Some questions on a plains game rifle

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by brushmore, Aug 22, 2014.

  1. brushmore

    brushmore AH Fanatic

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    I am starting on my journey of preparing for my first trip to Africa for a plains game safari. One of my first steps is get a new rifle and I have a couple of questions. I realize that any answer will probably be subjective so I am certainly interested in anyone's opinion.

    1. Is the .375 just too much gun for plains game? A blue/black wildebeest is on the top of my list and I realize that most of the .30 calibers will do. The thought of using one of the "Africa" calibers seems much more interesting. My normal hunting gun is a 12 ga so I figure the recoil should be in the same ballpark as a .375? If that's the case then I can live with that kind of recoil.

    2. How important do you think it is to have iron sights as a backup? I am looking into something like a Trijicon Accupoint which I know are pretty rugged. Plus it seems to me that iron sights don't always come on production guns so my choices will be limited or I'll need some custom gun smithing. I've been known to wear suspenders and belt so I've planning on have both types of sights but was just wondering if that's really that big of a deal.

    3. I'm open to any suggestions for any particular brands/models. I have a few on my list already but just wondering what else people like. I am looking to spend some where around $1000 USD on a rifle and close to that on the scope.
     

  2. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    A 375 H&H is fine. I think sights are great, that being said I never had any on mine. I think a back up scope would be a good idea. Still if you want to use open sights, go ahead. I love my CZ but the Winchester is nice too.
     

  3. James.Grage

    James.Grage AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Bushmore

    The 375 recoil is more than the shot gun, unless you are shooting 3 or 3 1/2 inch turkey loads.

    The real question is, can you make quality shots off the shooting sticks out to 300 yards with the rifle you select?

    Shot placement is more important than the bigger is better as far as your rifle selection goes.

    I would suggest a rifle in the 30 cal or 33 cal options using new ammo with a quality bullet or reloads with a quality bullet.

    Depending on your hunting areas, shots can be up to 300 yards as many on here have indicated they have had from time to time.

    Also, scope quality is a plus as some shots will be early and late in the day. and a scope with a illuminated reticule is very helpful if you are hunting bushpig under lights and may be use full for the early and late shots you may run into.

    Something to consider, is having a scope with the power to see the branches and twigs while making shots in the brush. Sometimes the open window is very small for the animal you spent half a day stalking.

    However, go with what you have confidence in.
     

  4. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Hello Brushmore,

    In Africa, there is no such thing as "too much gun" and the .375 H&H is your very best choice for large PG when you consider that one day you might book a buffalo or some other DG specie.
    Many countries there require that cartridge as their minimum for DG.
    Here in Alaska where I live, it is almost as popular as it is in Africa.
    Personally, I have shot many deer and caribou with the old .375 H&H, not because I think they are tough but because we have large and sometimes grumpy bears here that, like to sneak up on you when they smell whatever critter you are gutting.

    However, the above opening line is not to be confused with too much velocity because, in Africa, unlike the USA, too much velocity is sometimes frowned upon.
    The PH and local biltong hunting culture there seems to lean away from high velocity and light bullets in the majority of hunting conditions throughout Africa.

    Noted exceptions being wide open desert, grassland and a couple other geographic and short flora special places where shots can be long (3 or 400 yds is a mighty long shot even in the above rather open described areas), such as South Africa's Eastern Cape, The Ethiopian Highlands and such.
    The remaining (vast majority) of African hunting conditions are what we Americanos generally refer to as "woods hunting" or "brush hunting" conditions, in other words, sight your rifle in for about 75 to 100 yds and practice mightily with it from shooting sticks before going over.

    To answer your other questions (it's about time!),
    A typical .375 has about twice the recoil of a 180 grain .30-06.
    In other words, bit sharper recoil than a typical Rem 870 pump 12 gauge with old fashioned rifled slugs.
    It is more comparable to the 870 with 3" magnum slugs.

    Bringing a spare scope is very good advice but I personally throw caution to the wind by having all my rifles sighted in with iron sights before installing the scope.
    If I bust a scope, I plan to remove said scope and continue hunting with my iron sights.

    Some good rifles in .the H&H version are available if you do not mind buying a used one (most of my collection was 2nd hand).

    Whitworth 98 Mauser
    Brno 602 Magnum (my personal best .375 H&H these days).
    CZ 550 Magnum
    Winchester Mod-70 Classic
    Ruger 77 magnum
    Ruger #1 single shot

    Some (most?) of the above are no longer made but not rare either - (www.gunsinternational.com).
    I very much like all those but there are other manufacturers that have made and are making likewise very good rifles in the old H&H.

