What is the Perfect Plains Game rifle? and what is too much?

markferrigno

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I have followed AH for quite some time and have read many opinions on rifle selection. So here is the question, what is the perfect Plains Game rifle? Is it a 25-06, 30-06, 300 Win Mag, one of the 375 family or a different one? You decide, and tell us why... Additionally, is there something that is too much for PG? I am only limited this to plains game (up to and including Eland) and NOT dangerous game.

I know there will be MANY passionate opinions, but please do not berate or belittle someone else for their opinion, because it is just that...opinion. The basis for this question is not only stopping ability, but minimal meat damage and hide preservation. Additionally, let us all consider that the rifles are using the "mythical" perfect plains game bullet so that we do not get into the discussion of bullet selection.

I did do a quick search, but do not turn up anything that specifically asks this question. If I missed a post, please let me know.

My opinion is the 300 Win Mag is a very good all-around PG rifle. It has the ability to reach out and drop something if necessary, and shoots a larger enough bullet (200gr to 220gr) to put the hurt on the larger animal but can be down loaded for the smaller ones. While the 375 H&H is the quintessential "African Caliber" I think it is one the large side for most PG animal. Your thoughts?


"Your favorite deer rifle" That is what the outfitter for my first PG Safari told me. Great advice, don't get hung up on caliber. Take what you can shoot well. Animals like Gemsbock, Zebra and Wildebeest are tough so shot placement is crucial. I know this is obvious but a lot of folks thing they need a magnum or huge caliber.

I used a .308 with Barnes 168gr VorTX and I had a great time.
 

lwaters

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I shot everything from steebock to eland with a 300 Ruger Compact Mag. with 180 grain partitions. at a little over 2800 fps in a 20 in. barrel. Actually the world is full of good plains game rifles. Pick your poison.
 

SHOEDOG

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I used a Remington 700 in .375 Holland and Holland. Zebra Waterbuck Kudu and Impala with one bullet a piece so I was pleased with it.My trip to Africa gave me an excellent excuse to buy it and I tend to like tradition so the H&H was an easy choice.Scope was Leupold VX-R 3-9 with Firedot.
Barnes TTSX 250 grainers.I recovered one only from the Waterbuck.It hit bone and actually came out on the same side as the entry hole.Two holes on the same side about a foot apart,a couple petals were broken off and must have made the exit hole.The skinner recovered the main body of the bullet and gave it to me.
Generally gave a nice exit hole and a good trail.I would take it with me again without hesitation.Keep in mind Africa has some big tough animals.
Good luck whatever you choose.
 

lwaters

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I have a 375 Ruger that l have loaded up with 250 ttsx I will have to try someday
 

huntermn15

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That is the next caliber I'm looking at any thoughts good bad? Thanks for some feedback
I have a Ruger m77 Hawkeye in 375 Ruger and had great success with it last year. 13 animals from Steenbok to Lioness and 11 animals in between. I was shooting 300gr tsx on all plains game and 300 gr A-frames for the Lioness.

For my 2017 trip, I'll be taking my Tikka T3 in 300wm, and I'll be working up a load for that trip shortly.

I love the Ruger though and I'll be using it here in Alaska this year.
 

lwaters

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I also have a 338 and shot a few elk with it. Frankly my 375 ruger is more pleasant to shoot. I think the houge stock on the alaskan absorbs alot of the recoil
 

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Given a choice my kids would rather shoot my 375 Ruger then my 338 WM.
 

Gemsbok Gangsta

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I appreciate the feedback using my tikka 06 in May with 165 nab. This tikka loves this ammo. Next hunt is a buff so I need to gun up. Sounds like I'm on the right track with the Ruger 375!!
 

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30-06, 7x57, 8x57, 8x68, 9.3x62, .300WM, .338WM, .375 H&H... I like them all. My buddy does really well with his 7mmWM. For some reason I never warmed up to that particular cartridge but I love 7x57. Yet I hunt with bigger calibers used to use 30-06 and .338WM and now 9.3x62. I would not be able to decide. I like all the answers. Even the Whelen as poor substitute for 9.3...LOL...:D Keep the comments and opinions coming.
 
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BRICKBURN,

Good one, touche' says I.

Incidentally, my friend who brought the only .270 I've seen in 4 times to Africa, a custom Mauser / 2 to 7x scope / 140 gr A-Frames, had excellent results with it in Namibia (except on a semi-bullet proof zebra) and still hunts in N. America with it but, has graduated to a .35 Whelen / 4x scope / 225 gr to 250 gr bullets, depending on terrain, foliage and species hunted, for his last as well as any future African PG adventures.
He also now favors the .35 for some Alaskan critters.

Yours Truly has sacked a few deer and caribou (Alaska) with a .270 Winchester (I've owned 3 or 4 of 'em), not to mention prairie dogs, jack rabbits and coyotes (Nevada) but I no longer own one.
It is a humdinger with 130 gr spitzers for long shots at deer and pronghorn, not bad for caribou either, if you ax me.
In fact I do like the .270 but, now I like other calibers more I guess.

One Man's Bread is Another Man's Poison.

