What Calibre to Bring on a One-Gun Safari?

ILCAPO

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I researched some cartridges and put together a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet for comparitive purposes. On one page I have the various commercial loadings for the 7x57mm Mauser versus .280 Remington/.280 Remington Ackley Improved, and 7mm Remington Magnum. On the other, I've compared the .35 Whelen with the 9.3x62mm Mauser.

Results were interesting, with the average 9.3x62 Mauser load providing about 400 to 500 ft/lbs more than the average .35 Whelen. Most Mauser loads came in around the 3,500 ft/lbs range, while .35 Whelen loads ranged from just under to well over the required 3,150 ft/lbs. The Remington 200 grn PSP was just over the minimum for instance. However, when you use the Federal Vital Shok or Double Tap rounds, now you're well into ELAND territory. The Federal VS using the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw bullet is 3,377, and three of the Double Taps are over 3,600. The one Double Tap using the 225 Grain Nosler Accubond comes in at a blistering 3,754 ft/lbs, being beaten by only one 9.3x62mm loading offered by Norma, which comes it at over 3,800 ft/lbs.

I looked up the 7x64 Brenneke. I was aware of the round but never looked at it. Friend said it was essentially the equivalent to the 7mm Remington Magnum. But my research shows that is NOT SO. It's actually under that of the .280 Remington. It's hotter than the 7x57mm Mauser, but most rounds are slower and provide less energy than the .280 Remington. In fact, the best rounds overlap with the lowest loadings for the .280 Remington, and the 7mm Remington Magnum is above that by fair margin.

Looking up the 24 different factory loadings I found for the 7mm Rem Mag, about half of them provide enough energy for the ELAND.

Of the nine factory loadings I found for the .35 Whelen, only one, the Federal Fusion 180 grain, doesn't provide the energy required. That one comes in at 2,913. Everything else is just above or WAY above the 3,150 mark.

Sestoppelman, as I'm sure you know, everything for the 9.3x62 Mauser comes in well above your requirements. That said, do you know what your handloads are doing?
 

sestoppelman

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Some loadings for the 7X64 were fairly peppy years back. Most modern factory loads run about the same as the average .280 load. The two are as alike as peas in a pod, really, what one will do so will the other given equal barrel lengths etc. I have had both and know something of this, along with the .284 Win which will also do the same thing. I could not quite equal my .280 loads with 24" barrel using my 22" barrel 7x64 but did come close. My .280 had a custom Douglas barrel that may have been "fast" as some barrels are, others are slow. I think your friend had the 7x64 confused with something else because the 7 mag can wipe the floor with the .280 or 7x64 any day of the week when loaded to full potential, which most factory loads are not. As to my loads for the 9.3, yes over the chronograph, it drives the 250 Nos Acc or TSX to just over 2500 fps in my preferred loads, both using full charges of IMR 4064 which is about the most accurate powder in my gun with that weight. With the Nosler 286 which I loaded for also, velocity was just over 2300 fps with a case nearly full of R-15. Energy is 3470 for the 250 loads and 3420 for the 286. I have run the 250 to just over 2600 fps safely using some ball powder in my gun with the Accubond with the bullet seated out beyond standard OAL. I could do that because the rifle has a long throat and mag box.

Trying to compare cartridges accurately, using factory published data, is an exercise in futility. I did this for years and then bought myself a chrono and got the truth, which is that most factory ammo does not live up to its hype. Some do but not on average. Same with loading manuals. Run your hot handloads over a chrono and you often get a rude awakening! I remember some years ago my dad claimed via loading books that his rifle was getting a certain velocity with his fave bullet. I ran a couple over my chrono and found them to be about 200 ft seconds under what the book said. Dad looked like someone took his dinner away when I told him the results. Back to the bench he went though and pretty soon by careful loading he got his bullet up where he wanted with no pressure signs. Thing is, most rounds will do what makers claim, but not usually as they come out of the factory box.
 

ILCAPO

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Interesting. All good things to know.

You seem to trust your chronograph. But that said, remember what I told you about the noise factor relating to muzzlebreaks?.