    My parting shot is: That if I was stuck with only one big game rifle, it would be any of the above stout bolt actions in caliber .375 H&H, complete with iron sights as well as a sturdy (Zeiss, Scmidt & Bender, Swarofski, etc) simple old 4x scope, mounted down as low over the bore as practical/functional, about a 24" barrel and weighing around 9.5 to 10 lb with scope and leather sling.
    I do not care for a lot of gadgets on my rifles or in my scopes, the KISS Principle was written with me in mind (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

    I do like the Ruger #1 as well but not quite as much as the Mauser types for being near dangerous animals.

    Don't you just love it when you ask someone for the time and they proceed to tell you how to build a wrist watch.

    Cheers,
    Velo Dog.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
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  5. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I should say my 375 H&H has sights but 90% of my guns don't.
     

  6. Rob404

    Rob404 AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I think a 375HH is pure Africa but I'm not sure you need that much Rifle a good 30cal with proper loads and some practice will work just fine
     

  7. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Elite

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    I used a 338win mag(225gr Swift A-Frame bullets) and 30-06(150gr Barnes TTSX bullets) and all animals died with no or very short easy tracking. Same results for my daughter with her 257Roberts and 120gr Swift A-Frame bullets.
    Did not need a 375 rifle. I would also not suggest a 375 as the first rifle to own and hunt with. But that is just me.
     
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  8. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Fanatic

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    When I planned my plains game hunt, I spoke to close to 50 outfitters at Dallas Safari Club about hunting the same game. In every conversation, I discussed hiring(renting) a rifle due to travel restrictions. NONE of them recommended anything larger than a .30 caliber with 30-06, .300 win mag, and 7mm Rem mag being about evenly distributed. If you want to own a bigass gun, buy the .375 ... but it isn't because you need it for PG.
     
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  9. jduckhunter

    jduckhunter AH Fanatic

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    brushmore do yourself a favor and check out the Ruger Hawkeye African, it comes in 300 and 338 Win Mag. both perfect for what you want it for. It comes with both open sights and rings. It even has a removable muzzle brake for shooting at the bench, if you are so inclined. On my first plains game safari I took a Ruger 338 Win. Mag. and was not disappointed and I know you wouldn't be either.
     

  10. spike.t

    spike.t AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2013 AH Ambassador

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    hey brushmore not sure what wearing suspenders ;););) has to do with what calibre you want to use ?:D sorry couldnt resist :ROFLMAO: but a .375 is not that fierce to shoot , so get one if you want....choice of bullet weights etc. for plains game the .30s are great if you are going to hunt where it might be open so you have distance capabilities, but guess what for hunting in not open, but bush areas i like a heavier bullet at not ballistic speed so i love the 9.3x62 or in a double the 9.3x74r :D(y) but anything in your usa deer spectrum you can shoot accurately will work :). ps most .375s even american ones will have iron sights included. but if you choose a 9.3 most do as well but make sure it has, as shooting with irons on a 9.3 is the best , especially on running pigs (y):)
     

  11. buckcurtin

    buckcurtin AH Veteran

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    If not a 375H&H which I swear by having killed from Springbok to Cape Buffalo and everything in between why not another old traditional round, a 300H&H. Then get the 375 when you return because you will at almost any cost!
     
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  12. ActionBob

    ActionBob AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    That sums it up pretty good... but I'll add, if you expect to hunt DG someday and want to "get some blood on it" go ahead and get the 375. (That was my excuse) If not, the above are wise choices. Or for an African classic, the 300 H&H as mentioned, or for a lot less recoil and possibility even more nostalgia, a 7x57 which I think is available in the Winchester model 70.

    I bought a new Winchester model 70 Safari Express which comes with sights, a barrel band sling swivel and a stout stock with nice big cheek piece. It is a shooter. I actually mounted a trijicon 1-4x with the post and illuminated green triangle. I'll sell the scope to you if you want and that could easily keep you under $2000 if you shop well for the gun. I love that scope but I'm not very good with it so replaced it with a Leuplod VX6 2-12 illuminated. That along with Hornady Superformance ammo makes it a very flexible gun out to 300 yards or so.

    When I bought the gun, it was tagged about $1200, but they had a special and I got it real close to $1000. Same thing with the VX6 but almost a year later and from a different place.

