Taking your own rifle: Is it worth the hassle?

Divernhunter

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For me there was not much hassle taking our own rifles and we did sightseeing in Cape Town before flying over to Port Elizabeth for my hunting. The hotel kept them locked up. It is not like we were the 1st hunters to stay there.
I prefer to hunt with my rifles and the ammo I loaded. It just means more to me than a borrowed rifle. On my 2nd trip I did use the PH's suppressed rifle to shoot some camp meat and a suppressed 22LR to shoot some monkeys causing trouble. But my animals I am mounting are shot with my rifles.
I was shooting all PG and if I were to hunt DG and not have a suitable rifle I might rent/borrow one instead of buying a new one at my age.
 

Velo Dog

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Hello fellow travelling hunters,

The same as with some others here within The World's Greatest Forum, I'm a firearms enthusiast.
I don't own a baseball glove or a hockey stick, neither can I tell you what teams are playing each year in ... (name your world championship sports game event).
If conversations are on about pretty much anything other than firearms, angling tackle, hunting, fishing, or cooking wild game and wild fish, I get bored pretty fast.
My detractors and there are many, might say that I'm narrow minded.
(I have no response to that - lol).

Began hand loading at age 16, now I'm a pruneface and still at it (much to the chagrin of Barry and Hillary, no doubt).
Until 12 or 13 years ago, I had owned over 100 firearms simultaneously.
Steadily, from then to now, I have sold almost all of them, to pay for my multiple hunting trips in Africa.
About 2/3 of these were always hunting rifles, as they are my #1 preference in firearms.
If I were stuck with but one firearm, it definitely would be a hunting rifle (preferably a Model 98 Mauser).

However, after pulling my own hair out and practically getting ulcers, over the stress of shipping my pet rifle du jour, I no longer try to bring one across International Borders.
Thanks to the Internet (and this forum specifically), it is possible to find a Safari Company that is all things proper, to include finding one that has a decent rifle to rent.
Requires some research but, for my blue collar money, it is worth the extra effort to me.
In fact, I rather enjoy scrolling through the various offers set forth by different Safari Companies then, weeding out the one's who's web sites don't really hold my interest, finally narrowing it down to the point that I'm corresponding directly with PHs, their Hunt Managers and especially with their former clients, it's part of the fun.

In my experiences of travelling to and from 5 African Safaris so far, I conclude that it is definitely worth the extra homework, to find just the right outfit to hunt with, including offering you a good deal on renting a specific rifle to your liking.
For me personally, it sure beats dealing with the crooked Border Police and painfully stupid airline employees, in regards to my valuable firearm in transit.
If you negotiate well your rental price, the cost is similar or at least not much more than all the extortion fees for bringing a firearm that, one must pay to some airlines and to each corrupt country that you must pass through anyway.

I once threw quite a few .450 No2 NE cartridges into a garbage can, in OR Tambo Airport, rather than to pay the armed robber's (South African Police) one US dollar "Tax" for each round.
Live or not didn't matter to these thugs, they demanded one buck a piece for my ammunition, just to let me bring them back home in my checked bag.
At that time (or perhaps with that specific shift of "Officers") they also required me to keep my locked ammunition box out as a separate item of checked luggage.
Imagine my delight when the Airline also said they must charge me the same price as for an extra piece of full size luggage (it was about 12"x 8"x 4" and might have weighed around 6 or 7 pounds at most).
Instead of paying both sets of bandits, I went round the corner and dropped the whole thing into a garbage can.
Probably lost money over all (.450 No2 brass is spendy) but the principle of the matter made me feel a little better anyway.

This is not to mention the stress of worrying over the high risk of theft, vandalism and "lost" rifle box and / or "lost" ammunition - refer back to painfully stupid airline employees (some of which are also evidently just as crooked as their Border Police are in .... name your so called "developing country").

I have in years past, hunted and fished in other USA states and also out to many remote places within my home state.
All of which require airline travel, at least for the main distance traversed, before switching to a small "bush plane" or jet boat, whatever to finally reach the specific hunting / fishing spot.
For this, bringing my own firearm is acceptable to me.
But the airline employee factor still gives me the creeps on domestic flights, as I watch my rifle box (or expensive contents fly rod case), disappear on the belt and into the belly of the beast, also known as: "lair of the thief and vandal."

