Plains game rifle choices

JJHACK

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Jun 21, 2001
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302
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Rural Wa. State/ Ellisras South Africa
When I talk to people about going to Africa with me to hunt for plains game, one of the most frequent questions I have is what rifle should I bring? What ammo?

Well the most common rifle I see from American hunters is a 300 mag of any flavor you can find. It most commonly uses a 180 grain bullet like an X, Partition, failsafe, or one of the bonded swifts or bearclaw bullets.

This is a good combination but probably more velocity then what is needed for most hunting there. A 270 or a 30/06 are both fine rifles too. The shots are rarely over 250 yards and average between 75 and 150 yards on almost all the game in the Northern Transvaal. In the Orange Freestate, or the Kalahari you may find longer shots going over 300 yards and in Zululand you will be lucky to even see anything further then 100 yards because the bush is so thick.

The 338 is outstanding and will give you just about every good feature you could want in a plains game rifle. Large heavy bullets which will exit and leave you with a good blood trail to follow.

The 375HH is the perfect Plains game rifle in my opinion but may be a bit much for people to shoot due to recoil and even the weight to pack it around all day. It will always leave a nice easy to follow blood trail and allows shots on game that you might never take with a smaller diameter bullet.

As far as the "perfect" rifle for plains game..... Hmmmmmm...... I would say the 35 whelen or the 338/06 would be perfect ballistically, but they are rare and the short coming is that you will never find ammo for them in Africa if you need it.

I do not care for calibers under .308 in diameter, blood trails are non-existant and exits less frequent. The calibers .308 up to .338 will give an inconsistant trail that will be short most of the time. The calibers from .338 to 375 will give decent blood trails and almost always give exit holes too. The calibers from .375 and over will always give you a decent blood trail that should lead easily to any animal that was well hit.

I know you will say that if it is well hit we don't need a good blood trail because the game will go down in a short diatance. Not really folks, African hunting is much different then many other forms of hunting. Shooting one animal in a heard of 20 and trying to follow them as they stampede away is difficult at best. Those dozens of stampeding hooves will cover the tiny drops of blood with the dust and dirt of all those animals. Then when your following the track if you can tell which one it was? where will the blood be? When you have followed the herd which has travelled several hundred yards and the one you shot has peeled off after only 70 yards you will have great stress back tracking and sorting this mess out!

When on a safari hunting for 10 animals in ten days, you don't have the luxury of a full day for tracking and looking for wounded game, especially when hunting 2X1 when your partner is also not hunting because of your wounded or lost game. The Bigger bore rifles will get you a blood trail much more often and make sorting out the track much easier. You have paid for this animal once you have hit it wether you find it or not!

Herd animals tend to run much further with the herd when seriously wounded then single animals. They do not want to be left behind when sick and afraid. They will have the adrenilin and other high performance additives pumping through their veins to push them much further then a single animal will go in many cases.

The rifle you have for hunting in North America will in almost every case be just fine for a plains game hunt. Just know the limitations you have and don't take a shot that you do not know what the results will be.

Don't stare through the scope and becuase of others telling you to shoot or becuase of your difficulty in getting steady you think in your mind: just pull the trigger and get it over with, hoping for the best. Be sure of the results or don't shoot. Being certain of the results is always easier with a bigger bore diameter becuse you will find blood or chunks to follow.

There is much more information on preparing for your first safari in my book "Africa the First time" avaialble from me or shortly through Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com
You can get a copy by ordering through my web page www.customosteo.com
Click on the hunting adventures section.jj

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 26 June 2001 14:53: Message edited by: JJHACK ]</font>
 

Calif. Hunter

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Dec 13, 2000
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JJ - the info on the hunts you offer is great! Maybe we can get at least a few of us from the forum for next year? Check out his website and the prices, guys! Not cheap, perhaps, but for what's included, it sounds like a reasonable deal for (at least for me!) a once in a lifetime trip.
 

JJHACK

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Jun 21, 2001
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302
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Rural Wa. State/ Ellisras South Africa
That fare is from Atlanta airport. I fly to Atlanta on delta which is a partner of SAA and that ticket can be about $290.00(from Seattle) but I have paid as much as $450.00! in the past.

I have no idea what we can do in Late May next year but I think it will be around 1000.00-1100.00 from Atlanta at the most. I have several guys booked and can take 5 more.

One man wants a 2X1 hunt but does not know anyone to go along with him so if your in the same boat and want a 2X1 rate I can put you with him and you can both see a $1000.00 savings in your package cost. All costs are listed as 2X1 already on the web page.

I want to assure you this is really easy and relaxing to accomplish. It may be Africa but with my groups everyone is going to have easy and complete instructions. All will have embroidered ball caps and can meet and identify each other at the Atlanta airport for the same flight. Once you travel together with another experienced guy you will just cruise through all the imigration and gun permiting.

Going with our groups the first time is so easy you will be surprised your in Africa because it's as easy as flying to another city in the USA just a longer flight!jj
 

Jim in Idaho

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Jun 27, 2001
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3
Getting back to rifles, one trip has thoroughly won me over to the .375 H&H. I took game from about 20-30 yards away to 300 paces, all with the same load of 270 grain A-Frames.

I guess part of the criteria of what rifle to use depends on what type of hunting you will do. If it involves a LOT of walking, maybe something a bit lighter is in order. My .375 weighs just over 10 pounds and, while that makes it real easy to shoot, it is a tad heavy to carry in your hands for a while.

I kind of wish that the Europeans, Africans and Americans could get together and decide on popularizing either the .35 Whelen or the 9.3X62. The former so one could be assured of a goodly supply of ammo around the world or the latter so we Americans could get a goodly supply of rifles in that caliber. I think a .338-06, .35 Whelen, even a good old 8X57 shooting 200 grainers at 2700 fps would be just right for the guy who wants to shoot impala to eland but doesn't want to carry 10 pounds of rifle or put up with too much recoil.

While there are two excellent .338 caliber magnums in widespread use, we have this dearth of the widespread availability of good medium power cartridges between .30 and .375 caliber, and my completely subjective opinion leads me to believe that this is where the "perfect" plains game rifle for the average joe lies. Hmmm, seems like some fellows using the .318 Westley Richards figured that out a while ago.

Or, just get a .375 H&H, learn to shoot it (not that hard, believe me) and be done with it.
 

Jim in Idaho

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Jun 27, 2001
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This'll teach me to login late at night and dash off a post. I basically repeated what JJ said in his first post.

Hmmm, great minds think alike!
 
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