    We took other guns, but I shot from a duiker (it was the gun in my hand when i saw tbe duiker) to an eland with it. I know there is the slow bullet crowd and I cannot argue with them as they have practical expieriance and for large DG I will likely take that advice. However for a flatter shooting round, I used the aforementioned Hornady Superformance in a 270 grain sp rp with great success on PG. My gun loves them and is a tack driver if i can do my part. It was not available when I went, but you can now get 375 superformance 250 grain plastic tipped GMX cartriges... I will try those when I get a chance.. acording to the data on the box they should range as well as 180 grain 30-06.

    All of these cartriges should be available in Africa if something happens that your ammo does not arrive.

    I think there are Ruger Hawkeyes out there in 375 H&H. And certaily nothing wrong with CZ? All of these will be CRF.

    My wife just got a new Ruger Guide gun in 375 Ruger, not nostalgic, may not be available in Africa, but superb handling and performance. Laminated and ss so again, not the classic look... But I will borrow it for bear in Alaska. She needed this gun because it is the only factory gun that fits her well. With the included muzzle brake, it kicks about the same as a 30-06... at least so she tells me. She shoots it well with irons at 50 yards. I got the Alaska Arms QD mounts/rings in 30mm and she may try the trijicon on it, but I am lobbying for a VX6 in 2-12 or 1-6. Paid about $860 for it from a small shop where the owner is negotiable... those QD mounts bring it to $1000. But rugers come with rings and they will let you send in the included 1" to exchange for 30mm if they are still new and never mounted.

    Let us know what you decide. Have fun planning and going on your hunt!
     

  13. brushmore

    brushmore AH Fanatic

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    Thanks all for the advice. Now I am really curious about the kick form the .375 so I am going to make friends with someone around here that has one. But I think from all of this right now I am leaning towards one of the .30's for my first trip.
     
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  14. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Elite

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    ^^^ Smart move.
     

  15. ActionBob

    ActionBob AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I agree that is a good move... and if you ever get to cental MN contact me and we will go shooting! I got lots of cheap 375 ammo.
     

  16. joester

    joester AH Veteran

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    I agree with most respondents that the .375 can do it all on plainsgame...My go to gun is a BLR rebarreled from .300 Win mag to .375 Ruger. From Cape buffalo to springbok, it does it all.
     

  17. greyfox

    greyfox AH Fanatic

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    Where are you located? I have a 375 thst loves to be shot//
     

  18. buffybr

    buffybr AH Enthusiast

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    +1

    I took a 7mm Rem mag for PG on my first trip to South Africa. My 140 gr Ballistic Tip bullets on that trip were on the light side, but they did make one shot just about DRT kills on Kudu, Blue wildebeest, and Gemsbok.

    A Cape Buffalo (my avatar) was at the top of my list for my second African hunt, so I bought a Rem 700 chambered in .375 RUM and also brought along another 7mm Rem mag with 160 gr Accubonds for PG. My .375 RUM (of course) worked fine for my Buffalo and the PG (down to Bushbuck) that I shot with it, but the 7mm RM also worked fine on the PG that I shot with it. As always, bullet placement is more critical than bullet diameter.

    On my third South African hunt, I was only hunting PG up to Cape Eland and as I only wanted to take one rifle, my PH (Johnny Vivier) talked me into taking my .375 RUM. With the 270 gr TSX bullets starting out at 3040 fps, it worked fine for several animals in the 300-350 yd range, but it was a little devastating on the smaller animals like Steenbok and Jackal. Looking back, I am confident that my 7mm RM would have been fine for all of the animals that I shot on that trip.

    I only took my .300 Weatherby with 168 gr Barnes TTSX bullets for my last South African hunt that was strictly for PG. The power of the .300 Bee was not needed for these animals, but the flat trajectory was nice for the 300+ yard shots on the smaller animals like the Klipspringer and Baboon. Unless I will be hunting Africa's dangerous game or North America's largest bears, this is the rifle that I will probably use for most of my future hunts.

    As for sights, I like the clean look of a scoped bolt action rifle without iron sights. Other than a couple of 94 Winchesters and a couple of traditional muzzle loaders, all of my hunting rifles only wear scopes. In almost 50 years of western U.S. big game hunting (including 20 years of horseback hunting in Montana's wilderness areas), and a half dozen plus international big game hunts, I have never had an issue with my rifle scopes. So I don't worry about backup iron sights or bringing an extra scope. Also, every PH/guide that I've ever hunted with had a loaner rifle available for hunters.
     

  19. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Nothing wrong with 375. It's a bit more than a 300 win mag in my mind. Shoot what you are comfortable with!
     

  20. tarbe

    tarbe AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Does it get any more "Africa" than a 300 H&H? :)

    photo (6).JPG
     
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