Rifle Lessons Learned from the Zimbabwe Professional Hunter Proficiency Exam

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by AfricaHunting.com, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. Tokoloshe Safaris

    Tokoloshe Safaris SPONSOR Since 2017 AH Enthusiast

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    I would like to add to the comments made concerning the Zimbabwe proficiency test. Due to economic constraints and the lack of availability of reliable new or used firearms. Many aspiring learners arrive for the test with rifles that are what many of us would consider junk. The aspiring learner saved hard for the firearm that he owns has had very little chance to ever use it (due to the cost of ammunition, .375 H&H runs about $300.00 a box). Almost all learners will fail the test, some because of their lack of experience or they just do not have what it takes. They may only be able to raise the funds to attempt the test once in their life, maybe more. The piece of junk (it may be a push feed made by ?? or a badly altered Mauser action) that they arrived with will now be sold to someone else. Some of these rifles arrive at the test year after year, but with a different owner!

    Some of the rifles require minor repairs screws tightened or a sight replaced. Some are unrepairable! There are Learners who arrive with fully functioning rifles that are fairly new, Ruger, Winchester, CZ, Remington being the most popular. Some of the Rugers and Winchesters are push feed. I will not comment on my favourite, but I have seen push feed post 64 push feed Winchesters that were more reliable than very expensive Mauser based rifles. Remember Zimbabwe has been under arms embargo from the U.S. and U.K.. This means that not only are new rifles very hard to come by so are parts. The arms embargo includes parts even gun stocks. Consider yourself lucky, if you break a Mauser or M70 extractor (yes they can break) you can contact Brownells, ebay, or your gunsmith and bingo your back in business. Here we have two choices maybe a client can bring one over (I had one that was uncomfortable bringing a Mauser magazine spring) and I understand. The other choice find something that may work.

    Go with quality, make sure that it feeds 100% reliably with the ammo you plan on using. Make sure every screw is properly tightened, use lock tight where needed. If you use iron sights bring a spare front sight (if you do you can be guaranteed nothing will happen). Bring a screwdriver for every screw, don't rely on a leatherman. A brass drift and hammer also may be needed.

    Back to ammo I had a recent experience with a well known custom mfg. controlled feed rifle (Mauser style action). It would feed solid perfectly, but the softs were a 100% failure to feed. Fortunately I have a foredom tool & a dreemel and a little bit of skill the rifle now feeds perfectly soft and solids of various mfg. If a learner would have shown up at the test and had tested their rifle with the solids, but used the softs for the test everyone would have drooled over the beautiful wood and well made rifle until the learner got to the first shooting station and could not cycle the first round!

    Money may by quality, but it does not guarantee perfection and a DG rifle must be perfect every time!
     
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  2. tarbe

    tarbe AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I hope to "rent" a Heym Martini Express for a few years.
     
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  3. bpcr

    bpcr AH Senior Member

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    I for one have learned my lesson buying cheap dangerous game rifles. I have three bolt guns to prove it. I finally wound up with a used Merkel double in .500 Nitro. It works. All my feed , accuracy and ejection issues disappeared with the Merkel. I believe there are good DG bolt guns out there but you will be in the five digit range in price before you get it. It's damn worth it if you're going after DG.
     

  4. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Enthusiast

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    Sound very strange, what was wrong with three bolt guns not being good enough for DG? And what brands, or models they are?
     

  5. Don458

    Don458 AH Senior Member

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    Bought my whitworth 458 in 1988 , speaking on problems with the stocks after the 3 rd box of ammo at range stock cracked at wrist just split from recoil. After sending it back to company, it came back with fantastic wood and glass bedded. I was still skeptical, but have been shooting it since then on a regular basis (at least 5-6 times a yr) with no problems and my heavy reloads. I am one of those lucky people that recoil doesn’t bother me.
    9177C96B-5675-4D71-A73F-2D9DCCD37A3F.jpeg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2018
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  6. bpcr

    bpcr AH Senior Member

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    My first bolt gun was a CZ Safari Magnum in .458 Win Mag. It shot good groups out to sixty yards. However it would not always feed round nose cartridges. I sent it to AHR for a rail job and back to Triple River for a warranty fix but still the same problem. I even had it bored to.458 Lott thinking that might fix it but no. My second bolt gun was a Portugal made Winchester M70 in .458 Win Mag. It feeds everything you put in it but it shoots two inch groups at forty yards where the CZ will shoot one and half inch groups at sixty. My third bolt gun was a Kimber Caprivi in .458 Lott. It shot about 12" low with the sight bottomed out and I was having ejection issues. I sent it back to the factory and it came back with a broken ejector. Sent it back a second time and when it came back It had a new ejector but I discovered that it will not eject loaded rounds if the bolt is cycled hard. Empties do fine. The factory got not to helpful after this so that's when I got the Merkel. I have 100% confidence in the Merkel that it's going to work in Africa. The three bolt guns mentioned would not give me a good feeling in Africa. All shooting was done with iron sights.
     

  7. crudeoildude

    crudeoildude AH Veteran

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    now I don't know for sure what the hell to buy?????
     

  8. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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  9. bpcr

    bpcr AH Senior Member

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    I'm sorry friend I have to call like I see it. That being said if I have to buy another bolt gun I would look into a H&H, Heym, Mauser or Rigby and go ahead and pay the money. Especially in the .458 or bigger calibers. Its like buying a 28,000.00$ bass boat. If you're going to Africa to hunt an animal that can stomp, claw and gobble your a$$ up a good DG rifle is well worth 15,000 to 20,000$ that you probably need to pay.I am not trying to rain on everyone's parade this is my on personal experience with the cheaper bolt actions. I'm not going to tell you which rifle to buy but I tried cheap and it didn't work for me. And I haven't even made it to Africa yet.
     

