What's the cartridge that pops into your mind when talking about Africa


New member
Jun 21, 2001
Rural Wa. State/ Ellisras South Africa
What's the first cartridge or firearm that flashes through your mind? As far as rifles go I see a double rifle. But when I am thinking about African cartridges I think 375HH or 470 nitro express.

The 458 win mag, although somewhat of a failure in it's early release, is also in my thoughts just because I used to see so many PH's with it. Now it's the 458 Lott that we all carry or have all chambered up to. I don't know a single really wealthy PH so none I know are using doubles. If any of the PH's I know had a doubles they would sell it and buy a nice house!

By a wide margin today the PH's I work with and know use the 458 Lott or the 375HH.
That's an easy question.. It's a BRNO Double in 470 Nitro... It belonged to some guy from London and was carried in Africa until about 1956 when he made his last safari. It's a beautifully hand crafted rifle with phenominal wood and engraving. I almost got to buy it from his son who was looking to score a bunch of drugs. I missed it by about 20 minutes and $200.

As it was, I only got the Baker Elite Trap gun.. It's also a great piece, but not like that double was....


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 04-30-2003 12:45: Message edited by: danr55 ]</font>
It's interesting that so many click with the 470 nitro and the 458 win mag. The 458 Win mag was designed to be the bolt action replacement for the 470 nitro.

The advertised ballistics were said to be the same with the 470 having a slightly larger bore diameter and the 458 shooting a slightly heavier bullet(510 grains)

unfortunately the high temps near the equator killed the 458's compressed loads causing the ball powder to clump together and leave the barrel unburned. That had devistating results to the velocity and of course the penetration. Too bad the case was not originally 1/10" longer or so to get in that amount of powder without the compression.

A properly loaded 458 today can come close to the magic 2150fps with a 500 grain bullet. It can do it with a 450 Aframe which is just enough shorter with todays better powders.

Moving to the Longer Lott case it's an easy task to get 2300 plus from a 22" barrel with a 500 grain bullet and well in excess of that with a 450 grain bullet.

Too many Americans are velocity hungry when it comes to guns. A MV for a 458 caliber or bigger does not need to be higher then 2300fps. Impact velocities of 2000-2100fps are perfect for the weight of bullets used at .458 diameter or bigger. Imagine that the 470 Nitro express was shooting a 480-500 grain bullet at 2100fps MV. Impacts were likely at or under 2000fps depending upon the range. Yet the reputation of this gun was unmatched during the heyday of African big game hunting.

By todays standards with significanlty less big game being killed we are being told guns like the 460 weatherby and 500 A2 are the only game in town for the biggest animals. How silly to think that a recreational sporthunter must go out and get a rifle like this to use for 2-3 animals in his entire life. Not to mention the risk of a permanent flinch and the ridicoulous pounding to sight something like this in. For what? That rifle with identical bullet placement will do nothing more then the 470 nitro or any other gun that meets the 500 grains at 2150 fps minimum. Actually the 2400 plus fps rifles will likely destroy the bullets before they penetrate deep enough to do the job!

Mike Lagrange wrote extensively about failures of Solids when impacts over 2400fps were used. He wrote about the total failure of the 460 weatherby when used at close range with soft point bullets and even solids. The solids would bend in half at the high impacts.

With the much better designed bullets today, namely the X bullet and the A frames performance is significantly better at the higher velocities, but those velocities are not really needed to have the crumple power that 2100fps will give you.

I had always thought the 458 win was an easy answer to what type of big bore is within reach of the average hunter. I just figured it was a safe bet.

If one was to go buy a big bore, what would you reccommend? Maybe nothing,.... and just get a 375H&H, and call it good?

What is the minimum gun you would suggest for Kudu, Gemsbok, and smaller?

I don't think a recreational sport hunter needs anything bigger then a 375HH for hunting anyplace on earth or for any species. The 375HH with a good bullet and scope with the bullet place in a good spot will kill anything alive with little effort. I have seen countless big animals killed and many crumpled in their tracks with the 375HH. I know of one man who has killed 81 cape buffalo with a 375HH and never lost one. Another who has shot 16 lions, and hippo, elephant, rhino, all with the 375HH he has been a professional hunter for over 20 years and swears by the 375HH. The list could go on but you see it has an impressive track record

It's easy to shoot and works as well on the smaller steenbok and the longer 300 yard shots as well. It's easy enough to shoot that I passed my Shooting exam for my PH license with my 375HH. It's low recoil and sufficient power make it the rifle to have on any safari.

Sure there are those limited folks who seem to have a big voice in the way things should be done. They will say the big 500 A2 or some enormous Weatherby should be used to hunt the big 5. Those rifles are not hunting rifles in my opinion they are backup rifles. One needs to define the difference before they spend the money for a gun they may shoot 5 times while hunting. If they have such great wealth that it's not relevent and they want a big bore for the gun case then that's fine. My guess is 99% of the bolt and double guns 458 and bigger in the USA will never shoot anything they were designed for.

I have a 458 Lott and have never once used it for hunting in the USA or Africa. It's my backup rifle for my job. I don't hunt with it. For hunting I would use my scoped 375HH every time. I suppose there are areas of thick bush where the Lott would be better and would be chosen in those limited situations. Just because I have it not because I absolutely need it.