Again, my buddy tested with a decible meter, and it proved that muzzle breaks don't increase the noise. Two exact alike guns, one with a muzzle break, one without, using the same ammo were tested and it was found, even with the decibel meter to the side of the shooter and even behind the shooter, there was only a 1/2 decible difference between them. And it was the gun without a muzzle break that came out louder.

(I'm waiting for the anvil to drop again.) LOL!
 

sestoppelman

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I think Phoenix Phil pretty much put this idea of no increased noise to rest. Meter or no meter, I know like every shooter I know knows, that when at the range a guy with a brake on his gun goes off, every body jumps a foot. As Phil says, how could it not increase the noise behind if some of the blast is being directed out the sides and or to the rear when it is normally all blown out the front? I agree that the actual noise level itself may not change, but because of the change in directed noise, it has to be louder to those around and not in front of the gun. The shooter hears the least of the blast. It cannot be any other way.
 

Ardent

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Not concerned with what any meter says, they even have special flash hiders for tactical weapons with a cone pointing away from the shooter, no vents, to direct sound energy away from the shooter. The db level is the same as without the cone, but how it is perceived by the shooter is vastly different. This isn't a case of a belief being held as fact, braked rifles are far, far more unpleasant period unfortunately, and hence why PH's as a general rule hate muzzle brakes. I know I can hear a braked rifle, or ported shotgun, on the firing line before I round the corner and see it. Not sure what your friend's test means, but firsthand, there's a heck of a difference and I've noted it myself. When a shot startles me at the bench, nine times out of ten it's a brake.

Interesting. All good things to know.

You seem to trust your chronograph. But that said, remember what I told you about the noise factor relating to muzzlebreaks?.

Again, my buddy tested with a decible meter, and it proved that muzzle breaks don't increase the noise. Two exact alike guns, one with a muzzle break, one without, using the same ammo were tested and it was found, even with the decibel meter to the side of the shooter and even behind the shooter, there was only a 1/2 decible difference between them. And it was the gun without a muzzle break that came out louder.

(I'm waiting for the anvil to drop again.) LOL!
 

sestoppelman

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Its just that all caps usually means yelling, like one is p'od. No big.
 

ILCAPO

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Not to beat a dead horse, and I'm not arguing from personal knowledge, other than to say I haven't noticed any difference in my 7mm Mag, because with or without the muzzle break it's LOUD! But...the direction issue is in debate here. As I noted earlier, the noise really is not really all blown out the front. Again, the moment the bullet leaves the barrel, right there at the muzzle, there's a shock wave of gases escaping, which shows up in slow motion video. Again, I'm not sure if anyone has ever seen one of those photos of a fighter jet going supersonic. If not, there's an example at: Supersonic jet breaks the sound barrier - amazing image - Mirror Images - Mirror.co.uk

Anyway, slow motion video will show this kind of halo going in all directions, perpendicular to the direction of the bullet, which means the gas, and it would seem logical to me, the sound as well, is going to the side. Now, if a brake is pointing to the rear, then that changes the physics and yes I can see it getting louder for the shooter.

All said, machs nichs to me! I cover my ears regardless. I have earplugs on a string, which I wear around my neck and have ready when I hunt -- except in those cases like this year when I forget. Any of the bigger calibers are going to hurt, muzzle break or no muzzle break. I HATE it when my ears are left ringing. In addition, the fact is, every time it happens, you just lost a little bit of your hearing. So it's best to avoid it ALL the time.
 

ILCAPO

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Finally, as I said, the solution is the muzzle breaks nowadays can be installed so they screw off and then you can cover the threads with a cap. So, for practice, you can have the break on to reduce the beating your shoulder takes under multiple shots, and if there's a problem in the field, such as a PH complaining, you can remove it. That's what I'm likely going to have to do with my .300 Win Mag, and almost definately if I ever add a big bore to my collection. Actually, I would very much like to add a .375 H&H some day.
 

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I think the horse is dead and buried by now. Anyway, you may have noticed amongst the replies, some with degrees in engineering, and all with shooting experience and all agree that a muzzle break does indeed, despite your friends meter, make the bang louder to THOSE WHO ARE NEARBY. The shooter of any rifle feels and hears less noise than everyone else, regardless break or not.
 

