging elephant. Whatever softs you are using on dangerous game, use that on plains game. I promise you they will not kill the zebras too dead.

By that logic though, someone going on a PG hunt should never carry a 7x57, a 30-06 or any PG only rifle and always hunt PG with DG rifle and DG loads even if there is no DG on the menu. Just on the odd chance that he gets charged by a buffalo or an elephant. :rolleyes:

I think this would be the time for the PH to step up rather than base the firearm logistics of the hunt on the very remote chance of this happening.
 

Bert the Turtle

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By that logic though, someone going on a PG hunt should never carry a 7x57, a 30-06 or any PG only rifle and always hunt PG with DG rifle and DG loads even if there is no DG on the menu. Just on the odd chance that he gets charged by a buffalo or an elephant. :rolleyes:

I think this would be the time for the PH to step up rather than base the firearm logistics of the hunt on the very remote chance of this happening.
I was using hyperbole.

And I was assuming that the main hunt is for dangerous game with incidental plains game.

The point being there is no need for specialized plains game ammo. The softs used for dangerous game are perfectly adequate on plains game. The reverse cannot be counted on.
 

Tanks

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I was using hyperbole.

And I was assuming that the main hunt is for dangerous game with incidental plains game.

The point being there is no need for specialized plains game ammo. The softs used for dangerous game are perfectly adequate on plains game. The reverse cannot be counted on.

Well, if DG game is being shot at 50 yards and PG game at 200 then Kentucky vintage might not be enough.

I use 3 different bullets for my .458 B&M. 258 grain CEB tipped raptor @ 2,950fps for PG sighted in accordingly. 420 grain CEB raptor and 450 grain CEB solid (around 2,350 fps) loaded to be at same POA/POI 1" high at 50 yards for DG.

I am not worried about any DG running out while I am shooting a Zebra or bait animals. And even if a buffalo jumps out, the 258 grain CEB raptor is generating about 5,000 foot/lbs at the muzzle. That is about 600 more ft/lbs of energy than a 300 grain bullet going @2,500 ft/s out of a .375 H&H
 

Bert the Turtle

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The concern isn't a buffalo jumping out while you are shooting zebra. The concern is having zebra ammo in while hunting buffalo. A (very) light-for-caliber bullet at (very) high velocity is not generally recommended for thick-skinned dangerous game.

The concept of having specific plains-game ammo for a dangerous-game rifle was explored and subsequently rejected decades ago with the 300g load for the 404 Jeffery. Too many people had bad results when they used that ammo on dangerous game and the perceived advantages did not outweigh the real-world disadvantages.

That said, the bullets you are using are a world apart from what was available at that time. It sounds like you are able to keep three loads straight and it works well for you in your circumstances.

I rarely shoot over 150 yards so a specific plains-game load would be a solution in search of a problem for me.
 

Wishfulthinker580

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Namibia has 5,400 joules (3,981 ft/lbs) , Zim 5,300 joules (3,909 ft/lbs) minimum energy rather than caliber. Don't know what energy 9.3x62 produces.

Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia and some parts of RSA require .375 minimum. Rest whatever within reason I guess.
After doing a little research (emphasis on little) online, and admittedly one source being Wikipedia, I’ve been unable to find a factory load in the 275, 285, or 286 grain class that meets the energy requirements for Namibia or Zimbabwe. The ones I could find were all <3700 foot pounds, and those coming from a 24” test barrel, when I have observed that most x62 factory rifles probably average a 22” inch barrel, while mine has a 20.5” barrel. I know you’ll lose fps in a shorter barrel but I’m not familiar with what the loss, if any, would amount to in foot pounds. In short, it would seem that while the 9.3x62 does meet the caliber requirement in Namibia and Zimbabwe, it does not meet the energy requirement. I know that folks have had great success with the x62 on a wide range of game and seem to have had little issue with the energy requirement but the fact remains that it could be a potential problem. It is concerning to me as I have recently began considering a buffalo along with PG for my first (possibly only) trip and I was planning on taking my x62 (and may still bring it) which I’m very pleased with. I’m still years away so if a buffalo goes from a “maybe” to a “definitely” for me then I may err on the side of caution and bring a 375.
 

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I was using hyperbole.

And I was assuming that the main hunt is for dangerous game with incidental plains game.

The point being there is no need for specialized plains game ammo. The softs used for dangerous game are perfectly adequate on plains game. The reverse cannot be counted on.
I whole heartedly agree.

Two different loads and likely two different scope settings are an open invitation for Murphy to join the hunt. And frankly, it is another reason not to get wrapped up with multiple rifles drill as well.
 

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The concern isn't a buffalo jumping out while you are shooting zebra. The concern is having zebra ammo in while hunting buffalo. A (very) light-for-caliber bullet at (very) high velocity is not generally recommended for thick-skinned dangerous game.

...

Well, that comes under personal responsibility. Especially when the bullets are so much different, at least in my case for the .458 (black plastic tips for lighter bullets and just brass with no tips for others). I use the Swarovski turret scopes so I don't need to fiddle with settings either. Just go from one turret setting to another.

There would not be the case of loading the wrong bullet on a buffalo hunt on the .458 as the PG bullets with their holder would not even be on me, but in the daypack.

In the case of my .500 NE CEB raptors are loaded in nickel cases and CEB solids are loaded in brass cases. So, "softs" and solids are distinct as well.

Also, the issue is moot in my case. The .458 is my PG and cat rifle with the heavier bullets coming along as backup to my primary DG rifle. Another case of having two rifles on a hunt.
 

