Shot Placement Versus Bore Size

Major Khan

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2 days ago , l had conducted a rough survey of sorts where l asked members of this forum to list their calibre choices , were they to choose 2 rifles ( 1 for plains game and 1 for dangerous game ) and a shot gun for a safari / shikar . The purpose of that survey was to see which plains game cartridge and which dangerous game cartridge they would choose , were they to allowed to bring 1 of each for a safari to Africa , or a shikar in India if hunting would be legal again there ( sadly , with the uprising of vegan filth there since 1972 , that is a distant dream of all of us retired professional shikarees .)
Below , l have provided a photograph of the paper on which l was making my calculations earlier tonight.
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I know that my handwriting is not the best and resembles the messiest of scribbling , so l broke the results down , relating to dangerous game cartridges below -
22 hunters responded to the post . I divided the choices into 3 categories :
.375 Holland and Holland magnum , .400 series and .500 series .
11 hunters ( including myself ) opted for a .375 Holland and Holland magnum.
11 hunters opted for something in the .400 series .
1 hunter opted for something in the .500 series.

Among the 11 hunters who opted for something in the .400 series ,
1 hunter opted for a .400 Holland and Holland
1 hunter opted for the .450/ 400 Nitro Express
2 hunters opted for a .404 Jeffery
1 hunter opted for a .416 Remington magnum
1 hunter opted for a .416 Taylor
1 hunter opted for a .416 Ruger
2 hunters opted for a .416 Rigby
2 hunters opted for a .470 Nitro Express

The hunter who opted for a .500 series calibre opted for a .500 Nitro Express.

Out of 22 hunters , it is interesting that 19 hunters opted for a bolt rifle , while 3 hunters opted for a double barreled rifle ( out of those 3 hunters , 1 hunter interestingly opted for both his dangerous game rifle and his plains game rifle to be double barrel rifles ) .

Alright , with the numbers out of the way , let us commence tonight’s article. Tonight , l will be discussing the importance of shot placement , combined with the relevance of bore size .
The data and photographs l will be using are gathered from my experiences as a professional shikaree in Nagpur , India from 1961 to 1970. I will also be using photographs and the experiences of my good friend , Sergeant Kawshik Rahman collected from his experiences as a professional shikaree in Darjeeling , India from 1962 to 1970 . Finally , l also own a few books about ( or involving ) dangerous game calibres written by a Mr. Pierre Van Der Walt and a Karamojo Bell and a Colonel Patterson , which l will also use as reference . Whenever , l will use a reference from a book , l will make sure to specify that l have no personal experience on the matter ( and l will try to use these references as less as possible , as l prefer to write from my personal experience , as much as possible ).
There were 8 species of dangerous game , which were legally available on the menu for local shikarees and client shikarees :
Village panther ( maximum weight- 172 pounds ) also known as spotted leopard
Forest Panther ( maximum weight - 204 pounds ) also known as hunting leopard
Bush Boar ( maximum weight- 301 pounds)
Asian Sloth Bear ( maximum weight - 417 pounds )
Royal Bengal tiger ( maximum weight - 505 pounds )
Gaur bison ( maximum weight - 2003 pounds)
Water buffalo ( same as gaur )
River crocodile ( maximum weight - 2183 pounds )

( Note to readers : When l was guiding clients in Nagpur , a law was in place which stipulated that the .375 Nitro Express be the minimum permissible calibre to use on royal Bengal tigers , water buffaloes and gaur . However , this law only applied in Nagpur and a few other states of India , and never applied to local shikarees . )

Now , out of these 8 species , all are dangerous . However , that does not mean that a cartridge suitable for 1 of these brutes , would be suitable for all of them . As an example , a .270 Winchester will completely flatten a village panther . However , if you are planning to use this weapon on a gaur , then you should take care to write your will in advance . On the other side of the spectrum , a .600 Nitro Express can completely crumple a charging gaur . However , it would be a funny sight to see a shikaree try using 1 to take out a village panther.

What a great deal of people sometimes overlook is that , very often even within a single species of animal , there will be variations in weight and size , which effect resilience of the particular brute in question. For example , a gaur weighing 1500 to 1750 pounds , can be comfortably killed with a .366 Mauser ( known to you gentlemen as the 9.3 x 62 ) and 286 grain bullets . However , when you are tangling with a gaur , weighing above the 1750 pound mark , that .366 Mauser starts to look very small ) . As another example , a female royal Bengal tiger , weighing below 445 pounds can comfortably be taken with a .30-06 Springfield , but attempting to take a 500 pound male royal Bengal tiger with the same weapon , possesses risks .

Below, l have provided some photographs taken by myself of royal Bengal tigers by by my clients and some times finished off by myself , during my career.
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Regarding what approach is best to tackle big ( dangerous ) game , conventional wisdom dictates that there are 2 schools of thought:
1 group believes that the largest calibres , which a shikaree can comfortably handle ( without injury to himself ) are what is requisite for tackling dangerous game .
The other group believes that small calibre bullets fired , with surgical precision into the weak spots of the largest elephant , can take it down and therefore , small calibre bullets are the way to go.
Below , l have provided a photograph belonging to Kawshik of 1 of his clients who successfully secured a 2000 pound gaur with a double barreled rifle , chambered in .458 Winchester magnum .
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Below , is another photograph kindly provided to me by Kawshik of 1 of his clients , who secured a forest panther using a 7 mm Remington Magnum calibre Remington Model 700.
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Perhaps the most extreme example is in this photograph , provided to me by Kawshik . It is of our client , who successfully took a royal Bengal tiger in 1963 with a .243 Winchester calibre Savage Model 110 bolt rifle , using one 105 grain soft point bullet .
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What followers of both of these schools of thought seem not to understand , is that following 1 school of thought without giving any consideration what so ever to the other , will only ever lead to bad results.
Let me give a few examples from personal experience. When l used to be a professional shikaree working for Allwyn Cooper Limited , my specialty was guiding clients for royal Bengal tiger shikars . In a 10 year career , l had to finish off 11 wounded royal Bengal tigers shot by clients .
I have seen royal Bengal tigers shot in the stomach , with a .375 Holland and Holland magnum which needed a full 3 hours of tracking through the thickets to find .

Mr. karamojo Bell mentions an incident in his book about witnessing a bull elephant being shot through the head with a .577 Nitro Express double barreled rifle and not even staggering .
Now , a .375 Holland and Holland magnum is the quintessential royal Bengal tiger cartridge and if a .577 Nitro Express is not an elephant cartridge , then l do not know what is . So , why did the tigers wounded by my clients and the elephant witnessed by Mr. bell , survive ( long enough to still remain a threat ) being shot by these calibres ( which we know , are certainly big enough for the job ) .
Speaking from personal experience about the royal Bengal tigers , l know why . Had the 300 grain bullet found the brutes’ brain , heart , spine or lungs instead of the stomach , then much trouble could have been averted.
From Mr. Bell’s writing , it is also evident that the 750 grain metal covered solid bullet had failed to find the elephant’s brain ( even though l have unfortunately never personally shot an elephant, l have seen 9 shot before my very eyes and seen them get butchered , and therefore , l can tell you all that an elephant’s brain is rather small, only a little smaller than a foot ball and located far back in the head of an elephant ) .
From these facts , it is then submitted that a bullet , no matter how large it is , will fail to kill an animal unless the bullet be reasonably placed in a vital region .

