What Rifle should I get for RSA Plains Game Hunt?

seattlesetters

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I'm in the early stages of planning my first safari for plains game. My primary quarry will be a good impala and a good kudu (doesn't everyone want a good kudu bull?), and perhaps a nice gemsbok. I'd also be very interested in springbok and warthog, a zebra if a good one presented itself, and maybe bushbuck.

I'm rather certain I'll end up going to South Africa for the hunt. I've identified Limpopo, Northwest Province and the Northern Cape as the most likely regions to produce what I'm after and will be looking for outfitters in those areas.

I'm buying a new rifle soon and am hoping for some help with the selection. First, I have to say that recoil is a rather significant issue for me. I have had a couple of shoulder reconstrucions and eight bolts and a screw reside permanently in my right (shooting) shoulder. I've also had a disc removed from my neck and have two more that are herniated and will eventually need attention. Although I'm not particularly sensitve to recoil by nature, these injuries and their repairs have left me unable to shoot hard-recoiling numbers comfortably. As a result, I'm looking for a cartridge that can be reasonably expected to do the job at the lowest possible recoil. I'll simply practice more with a soft shooter than I will with somethig that hurts, and the .30-06 with 180gr loads is about the outer limits of my tolerance. This means I'd like something that hurts less than that if at all possible. I'm entirely committed to restricting the range of my shooting to be commensurate with the cartridge selected, so if I need to get closer than 250 yards to my quarry, I'll either do so or pass up the shot.

I really like the new Winchester Model 70s being built in South Carolina. My heart is nearly set on one but I'm still open for suggestions. The cartridge choices I've narrowed it down to are the 7mm-08, the .270 Win and the .308 Win. The rifle will be either the Featherweight or the Extreme Weather.

I've also concluded that I could live with a new Ruger Hawkeye All Weather in .338 Federal. The one I've shot didn't hurt very bad and I kind of like the idea of the bigger bullet. I'd much rather have the Winchester rifle, though, and they are not currently offering that cartridge in their lineup.

Truth be told, if I could get away with a .25-06, I'd take one. Next, the 7mm-08 would be great. The .270 and .308 start to get my attention and the .338 Fed is at my outer limits to be able to put 15 or 20 rounds in at a good practice session.

What would you experienced folks do if you were me? Please remember that this rifle will be used far more for deer back home than it will be in Africa, and it will need to be practiced with for many years to come.

Thanks!
 

LouisB

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Hi seasttlesetters

I would recommend that you get yourself a 7x57 it is capable of taking all of the animals on your list.

Bell even shot loads of elephant with it?

You can shoot some 150gr for the smaller animals and step it up to 175gr for kudu and zebra or maybe a blue wildebeest.

I have one myself and honestly have never been anything but happy with it!

I hope this help?

Best Regards
Louis van Bergen
 

grant

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Which Calibre

Hi

Given your shoulder limitations, and the game you want to hunt. I would recommend the 308 win. With a 180 gr premium or even semi premium bullet you can safely take all the game you mentioned. We do it over here every season with no issues, and at the bushveld distances you will be hunting at there are not many 250 yard shots to be had. The 308 also trumps the 270 in your circumstances by firing heavier bullets.

Good hunting
 

seattlesetters

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I would consider the 7x57 but most rifle manufacturers here no longer offer it, and factory ammunition is purposely underloaded in defference to the older rifles still floating around that are chamberred for this round.

I do not hand load, and believe it or not, the 7mm-08 has hotter factory loads in 140gr and 150gr bullets than the 7x57.
 

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You might want to stay away from the feather wieght. A lite gun kicks harder than a heavy one. Any of the calibers you named will do nicely.

Another suggestion is, do most of your range practice with a smaller caliber weapon. Something like a .223 wont thump your shoulder but will let you practice at long ranges.
 

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Sorry to hear of your shoulder problems. The 6.5x55 is used on some very big game here in Europe. I've used one a few times and found it to be accurate and very mild recoil, even with the 160gr heavy bullets. Never used it on game, but a lot of people I know have, and swear by it. I personally don't like using the .308 at all, and have found it to deliver quite a snappy recoil compared to my 30-06. If I was looking for a low recoil cartridge for heavy stuff, I'd go for 6.5x55, or 7x57. Both are very flexible rounds. I wouldn't worry about the 7x57 being downloaded to cope with older actions - this works for you if you're looking for something to stop you getting injured. If you hit them right, they'll never know the difference in a few hundred fps.
 

seattlesetters

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Forgot to mention two things: One, I live in the Seattle area so a stainless steel barreled action is a must. Two, I plan on shooting TSXs to get maximum penetraton from the smaller rounds.
 

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Gosh, i'd be tempted to go for the .270 honestly. I guess the .308 would be a good choice as well, but it's hard to beat a .270.
 

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I too live in the Seattle area (north of) and own both SS and blue guns and find no difference in rust issues given proper care, none. If you like SS by all means get it but its not really neccessary unless you plan on sitting in the rain a lot which given the weather today and of late could be the situation!

The 7-08 is a great little cartridge, ballistically identical to the 7X57 but as you say factory loads go faster but probably not enough to tell on game. Anything in the '06 class on down will do, mostly a matter of caliber preference and availibility and whether you handload or not. I personally love the 7mms and own 2 rifles in 7X64 (same as .280 Rem) and they give you a little bit more than the 7-08/7X57 can muster and handle the heavier bullets above 160 grs better. Either the .280 or 7x64 can drive the 175 gr bullet to around 2800fps depending on various factors, which is good for just over 3000 ft/lbs. The little guys cant make that figure. There arent many 7x64's around but a .280 is easily had. The Limpopo is a great area, went there in '09 with Bosbok Safaris and had a great hunt, took my best kudu with them along with blesbuck, bushbuck and nyala. I had planned to take a 7x64 to Zim in June but owing to eland requiring by law something bigger I am taking my 9.3x62 again which very served well in Namibia. Have fun!!
 