ILCAPO

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OKAY OKAY~!!! I GIVE! LOL!

But either way, muzzle break or not, I wear hearing protection regardless, even while hunting.
 

Glenn

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No one could possibly dispute what Kevin relates about the .375 H & H, it is a fantastic bit of kit and when fed the proper ammunition, it will flat out do the job and do it very well.

I have been to Africa twice with a .375 and a .300 Weatherby Mag. I never did use the .300 Weatherby. Those two trips were in South Africa for plains game, the next trip which included South Africa for Plains Game and Zambia for Crocodile, Hippo and Buffalo along with plains game I made a .416 Taylor on a Mauser action and Lilja barrel. Using the Barnes .400 grain TSX and .400 Barnes Banded Solids with a Trijicon 3 X 9 everything went down with one shot kills with the longest shot being 100 meters off the sticks on both buffalo and hippo. The following year we added Numibia and made a .416 Ruger with a 3.5 to 15 Nightforce scope. With this combo there was a buffalo just shy of 40 inches, deep curls and a 16 1/2 inch boss taken at 200 meters (all distances measured), hippo at 100 meters, two springbuck, one at 280 meters and one at 270 meters. All animals were shot using the Ruger with a Mauser action, 26 inch Lilja barrel and .400 grn. Barnes TSX bullets.

I find that in my opinion with the proper optics, and good loads the .416 will definitely reach out and touch someone. I put in many hours practicing with the rifle, optics, bullets and shooting from the sticks. This combination I found far superior to the .375 personally but then I an not bothered by recoil and I feel the Nightforce scope took what may be a average shooter and moved me up several notches.

The .416 however is useless if it is above the threshold of the individual when it comes to their tolerance of good old Mr. Newton and recoil. For me the deciding factor was having a very good rifle, great optics and bullets, not being afraid of recoil and most of all it is a real pain carrying two rifles into so bloody many Countries.

We have a group of us going again shortly to Africa with elephant and buffalo being the big boys on our plate along with a lion or leopard if a ticket turns up. I shall be carrying a .470 Nitro Express s/s for the elephant and buffalo if we are able to get up close and personal but the .416 Custom Ruger shall be along for long shots on buffalo or anything else.

This is only my experience, it is really interesting to listen to why folks do what they do, it all works if one puts forth the effort and not show up at Camp asking your PH to assemble the gun which you have never shot and then expect to do well, blaming lack of success on your PH or the rifle. Much of the fun for myself and our group is spending the months or year getting ready, practicing, visiting the SCI Convention, reading the books especially books and stories written by the great "Old Timers" and the great younger guys like Kevin Thomas, Craig Boddington and others. Including meeting great folks of like mind here on Africa Hunting. This enables you to do a lot of investigating and avoid the crooks out there who are trying to scam you out of your money. Be guided by people like Craig and Kevin, listen to the experts.

Have a Great time if you shoot a .270 or a .600 Nitro.

Cheers,

Glenn
 

Ardent

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Very good post Glenn, you nailed it, if you can shoot a bigger rifle, it's only going to help. .416 is a great bore too, heavy medium, but for my purposes the .375 is that perfect happy medium. Getting its second African workout this fall, won't bother reporting, as the results are always the same as they've been the last century. Same for your .416 bore: they just work, without fail.
 

Glenn

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Hello Ardent, hopefully you will have the time to let us know about your .375, the ammo you find that works best and to tell us where you plan on heading this fall. Where ever it is, hopefully you have a great trip, shoot straight and have a large taxidermy bill. Take Care, Glenn
 

Mark H. Young

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In my opinion the 375 H&H is the ideal caliber for a one rifle safari. It works as well with solids on red duiker as it does on elephant and modern expanding bullet will handle everything else. The 300 grain bullet work perfectly for everything in the bushveld and if you move out into the Kalahari a 260 ACB will make a 300 yard shot pretty easy. Also it can be had in a fairly light weight handy rifle. Finally it just does not kick the snot out of you making it very shootable for most people.