On the other end of the spectrum , there are times when small calibre bullets , no matter how well placed , fail to kill an animal . If any of you have read any of the articles written by my good friend and fellow former professional shikaree, Sergeant Kawshik Rahman , then you will recall an incident where 1 of Kawshik’s friends and fellow professional shikarees ( Rongon Daas ) in Darjeeling, was hung to death by the police ( under the orders of the Nilgiri Wild Life Association ) because the shikaree’s client was killed by a royal Bengal tiger . I was intimately familiar with this incident . What happened was this : Rongon Daas’s client had brought a pre 64 Winchester Model 70 in .220 Swift and wanted to shoot a royal Bengal tiger with it , using 48 grain soft point cartridges. He was a believer in light , high velocity bullets and had a theory that an accurately placed , light high velocity bullet could flatten a royal Bengal tiger . Unfortunately , his desire to prove this theory led to dire consequences for both himself and Rongon . The 48 grain soft point .220 Swift calibre bullet had hit the royal Bengal tiger right between the eyes and the bullet had fragmented , failing to reach the brain . Rongon fled for his life , while the angry royal Bengal tiger mauled his unfortunate client to death. I am familiar with the incident , because it was my American friend , Tobin Stakkatz and l , who were assigned to search for the wounded royal Bengal tiger and finish it off .
Finish it off , we did . It took 3 solid metal covered 347 grain bullets from Tobin’s .423 Mauser bolt rifle and 2 Eley 12 calibre Lethal Ball bullets from my shot gun , to do the job . When , we did a post mortem of the brute , we found the following : Out of Tobin’s three .423 calibre solid metal covered bullets , 1 had penetrated a lung , 1 broke the shoulder but failed to reach the heart and 1 blew off a portion of the brute’s lower jaw . Out of the 2 Eley Lethal Ball bullets l had fired at the brute , the first had penetrated into the brute’s shoulder and fragmented , where it had splintered bone . The second Eley Lethal Ball bullet , which was aimed at the brute’s head , penetrated the region between both eyes and fragmented inside the brain of the brute , killing it on the spot.

Below , l have provided a photograph taken by myself of that notorious royal Bengal tiger , which had killed a client of “Sundar Raj Shikar outfitters “ .
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Let us use wild boars as another example . A .30-06 Springfield calibre 220 grain Remington Core Lokt soft point bullet fired behind a shoulder into a 300 pound wild boar’s heart will make short work of the boar each and every time , without exception . A .243 Winchester calibre 105 grain soft nose bullet fired into the same region , can also comfortably take that boar , but shot placement will be far more critical . A .22 Hornet calibre 55 grain soft point bullet , however fired into the same region of a 300 pound wild boar , will struggle to reliably reach the boar’s heart each and every single time . In Bangladesh , where l currently live , even though citizens are legally allowed to own any rifle calibre ( except .303 British ) , the only rifles and rifle cartridges imported into the country on a commercial level, are the .22 Long Rifle and the .22 Winchester magnum rim fire . Tea garden owners , farmers and hunters in Bangladesh who use rifles to contend with these 300 pound brutes , therefore are forced to use the .22 Winchester magnum rim fire and l can personally attest to the challenges they face to put these 300 pound menaces down ( How they do it , l will detail a little further down ) .

Below , l have provided a photograph taken by myself of some wild boars killed by our shikar party , during a culling programme .
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Now , in theory , there is 1 area which , when struck , will lead to a dead animal , no matter how small / light a bullet is used - The brain of an animal . This can be problematic in real life , because of the bone in the skull of an animal , which ( depending upon the animal in question ) can be very tough. This is where the the smaller bullets fall . A .220 Swift 48 grain soft point bullet fired at the head of a royal Bengal tiger ( even in a delicate region between the eyes ) simply cannot reliably be driven into the animal’s brain through the skull bone . A .22 Long Rifle bullet or a .22 Winchester magnum rim fire bullet fired at the same region of a royal Bengal tiger’s head would only deliver worse results .
How could such a light bullet then , reach the brain of such an animal ? The answer , is only if it never had to bypass the skull bone , in the first place. In order to reach the brain of a big animal , then a bullet as light as the .220 Swift or the .22 rim fire cartridges would have to travel through an already existing canal , into the brain of the animal . These are the optic canal ( eye sockets ) and the auditory canal ( ear holes ) .Indeed , in Bangladesh, those who use .22 Winchester magnum rim fire calibre rifles to hunt wild boars , invariably aim for the region behind the boar’s ear , in order to reliably kill the boar . However , these are picked shots and cannot be afforded under many circumstances in real life . So , for most practical purposes , these shots are relegated to theories . Hunters in Bangladesh who use the .22 Winchester magnum rim fire calibre rifles to hunt boars , always have another hunter along with them , who is carrying a 12 calibre shot gun , loaded with Brenneke Black Magic slugs ( or in my case , Lethal Ball bullets , as well ) . This is insurance ,in case the boar tries to charge the shikar party. Fortunately , both 12 calibre shot guns and slugs of various kinds are imported into Bangladesh , and nothing flattens a wild boar , like a Brenneke Black Magic slug . There is not 1 hunter in Bangladesh , who would use a .22 Winchester magnum rim fire calibre rifle to hunt wild boars , if something better would become available. In 2023 , the .30-06 Springfield calibre rifles and ammunition will start getting imported into the country , and every hunter who uses a rifle , is eager to purchase 1 ( l am planning to purchase a Winchester Model 70 myself , in .30-06 Springfield).


From the above discussion, it is then submitted that sometimes , no matter how well placed a shot is on a large animal , the small calibre bullet simply cannot offer the 100% reliability in terms of penetration , that a larger calibre bullet can.
Below is a photograph taken by myself of a beastly gaur which nearly killed my best friend , Tobin Stakkatz and l .
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What is the conclusion , then ? I conclude that a large calibre bullet , no matter how heavy it is , simply cannot reliably kill an animal reliably unless the bullet hits a vital region. At the same time , a ridiculously small calibre bullet , regardless how well placed , will not offer the 100 % reliability of a larger calibre bullet.

What is the right approach to selecting a dangerous game cartridge ? I am of view that the calibre should be sufficiently large , but with a recoil level manageable enough , to ensure accurate placement of one’s shot .
Below , l have offered a list of every calibre brought to India for shikar , by 1 of my clients or owned by someone whom l knew :
.22 Long Rifle
.22 Winchester magnum rim fire
.22 Hornet
.22 Savage High Power
.243 Winchester
.256 Mannlicher
.264 Winchester
.270 Winchester
.275 Rigby ( better known as 7 x 57 )
7 mm Remington magnum
.30-30 Winchester
.303 British
.308 Winchester
.30-06 Springfield
8 mm Mauser
8 mm Mannlicher
.300 Winchester magnum
.338 Winchester
.366 Mauser ( better known as the 9.3 x 62 )
.375 Nitro Express ( better known as the 9.5 mm Mannlicher)
.375 Holland & Holland magnum
.405 Winchester ( owned by my maternal grandfather , Sepoy Jalaluddin Khan )
.423 Mauser ( owned by my professional shikaree partner , German American , Tobin Stakkatz)
.450 / 400 Nitro Express ( only brought by 1 client in 1961 , with old stocks of ICI Kynoch ammunition)
.476 Westley Richards ( only brought by 1 client in 1964 , using old stocks of ICI Kynoch ammunition )
.458 Winchester magnum
.460 Weatherby magnum