All that having been sufficiently ranted about, if fishing is available in whatever International spot I'm visiting, I do bring my own fly reel and line, tippets, etc., to fit whatever fly rod the PH has for me to use.
This I put into my carry on bag, to keep my binoculars and camera company on the two days each way flights from Alaska to Africa and back.
If those water-heads in the airline industry decide fishing reels are dangerous, I will use whatever complete tackle the PH provides.
They already forbid any part related to firearms, including a detached rifle scope, to be in your carry on bag.

Well anyway, it works for me.
Your results may vary.
(This offer void in Cuba, Venezuela and Illinois).

Cheerio,
Velo Dog.
 
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Nyati

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It depends, on my first 4 trips, I took my own rifle, the two last ones, I rented.

I regularly shoot with different rifles, so that is not an issue for me, but the main reason has been the availability of supressed rifles in RSA, which is getting more common. In my own country it is a serious crime to own a supressor :eek:

In some properties it is actually mandatory to use them, but anyway I like them, my ears appreciate it, and you don´t spook game miles away when you take a shot.

And yes, less hassle at airports, specially when you have to take connections, I did have to go through the unpleasant experience of my rifle being left behind "due to short connecting time" which was caused by the airline´s delay :mad:
 

wesheltonj

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Lots of variables for is it worth it.

I took my rifle on my trip, paid $704.97 for Africa Sky to get my permit, store my gun for 14days (and a city tour to Pretoria) and $132 dollars for BA to carry the gun and an overnight in Jo'berg (no gun, could have headed directly to Botswana on arrival day) - Grand Total $836.97. (Plus the tip I had to pay to the SAPS officer to make sure my gun was placed on my internal RSA flight.) If I took my same trip today, it would cost me $331 for BA to carry my gun - grand total would be $1,035.97 just to use my gun. That was $119.57 per day to use my gun, today it would be $147.99 per day.

Is $836.97 or $1,035.97 to use my gun worth it? NO. I would use the outfitters gun. Some outfitters have very nice guns. I know of some outfitters with Rigby & Blaser rifles, I would have no problem renting any of those guns. The place that I hunted last year, Kalahari Rangers, now has Blasers' topped with a Leica Magnus Scope. (Last year was it was Browning rifles with Leica Magnus Scope.)

Now, if I was only hunting and no sightseeing, and using either Qatar or Emirates then that would be a different calculation as to use mine or the camp gun. In that case I most likey would take my gun again. Now, if the outfitters gun is a Blaser, Rigby, Mauser, etc. that makes for a tuff choice.
 
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cpr0312

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I too am one who isn't completely attached to any single rifle. I have hunted SA 3 times and Zim once, took my rifles twice and borrowed twice. As long as the outfitter has a decent to nice rifle with good optics, I'll be ok. That being said I will be taking my .375 with me next time for some DG hunting.
 

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I m much more comfortable shooting my own weapon. As said, I d hate like hell to miss a great trophy due to being unfamiliar with the gun. But if I was to go back to NZ I would have to give serious consideration to using the guides gun. Tremendous hassle flying from the east coast and going thru LAX.
 

Buckdog

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Why would you not take your best gun that you shoot the best on a trip of a lifetime that costs lots of money and time, etc, etc. ??? Why even own a gun if you aren't going to use it! Who would take a shot at say 400yds with a strange gun, strange load, who the hell knows where the bullet is going to go!
When its all on the line at a big high dollar trophy or DG that can kill you I want my gun and only my gun in my hands!
Sure it can be a major PIA some days dealing with flying with guns but guys get over it suck it up and deal with it. And yes some places have some fine guns to use no doubt BUT some have crap too.
Just do your homework on what it is going to take as regards paperwork for your destination, pay for a facilitator in JNB by all means, be polite but stand your ground when dealing with airlines and various official and have a fun hunt.
Sometimes I have had extreme grief from "officials" sometimes courtesy and kindness that i never expected it just a crap shoot.
 

cagkt3

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I will bring my own this spring, mainly because I like the idea of having my old 30-06 in Africa. Future trips (God willing) I will not be as sentimental and it will probably depend solely on cost and how much of a pain it was the first time.
 