These days I have custom Mod 70 built by Lon Paul in 375 WBY. This rig with 2 pre sighted in scopes to me is perfect. Because the WBY shoots flatter than the H&H I don't even think about lighter bullets than 300 grains. One solid load and one soft point load pretty much covers everything and did for me in both Mozambique and Botswana on my last safari.
 

Ardent

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Well said Mark. I'm personally an H&H fan, tried the RUM and realized I didn't need to reach, but for some it's useful I'm sure yourself included with the Weatherby.

Glenn, my .375's a plain Jane Ruger RSM, have taken nine head of game, seven species if memory serves, over the last couple years with it. It puts Northern Canadian meat on our table just as well as it takes Gnu and Nyati, witch it took one year ago along with Impala. We're going plains game hunting with Spiral Horn in October, it has a quick Gemsbok, Warthog, and likely Zebra on its list this year. I will also be hunting wild Woods Bison in my home in Canada's North with it after Africa, North America's largest game and an animal much larger than Nyati/Cape Buffalo and larger than the American Plains Bison as well. So far I've taken game from 20 kilos (44 pounds) to around 900 kilos (about 2,000lbs) with it, hope to go far above that in coming years, and it's always done its part perfectly if I do mine.

Glad to hear others have the same perspective on one gun, all around. A good medium bore's hard to beat. I constantly think about building a Granite Mountain Arms based .375 or something like it, but just can't make myself as the old Ruger just does everything so well. Ridiculously accurate too, so it's hard to justify a new toy- plus I'd feel as if I was 'cheating' on it if I left it at home when taking off for a great hunt!

Pictured are my .300 and .375 Ruger Express Rifles, both featuring integral sight ribs and a bunch of other doo dads that put them unfairly ahead of their far pricier competition for me. Haven't even shot the .300, as I've yet to find a purpose for it the .375 doesn't do. Also pictured is my favourite shotgun, also an African veteran.

 

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No, I have not. However, there are newer powders out now which have resulted in a number of new developments for existing loads under the various brand names.

As I noted in another missive, I'm planning to build a .280 Remington Ackley Improved. The .280 Remington standard is already not all THAT far behind your typical 7mm Rem Mag load. Usually 200-300 fps slower with the same bullet. However, with the slight increase in powder capacity in the Ackley Improved case and the new powder, Nosler has managed to market two rounds -- one using the 140 grain, and another with the 160 grain Accubond bullets -- which match the usual 7mm Rem Mag for velocity/energy. These are advertised as pushing the bullets at just over 3,000 fps, which is 7mm Rem Mag velocities. That said, there are also a few 7mm Rem Mag rounds now which are even hotter, coming in at 3,200 and even over 3,300 fps.

As for the .35 Whelen, we're talking regular cases, not the Ackley Improved. Doing an AI would allow handloading to pretty hot numbers because it comes close to closing the gap between the .35 Whelen and 9.3x62 Mauser case capacities. These figures sounded pretty hot to me also, but again I understand they've developed these more recently using newer powders.

If you look into pretty standard cartridges, like the .270 Winchester, .30-06, etc., in the Remington and Winchester offerings, you'll find them advertising that their new superpremium ammunition is producing 100 to 200 fps greater velocities without increasing the chamber pressure or recoil. So, I would think the .35 Whelen could be pushed as well. That said, Double Tap is not suggesting there is no increase in recoil. There most certainly will be pushing the heavier bullets.

This said, you mentioned to get that level of energy would require a 250 grain bullet travelling at 2,600 fps. That's precisely what Double Tap is advertising. Their four loads are as follows (these are all at the muzzle):

Barnes TSX (lead free solid), 200 grains, @ 2,850 fps and 3,607 ft/lbs

Nosler Accubond, 225 grains, @ 2,700 fps and 3,643 ft/lbs

Speer Hot Cor Jacketed Soft Point, 250 grains, @ 2,600 fps and 3,754 ft/lbs

Woodleigh Weldcore, 310 grains, @ 2,300 fps and 3,641 ft/lbs

I cannot vouch for these numbers. They're simply what I found advertised by the manufacturer. However, all ammo makers have managed to push their numbers to the right in recent years.