Back in those days , based on availability of ammunition, the following dangerous game ( assuming that they are the largest of their species ) would be best taken with the following cartridges :
Village Panther - Anything above .264 Winchester . Were l to choose , l would opt for the .270 Winchester.
Forest Panther - Anything above .30-30 Winchester. My personal preference lies with the .30-06 Springfield
Wild Boar - Anything above .270 Winchester. Were l to choose , l would personally opt for a .30-06 Springfield
Crocodile - Anything above .30-06 Springfield. Were l to choose , my preference would lie with the .338 Winchester.
Asian Sloth Bear - Anything above .300 Winchester magnum . My personal preference would be the .366 Mauser .
( Note to readers . For the 3 animals listed below , In Nagpur , where l was based , the legal minimum calibre to be used by client shikarees was the .375 Nitro Express)
Royal Bengal tiger - Anything above . 375 Nitro Express . My personal favorite is the .375 Holland & Holland magnum.
Gaur - Anything above . 375 Holland and Holland magnum . My personal preference is also the .375 Holland and Holland magnum ( more on this , below )
Water buffalo - Anything above .375 Holland and Holland magnum. My personal preference is for the .375 Holland and Holland magnum ( more on this , below )


Considering that back in those days , a foreign client shikaree could only bring 2 firearms and 250 cartridges , into India ( the firearms and the first 100 cartridges being duty free ) , 1 had to put a great deal of thought in regards to their choices . Because wing shooting was extremely popular in India ( l can still say that we used to have some of the finest winged game in the world ) , it would be imperative that most clients bring a shot gun . What this meant was that the other firearm , essentially would have to be a rifle capable of taking all Indian game.


Now , based on what was available back in those days ,my preference for water buffaloes and gaurs would be the .375 Holland & Holland magnum . But an explanation is requisite here .
I opted for the .375 Holland & Holland magnum for these 2 animals , because that was the largest calibre available during our time which reliably delivered the results which it was advertised as doing . There were larger calibres commercially available during our time , such as the .458 Winchester magnum and the .460 Weatherby magnum. However , l was not fond of either .
My reason for not liking the .458 Winchester magnum was that the powder capacity of the cartridge was slightly disproportionately low , for the weight of the 500 grain bullet. This led to fluctuations in velocity and there were times when there were short comings in terms of penetration . I mean not to be condescending towards the .458 Winchester magnum . Kawshik sums it up best , in 1 of his articles “ When it did what it was advertised to do , which is to push a 500 grain bullet at 2150 feet per second , then it would be a splendid thing . But the question is , if it could reliably do this at all times “ . In my experience , the .458 Winchester magnum does not reliably accomplish this at all times.
I have also seen a client who used to bring an extremely expensive double barreled side by side rifle , built by the Belgian company , Auguste Francotte chambered in .458 Winchester magnum . After 5 years of use , the gun developed a strange habit.Pulling just 1 trigger would sometimes cause the other barrel to discharge as well . And let me tell you. Nothing is rivaled in discomfort , the way discharging both barrels of a .458 Winchester magnum calibre double barrel rifle is.
After reading about this phenomenon on the internet , l concluded that the high pressure of the .458 Winchester magnum cartridge makes it detrimental to double barreled rifles in general.

( Note to readers : I have been made aware that in modern times , advancements in propellant powders has helped the .458 Winchester magnum deliver more consistent results )

My reason for not liking the .460 Weatherby magnum is because the velocity is too high for the 500 grain metal covered solid bullets , used during our time. I personally agree with Kawshik when he states that a dangerous game cartridge should not have a higher velocity than 2600 feet per second. The .460 Weatherby magnum factory loaded ammunition is a good example of this.
I have personally had 5 clients bring a Weatherby Mark V bolt rifle in .460 Weatherby magnum, using 500 grain solid metal covered factory loaded bullets , to shoot gaurs. In 2 cases , the bullets had badly deformed , when fired at the shoulder bone of the gaur ( in an attempt to reach the heart ) . The metal covering of the bullets had broken , exposing the lead interior . The animals in question , had to be finished off , by us professional shikarees ( which , l can assure you , was no easy task ) . The reason we subscribed to the bullets deforming at the time , was because of the excessively high velocities. Reading Mr. Pierre Van Der Walt’s book in 2013 , helped me confirm my suspicions.

( Note to readers : In modern times , with the prevalence of hand loading and monolithic bullets , there are now ways to circumvent this problem. A shooter can break the loads down in his .460 Weatherby magnum cartridges and slightly reduce the powder charge to get more productive velocities. He can also use monolithic solid brass bullets , which can withstand the higher velocities better that conventional metal covered solid bullets )

I had a client in 1961 come to Nagpur for gaur shikar, and he had brought a .450 / 400 Nitro Express double barreled rifle , built by the company WJ Jeffery . He was using an old stock of ICI Kynoch 400 grain metal covered solid bullets and the gun completely raked the gaur which he had taken with an end on end shot.
In 1964 , l had a client come to Nagpur to shoot a water buffalo and a gaur , and we had brought a .476 Nitro Express double barreled rifle , built by the company , Westley Richards. He was also using a stock piled quantity of old ICI Kynoch solid metal covered cartridges. He completely crumpled a water buffalo with a heart shot and a gaur with a double lung shot . The .476 Nitro Express is , in my personal experience, the most perfect cartridge for gaur or water buffalo shikar.

However , l chose the .375 Holland and Holland magnum over the above 2 Express cartridges , because ICI Kynoch was no longer manufacturing center fire cartridge during my time , and so these 2 gentlemen who possessed such rifles were exceptions and not the rule.


( Note to readers : I have been made aware that in recent times , ammunition and loading components for these British calibres is commercially available once more , fortunately)

For the .375 Holland & Holland magnum, the heaviest bullet available in our time was the 300 grain bullet. These were either solid metal covered bullets or soft point bullets. My personal favorite soft point bullet was ( like Kawshik ) the Winchester Silvertip. Such a bullet could flatten both species of panther , wild boar , Asian Sloth Bear , crocodile and royal Bengal tiger with ease .
When used for a double lung shot from a broad side position , for a gaur or a water buffalo , the 300 grain Winchester Silvertip would work perfectly. Once it opened up inside the bison , after piercing both lungs , the bison would run a maximum of 80 yards , coughing blood from it’s mouth and nose , before dropping dead. However , if the perfect double lung shot could not be made , then trouble would arise and solid metal covered bullets had to be used , for follow up shots. This is where the .375 Holland & Holland magnum fell a little short , back in those days.
A .375 Holland & Holland magnum solid metal covered 300 grain metal covered bullet makes a rather small hole in the heart of a gaur or water buffalo. Kawshik reports that a gaur shot through the heart with a solid metal covered 300 grain bullet , can still “ remain in action “ for up to 17 minutes . He is accurate in his assessment. A 2000 pound gaur or water buffalo can still remain a very big threat for up to anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes , if shot in the heart by a .375 Holland & Holland magnum solid metal covered bullet . A double lung shot with a solid metal covered .375 Holland & Holland magnum 300 grain bullet is worse. We once had to track a gaur for 10 hours after it had been shot through both lungs with a solid metal covered.375 Holland & Holland magnum bullet.

( Note to readers : I have been made aware that modern monolithic bullets and soft nose bullets with slower rates of expansion have helped to boost the performance of the .375 Holland & Holland magnum significantly on the largest of bovines nowadays . Also , bullets as heavy as 340 grains exist now , although velocity is compromised a little when using these )

So , what would l choose as a dangerous game rifle for all the Indian dangerous game , if l had to do it all over again , and l had a choice ?
Factoring calibres which were available during our time, l would opt for a pre 64 Winchester Model 70 chambered in .375 Holland & Holland magnum . With a modern selection of bullets , l would opt for the 300 grain Barnes TSX soft points and Rhino monolithic solid bullets , which have received much praise in Mr. Pierre Van Der Walt’s book.

