What is your minimum Buffalo cartridge

Backyardsniper

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I am aware that the legal minimum is 375 however, my question is more to the guys that have some experience and have shot one or a few buffalo. I plan to hunt with Ivory Trail safaris in the Save' valley in 2022. I'll be hunting buffalo and plains game. I plan to take my 458 Lott for buffalo and the 375 for plains game. I have watched a lot of buffalo videos and it appears that thier ability to soak up lead is not exaggerated. I do understand that you can kill one with a 375, however I feel that seems the same as saying you can kill and Elk with a 270. Yes you can but does that make it an elk rifle? In my opinion no. I have always been a fan of bringing plenty of gun. 338 lapua is pretty much my go to hunting rifle for most things. I chose the 375 over it for plains game because my 338 is a tactical type rifle and I just don't think it fits on a safari. Kind of like playing an electric guitar in an orchestra. So back to the point, if someone says hey lets go hunt a buffalo, what cartridge pops into your mind as the minimum that you want in your hands when you are standing 40yds from a buffalo?
 

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Here is a discussion on it not long ago
 

Red Leg

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I think the .375 is the quintessential mixed bag caliber when buffalo are included. I own a .404, 500/416, and a .470. All four of my buffalo have been taken with the .375 and a quality 300 gr bullet. All were clean immediate kills, With it, I can drop a buffalo at 25 meters or a waterbuck at nearly 225 - yes, have done both. I use the .375 no because it is a good compromise, but because it is superior tool for both.

For instance, with any of my three forties, I am confident I can put a bullet into a buffalo's shoulder. With my .375, I can pick the specific tick I want to kill on the way in - in poor light, amongst his buddies, and through a narrow window in the thorn.

The forties aren't a wrong choice. It is the difference between broadsword and rapier. I much prefer the rapier. Both can be deadly.
 

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I only hunted buffalo once, on my first safari in Zimbabwe. I had wanted to hunt buff since I was 15 and I was 56 at the time. I took a .416 Ruger as my “buffalo” rifle. As buff was the reason for the hunt, I wanted whatever rifle I had in my hand to be able to handle the job, so my second rifle was a .375 H&H.
If a .375 is in your hands, you’re good to go.
 

50 caliber

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the capes I took was with a 460 whby in the 70s a backup for it was a 10 gauge side by side one barrel with buck the other one with a slug. One was taken with a double chambered in the 600
 

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the capes I took was with a 460 whby in the 70s a backup for it was a 10 gauge side by side one barrel with buck the other one with a slug. One was taken with a double chambered in the 600
I can honestly say you are the first person I have ever heard of/ read about / met / whatever that used buckshot or a slug for a cape buffalo follow-up. I am also a product of that generation, and I am pretty sure that I have never fired a load of buckshot of any bore that would give me confidence in impressing an inbound cape buffalo. I don't believe I would have wanted to depend upon the soft lead slugs of that era to be much more effective. Don't doubt you, but would love to hear the details of those hunts and where they took place.
 
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In my vast experience, ie, 1 Cape buffalo :LOL:, I used my Africa rifle...375 H&H. If I were going only for buffalo, I’d probably take a larger caliber, but the 375 H&H can pretty well cover it all while not being the “best” for any particular game.
If you’re out with your 375 stalking PG and a fine buffalo shows up, are you not going to shoot it because you don’t have your 458? I doubt it!
 

Red Leg

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In my vast experience, ie, 1 Cape buffalo :LOL:, I used my Africa rifle...375 H&H. If I were going only for buffalo, I’d probably take a larger caliber, but the 375 H&H can pretty well cover it all while not being the “best” for any particular game.
If you’re out with your 375 stalking PG and a fine buffalo shows up, are you not going to shoot it because you don’t have your 458? I doubt it!
But if you are out after buffalo with your .458 and a magnificent kudu rises from his bed on the next ridge at 250 yards ................
 

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I've only taken two cape buffalo, one in RSA and the other in Zimbabwe. On both hunts, I used a 375 for everything. That included the two buffs, kudu, gemsbuck, wildebeest, impala, etc. The kudu was taken at around 200 yards in Zim. Both buff were taken at about 25 yards and fell after a short run. Bullet in the chamber was a 300 grain A-frame, those in magazine were Federal solids. I felt very confident with the 375, and I think both PHs were fine with the choice. They were the ones carrying heavier artillery.
 

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Hello Backyardsniper,

Having only taken one buffalo, my opinion is just that...a one buffalo opinion.
Having now confessed that my buffalo experience is singular, nonetheless I agree with Red Leg and others, who say the .375 H&H, with today’s super tough soft points is by reputation, perfectly adequate for buffalo.
And, as super tough softs go, I prefer the Swift A-Frame.