  10. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    @bpcr If everyone who wanted to hunt DG had to buy a 15 to 20 grand rifle for a one, two or three time hunt, there wouldn't be very many DG outfitters in business. As far as your accuracy tests at short distances and feed problems, a select choice of bullets in handloads would have cured all those problems. Perhaps you should go on a DG hunt in Africa to test your theories.
     
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  11. bpcr

    bpcr AH Senior Member

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    Any professional guides who hunt Africa please chime in.
     
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  12. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    How many PH's do you think are running around with a Rigby, etc.?
     
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  13. bpcr

    bpcr AH Senior Member

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    Well I'd like think that there is quite a few.
     

  14. WAB

    WAB AH Fanatic

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    I’ve never had a PH with a high dollar London gun. Mostly CZ’s and old Mausers. Any rifle needs to be wrung out before hunting anything, let alone DG. I have total confidence in my M-70’s and would have no qualms about a CZ or a Mauser as long as I had a chance to work with them before jumping into the deep end. If you can afford a London best great, but that is not necessary to have a great gun and a great hunt.
     
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  15. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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  16. IdaRam

    IdaRam BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Many of the big brand production rifles don’t function reliably straight from the box, that is true. Very few of them cannot be made to function reliably, and well within the average working man’s budget.
    Those who can afford to spend five figures or more on a rifle, should. And savor the experience. For the rest of us, well I guess we’re stuck with our Winshitters :D
     
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  17. Tokoloshe Safaris

    Tokoloshe Safaris SPONSOR Since 2017 AH Enthusiast

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    The only thing that I can say concerns the rifle that you mentioned. I owned both the original and the reproduction, one functioned 100% of the time, but is well worn (around one hundred years worth. The other with tighter clearances worked "most" of the time, someone else's problem now.
    Concerning CZs & M-70 for DG. I have one of each in .375 H&H. These are loaner rifles for clients. Neither of these rifles have ever malfunctioned and both are very accurate. Did they come from the factory that way NO, the M-70 "Safari Classic", was given a trigger job. a new after mkt. polished extractor, and bedding and a bit of time polishing the action bolt rails. The CZ that's a different story, this was a custom shop rifle. I do not know how many hours I had to put into it polishing rails, making the bolt round, trigger replacement. I am very much a amateur gunsmith. I am sure a pro could have done this job faster, but I make due with what I have. How did the CZ com out? By my standards perfect. Both rifles will do their job 100% of the time if the client does. One long time client would not hunt with anything other than the M-70, which he named "killer". The only problem ever was when a NP ranger stuffed his AK into the gunrack and the banana clip loosened the Talley QR lever, which cost the client a very nice Hyena!

    Now that everyone has commented about the rifle of their choice (or dismay). What about the "sights", scope, iron & type or the new range of red dot type of optical device. I have seen many scopes that were just plain wrong for the rifle or for game that they were hunting. Mounts and proper installation play such a big part. Then there is the hunter with the 13 3/4 factory stock with a scope that gives him proper eye relief hunting grizzly with a heavy jacket, but then upon arriving in Africa gets bit badly shooting off the bench in 100+ degree temp, result he develops a bad flinch for the rest of his very expensive hunt. Both the M-70 & the CZ have 13 3/4 stocks & 14 1/2 available.
     
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  18. BeeMaa

    BeeMaa AH Enthusiast

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    Each person on the Safari has a job to do; the client, PH, tracker...etc
    I would trust that if you went with a reputable guide service that the staff there would be well versed in doing their part.
    To that end, they would be kitted out with proper equipment and proficient with it.
    It is the job of the client to be just as capable for the given conditions and not just limited to proficiency with the given firearm.
    It's the entire package from the clothes worn, the scope (or lack there of) used to physical and mental conditioning.
    The client needs to be prepared to the best of their abilities.

    Communication is also a good thing between the client and guide.
    The guide can lay out expectations or possible special conditions that the client should prepare for.
    This also gives the client a chance to ask questions and get some real honest answers and vice versa.
    Building trust between the PH and the client can make things much easier for both.
     

  19. Luvthunt

    Luvthunt AH Veteran

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    BeeMaa,
    Great recommendations and comments, a lot of what you wrote also applies to how to live your life.
     

  20. WAB

    WAB AH Fanatic

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    Great comments Lon. My M-70’s are flawless but they have been worked on extensively. I cycle every round of ammo through them before a hunt and practice extensively from all shooting positions. When prepping for a safari I hump the mountain behind our house every day with the rifle I’m taking and wearing the clothes I will be using. I finish with shots from sticks at the 100 yd plates.

    As regards sights, my DG rifles are set up with VX6 1-6x scopes in Leupold QRW mounts. The Lott has express sights set for 50 yds. The .375 has a ghost ring sighted at 100. The irons on both are very accurate.

    Regarding London Best guns: these guns are bespoke. They have very tight tolerances and hand fitted parts. To stay reliable they were intended to go back to the maker at the conclusion of every season for cleaning and any required repairs. Do not think that because you have spent 6 figures on one that it is infallible. Without the proper maintenance it will fail you and you may find that maintenance is a little more involved than it is with those of us shooting blue collar rifles. Don’t take this comment wrong, I love bespoke guns and have spent a lot of time shooting them. But you need to have a realistic point of view of what they are and what they are not.
     
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