If l could factor in , the calibres which are available to shikarees once again in modern times , then l would opt for a double barreled side by side rifle , built by the company , James Purdey chambered in .450 / 400 Nitro Express, regulated for 400 grain Woodleigh soft point and metal covered solid bullets ( which replicate , but are an improvement up on the old ICI Kynoch cartridges ) .

While l have no personal experience with the .404 Jeffery , a cursory reading enlightened me that it is ballistically identical to a .400/400 Nitro Express , using 400 grain bullets . Therefore , for those who prefer bolt rifles , l can see why this is such a well liked cartridge .

Even though , l am very comfortable firing bolt rifles and lever rifles , I chose the double barreled rifle, simply because l have used a double barreled weapon my entire life ( although , l really did not have anything better at the time ) , during my career as a professional shikaree. It was not until the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 , that l properly learnt to shoot with bolt rifles on a proficient level.
My old gun , was a 12 bore double barreled side by side shot gun , made in Belgium with 28 inch barrels , 3 inch chambers and extractors. The left barrel was a full choke and the right barrel was a half choke. Loaded with 2.75 inch Eley Alphamax Lethal Ball cartridges which gave accurate results and a flat enough trajectory at 30 yards , it aided me every single day in my career as a professional shikaree. It helped me finish off 11 wounded royal Bengal tigers . It also helped me account for 20 panthers , 15 gaur , 12 water buffalo , dozens of crocodiles and over 55 wild boars ( to say nothing of the countless jungle fowl , water fowl and various species of deer which it helped me secure , for the pot ) . It afforded me the greatest adventure since 1959 and has not let me down , at all in the last 60 years.
Below, l have provided a photograph taken by myself of my " Old Belgian "
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What school of thought do my dear readers follow ? Do they prioritize shot placement or calibre size ? Or , do they opt for a middle of the ground approach , like l do ?
I hope that this account has proven enjoyable. I also apologize for the delay in writing this article . I was having some health problems , but l have fortunately made a full recovery now.
 
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Major Khan

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A very informative article. Shot placement is and always been the key.
I am glad that you liked it so much , Shootist43 . When doing the calculation , l was pleasantly surprised to see how the .375 Holland and Holland magnum supporters and the .400 series supporters matched each other neck and neck.
 

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I chose the 375 H&H because I felt I would practice more with the lower recoiling rifle than I would a harder one. Also because reloading components and ammo are more widely available than others. I hope someday I can take a Cape buffalo with my 375 I plan to use a 300 grain swift a frame or a 350 grain of some sort, hopefully I can acquire a small stock of rhino bullets. I have plenty of time to think on such matters as I’m sure I will have to save for ten or so years.
 

Major Khan

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I chose the 375 H&H because I felt I would practice more with the lower recoiling rifle than I would a harder one. Also because reloading components and ammo are more widely available than others. I hope someday I can take a Cape buffalo with my 375 I plan to use a 300 grain swift a frame or a 350 grain of some sort, hopefully I can acquire a small stock of rhino bullets. I have plenty of time to think on such matters as I’m sure I will have to save for ten or so years.
I love your choice , Master Smith . A .375 Holland & Holland magnum calibre Winchester Model 70 is the best perfect bolt rifle , in my view. If you use a good quality expanding bullet and a double lung shot from the broadside position , then l can guarantee your your buffalo.
I wholeheartedly support your dream. I am saving my funds to go to Namibia and shoot a blue Wildebeest and an African lion and getting to try a .416 Remington magnum calibre Winchester Model 70 ( my dream rifle to fire ) before l turn 83.
And by God , l am determined to succeed .
 

BeeMaa

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Shot placement is the trump card of all calibers.
How many time have you said "Damn that was a good (or lucky) shot" as the animal dropped in it's tracks?
Other side of the coin, it doesn't matter what caliber you are shooting if you hit them in the foot.

That being said, I'd prefer a larger caliber AND still have the good (or lucky) shot.
Call it room for error if one were to occur.
300WM and 416RM both in bolt action Blaser R8 for me please.
 

Major Khan

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Shot placement is the trump card of all calibers.
How many time have you said "Damn that was a good (or lucky) shot" as the animal dropped in it's tracks?
Other side of the coin, it doesn't matter what caliber you are shooting if you hit them in the foot.

That being said, I'd prefer a larger caliber AND still have the good (or lucky) shot.
Call it room for error if one were to occur.
300WM and 416RM both in bolt action Blaser R8 for me please.
I have significant experience with the .300 Winchester magnum , Bee Maa. It is a lovely cartridge and my clients were fond of using it , on Asian Sloth Bears .
The .416 Remington magnum is a dream cartridge of mine to try someday , preferably in a Winchester Model 70 configuration .
I see that you , like me , also opted for the middle of the ground approach for selecting a calibre . I salute you.
 

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Glad to hear you have recovered from your health issue!
I tend to be a middle of the road guy. The rifle I have taken to Africa on my hunts is a 375 H&H. It has accounted for animals as small as duiker to as large as Cape buffalo and vicious as lion. I do change bullets and scopes depending on the game pursued. Examples are a 2-12x scope using the most accurate load (250 Barnes TTSX) to shoot my most precise shot on a crocodile lazing in the sun at 90 yards. The largest DG to date was a Cape buffalo using a 1-6x scope (300 Barnes TSX) at under 30 yards. The lion and lioness were at under 20 yards using the 1-6x scope (235 Barnes TSX). The duiker I used the same 1-6x in the dark with an illuminated dot reticle (300 gr Hornady full metal jacket bullets).
Another great article Poton! Thanks for your experienced posting! You and Kawshik are a pleasure to have on AH with your unique adventures!
 

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Glad to hear you have recovered from your health issue!
I tend to be a middle of the road guy. The rifle I have taken to Africa on my hunts is a 375 H&H. It has accounted for animals as small as duiker to as large as Cape buffalo and vicious as lion. I do change bullets and scopes depending on the game pursued. Examples are a 2-12x scope using the most accurate load (250 Barnes TTSX) to shoot my most precise shot on a crocodile lazing in the sun at 90 yards. The largest DG to date was a Cape buffalo using a 1-6x scope (300 Barnes TSX) at under 30 yards. The lion and lioness were at under 20 yards using the 1-6x scope (235 Barnes TSX). The duiker I used the same 1-6x in the dark with an illuminated dot reticle (300 gr Hornady full metal jacket bullets).
Another great article Poton! Thanks for your experienced posting! You and Kawshik are a pleasure to have on AH with your unique adventures!
Thank you so much for your concern over my health , Ridge Walker . I wholeheartedly endorse your fondness of the .375 Holland and Holland magnum .
For me , the ideal all rounder rifle is either a pre 64 Winchester Model 70 in .375 Holland & Holland magnum or a double barreled side by side rifle in .450 / 400 Nitro Express
 

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I would love to have a double in 450/400! Although I would need a red dot sight since I can no longer see open sights and the target at the same time.
 

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Poton
Excellent article , as always , old friend.
Much like yourself , my preference is with the .375 Holland and Holland magnum cartridge . Winchester Model 70 bolt operation rifles are perfect and the United States of America's greatest contribution to the world of Shikar , although l still consider the French Brevex magnum mauser mechanism to be the king of all rifle mechanisms .
I suppose l never could persuade you to forgive the .458 Winchester magnum cartridge after that day Tobin got injured by a Gaur , which your client had shot with one .
On a related subject , l know that this will probably drive you crazy , but Winchester has discontinued the silver tip for some years now .
 