Kind Regards,
Velo Dog.
Mate got to love the Whelen, does every thing out to sane distances as the wee little 338 win mag without rattling your teeth or knocking you out from under your hat.
Ain't no flies on a PROPERLY LOADED Whelen.
But in defense my son did just as well with the, oh yawn, humble 308 on plains game.
The 35 Whelen just does it with moe authority and a,touch of class.
Bob
 

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Mate got to love the Whelen, does every thing out to sane distances as the wee little 338 win mag without rattling your teeth or knocking you out from under your hat.
Ain't no flies on a PROPERLY LOADED Whelen.
But in defense my son did just as well with the, oh yawn, humble 308 on plains game.
The 35 Whelen just does it with moe authority and a,touch of class.
Bob
If you are driving .35 cal bullets, of the same weight, to .338 Win mag velocity, and if in rifles of similar weight, the only difference in recoil will be the weight of the powder charge which isn't very much, especially with your loads!:eek:
So if the Whelen does the same ballistically as the .338 Win, then recoil is about the same.(y) Or as Jack O'Connor would say, "it would take a Guru of heightened awareness to tell the difference".:confused:;):rolleyes:
 
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I don't think hide preservation is an issue on a PG hunt, if it were we would all be taking neck shots with a 6.5x55 or a similar mild recoiling cartridge. Bullet placement is the key to hunting success in any situation, in the field it's the hunter’s ability to shoot accurately that is tested not the accuracy of your rifle. Our goal as ethical hunter is the "Dead Right Their" shot (DRT), no tracking just smiles and high fives. In order to accomplish this feat a hunter should be able to place his/her bullet into a 2" diameter circle, this level of field accuracy is what should set a hunters distance limit for taking an ethical shoot. That being said there are very few of us myself included that should take a shot over 200 yards and truthfully a 100 yards would be a better maximum distance. The lion and the leopard get as close as they can before the final charge, why should we behave differently just because we use a rifle? The skill in hunting is getting as close as possible before you engage your target, the skill in shooting is shot placement over a distance, they are two totally different skill sets. Now that long range shooting is eliminated from the equation I can finally answer the question what is the best PG caliber, simple the 35 Whelen.

The 30-06 is the most popular choice for PG hunting and has a very solid reputation for PG. The truth is every 06 wants to grow up to be a 35 Whelen, it’s just as accurate over practical shooting distances, shoots a heavier bullet and hits much harder.

The 35 Whelen has a mild recoil for its caliber (slightly more than the 06 but less than the 300WM), a large diameter bullet at non-magnum velocities (2500 fps) resulting in greater weight retention, penetration and knockdown power. With quality factory ammo ranging from 180 to 310 grains, what more could ask for in a PG rifle?
Art
I would have been most disappointed if you didn't mention the beautiful,highly efficient and extremely effective king of the midbores the 35 WHELEN.
Bob
 

Skinnersblade

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For me .303 british unless in dangerous game country I which case I'd switch over to my .375 h&h, I've got a .340 but after getting a .375 I can't see a job it's better suited for. If I don't feel thirty cal is enough I'd simply skip to .375
 

CBH Australia

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I hired a 7mmRM that worked well.
I would probably go .300wm if I was buying, because I want to replace one.
I met an experienced hunter who only ever used a .270 and .338wm on his numerous African safaris.
My PH said he has a .300wm hire rifle and you wouldn’t go wrong with .300wm.
One of the outfitters wives had a couple of impressive Kudu mounted that she took with .25-06.
But, listen to the experienced blokes here. If you are looking to purchase have a quick count and see what gets the most support.
 
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If you are driving .35 cal bullets, of the same weight, to .338 Win mag velocity, and if in rifles of similar weight, the only difference in recoil will be the weight of the powder charge which isn't very much, especially with your loads!:eek:
So if the Whelen does the same ballistically as the .338 Win, then recoil is about the same.(y) Or as Jack O'Connor would say, "it would take a Guru of heightened awareness to tell the difference".:confused:;):rolleyes:
Sess
My shoulder can certainly tell the difference. The 338 seems to slap me around like going a few rounds with Mike Tyson.
My Whelen on the other hand seems like a big push by comparison.
It may have had something to do with the stock. The 338 was in a Winchester model 70 where as my Whelen is a Savage stock that seems to fit me like it was custom made for me. Winchester, Remington sako and a few others feel like a a crowbar in a fence post or a knitting needle in an axe handle and just don't feel right.
Bob
 

fourfive8

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What is the best PG rifle/caliber? :) Before even discussing caliber, I will not use questionable, slippery bullets whose sole purpose in design is marketing by exceeding the .500 BC threshold or nudging the .600 magic whatever. I've no interest in shooting farther than 300 yards and more like 250 yards as a reasonable max. I'll take a relatively heavy, tough, accurate bullet at modest velocity over all the BC that can be designed into one. And will not load hunting ammo to the max and will only load and use hunting ammo that is both accurate and reliable under any possible condition- wet, really cold, really hot, or subjected to rough handling, etc.... I started as a 30-30 shooter then moved up to a 30-06 shooter then a 270 shooter, then back to a 30-06 shooter, then a super accurate 260 shooter, then a super accurate 308 shooter, then a 338-06 shooter (which I really like by the way for all PG, save one) and have come to the conclusion that I've changed over the years and have likely settled on being a 375 HH shooter with a fixed 4x scope for ALL PG- if I ever get to hunt Africa again. I proved to myself how well an accurate, larger bore does on all game including even smaller PG by using a 416 Rem for both DG and PG one year. Hopefully a casual, mostly tracking and fishing trip will happen in 2021- a trip that had to be rescheduled from this year because of the virus hysteria. we'll see?
 
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Skinnersblade

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Sess
My shoulder can certainly tell the difference. The 338 seems to slap me around like going a few rounds with Mike Tyson.
My Whelen on the other hand seems like a big push by comparison.
It may have had something to do with the stock. The 338 was in a Winchester model 70 where as my Whelen is a Savage stock that seems to fit me like it was custom made for me. Winchester, Remington sako and a few others feel like a a crowbar in a fence post or a knitting needle in an axe handle and just don't feel right.
Bob

I hate to comment on the shooting abilities of my elders bob but if a .338 bites your ear off your doing it wrong.
 

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