The shooter may NOT notice the difference. Everyone else does!
I have a good recoil pad on my .300 Win Mag now. I haven't fired it yet, and will do so before doing anything to it. However, it has basically the same kind of decelerator gel pad, as well as Montecarlo style stock, that's on my 760 Gamemaster in .30-06, which I can handle just fine, but which does give a solid kick. I couldn't put another strap on pad over that. It would be awkward fitting at best and would make the length of pull unmanageable.
As for the louder shot due to the muzzle break, I have this to say -- I'm sure some people will likely jump all over this, being it's so well established now in the lexicon of shooters, but I have been presented with solid evidence otherwise -- and that is the idea that a muzzle break induces increased noise is a myth. Conventional wisdom, which I've seen in articles on websites and in gun magazines claim the typical muzzle break causes a 20 percent increase in noise to the shooter. However, this didn't make sense to a friend of mine who set out to investigate it and proved it is a false notion; urban legend that's been perpetuated by the shooting community.
My hunting safety instructor -- with whom I've been buddies since 1986 when I attended his class in Colorado --and a mutual friend of ours both bought matching Small Ring Model 98 Mausers when they became available in SHOTGUN NEWS back in the early 1990s. (I wish I had known about it, I would have joined them!) They both had these guns made up into sporters, chambered for the same cartridge; a wildcat known as the .458 2-inch American. It was a product of Frank Barnes, who simply cut the .458 Winchester Magnum case down from 2 1/2 inches to 2 inches. The former was simply more than was necessary to take an American big bear, yet there was a lack of big bore cartridges available for the purpose. Today's .450 Marlin is about the closest thing in a commercial offering available.
Anyway, he and our mutual friend Leonard got two rifles made up in this caliber. They had the same action, same brand of barrel, barrel length, etc. The only difference is my friend had both a good recoil pad and a muzzle break put on his. Leonard's has a standard recoil pad -- nothing special -- and no muzzle break. They wanted to test how much difference there would be between them in recoil. They also decided they wanted to test out their theory that there should be no difference in noise output between a rifle equipped with a muzzle break and one without. For this, they got hold of a good decible meter. (The latter was tested and found to be working perfectly fine.)
They set up the decible meter in various positions and went through several boxes of ammunition; as I recall they fired about three boxes of ammunition each (60 rounds a piece). They put the meter ahead of the gun, adjacent to it, and behind, and at different distances. The Results? Less than a half a decible difference between the two. And of all things, the one WITHOUT the muzzle break came in the higher. That said, half a decible across several boxes of ammo was well within the range of error for that device.
My friends were not surprised, and for this reason. As they explained it to me, and as they demonstrated by sending pictures of slow motion video proving this to be the case, whether a firearm has a muzzle break or not, the excaping gases are going to go outwards at a 90-degree angle from the muzzle once the bullet leaves the barrel. What makes the recoil less violent is the fact that there is a very brief -- split second really but sufficiently significant -- spreading out of the time over which these gases are released. The sound is still at the level it always was. It's let out over a fraction of a second longer, but in total, it's the same noise level.
If you look at slow motion video of a bullet leaving a barrel, you'll see the moment it exits, gases will come out in all directions at a 90-degree angle from the muzzle. It creates a "halo" like effect, very much like a fighter jet as it breaks the sound barrier. Ever see those photos of the F-18/HORNET breaking mock and this white cloud appearing at the wing root and circling the plane? THAT is what happens when the bullet leaves the barrel of your rifle. Same effect. The muzzle break therefore doesn't change the direction of gases, but rather simply extends the time during which their expelled, letting a little at a time out along the way.
Anyway, I'm sure someone will come up somewhere with "scientific evidence" claiming it actually makes a gun louder, but I'm just relating what my friends said their test revealed. And oh, by the way, the muzzle break and gel recoil pad made a HUGE difference in recoil. No surprise there. He said neither gun had a violent recoil. Both were simply a big "push." However, whereas his gun stopped pushing at a point, Leonard's gun just kept going! LOL!