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Poton
Excellent article , as always , old friend.
Much like yourself , my preference is with the .375 Holland and Holland magnum cartridge . Winchester Model 70 bolt operation rifles are perfect and the United States of America's greatest contribution to the world of Shikar , although l still consider the French Brevex magnum mauser mechanism to be the king of all rifle mechanisms .
I suppose l never could persuade you to forgive the .458 Winchester magnum cartridge after that day Tobin got injured by a Gaur , which your client had shot with one .
On a related subject , l know that this will probably drive you crazy , but Winchester has discontinued the silver tip for some years now .
You are surely jesting , Kawshik. Why would anyone ever discontinue the Winchester Silvertip soft point cartridge ? It was perfection .
 

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What school of thought do my dear readers follow ? Do they prioritize shot placement or calibre size ? Or , do they opt for a middle of the ground approach , like l do ?

There is no simple answer to this.

First off visiting hunter vs Professional hunter have different requirements.

First shot, shot placement is extremely important, just as the correct premium grade bullet for the task at hand.

However it would be of no use to have a super accurate shooter who can place the first shot exactly but is using the wrong caliber and the wrong bullet for the intended animal.

A good quality bullet placed correctly will kill, the same quality bullet placed in the same place will kill with more authority from a larger caliber. Heavy for caliber bullets will perform better on DG than light for caliber bullets..

I am a believer in using more than adequate calibers for the task. My DG back up rifle is a 500 Jeff and it has never let me down no matter how bad the situation.

Yes you need the ability to handle the recoil and place your shot correctly, if not move down in caliber. However when tangling with DG use the largest caliber you can use competently rather than a marginal caliber.

Visiting hunters can get away with smaller calibers as they will have the necessary back up.
 

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What has happened to @Hoss Delgado ? After my asking him to make a video of how he operates his 7 shot 375 H&H he has disappeared. He has been checking post but has not had anything to say since the 10th September.....strange....
 

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There is no simple answer to this.

First off visiting hunter vs Professional hunter have different requirements.

First shot, shot placement is extremely important, just as the correct premium grade bullet for the task at hand.

However it would be of no use to have a super accurate shooter who can place the first shot exactly but is using the wrong caliber and the wrong bullet for the intended animal.

A good quality bullet placed correctly will kill, the same quality bullet placed in the same place will kill with more authority from a larger caliber. Heavy for caliber bullets will perform better on DG than light for caliber bullets..

I am a believer in using more than adequate calibers for the task. My DG back up rifle is a 500 Jeff and it has never let me down no matter how bad the situation.

Yes you need the ability to handle the recoil and place your shot correctly, if not move down in caliber. However when tangling with DG use the largest caliber you can use competently rather than a marginal caliber.

Visiting hunters can get away with smaller calibers as they will have the necessary back up.
Your assessment is very accurate , IvW. If l were to back clients again today for royal Bengal tigers , water buffalo and gaur , l would opt for a .450 / 400 Nitro Express double barrel rifle ( side by side ) using 400 grain Woodleigh bullets . Such a rifle would have twin triggers , no automatic safety and 24 inch barrels.
Unfortunately , l have no personal experience with shooting elephants , because they were a protected species even during my time .

By the way , l see you mention that you use a .500 Jeffery , but in your post on my previous article , you referenced a .500 Nitro Express which you would like to use.
Under what circumstances would you consider the .500 Nitro Express superior to the .500 Jeffery ?
 

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Your assessment is very accurate , IvW. If l were to back clients again today for royal Bengal tigers , water buffalo and gaur , l would opt for a .450 / 400 Nitro Express double barrel rifle ( side by side ) using 400 grain Woodleigh bullets . Such a rifle would have twin triggers , no automatic safety and 24 inch barrels.
Unfortunately , l have no personal experience with shooting elephants , because they were a protected species even during my time .

By the way , l see you mention that you use a .500 Jeffery , but in your post on my previous article , you referenced a .500 Nitro Express which you would like to use.
Under what circumstances would you consider the .500 Nitro Express superior to the .500 Jeffery ?
Poton
You probably caught on to it by now . But IvW , is a professional Shikari just like we used to be . He is a White Hunter in South Africa.
 

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2 days ago , l had conducted a rough survey of sorts where l asked members of this forum to list their calibre choices , were they to choose 2 rifles ( 1 for plains game and 1 for dangerous game ) and a shot gun for a safari / shikar . The purpose of that survey was to see which plains game cartridge and which dangerous game cartridge they would choose , were they to allowed to bring 1 of each for a safari to Africa , or a shikar in India if hunting would be legal again there ( sadly , with the uprising of vegan filth there since 1972 , that is a distant dream of all of us retired professional shikarees .)
Below , l have provided a photograph of the paper on which l was making my calculations earlier tonight.
View attachment 318488

I know that my handwriting is not the best and resembles the messiest of scribbling , so l broke the results down , relating to dangerous game cartridges below -
22 hunters responded to the post . I divided the choices into 3 categories :
.375 Holland and Holland magnum , .400 series and .500 series .
11 hunters ( including myself ) opted for a .375 Holland and Holland magnum.
11 hunters opted for something in the .400 series .
1 hunter opted for something in the .500 series.

Among the 11 hunters who opted for something in the .400 series ,
1 hunter opted for a .400 Holland and Holland
1 hunter opted for the .450/ 400 Nitro Express
2 hunters opted for a .404 Jeffery
1 hunter opted for a .416 Remington magnum
1 hunter opted for a .416 Taylor
1 hunter opted for a .416 Ruger
2 hunters opted for a .416 Rigby
2 hunters opted for a .470 Nitro Express

The hunter who opted for a .500 series calibre opted for a .500 Nitro Express.

Out of 22 hunters , it is interesting that 19 hunters opted for a bolt rifle , while 3 hunters opted for a double barreled rifle ( out of those 3 hunters , 1 hunter interestingly opted for both his dangerous game rifle and his plains game rifle to be double barrel rifles ) .

Alright , with the numbers out of the way , let us commence tonight’s article. Tonight , l will be discussing the importance of shot placement , combined with the relevance of bore size .
The data and photographs l will be using are gathered from my experiences as a professional shikaree in Nagpur , India from 1961 to 1970. I will also be using photographs and the experiences of my good friend , Sergeant Kawshik Rahman collected from his experiences as a professional shikaree in Darjeeling , India from 1962 to 1970 . Finally , l also own a few books about ( or involving ) dangerous game calibres written by a Mr. Pierre Van Der Walt and a Karamojo Bell and a Colonel Patterson , which l will also use as reference . Whenever , l will use a reference from a book , l will make sure to specify that l have no personal experience on the matter ( and l will try to use these references as less as possible , as l prefer to write from my personal experience , as much as possible ).
There were 8 species of dangerous game , which were legally available on the menu for local shikarees and client shikarees :
Village panther ( maximum weight- 172 pounds ) also known as spotted leopard
Forest Panther ( maximum weight - 204 pounds ) also known as hunting leopard
Bush Boar ( maximum weight- 301 pounds)
Asian Sloth Bear ( maximum weight - 417 pounds )
Royal Bengal tiger ( maximum weight - 505 pounds )
Gaur bison ( maximum weight - 2003 pounds)
Water buffalo ( same as gaur )
River crocodile ( maximum weight - 2183 pounds )

( Note to readers : When l was guiding clients in Nagpur , a law was in place which stipulated that the .375 Nitro Express be the minimum permissible calibre to use on royal Bengal tigers , water buffaloes and gaur . However , this law only applied in Nagpur and a few other states of India , and never applied to local shikarees . )

Now , out of these 8 species , all are dangerous . However , that does not mean that a cartridge suitable for 1 of these brutes , would be suitable for all of them . As an example , a .270 Winchester will completely flatten a village panther . However , if you are planning to use this weapon on a gaur , then you should take care to write your will in advance . On the other side of the spectrum , a .600 Nitro Express can completely crumple a charging gaur . However , it would be a funny sight to see a shikaree try using 1 to take out a village panther.