K-man

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Nothing wrong with using a rental rifle if you can adjust to it well. Some will have a hard time for the first few rounds. Africa is such a new place with lots of outside stresses we put on ourselves. I don't want to add one more thing to worry about, so I always take my own. I can take it out of the safe, run 3 rounds through it and it feels like an old friend.
 

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The main thing is to have someone who knows the airline policies on guns, who will make transfers and who wont on your trip. If you use an agent that doesn't know enough to ensure that different airlines will transfer your guns at various points, that makes a lot of extra work and hassles for you. Agents like Lori here at Travel Express know the routes and the carriers and what they will and wont do. One thing you don't want to be doing especially if pressed for time is dragging your rifle case all over JFK because the airline you flew in on wont make that transfer for you. Its a real PITA!!:eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::mad::mad::mad::mad:
 

Divernhunter

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The most I have paid for a rifle service to and from SA is about $120 and that got me right thru with no waiting. Heck at a couple of stops I did not even have to open the case or show ammo. Well worth it for me.

Yes using Lori for the plane tickets also helps to reduce/eliminate foul ups. Also her help on hotels was great.
 

rnovi

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I carried a 6# 6oz scoped Merkel K1 on my last safari.

It was that or a 10# "loaner" for extended stalks.

Yes, it's worth it. :) Every priceless minute.
 

mark-hunter

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During my research, I came to conclusion that it is not uncommon that rifle arrives late to destination.
This happened to many African hunters, including well known ones.
It happened to Craig Boddington, at least twice as he mentioned it in his books.

Rifle renting is not expensive compared to total cost (20 to 40 usd / day as average , could be more depending of outfitter), which at least partly may compensate for other importation expenses.

If the rifle arrives late, then the hunter will be forced to use whatever rifle is available at camp. So entire effort of bringing rifle to safari may prove in vain.
Then when rifle arrives one day may be lost for collecting rifle at airport and taking it back to camp.

So, in conclusion:
In my own view, it is not worth the trouble.

The only theoretical exceptions are: the hunters that use only one good-old-reliable rifle. (but i doubt that such are safari hunters), and the hunters using double rifle especially for DG hunt, developing their own loads.
But for plains game, bringing your own is not worth the trouble, as not getting it on time may spoil entire hunt. Most likely it will not happen, but there is a chance.
 

Tally-Ho Hunting Safaris

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So with extra permits, import restrictions fewer options for connecting flights, added cost, etc. I'm beginnings to wonder if it's worth the extra cost and hassle to take your own rifle to south Africa. Thoughts?
My personal opinion as an outfitter, the client should bring his own rifle. you know your own equipment are more comfortable with the safety and trigger and optics. and as some guys mentioned you build a history and memories with your favourite rifles etc

kind regards
 

Ridgewalker

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MizzouAg, lots of good opinions based on experiences here. Kind of seems like you’ll have to flip a coin doesn’t it?
My conclusions so far:
1) if you have a passion or connection with your rifle, or you don’t like what the Outfitter rents, then you should deal with the effort to take it
2) if you are touring a lot at multiple locations, or make lots of connecting flights, taking your own rifle increases the risk substantially making a rental a much more viable option
Best of luck in your decision! What ever you decide, just enjoy your trip to the “Dark Continent”!
 

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So with extra permits, import restrictions fewer options for connecting flights, added cost, etc. I'm beginnings to wonder if it's worth the extra cost and hassle to take your own rifle to south Africa. Thoughts?
I have borrowed rifles with success. I do like my own rifles (accuracy and familiarity etc.)
"The Hassle":
1. My countries export permit - Cost- zero$, all processed online. Fill in the boxes and it will arrive within 2 weeks.

2. Transit Country - Some require permits. Some not. Netherlands-Amsterdam email, fax and wait. Never been on time but it will arrive; Germany- Frankfurt - on and off cost or requirement. Simple (now) form with english template to fill in and email. It will be returned in a timely fashion; UK- Nothing required from the passenger transiting.