The .375 becomes very appealing when (also mentioned by others already), you are doing a mixed bag hunting safari.
It is generally speaking, my favorite hunting caliber.
If I did not live in Alaska and I never visited Africa, I might sing a different song.
However, I have shot many species from ground squirrels through eland with it and it is the best choice, if a fellow was to own but one rifle for tramping the earth.

Anyway, all that having been said, each world wide species of buffalo are special.
Even though I’ve encountered African buffaloes many times, I stand in awe of them every time I’m near them.
I have similar feelings about eland as well (in case you know anyone who gives a snort).

Because I hold buffalo in such high esteem and because they are large and tough, I will always prefer to use a bit more gun on them than the .375, if given a choice.
The minimum buffalo rifle for me would be one of the .40 calibers: .400 Jeffery (aka 450/400 NE), .404 Jeffery, .416 Rigby and so forth.
Furthermore, calibers such as the .458 Winchester, .458 Lott, .450 NE, .450 Rigby Rimless, .470 NE, .500 NE, .500 Jeffery and .505 Gibbs do not seem too much, IMO.

For the one buffalo that I was blessed enough to hunt so far, I used a large bore double that I had owned at the time, in .450 No2 NE.
I gave him the classic soft and solid, left and right barrel respectively.
The first shot (40 paces in thick riverine foliage) was a very mortal wound but, he did not agree at first.

Even though he dropped to the impact, nonetheless he got right back up and ran, quartering away from me.
Upon receiving my second bullet (about 120 paces), he tumbled in a mighty cloud of dust and was then quite dead.

If I had used a .375 and 300 gr A-Frame on that first shot, I expect it is likely that I would have observed something of a similar outcome.
However, I like using a large powerful caliber when among heavy dangerous animals.

If I am able to again hunt buffalo and also lesser species on the same safari, I would enjoy using a .404 Jeffery Mauser, equipped with a low power scope.
Since I sadly do not own a .404, neither do I know anyone in Namibia who might loan / rent one to me, this is not likely to happen lol.
I do however own a .416 Rigby (built on a CZ 550 action) that would, I presume be a real peach for a proverbial mixed bag hunting trip, including one buffalo, plus antelopes, zebra, warthog, etc.
Khomas Highland Hunting Safaris (my employer) has for rent a Mauser in .416 Rigby caliber.
So, since I no longer care to bring firearms across international borders these days, I could practice mightily with my .416 at home and then use the camp .416 when I arrived in The Zambezi / Caprivi concession.

Your intent to use a .458 Lott on buffalo is IMO a splendid idea.
I’m one of these rifle grumps who keeps each rifle zeroed and well practiced with one specific load per rifle.
Since I’ve never wanted to carry multiple rifles across the planet, I would consider in your situation, asking your PH about bringing for your .458 Lott, only 450 grain bullets (A-Frame of course LOL).
These should be (my best under-experienced guess) very adequate for buffalo and yet would fly a bit flatter for that 200 yard shot on a special bushbuck, etc.

Here in Alaska, the .458 is somewhat popular, loaded with 400 to 450 grain bullets for moose (and bison) hunting.
It’s well more than needed for these 1600 pound deer.
Furthermore, our 2000 pound bison are reportedly nowhere near as impact resistant as African buffalo are but, our bear numbers are way up lately.
And once you’ve bumped into a mature grizzly in thick brush, even the.458 suddenly seems small.

Anyway, whatever rifle / rifles you decide to bring, just practice from the sticks.
Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more.

Best Regards,
Velo Dog.

PS:
The trend lately for buffalo hunting seems to be gradually shifting toward using only premium super tough expanding bullets.
Seems like more and more PHs prefer clients not using solids for follow-up shots anymore, just premium softs only.
Again, my one buffalo experience is hardly a burning bush of wisdom.
However, my experiences in 5 trips to Africa has taught me to believe what the PHs say.
 
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Backyardsniper

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I brought my 458 to Kodiak a couple years ago to help a buddy of mine who was a resident and happened to draw an excellent tag for the red lake Olga Bay area. Him being a resident we did not need a guide and I brought my 458 for protection and yes it made me a good bit more comfortable in the midst of those toothy critters. We spent 11 days in the bush and killed a nice ine on the last day. It was an epic hunt for sure.
 

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I think the .375 is the quintessential mixed bag caliber when buffalo are included. I own a .404, 500/416, and a .470. All four of my buffalo have been taken with the .375 and a quality 300 gr bullet. All were clean immediate kills, With it, I can drop a buffalo at 25 meters or a waterbuck at nearly 225 - yes, have done both. I use the .375 no because it is a good compromise, but because it is superior tool for both.