What a great deal of people sometimes overlook is that , very often even within a single species of animal , there will be variations in weight and size , which effect resilience of the particular brute in question. For example , a gaur weighing 1500 to 1750 pounds , can be comfortably killed with a .366 Mauser ( known to you gentlemen as the 9.3 x 62 ) and 286 grain bullets . However , when you are tangling with a gaur , weighing above the 1750 pound mark , that .366 Mauser starts to look very small ) . As another example , a female royal Bengal tiger , weighing below 445 pounds can comfortably be taken with a .30-06 Springfield , but attempting to take a 500 pound male royal Bengal tiger with the same weapon , possesses risks .

Below, l have provided some photographs taken by myself of royal Bengal tigers by by my clients and some times finished off by myself , during my career.
View attachment 318489 View attachment 318490 View attachment 318491 View attachment 318493
View attachment 318494

Regarding what approach is best to tackle big ( dangerous ) game , conventional wisdom dictates that there are 2 schools of thought:
1 group believes that the largest calibres , which a shikaree can comfortably handle ( without injury to himself ) are what is requisite for tackling dangerous game .
The other group believes that small calibre bullets fired , with surgical precision into the weak spots of the largest elephant , can take it down and therefore , small calibre bullets are the way to go.
Below , l have provided a photograph belonging to Kawshik of 1 of his clients who successfully secured a 2000 pound gaur with a double barreled rifle , chambered in .458 Winchester magnum .
View attachment 318495

Below , is another photograph kindly provided to me by Kawshik of 1 of his clients , who secured a forest panther using a 7 mm Remington Magnum calibre Remington Model 700.
View attachment 318496

Perhaps the most extreme example is in this photograph , provided to me by Kawshik . It is of our client , who successfully took a royal Bengal tiger in 1963 with a .243 Winchester calibre Savage Model 110 bolt rifle , using one 105 grain soft point bullet .
View attachment 318497





What followers of both of these schools of thought seem not to understand , is that following 1 school of thought without giving any consideration what so ever to the other , will only ever lead to bad results.
Let me give a few examples from personal experience. When l used to be a professional shikaree working for Allwyn Cooper Limited , my specialty was guiding clients for royal Bengal tiger shikars . In a 10 year career , l had to finish off 11 wounded royal Bengal tigers shot by clients .
I have seen royal Bengal tigers shot in the stomach , with a .375 Holland and Holland magnum which needed a full 3 hours of tracking through the thickets to find .

Mr. karamojo Bell mentions an incident in his book about witnessing a bull elephant being shot through the head with a .577 Nitro Express double barreled rifle and not even staggering .
Now , a .375 Holland and Holland magnum is the quintessential royal Bengal tiger cartridge and if a .577 Nitro Express is not an elephant cartridge , then l do not know what is . So , why did the tigers wounded by my clients and the elephant witnessed by Mr. bell , survive ( long enough to still remain a threat ) being shot by these calibres ( which we know , are certainly big enough for the job ) .
Speaking from personal experience about the royal Bengal tigers , l know why . Had the 300 grain bullet found the brutes’ brain , heart , spine or lungs instead of the stomach , then much trouble could have been averted.
From Mr. Bell’s writing , it is also evident that the 750 grain metal covered solid bullet had failed to find the elephant’s brain ( even though l have unfortunately never personally shot an elephant, l have seen 9 shot before my very eyes and seen them get butchered , and therefore , l can tell you all that an elephant’s brain is rather small, only a little smaller than a foot ball and located far back in the head of an elephant ) .
From these facts , it is then submitted that a bullet , no matter how large it is , will fail to kill an animal unless the bullet be reasonably placed in a vital region .

On the other end of the spectrum , there are times when small calibre bullets , no matter how well placed , fail to kill an animal . If any of you have read any of the articles written by my good friend and fellow former professional shikaree, Sergeant Kawshik Rahman , then you will recall an incident where 1 of Kawshik’s friends and fellow professional shikarees ( Rongon Daas ) in Darjeeling, was hung to death by the police ( under the orders of the Nilgiri Wild Life Association ) because the shikaree’s client was killed by a royal Bengal tiger . I was intimately familiar with this incident . What happened was this : Rongon Daas’s client had brought a pre 64 Winchester Model 70 in .220 Swift and wanted to shoot a royal Bengal tiger with it , using 48 grain soft point cartridges. He was a believer in light , high velocity bullets and had a theory that an accurately placed , light high velocity bullet could flatten a royal Bengal tiger . Unfortunately , his desire to prove this theory led to dire consequences for both himself and Rongon . The 48 grain soft point .220 Swift calibre bullet had hit the royal Bengal tiger right between the eyes and the bullet had fragmented , failing to reach the brain . Rongon fled for his life , while the angry royal Bengal tiger mauled his unfortunate client to death. I am familiar with the incident , because it was my American friend , Tobin Stakkatz and l , who were assigned to search for the wounded royal Bengal tiger and finish it off .
Finish it off , we did . It took 3 solid metal covered 347 grain bullets from Tobin’s .423 Mauser bolt rifle and 2 Eley 12 calibre Lethal Ball bullets from my shot gun , to do the job . When , we did a post mortem of the brute , we found the following : Out of Tobin’s three .423 calibre solid metal covered bullets , 1 had penetrated a lung , 1 broke the shoulder but failed to reach the heart and 1 blew off a portion of the brute’s lower jaw . Out of the 2 Eley Lethal Ball bullets l had fired at the brute , the first had penetrated into the brute’s shoulder and fragmented , where it had splintered bone . The second Eley Lethal Ball bullet , which was aimed at the brute’s head , penetrated the region between both eyes and fragmented inside the brain of the brute , killing it on the spot.

Below , l have provided a photograph taken by myself of that notorious royal Bengal tiger , which had killed a client of “Sundar Raj Shikar outfitters “ .
View attachment 318492


Let us use wild boars as another example . A .30-06 Springfield calibre 220 grain Remington Core Lokt soft point bullet fired behind a shoulder into a 300 pound wild boar’s heart will make short work of the boar each and every time , without exception . A .243 Winchester calibre 105 grain soft nose bullet fired into the same region , can also comfortably take that boar , but shot placement will be far more critical . A .22 Hornet calibre 55 grain soft point bullet , however fired into the same region of a 300 pound wild boar , will struggle to reliably reach the boar’s heart each and every single time . In Bangladesh , where l currently live , even though citizens are legally allowed to own any rifle calibre ( except .303 British ) , the only rifles and rifle cartridges imported into the country on a commercial level, are the .22 Long Rifle and the .22 Winchester magnum rim fire . Tea garden owners , farmers and hunters in Bangladesh who use rifles to contend with these 300 pound brutes , therefore are forced to use the .22 Winchester magnum rim fire and l can personally attest to the challenges they face to put these 300 pound menaces down ( How they do it , l will detail a little further down ) .