I didn't notice a lick of difference in noise before or after I had the muzzle break put on my 7mm Rem Mag. It was WAY too loud and left my ears ringing in either case. LOL!
That said, I keep forgetting to bring them -- which will NOT happen when I go to Africa -- but I plan to use earplugs from now on. In fact, I brought a set when on my last bear hunt. Never fired, but I had them nonetheless. As for whether I get to use them or not depends on whether I have to rely on a snapshot or I have time to set up. Then again, I have these really great earplugs I bought at a military shop as I was deploying to Iraq which have valves inside. They are open in normal use, but close to a noise over a certain decible level. The sound of a shot will cause them to close in time to prevent your ears from ringing. It's not like a headset, but it was certainly all I needed for shooting on the range. Then again, I was only shooting the M-16 with its glorified .22 rounds. But they DO work. What I like about them is you can wear them without deafening yourself, which you don't want to do while hunting. Your ears are obviously a big part of sensing for the presence of an animal. These plugs allow you to still hear pretty well, but cut off any really loud noise. Not sure if a PH would recommend wearing them during a hunt, but in either case, it would be good to have them along. If one shouldn't wear anything until the time of firing, then I have another set of regular plugs that hang around my neck on a string, making them available at a moment's notice.
This said, in November I took a nice doe with my .250 Savage. I forgot my earplugs this time around, but to be honest with you, I barely noticed the shot. I DID notice moments afterwards, however, much to my surprise -- and delight -- that my ears were not ringing. That little .250 Savage is not only very pleasant to shoot, but it's not at all that loud. My ears certainly weren't left hurting like after shooting my .30-06 or 7mm Rem Mag.
And no, I'm not near Blacksburg. I believe that's all the way on the other end of the state. Actually.... hold one...... Looking on Googlemaps, it appears to be 100 miles south of where I hunt, which itself is about 30 miles west of Charlottesville. As for me, I'm way up in the Washington D.C. metro area.
Thank you Phil for explaining so well what certainly I could not. Obviously you know of what you speak. I am an uneducated boob, but I do know what my ears tell me.
For plains game (excluding eland), I can't imagine anything would be substantially better than a garden-variety .30-06 or .308 Win. Ammo is plentiful for both and they are proven perfomers.
For dry, dusty areas, perhaps something that makes a bigger hole might be in order, but I can't imagine more power would be needed to kill thin-skinned ungulates.
But..what do I know? I've never been (yet!) and have yet to shoot any African plains game.
Agreed. I love the .35 Whelen and the .338-06, and think the .318 WR and 9.3x62 to be about my favorite "classic" cartridges (along with the .404 Jeffery).The .338-06 and the Whelen are quite close to the 9.3 and .318 but the .308 based rounds lag behind considerably. I think all these are adequate but like Ardent says, why go cheap on the gun? Take the biggest thing you can shoot well thats appropriate for the largest game you plan to shoot. You dont really need a .375 for plains game, but there is no arguing its performance and if there is a chance of meeting any DG animals...well, way better off with the .375 than any '06 type round.
I fully understand it is unfair to compare a c&c bullet to a modern TSX. I was simply trying to illustrate that cartridges like the .318 WR made a fantastic reputation over decades with sterling performance using c&c bullets, and that today's technology makes even a smaller-capacity cartridge like the .338 Federal perform at least equally well to what has been considered "excellent" for several decades.In that you are likely correct, however if you step up to the 9.3 and run that same 250 gr up to over 2500 fps, it will hit harder, no question. True most cartridges in this realm perform about the same on game within reasonable ranges say around 200 yards. But if we say the .375 H&H is better than all the aforementioned rounds, then incrementally each bigger, more powerful round is better than the smaller one before it at least in small amounts. And using a modern bullet to compare to an old C&C bullet as you did is grossly unfair to the older round. Use a TSX in both and see what happens. Yes I know they dont make one for the .318 but they sure do for the 9.3. I am taking that caliber and bullet to Zim in June.