This said, there's no real necessity for any of these hot loads for plains game. If you want a little extra measure, sure. But even the standard .35 Whelen loads would work just fine on any of the game discussed, minus the big tough skinned DG animals. Leopards and even lions, due to their being taken at rather close range, would subcome to the standards loads, and has.

I'm just putting this out there because I don't like heavy recoil, and I'm sure there are plenty of others out there who would rather use something that 'stings' a little less when they're hunting, versus a lot of the calibers that were being discussed. Using the standard loads in a typical 8.5 lb rifle, you will typically get less recoil than a .300 Win Mag. You're limited to about 250 yards before you start to see significant bullet drop, but from what I understand, that's more than sufficient for most of your bushveld hunts. If you want to reach out a little further, then go with the Federal Vital Shok 225 grain or Double Tap Barnes TSX 200 grain, which will push your usable range out to 300 yards easy.

On the low end, there is a Federal round using a 180 grain Fusion bullet which produces 2,670 fps and 2,913 ft/lbs at the muzzle, and a Remington 200 grain soft point coming in just over those figures. Meanwhile, again, Federal puts out a hotter round, using the Vital Shok Trophy Bonded Bear Claw at 225 grains, which is quite hot. It produces 2,600 fps and 3,377 ft/lbs.

Finally, there is a Nosler commercial loading. This is a perfect comparison to the one Double Tap offering because they're using the same bullet in the same weight.

Nosler says its offering pushes the Accubond 225 grain bullet at 2,541 fps and develops 2,750 ft/lbs.

Double Tap says its load using the Accubond 225 grain bullet produces 2,700 fps and develops 3,643 ft/lbs.

According to the information I've seen, the 9.3X62 Mauser has about a 5-6 percent advantage over the Whelen in case capacity. The typical loads I've seen produce energy in the 3,500 ft/lbs range, with a few offerings surpassing that. Here are the Norma offerings I found on their site:

Oryx and Vulkan bullets, both 232 grains, @ 2,625 fps and 3,551 ft/lbs

Swift A-Frame bullet, 250 grains, @ 2,625 fps and 3,826 ft/lbs

Oryx bullet, 285 grains, @ 2,428 fps and 3,732 ft/lbs

Alaska and Plastic Point bullets, 285 grains, @ 2,362 fps and 3,532 ft/lbs

Oryx bullet, 325 grains, @ 2,300 fps and 3,819 ft/lbs

Not sure how accurate all this information is. I guess only using a chronograph could prove any of it one way or another. This said, for me, the most I figure I'd need is the Federal Premium Vital Shok. Just over 3,300 ft/lbs is less than what the 9.3x62 Mauser develops, and yet has plenty of energy for any of the plains game animals and will take you out to 300 yards.

If you want more than that, then I guess the .338 Win Mag, 340 Wby Mag, 330 Dakota, etc., would be better. But those are a bit more than I want to slam my shoulder with. If I decided to go that route, I'd definately need to make sure my gun was equipped with a good muzzle break.
@ILCAPO
I know this is an old post but nowdays it is not difficult to SAFELY get 4,000 for out of the Whelen with both 225 and 250 grainers or put a 275 grain Woodleigh PPSP out at close to 2,500 fps.
I know Sestoppelman doesn't like the idea but it can be done safely in a modern rifle or even an 03 Springfield.
Bob
 
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Sorry, not buying it. I know what I know and after over 45 years of shooting, I am convinced that brakes increase noise and blast. No question.
@sestoppelman
I agree brakes definitelyappear to increase the noise a rifle makes. Maybe the noise levels are the same but with the gasses being diverted in a different direction instead of straight out of the muzzle..
This would give the impression of being louder when directed toward the shooter instead of away.
So I would say we are both right noise levels the same empirically but because of the direction it comes from it appears louder.
Bob
 
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Another one to be not forgotten is the Ruger Blackhawk in .30 Carbine. Loud!!
@sestoppelman
Or the Browning boss and the BSA Majestic That was inflicted with that horrible integrated muzzle brake especially in the 243. I know a lot of people who had a gunsmith cut it off.
Bob
 

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