Below , l have provided a photograph taken by myself of some wild boars killed by our shikar party , during a culling programme .
View attachment 318498


Now , in theory , there is 1 area which , when struck , will lead to a dead animal , no matter how small / light a bullet is used - The brain of an animal . This can be problematic in real life , because of the bone in the skull of an animal , which ( depending upon the animal in question ) can be very tough. This is where the the smaller bullets fall . A .220 Swift 48 grain soft point bullet fired at the head of a royal Bengal tiger ( even in a delicate region between the eyes ) simply cannot reliably be driven into the animal’s brain through the skull bone . A .22 Long Rifle bullet or a .22 Winchester magnum rim fire bullet fired at the same region of a royal Bengal tiger’s head would only deliver worse results .
How could such a light bullet then , reach the brain of such an animal ? The answer , is only if it never had to bypass the skull bone , in the first place. In order to reach the brain of a big animal , then a bullet as light as the .220 Swift or the .22 rim fire cartridges would have to travel through an already existing canal , into the brain of the animal . These are the optic canal ( eye sockets ) and the auditory canal ( ear holes ) .Indeed , in Bangladesh, those who use .22 Winchester magnum rim fire calibre rifles to hunt wild boars , invariably aim for the region behind the boar’s ear , in order to reliably kill the boar . However , these are picked shots and cannot be afforded under many circumstances in real life . So , for most practical purposes , these shots are relegated to theories . Hunters in Bangladesh who use the .22 Winchester magnum rim fire calibre rifles to hunt boars , always have another hunter along with them , who is carrying a 12 calibre shot gun , loaded with Brenneke Black Magic slugs ( or in my case , Lethal Ball bullets , as well ) . This is insurance ,in case the boar tries to charge the shikar party. Fortunately , both 12 calibre shot guns and slugs of various kinds are imported into Bangladesh , and nothing flattens a wild boar , like a Brenneke Black Magic slug . There is not 1 hunter in Bangladesh , who would use a .22 Winchester magnum rim fire calibre rifle to hunt wild boars , if something better would become available. In 2023 , the .30-06 Springfield calibre rifles and ammunition will start getting imported into the country , and every hunter who uses a rifle , is eager to purchase 1 ( l am planning to purchase a Winchester Model 70 myself , in .30-06 Springfield).


From the above discussion, it is then submitted that sometimes , no matter how well placed a shot is on a large animal , the small calibre bullet simply cannot offer the 100% reliability in terms of penetration , that a larger calibre bullet can.
Below is a photograph taken by myself of a beastly gaur which nearly killed my best friend , Tobin Stakkatz and l .
View attachment 318500



What is the conclusion , then ? I conclude that a large calibre bullet , no matter how heavy it is , simply cannot reliably kill an animal reliably unless the bullet hits a vital region. At the same time , a ridiculously small calibre bullet , regardless how well placed , will not offer the 100 % reliability of a larger calibre bullet.

What is the right approach to selecting a dangerous game cartridge ? I am of view that the calibre should be sufficiently large , but with a recoil level manageable enough , to ensure accurate placement of one’s shot .
Below , l have offered a list of every calibre brought to India for shikar , by 1 of my clients or owned by someone whom l knew :
.22 Long Rifle
.22 Winchester magnum rim fire
.22 Hornet
.22 Savage High Power
.243 Winchester
.256 Mannlicher
.264 Winchester
.270 Winchester
.275 Rigby ( better known as 7 x 57 )
7 mm Remington magnum
.30-30 Winchester
.303 British
.308 Winchester
.30-06 Springfield
8 mm Mauser
8 mm Mannlicher
.300 Winchester magnum
.338 Winchester
.366 Mauser ( better known as the 9.3 x 62 )
.375 Nitro Express ( better known as the 9.5 mm Mannlicher)
.375 Holland & Holland magnum
.405 Winchester ( owned by my maternal grandfather , Sepoy Jalaluddin Khan )
.423 Mauser ( owned by my professional shikaree partner , German American , Tobin Stakkatz)
.450 / 400 Nitro Express ( only brought by 1 client in 1961 , with old stocks of ICI Kynoch ammunition)
.476 Westley Richards ( only brought by 1 client in 1964 , using old stocks of ICI Kynoch ammunition )
.458 Winchester magnum
.460 Weatherby magnum


Back in those days , based on availability of ammunition, the following dangerous game ( assuming that they are the largest of their species ) would be best taken with the following cartridges :
Village Panther - Anything above .264 Winchester . Were l to choose , l would opt for the .270 Winchester.
Forest Panther - Anything above .30-30 Winchester. My personal preference lies with the .30-06 Springfield
Wild Boar - Anything above .270 Winchester. Were l to choose , l would personally opt for a .30-06 Springfield
Crocodile - Anything above .30-06 Springfield. Were l to choose , my preference would lie with the .338 Winchester.
Asian Sloth Bear - Anything above .300 Winchester magnum . My personal preference would be the .366 Mauser .
( Note to readers . For the 3 animals listed below , In Nagpur , where l was based , the legal minimum calibre to be used by client shikarees was the .375 Nitro Express)
Royal Bengal tiger - Anything above . 375 Nitro Express . My personal favorite is the .375 Holland & Holland magnum.
Gaur - Anything above . 375 Holland and Holland magnum . My personal preference is also the .375 Holland and Holland magnum ( more on this , below )
Water buffalo - Anything above .375 Holland and Holland magnum. My personal preference is for the .375 Holland and Holland magnum ( more on this , below )


Considering that back in those days , a foreign client shikaree could only bring 2 firearms and 250 cartridges , into India ( the firearms and the first 100 cartridges being duty free ) , 1 had to put a great deal of thought in regards to their choices . Because wing shooting was extremely popular in India ( l can still say that we used to have some of the finest winged game in the world ) , it would be imperative that most clients bring a shot gun . What this meant was that the other firearm , essentially would have to be a rifle capable of taking all Indian game.


Now , based on what was available back in those days ,my preference for water buffaloes and gaurs would be the .375 Holland & Holland magnum . But an explanation is requisite here .
I opted for the .375 Holland & Holland magnum for these 2 animals , because that was the largest calibre available during our time which reliably delivered the results which it was advertised as doing . There were larger calibres commercially available during our time , such as the .458 Winchester magnum and the .460 Weatherby magnum. However , l was not fond of either .
My reason for not liking the .458 Winchester magnum was that the powder capacity of the cartridge was slightly disproportionately low , for the weight of the 500 grain bullet. This led to fluctuations in velocity and there were times when there were short comings in terms of penetration . I mean not to be condescending towards the .458 Winchester magnum . Kawshik sums it up best , in 1 of his articles “ When it did what it was advertised to do , which is to push a 500 grain bullet at 2150 feet per second , then it would be a splendid thing . But the question is , if it could reliably do this at all times “ . In my experience , the .458 Winchester magnum does not reliably accomplish this at all times.
I have also seen a client who used to bring an extremely expensive double barreled side by side rifle , built by the Belgian company , Auguste Francotte chambered in .458 Winchester magnum . After 5 years of use , the gun developed a strange habit.Pulling just 1 trigger would sometimes cause the other barrel to discharge as well . And let me tell you. Nothing is rivaled in discomfort , the way discharging both barrels of a .458 Winchester magnum calibre double barrel rifle is.
After reading about this phenomenon on the internet , l concluded that the high pressure of the .458 Winchester magnum cartridge makes it detrimental to double barreled rifles in general.

( Note to readers : I have been made aware that in modern times , advancements in propellant powders has helped the .458 Winchester magnum deliver more consistent results )

My reason for not liking the .460 Weatherby magnum is because the velocity is too high for the 500 grain metal covered solid bullets , used during our time. I personally agree with Kawshik when he states that a dangerous game cartridge should not have a higher velocity than 2600 feet per second. The .460 Weatherby magnum factory loaded ammunition is a good example of this.
I have personally had 5 clients bring a Weatherby Mark V bolt rifle in .460 Weatherby magnum, using 500 grain solid metal covered factory loaded bullets , to shoot gaurs. In 2 cases , the bullets had badly deformed , when fired at the shoulder bone of the gaur ( in an attempt to reach the heart ) . The metal covering of the bullets had broken , exposing the lead interior . The animals in question , had to be finished off , by us professional shikarees ( which , l can assure you , was no easy task ) . The reason we subscribed to the bullets deforming at the time , was because of the excessively high velocities. Reading Mr. Pierre Van Der Walt’s book in 2013 , helped me confirm my suspicions.

