Do African conditions require a special kind of rifle?
Not necessarily, but it is believed that certain features can improve your chances of success and lessen the potential for mishap.
An African Safari is an expensive undertaking in anyone’s language, and for some it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is a tragedy when a dream trophy, there fore the taking, is lost forever because the shooter could not find the animal quickly enough in the scope, or the impact was too low, or the shot diverted from a branch, etc.
We could debate for years on a suitable calibre, or about the best all-rounder, or about which rifles you should preferable bring along on your African Safari.
The ideal all-purpose rifle for African use does not exist. A cartridge capable of stopping charging elephants at close range, while also being flat-shooting enough to pick off springbok at 400 yards, would generate such severe recoil that most hunters would regard it as unmanageable in a normal-weight rifle.
If we talk of a ‘general’ all-rounder, large medium bore calibres like the .375 [H&H, Dakota and Weatherby], .378 Weatherby, .416 Rigby, .404 Jeffery, the .416 Magnums and the 9.3 X 62 or 74R Mausers are mentioned.
If your safari doesn’t include dangerous game, the choice broadens considerably. If Eland is on your list, you really ought to have a medium bore with bullet weight of at least 250 grains.
In the end it all depends which animals you are likely to hunt whilst here. The other important factor that you should keep in mind is that the African Bushveld in our area is mostly dense bush and thorn trees. Along the river areas you will find savannah grassland [park like vegetation with large trees and grassland with less undergrowth] and even open plains areas. Most hunting would however take place where shots are taken between 70 and 100 yards, in dense areas.
We hunt hoofed animals which are roughly in the 200 to 500 pound weight class and you should remember that they are large, heavily boned animals, and that they are shot at relatively close range where the bullet is still travelling at near-maximum velocity and requires a heavy and/or strongly constructed bullet.
If we talk of suitable categories of rifles for bushveld hunting, the following comes up in literature: .338-06, .35 Whelen, 9.3 X 62 Mauser, .375 H&H and all the .300 rifles, but the latter with premium grade bullets, preferably heavier than 200 grain.
We have tried to indicate and give guidelines on which categories of rifles are generally regarded as the most ‘suitable’ rifles for bushveld hunting. You should compare your own rifle’s statistics and maybe experiment with different ammunition, heavier bullets and premium grade bullets. A Magnum in the 300 category – which is popular in the USA – with heavier bullets [+200 grain] will do the job.
It is ALWAYS a good rule to use rifles with slower, heavier bullets for your African Bushveld safari. This will be sufficient up to 150 yards in dense bushveld. You don’t want too high velocity.
An excellent book that discusses and analyses various calibres and their application in Africa that you might want to order is;
RIFLES FOR AFRICA by Gregor Woods. Details are:
SAFARI PRESS INC.
2002, LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOG CARD NUMBER: 2002102361
SAFARI PRESS INC.
Tel:  894 9080