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Read Kevin Robertson's books (esp. the "trampoline effect" of .458 (short) WM at extended distances). .375 w/ 350 gr bullets is a better penetrating .416. Easier to shoot and thus more accurate. Absolutely so for PG. I have a .375 & .416. The .416 is strictly for the larger of the DG. I much prefer a lighter rifle for PG (hot 6.5, 7, 30, or .338,) but the .375s are a pleasure to shoot and will do it all. Braining a croc or hitting the spot on a leopard will take some skill with the others!!
 
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Forrest Halley

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After doing a little research (emphasis on little) online, and admittedly one source being Wikipedia, I’ve been unable to find a factory load in the 275, 285, or 286 grain class that meets the energy requirements for Namibia or Zimbabwe. The ones I could find were all <3700 foot pounds, and those coming from a 24” test barrel, when I have observed that most x62 factory rifles probably average a 22” inch barrel, while mine has a 20.5” barrel. I know you’ll lose fps in a shorter barrel but I’m not familiar with what the loss, if any, would amount to in foot pounds. In short, it would seem that while the 9.3x62 does meet the caliber requirement in Namibia and Zimbabwe, it does not meet the energy requirement. I know that folks have had great success with the x62 on a wide range of game and seem to have had little issue with the energy requirement but the fact remains that it could be a potential problem. It is concerning to me as I have recently began considering a buffalo along with PG for my first (possibly only) trip and I was planning on taking my x62 (and may still bring it) which I’m very pleased with. I’m still years away so if a buffalo goes from a “maybe” to a “definitely” for me then I may err on the side of caution and bring a 375.
Does it say in the rule books that it must generate the minimum power level through the users rifle or just in the test rifle? If your barrel is shorter I doubt anyone or anything is going to notice.
Read Kevin Robertson's books (esp. the "trampoline effect" of .458 (short) WM at extended distances). .375 w/ 350 gr bullets is a better penetrating .416. Easier to shoot and thus more accurate. Absolutely so for PG. I have a .375 & .416. The .416 is strictly for the larger of the DG. I much prefer a lighter rifle for PG (hot 6.5, 7, 30, or .338,) but the .375s are a pleasure to shoot and will do it all. Braining a croc or hitting the spot on a leopard will take some skill with the others!!
Taking some skill with higher caliber rifles? So basically we're admitting to a flinch over a certain power level? Oh well it happens. Set the gun up properly and take your time to zero it. It may take all day or it may take all week. Properly zeroed their is no extra skill involved. Align the sights and squeeze letting the big gun be a big gun. There is no added skill here other than what normal marksmanship requires. Extra patience and a little bit of dedication is what is required. I think too many people take shortcuts in zeroing their rifles.
 

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Does it say in the rule books that it must generate the minimum power level through the users rifle or just in the test rifle? If your barrel is shorter I doubt anyone or anything is going to notice.
I’ll have to check into it. It may be something simple like that. They may be out there but I just haven’t seen any results that do meet the minimum energy requirement. I’m not particularly concerned about the rifle/cartridge getting the job done. I just don’t want to show up wherever and an official has had a bad day and I don’t get to use my rifle.
 

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Dr. Kevin “Doctari” Robertson has a Brno 9.3x62 Mauser that he rents to clients for buffalo, in Zimbabwe.
In his supremely excellent book “Africa’s Most Dangerous” (IMO a must read for anyone hunting buffalo in Africa) he highly recommends the 9.3x62 for buffalo, especially for clients that are not accustomed to heavy recoil.
Yours truly would prefer one of the .40 bores for these big tough critters.
But, I’ve only taken one buffalo and so my opinion is only that of rifle enthusiast who, doesn’t get to do very much hunting, compared to many of you, especially compared to Dr. Robertson.
I am positive he knows what calibers “work a treat on buffalo”, as he likes to say.
 
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WAB

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Caliber 9,3x62 was used by the legendary PH Don Heath " Ganyana ".
He believed that there was no difference between 9,3x62 and 375H&H magnum.

I believe that he was instrumental in setting Zim regs to ensure the legality of the 9.3x62 for DG.
 

One Day...

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... I’m torn between the Winchester model 70 Safari Express in either .375 h&h, .416 rem mag, or .458 win mag.
To summarize, it is actually quite simple:
  • 100% PG = .300
  • 80% PG + 20% DG = .375
  • 20% PG + 80% DG = .416
  • 100% DG = .458
  • Anything that presents itself = 1 Blaser R8 and 3 barrels...
:)

This being said, four thoughts come to mind:

1) For PG there is nothing that a well placed and well constructed bullet from .25 caliber and up will not kill with a double lung shot from a perfect angle... Bigger & heavier bullets allow you to take shots from more difficult angles... Faster bullets give you a bit flater trajectory to not worry about ballistics between 0 and 300 yards...

2) For mixed PG and DG, on one end the 9.3x62 has always been in the run, but it lacks a bit of power and a bit of reach compared to the .375. On the other end, beware that the .416 hits noticeably harder ... on both ends! Too many people show up in Africa with a .416 they are afraid of and cannot shoot well, when they would have been perfectly well served, and much happier with a .375...

3) By the time you go for elephant, which is ultra specialized, you will likely have the desire and the "African bug" for a "stopper" caliber of .45+, but there is nothing that the .375 will not do with a good monolithic solid or a good TSX or AFrame...

4) By the time you have 3 or 4 Win 70 Safari Express in the safe, but can only take two at a time to Africa, you will have spent about the same money you would on a R8 Pro and 3 or 4 barrels and you will have nowhere near the flexibility. Many of us have been there and done that... Ask Red Leg, Philip Glass, dchamp, BeeMaa, Opposite Pole, and many others ... and yes, me too... If you want the ability to take 3 calibers in one TSA max size & weight compliant rifle case, there is simply no other option...
 
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