( Note to readers : In modern times , with the prevalence of hand loading and monolithic bullets , there are now ways to circumvent this problem. A shooter can break the loads down in his .460 Weatherby magnum cartridges and slightly reduce the powder charge to get more productive velocities. He can also use monolithic solid brass bullets , which can withstand the higher velocities better that conventional metal covered solid bullets )

I had a client in 1961 come to Nagpur for gaur shikar, and he had brought a .450 / 400 Nitro Express double barreled rifle , built by the company WJ Jeffery . He was using an old stock of ICI Kynoch 400 grain metal covered solid bullets and the gun completely raked the gaur which he had taken with an end on end shot.
In 1964 , l had a client come to Nagpur to shoot a water buffalo and a gaur , and we had brought a .476 Nitro Express double barreled rifle , built by the company , Westley Richards. He was also using a stock piled quantity of old ICI Kynoch solid metal covered cartridges. He completely crumpled a water buffalo with a heart shot and a gaur with a double lung shot . The .476 Nitro Express is , in my personal experience, the most perfect cartridge for gaur or water buffalo shikar.

However , l chose the .375 Holland and Holland magnum over the above 2 Express cartridges , because ICI Kynoch was no longer manufacturing center fire cartridge during my time , and so these 2 gentlemen who possessed such rifles were exceptions and not the rule.


( Note to readers : I have been made aware that in recent times , ammunition and loading components for these British calibres is commercially available once more , fortunately)

For the .375 Holland & Holland magnum, the heaviest bullet available in our time was the 300 grain bullet. These were either solid metal covered bullets or soft point bullets. My personal favorite soft point bullet was ( like Kawshik ) the Winchester Silvertip. Such a bullet could flatten both species of panther , wild boar , Asian Sloth Bear , crocodile and royal Bengal tiger with ease .
When used for a double lung shot from a broad side position , for a gaur or a water buffalo , the 300 grain Winchester Silvertip would work perfectly. Once it opened up inside the bison , after piercing both lungs , the bison would run a maximum of 80 yards , coughing blood from it’s mouth and nose , before dropping dead. However , if the perfect double lung shot could not be made , then trouble would arise and solid metal covered bullets had to be used , for follow up shots. This is where the .375 Holland & Holland magnum fell a little short , back in those days.
A .375 Holland & Holland magnum solid metal covered 300 grain metal covered bullet makes a rather small hole in the heart of a gaur or water buffalo. Kawshik reports that a gaur shot through the heart with a solid metal covered 300 grain bullet , can still “ remain in action “ for up to 17 minutes . He is accurate in his assessment. A 2000 pound gaur or water buffalo can still remain a very big threat for up to anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes , if shot in the heart by a .375 Holland & Holland magnum solid metal covered bullet . A double lung shot with a solid metal covered .375 Holland & Holland magnum 300 grain bullet is worse. We once had to track a gaur for 10 hours after it had been shot through both lungs with a solid metal covered.375 Holland & Holland magnum bullet.

( Note to readers : I have been made aware that modern monolithic bullets and soft nose bullets with slower rates of expansion have helped to boost the performance of the .375 Holland & Holland magnum significantly on the largest of bovines nowadays . Also , bullets as heavy as 340 grains exist now , although velocity is compromised a little when using these )

So , what would l choose as a dangerous game rifle for all the Indian dangerous game , if l had to do it all over again , and l had a choice ?
Factoring calibres which were available during our time, l would opt for a pre 64 Winchester Model 70 chambered in .375 Holland & Holland magnum . With a modern selection of bullets , l would opt for the 300 grain Barnes TSX soft points and Rhino monolithic solid bullets , which have received much praise in Mr. Pierre Van Der Walt’s book.

If l could factor in , the calibres which are available to shikarees once again in modern times , then l would opt for a double barreled side by side rifle , built by the company , James Purdey chambered in .450 / 400 Nitro Express, regulated for 400 grain Woodleigh soft point and metal covered solid bullets ( which replicate , but are an improvement up on the old ICI Kynoch cartridges ) .

While l have no personal experience with the .404 Jeffery , a cursory reading enlightened me that it is ballistically identical to a .400/400 Nitro Express , using 400 grain bullets . Therefore , for those who prefer bolt rifles , l can see why this is such a well liked cartridge .

Even though , l am very comfortable firing bolt rifles and lever rifles , I chose the double barreled rifle, simply because l have used a double barreled weapon my entire life ( although , l really did not have anything better at the time ) , during my career as a professional shikaree. It was not until the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 , that l properly learnt to shoot with bolt rifles on a proficient level.
My old gun , was a 12 bore double barreled side by side shot gun , made in Belgium with 28 inch barrels , 3 inch chambers and extractors. The left barrel was a full choke and the right barrel was a half choke. Loaded with 2.75 inch Eley Alphamax Lethal Ball cartridges which gave accurate results and a flat enough trajectory at 30 yards , it aided me every single day in my career as a professional shikaree. It helped me finish off 11 wounded royal Bengal tigers . It also helped me account for 20 panthers , 15 gaur , 12 water buffalo , dozens of crocodiles and over 55 wild boars ( to say nothing of the countless jungle fowl , water fowl and various species of deer which it helped me secure , for the pot ) . It afforded me the greatest adventure since 1959 and has not let me down , at all in the last 60 years.
Below, l have provided a photograph taken by myself of my " Old Belgian "
View attachment 318499


What school of thought do my dear readers follow ? Do they prioritize shot placement or calibre size ? Or , do they opt for a middle of the ground approach , like l do ?
I hope that this account has proven enjoyable. I also apologize for the delay in writing this article . I was having some health problems , but l have fortunately made a full recovery now.
Major Kahn, Thank you for another well thought out and reasoned article. I appreciate the fact that your points come at the issue in a common sense way. I believe that to be too dogmatic on these type of questions usually leads to less good results. Thanks again.
 

IvW

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Your assessment is very accurate , IvW. If l were to back clients again today for royal Bengal tigers , water buffalo and gaur , l would opt for a .450 / 400 Nitro Express double barrel rifle ( side by side ) using 400 grain Woodleigh bullets . Such a rifle would have twin triggers , no automatic safety and 24 inch barrels.
Unfortunately , l have no personal experience with shooting elephants , because they were a protected species even during my time .

By the way , l see you mention that you use a .500 Jeffery , but in your post on my previous article , you referenced a .500 Nitro Express which you would like to use.
Under what circumstances would you consider the .500 Nitro Express superior to the .500 Jeffery ?

If I could custom load the 500 NE 3 1/4 inch to higher velocity of 2250 would be my dream.

Back to double versus bolt.

Big double would be preferable to bolt action for following up wounded elephant in thick bush, double is also better for follow up on wounded lion and leopard and during a charge, as you rarely have much time to reload a bolt in this situation.

Furthermore when conducting foot safaris in big 5 areas the double gives you the option to have a solid and a soft loaded and ready at the same time.
 

Major Khan

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Major Kahn, Thank you for another well thought out and reasoned article. I appreciate the fact that your points come at the issue in a common sense way. I believe that to be too dogmatic on these type of questions usually leads to less good results. Thanks again.
Thank you so much for being such an appreciative reader of my articles , Gesch. If 1 is aspiring to write about a subject , then 1 should always try their best to approach the subject with an open mind , willing to see the opposing argument.
Fortunately , in this article , all my readers have agreed upon the same principles for selecting a dangerous game cartridge.
 

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