For instance, with any of my three forties, I am confident I can put a bullet into a buffalo's shoulder. With my .375, I can pick the specific tick I want to kill on the way in - in poor light, amongst his buddies, and through a narrow window in the thorn.

The forties aren't a wrong choice. It is the difference between broadsword and rapier. I much prefer the rapier. Both can be deadly.
Well put.
 

fourfive8

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I brought my 458 to Kodiak a couple years ago to help a buddy of mine who was a resident and happened to draw an excellent tag for the red lake Olga Bay area. Him being a resident we did not need a guide and I brought my 458 for protection and yes it made me a good bit more comfortable in the midst of those toothy critters. We spent 11 days in the bush and killed a nice ine on the last day. It was an epic hunt for sure.
Been there done that on Kodiak- heckuva place- and you are absolutely correct. One look at the tracks of a good sized bear, then you glance at your rifle and think, " uhhh is this rifle big enough?"
I spent 14 day there as a back-up one spring for my nephew-- from crawling up extremely steep lower elevation slopes covered with 3 ft thick matted grass to strapping on snowshoes at about the 1000 ft level to crawling though erosion cuts choked with alder.

But Africa will be a little different. You asked specifically what caliber popped into the head with mention of Cape buffalo? I have three adequate calibers- 375 HH, 416 Rem Mag and 450 Watts. Without hesitation, I would choose either the 416 Rem Mag or 450 Watts. Your 458 would work well and it's a rifle you are used to. The 375 would be especially useful if eland is on the list. Practice on the sticks out to maybe 200 yards on a 6-8" bull with the 375.
 

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......., what cartridge pops into your mind as the minimum that you want in your hands when you are standing 40yds from a buffalo?

Standing 40yds in front of a buffalo, no mimimum pops up in my mind.

But a .470 Capstick....because I have nothing bigger/better.


HWL
 

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I am aware that the legal minimum is 375 however, my question is more to the guys that have some experience and have shot one or a few buffalo. I plan to hunt with Ivory Trail safaris in the Save' valley in 2022. I'll be hunting buffalo and plains game. I plan to take my 458 Lott for buffalo and the 375 for plains game. I have watched a lot of buffalo videos and it appears that thier ability to soak up lead is not exaggerated. I do understand that you can kill one with a 375, however I feel that seems the same as saying you can kill and Elk with a 270. Yes you can but does that make it an elk rifle? In my opinion no. I have always been a fan of bringing plenty of gun. 338 lapua is pretty much my go to hunting rifle for most things. I chose the 375 over it for plains game because my 338 is a tactical type rifle and I just don't think it fits on a safari. Kind of like playing an electric guitar in an orchestra. So back to the point, if someone says hey lets go hunt a buffalo, what cartridge pops into your mind as the minimum that you want in your hands when you are standing 40yds from a buffalo?

375 is not the legal minimum.

375 will kill them each and every time with the right bullet and the right shot placement.

The 400 calibers are the best cape buffalo only caliber, 404 Jeff, 416 Rigby, 450/400 NE, 500/416NE etc...

If you have the 458 Lott and the 375 H&H and you ask the question I would suggest the 375.....they only soak up lead when the first shot does not go where it needs to.....
 

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.375 is enough, but, you are the one going to hunt that buff, and if you feel more comfortable with anything bigger, it´s your choice.
 

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I used my 375 H&H double with 300gr Nosler Partition ammo for my first buffalo. I had read and heard all the stories about how tough Cape Buffalo are, but I was amazed that my buffalo was still standing after 3 rounds from the 375--two of which were in the vitals (the initial shot hit him just a bit low as he was trotting by at about 80 yards). It was the fourth round that finally put him on the ground and a fifth insurance shot anchored him.
So what did I learn that helps to answer your question? Yes, Cape Buffalo are tough as hell. Yes, a 375 will do the trick, keeping in mind that shot placement is paramount. However, when I go next year for my second buffalo I'm taking my 416 Rigby with 400gr Swift A-Frames.
 

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I do understand that you can kill one with a 375, however I feel that seems the same as saying you can kill and Elk with a 270. Yes you can but does that make it an elk rifle? In my opinion no. what cartridge pops into your mind as the minimum that you want in your hands when you are standing 40yds from a buffalo?
The 270 is my go to elk rifle, and it is more than sufficient for elk. Just like the 375 H&H for buffalo. Both with modern bonded softs (or mono-metal).
That said, when I had the opportunity to go to Zim and Moz I took my .416 Rigby and my hunting partner his .450 Rigby. That .450 really wallops cape buffalo! ;)
 

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