3. Airlines - Ignorant staff, usually education is required. Days to weeks notice of the firearm/ammunition details. They have to follow the various countries laws or they get fined. Biggest PIA is the extortion fees. I have suffered these being added with each leg. When it was $50, no big deal - BA Now $210.00 each direction. Each airline will no doubt be milking this in some way

4. SAPS520 - Print a copy at home, buy a black pen, fill it out (follow template) sign it when you arrive. - Zero cost.

I have no issues filling out forms, reduce the connections to the minimum. (For me that's one.)
It will be those added and increasing fees that have me reviewing my rifle coming along. Between the airlines and country transit fees. You guys that get to jump on one plane and be there, I'm jealous!
 

TXHUNTER338

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I agonized over this same question before i left for RSA this year , I had read and heard all the horror stories about lost guns and delays , but after talking with
Banner at Travel with Guns and speaking with the folks @ RiflePermits I decided to take my best friend with me (my .338wm) .
I flew from Emmirates from DFW to Dubai to J'burg with absolutelety no hassles .
I would have had a great trip with a rented rifle I'm sure but it was certainly more fun with my gun in hand to share the adventure .
 

Hogpatrol

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I would say the choice would depend on which countries one is going to hunt and the means, methods, countries and airlines one has to deal with. In the last five years, I never had an issue, never paid a nickel and never got squeezed for a bribe in South Africa. I can't speak for other countries or venues.
Having said that, I would reiterate what Tally-Ho posted. Best case scenario is to use the gun you are most confident in shooting and that would be the one you own and are proficient. I am fortunate in that I build my own rifles. I build at least two a year, develop the loads, practice extensively and then take one or both to Africa. For me it adds another aspect to the challenge of the hunt.
Now if I was taking a family heirloom over there, I'd be another VeloDog :E Horrified:
 

Bert the Turtle

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I think it depends on a number of factors:

1) what kind of gun do you own? If your rifle is a right-handed off the rack 458 model 700, you'll probably be happy with a rental rifle. If your rifle is a bespoke 450-400 nitro express, you are less likely to be satisfied with the fit of a rental rifle.
2) what kind of optics do you use? If you think a Leopold is for all practical purposes just as good as a Leica and spending $2500 on a scope is a waste of money, you'll probably be happy with a rental. If you use a Swarovski or Zeiss because they are the best you could find and you don't mind spending twice the price for a 5% improvement in performance, then a rental is likely to disappoint you.
3) what kind of rifle is available to rent? If it is a suppressed 22-250 with a perfect trigger and you are going to be culling springbok, you may well be happy to rent. If it is a POS with a scope that won't hold zero, you will be disappointed.
4) how well do tolerate arbitrary, capricious, and/or malicious airline employees or officials? If waiting for 2 hours while the check-in girl at the airline makes up rules before she finally condescends to get the manager that knows what to do is going to make you want to kill her and drive you crazy for the next 3 days, consider renting. If you wish the world were full of honest and competent people but don't mind occasionally buying someone a cold drink if it makes your day go smoothly, you might not mind bringing your own rifle.
5) how lightly do you pack and/or how much can you carry? If you need a team of sherpas to hump your gear, renting will make life easier. If you travel light and don't mind toting a rifle case through airport crowds, bringing your own rifle becomes less unattractive.
6) are you detail oriented with paperwork and are you able to get your paperwork in order? I've seen posts where people complain about getting held up in Frankfurt because they hadn't filed their permit or made a small omission or some such. If you think doing a pretty good job on official forms should be good enough, rent. If you like to ensure that everything is done to the letter of the law and then game play 16 possible scenarios where things could go wrong even though you've done things properly and have a backup plan for all of those scenarios, you are a better candidate for bringing your own.


The bottom line is bringing your own rifle is always going to be more work that renting one. How much of an advantage it is to have your own rifle vs. how much of a hassle it is to bring it is entirely up to your own personality and value system.
 

Sand Rat

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In my case I've never had the option in three trips to carry my own gun. Each time I traveled to Africa from Saudi Arabia on the company's dime as part of my home leave travel expense. With that said I had the chance in Botswana to use two different CZ 550's (30-06 and 375 H&H). That put me on the quest to purchase one for myself and wound up with a 550 American in 7X57 that is my favorite rifle by far to hunt with. This would have never happened if not for hunting with a loner. Last trip was with KMG which again gave me the opportunity to hunt with a suppressor for the first time and will have one of my own as soon as the government gets the permit crap straightened out..................I hope.
 
 

 

 

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