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I think you've gotten a lot of good advice from the posts above.
I as well would opt for the .308 or possibly a 7mm-08. As long as you are comfortable shooting any of the calibers listed above you should be fine.
A premium bullet with the ability to place it well is the decisive factor.
Good luck with your planning.
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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I bought a light rifle in .308 for my son this past summer. I put a Limbsaver recoil pad on it and he can shoot quite a few 180gr rounds at the range before saying anything about his shoulder (and that's with a t-shirt on). I would think a slightly heavier gun shooting 165gr loads and a Limbsaver or Pachmayr Decelerator would fit your needs well.

EDIT: BTW my son is just coming on 13 and might tip the scale at 100 lbs after a big meal.
 

enysse

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I would go for the .308 and get a good recoil pad. The ammo is widely available and cheaper too in the long run...very accurate too.
 

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Did someone say Kudu !!!

Sorry here is a small taste of what can be expected, they are sometimes very difficult to hunt and sometimes they fall in your lap with luck but you must be there at the right time and the right place.

None of these kudus below were put and take you will see most of them are hunted in semi mountainess terrain where we find to get the best quality kudus.

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Now back to your question I think a 270 loaded with 130gr TSX would be perfect all the animals you have specified are not overly tough with the zebra being the exception but you will get enough power and penetration with the TSX. A good rilfe to keep shooting at home and thanks to bullet technology will work superbly on most plainsgame as long as you do your part with shot placement.

Now I also see you are after springbuck and gemsbuck as well a normal rule of thumb you will not find very big kudus where there is very good springbuck and gemsbuck in South Africa there are however the exceptions. Springbuck does not adapt in areas with ticks and Kudus call it their kingdom.

Sorry for the very long post but we pride ourselves in knowing that we have good kudu hunting.
 

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daggaboyblog

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I have carried a .270 on one safari to RSA.

It knocked over 2 zebra, wildebeest, kudu, impala, warthog, gemsbok and a few others with one bullet. My shot was a bit off on an eland so we had to do a bit of tracking.

I used 150gr bullets on everything. No doubt you can put a muzzle brake on one of these rather light rifles and make them kick like a rimfire!
 

KMG Hunting Safaris

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Hi seasttlesetters,
Most of the calibres you mentioned will work just fine. Although I have had a client use a 25-06 on game up to Red Hartebeest and Kudu, I would not recommend it. But from the 7mm-08 up to and including the 308 will be more than enough.
I use a 308 Win with 130gr premium bullets. My clients use this rifle as well and it will take anything on a plains game package.

Best Regards
Marius Goosen
KMG Hunting Safaris
 

converse320

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I bought a light rifle in .308 for my son this past summer. I put a Limbsaver recoil pad on it and he can shoot quite a few 180gr rounds at the range before saying anything about his shoulder (and that's with a t-shirt on). I would think a slightly heavier gun shooting 165gr loads and a Limbsaver or Pachmayr Decelerator would fit your needs well.

EDIT: BTW my son is just coming on 13 and might tip the scale at 100 lbs after a big meal.

Couldn't agree more about a good recoil pad. I've tried a lot and settled on the Kick Eez pads. I've found them noticeably better than my Pachmayr Decelerator.
 

seattlesetters

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Did someone say Kudu !!!

Sorry here is a small taste of what can be expected, they are sometimes very difficult to hunt and sometimes they fall in your lap with luck but you must be there at the right time and the right place.

None of these kudus below were put and take you will see most of them are hunted in semi mountainess terrain where we find to get the best quality kudus.

Now back to your question I think a 270 loaded with 130gr TSX would be perfect all the animals you have specified are not overly tough with the zebra being the exception but you will get enough power and penetration with the TSX. A good rilfe to keep shooting at home and thanks to bullet technology will work superbly on most plainsgame as long as you do your part with shot placement.

Now I also see you are after springbuck and gemsbuck as well a normal rule of thumb you will not find very big kudus where there is very good springbuck and gemsbuck in South Africa there are however the exceptions. Springbuck does not adapt in areas with ticks and Kudus call it their kingdom.

Sorry for the very long post but we pride ourselves in knowing that we have good kudu hunting.
Wow, Frederik! You have some nice kudu, indeed!

I am aware that the best places for kudu may not be the best places for some of the other species. However, my top two quarry are kudu and impala and I do believe I may be able to find good ones in the same area. I'd just like to perhaps pick up a gemsbok and a springbok during the hunt, if that's what the country brings. I'm also open to warthog, zebra, bushbuck, steenbok and blesbok. I may perhaps take wildebeest and hartebeest, but that would be only if an exceptional individual were available.

I thank you for your advice. It looks like there is some love for the old .270 Win, after all, and from PHs. I'm glad I came to this board where experience prevails, as I've always wanted a Winchester Model 70 in .270 Win.
 

seattlesetters

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Thanks so far, everyone. Great replies.

Now that the .270 Win ice has been broken, does anyone recommend a barrel length for such a rifle? I've always preferred 24" for long action cartridges, but would consider 22" if it is a better fit.
 

Frederik

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All the game you specified can be found in one area except the springbuck but that can also be solved as we have an area 1 hour from the airport that we could hunt springbuck, black wildebeest and blesbuck on their home ground. Do this the last two days of your trip for example and then that 270 will really get into its own.
 

enysse

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I have always liked a long barrel, but you can go down to 22", if you want to. The most important things is that the gun fits you, so you can hold it steady. Gun fit will be everything. For me, a long barrel is easier to hold steady and aim.
 

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