The most common form of hunting is still hunting with rifles.
The most prevalent rifle hunting is with bolt action rifles, double rifles and shotguns. The right rifle in many instances will largely depend on the trophies you are interested in taking.
The most common form of hunting is still hunting with rifles. For most hunters it is a convenient way to hunt, as well as a test of shooting skill to successfully harvest an intended target some distance out. It is essential that you are confident and comfortable with your rifle and match the correct calibre to the trophy you will be pursuing. Rifle hunting is conducted on foot (walk-and-stalk) and herds will be located by driving around the hunting area and spotting the animals. From there the stalk is initiated to get within shooting range.
BOLT ACTION RIFLE
The most common rifle action brought to South Africa is the bolt action. Which is an excellent choice as they are world-renowned for their strength and accuracy. They provide the hunter with some serious firepower.
Another aspect of rifle hunting is the use of optics. In many cases the optics can be more expensive than the purchase price of the rifle. The bolt action usually makes an excellent platform on which to mount a telescopic sight. The scope makes the aiming process much simpler; merely put the cross hairs or dot on the aim point and squeeze. In this regard it is our experience that the optics must be able to withstand the recoil of the specific rifle it is mounted on. Also consider mounting your scope on a rifle having iron sights installed when coming to Africa. Telescopic sights can be a bit fragile and can fail or be damaged and rendered useless.
A major concern for most international hunters wanting to hunt Africa is which caliber to use. Our main suggestion is to not get too tied up with too many different opinions. Bring the calibre rifle you normally use and feel comfortable with. Work on 270 caliber as the minimum caliber to bring along. If you have children coming along a 243 will work well for smaller game species like duiker, springbok, impala and game up to blesbok size. Any calibers in the 300-class (308, 30-06, 300 WSM, 300 WM and others) will be more than enough gun for all our plains game species.
Paramount to this the rifle must be sighted to shoot accurately with the ammunition used in your rifle.
Shot placement is as critical as the ammunition that shoots well from your rifle. Please spend quality time at the shooting range making sure your rifle fires at point-of-aim. Wounded game in South Africa is considered bought and paid for even when not found.
Double rifles for rifle hunting in South Africa is generally reserved for those who wish to hunt dangerous game. This very special tool comes into its own when hunting dangerous game. The double rifle is usually short and points quickly. It is designed to be used at close quarters, usually inside 60 yards where its barrels are regulated to cross. Most double calibers are on the larger calibre side. While the bolt action rifle carries 3 to 5 cartridges, the double can hold only two, but it remains the fastest way to get off two aimed shots and, in the dangerous game arena, that can make all the difference.
The general suggestion remains that you use the largest calibre rifle you are confident and comfortable with. It is also important to remember that the .375 is the legal minimum calibre for hunting dangerous game in South Africa.
Shotguns are mainly used for bird hunting in South Africa. South Africa still allows the use of lead shot. If you have a good over-and-under or side-by-side shotgun and you want to bring it along to South Africa for your hunting Safari, you won’t have any importation issues, you will just have to follow the guidelines for the temporary importation of firearms (check under useful information)
The question of which calibre is the best can be a topic of endless discussion. As a guide, while lesser calibres will suffice on the smaller antelope, the .270 Win should be considered the minimum for most medium-sized plains game species. With the proper premium grade bullets and good shot placement, the .270 is fully capable of taking many of the larger plains’ dwellers. In addition to the .270, the rifle calibres most often brought to Africa by our clients include (in no particular order): the various 7mm’s to include the 7mm Mag, 7mm Ultra Mag, and even the 7 X 57 Mauser; the 30-06 Springfield is extremely popular and has long been a favourite of hunters around the globe; the 300 Win Mag is an excellent all-round choice, especially if your safari will take you to areas where long shots may be necessary. The above-mentioned calibres are merely examples and should in no way be considered as recommendations. If we were to recommend two calibers it would eb a 30-06 and a .375 With these two calibers you will be able to hunt anything that walks in the African bushveld. This does not mean we do not have confidence in any other calibers.
When hunting plains game, we regard the 30-06 as the best all-round calibre. It has a proven track record and ammunition is readily available in South Africa.
When hunting dangerous game, we regard the best calibre to be one of the 400 caliber hunting rifles. However, the minimum required calibre for hunting dangerous game is .375. Your choice should be the largest calibre you feel confident and comfortable with, and that you can shoot accurately between 20 and 40 yards. If you are recoil-shy explore alternatives to lower the recoil.
Our recommendation regarding calibers can be summarized in one sentence: bring the rifle calibre(s) you feel most confident and comfortable with.
Below are the guidelines regarding the minimum calibre for hunting in South Africa:
Draft guidelines: Minimum caliber for hunting in South Africa
Minimum calibers for rifle hunting South Africa:
(1) Hunters should adhere to the following guidelines in respect of minimum calibers for hunting, a;
(a) .22 or 5.56mm centre fire rifle or larger caliber may be used for hunting –
(i) furred game up to and including the size of springbok; and feathered game;
(b) .270 or 7mm rifle or larger caliber may be used for hunting –
(i) furred game up to and including eland, but excluding any dangerous game or giraffe; and
(ii) feathered game including ostrich;
(c) .375 H&H Magnum or larger caliber may be used for hunting –
(i) any furred or dangerous game; and
(ii) any feathered game including ostrich;
(d) .22 rimfire rifle (5.56mm) may be used for hunting –
(i) furred game up to and including the size of a rock hyrax and all rodents; and
(ii) feathered game.
(e) .375 H&H Magnum or larger caliber must be used for hunting a giraffe or any dangerous game, provided that for the hunting of any pachyderm the bullet must be of full metal jacket (solid) or monolithic solid construction.
The best caliber rifle needs the best ammunition. As a rule – premium quality, heavy-for calibre bullets are your best choice.
We recommend the following brands of ammunition: Nosler Partition, Barnes TTSX, Barnes TSX, Woodleigh, Sierra, Federal Premium, Swift and other manufacturers of quality ammunition. African game seems to be a bit tougher than game found elsewhere in the world. Perhaps it is due to the extensive predation to which they are subjected, so it is important not to “skimp” on the ammunition. Use only the best premium grade ammunition that your rifle shoots accurately. Field testing at the shooting range will determine which brand premium grade ammunition works best for accuracy in the hunting rifle you intend to use when hunting in South Africa. The projectile weight will be determined by which weight performs with the best accuracy in your rifle.
When hunting soft skinned animals, you will need softer types of ammunition while thick-skinned animals need to be hunted with harder constructed ammunition.
This is the most important aspect regarding hunting with a rifle.
A badly placed shot with even the largest of rifles and the finest bullets available will result, at best, in a very long day of tracking and, at worst, the loss of the trophy. Remember, you will be charged for any animals wounded, whether they are recovered or not.
Trust your Professional Hunter to guide you in this matter and do your best to put your shot where he recommends. The golden rule remains: if you are uncomfortable with the shot, do not take it.
The book “Perfect Shot” by Kevin Robertson, details shot placements on African Game and is an excellent book to help prepare you for your hunting safari.
Lastly, it is important to be confident and comfortable with your rifle. Ammunition is cheap compared to the cost of an African Safari, so practice, practice, practice.
We offer some information which we consider essential to planning your safari.