As far as what is needed to hunt plains game. My personal opinion after seeing likely over 1000 aniumals shot is 30 caliber or bigger. I don't prefer smaller then 30 caliber rifles. Sure they will kill but the finding is the problem. Sub 30 caliber bore diameter leave limited blood trails and blood trails are critical with herd animals, and with the hot sun which will dry out the few spec's of blood typically left by game from smaller bores.

When all goes perfect sub 30 calibers are fine but if anything goes wrong at all they are not a good choice. The majority of game shot in Africa will be quartering away from you at the shot. That makes exits very unlikely unless your shooting an X bullet or a bigger more powerful rifle.

The majority of hunters from America bring a 30 caliber magnum. They work nicely and when using 180 or 200 grain bullets usually shoot though most game with little tracking and sufficient blood trails. The 338 is a leap forward and much better then the 300 magnum. The 358 Norma and the 375HH are at the top of the recreational sportsman list of preferred guns in my opinion.

I have had plenty of guys with 270, 280, 7mm, all work nice and will kill game. They don't provide the margin of blood trail I like. I would take a hunter with any gun or weapon he has or likes. Bow, handgun, spear, I don't care. I'm not suggesting it's 30 caliber or stay home. I'm suggesting what I have seen as a truely good functional minimum bore size.

Am I opinionated on this....You bet I am. It's no fun watching a hunter at the evening meal who has a long face and depressed look when the others are laughing and having a wonderful time and experience. I have to be a professional hunter and a therapist to help the man who has lost his game enjoy his trip. It's an aweful feeling to come back to camp and see 5 other hunters laughing and having the time of their life when one man who has lost game is so sad. Most guys plan the trip like this for years and spend only ten days doing the hunt. Why should any of them have it ruined because of one problem like this? Especially when it's so easily solved by bringing the right gun from the start.

Remember this is not fishing where the challange is to land the biggest fish on the lightest line. When travelling that far and spending your long time savings for a trip, bring the right gun!

Thanks for the post, and I always wonder about the 375HH, as I don't think I really need it in North America, so then it is an Africa only gun. I like the excuse to buy a new gun, but I think perhaps, a 338 is more practical, certainly a good gun for moose and Elk here. And there is still plenty of choice betwix the WSM, Win, RUM, and 340Wby.

I'll have to look this summer, and then get it tried out this fall, so it is ready for next summer in Africa.

Thanks again,
An interesting thing about the 375HH is that it's got an equal or flatter trajectory to the 180 grain 30/06 and 250 grain 338 when shooting 270 grain bullets at 2850fps. It's also lighter in the recoil department Then many 338 rifles. I shot a 338 and my 375HH dozens of times last thursday and the the 338 was by far a harder recoiling rifle. Mostly due to the lighter weight. There is nothing wrong with a 375HH for the North America. If I were a "single time Africa hunter" the 338 would make more sense. However if you plan on the occasional over seas hunt the 375HH is clearly the better choice in my opinion.

It is by a significant margin more impresive on big bears. Ask any Alsakan guide who hunts fall salmon streams which he prefers and most will take the 375HH or bigger! The 338 falls short in up close and personal encounters, but it's fine for hunting. When I worked in Alaska I often said "the 338 is just right for brownies, but the 375HH is just in case". That little quote has been floating around now a while up there.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 05-02-2003 21:56: Message edited by: JJHACK ]</font>

Which is more addictive? Hunting in Africa or Alaska? I am now getting up to Alaska about 1-2 times each year, for hunting of fishing, and have yet to take the first trip to Africa.

So right now, I would consider myself a Lower-48 plus the Alaska hunt every other year, plus a planned trip to Africa. So that says .338.

Is this Africa thing going to spoil me for Alaska?
That says .375
If you can hunt Africa for the typical sporting species the 338 is near perfect. If you decide to hunt Elephant, hippo, rhino, and buffalo the 375HH is my personal Minumum and many countries legal minimum. Sure the 338 and smaller guns will kill these aniamls but not typically within the time frame that allows a minimum level of comfort and safety to the PH and the hunter Not to mention the trackers or other staff members near by.

Which is more addictive? Africa for sure. I worked Alaska 20 years and Africa for now my 11th year, and 20th season. The way your spoiled by the staff in Africa, the variety of game, the weather, and on,..... and on,.....and on! It's finest hunting location remaining on this planet without question!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 05-03-2003 07:45: Message edited by: JJHACK ]</font>

Thanks for the post, and I honestly don't ever see my ego being big enough, that I need to go shoot one of the Big 5. (And some question whether my wallet will ever be big enough...
) But the experience of Africa seems within reach, and a reason to plan for a year.

That being said, at least now I have a need to go buy a gun. At one time, I thought about building something on another Model 98, just to try and hunt Africa with a Mauser, of my own building. I think a 308 Norma was on the drawing board. But, unfortunately time is a premium in life sometimes, and the "off the shelf" guns from the good people at Remington are awfully sweet, from day 1.

You didn't comment on the Africa vs. Alaska chance of addiction.

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