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Appropriate Hunting Rifles for Africa
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The best hunting caliber for which game species: Which hunting caliber is best

There is a wide variety of rifles and calibers available on the market today, of
which not all are suitable for your needs. Selecting a hunting rifle needs careful consideration thanks to the the weapon legislation in South Africa and the wide variety of animals that can be hunted in South Africa.

Factors that influence rifle selection;
  • Size of the animal to be hunted
  • Habitat type where hunt will take place (determines the distances the
    shot must be fired)
    416 Rigby
5 Categories of animals and most suited caliber for hunting.


1.Medium - large game on open terrain requiring longer range shots:
Kudu, Zebra, Gemsbok, Waterbuck and other animals of the same size.
.338 Win. Magnum, 7mm Remmington, 30-06, 7X64
2.Small game in open terrain requiring longer range shots:
Springbok, Rheebuck, Blesbok and other animals of the same size.
.270, 7X64, 7mm Remm, 7X64, .243, 30-06, 223
3.Medium - large game in bushveld requiring shots over shorter distances:
Eland, Kudu, Blue wildebeest, and other animals of the same size.
.375, 9.23X62, 30-06(heavy grain), .308, 7X57, 303
4.Small game in the bushveldrequiring shots over shorter distances:
Impala, Steenbok, reed buck and other animals of the same size.
7X57, .303, .308, 30-06(very heavy grain)
5.Very large game and big five in the bushveld over short distances:
Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Hippo and other animals of the same size.
.375, 416 rigby, .458, 500 Nitro express.
Why is the rifle caliber important?
The success of the hunt depends on the caliber as the caliber size and power of the hunting rifle is the determining factor in it's efficiency to kill and not wound an animal.
Small caliber hunting rifles/Long distance(.223, 243 etc)

Bullets lack the momentum to penetrate the vitals of large animals, especially those with thick skins. This is due to the light bullet and the speed which tend to result in a disintegrated bullet on impact over short distances.

Small caliber hunting rifles also result in large amounts of meat damage, especially at the exit point, due to the high velocity of the bullet over short distances.

Despite the disadvantages these calibers have over short distances, these small caliber hunting rifles are designed for long distance shooting and accuracy. When small caliber hunting rifles are used over longer distances of 150 meters or more, it is ideal for the hunting of springbok and other small plains game.

Medium caliber hunting rifles/Long distance(338 win. magnum, 300 win. magnum, 7X64)

calibers are excellent for open plains game. They have flat trajectories and heavy bullets that have high momentum and are accurate over long distances. These calibers can easily take down Zebra, Red Hartebeest etc. over longer distances.

These calibers are not recommended for hunting over very short distances, unless the bullets are of heavy grain and can be slowed down, as they may disintegrate on impact(especially blue wildebeest shoulder if soft point is used). These calibers will damage a large amount of meat over short distances.

Medium caliber hunting rifles/Short distances(.375, 9.23X62, 30-06(heavy grain), .308, 7X57, 303)
calibers are excellent for large animals in bushveld areas. Although some of these caliber bullets drop fairly quickly, they have excellent penetration with minimum meatloss. These calibers have slow to medium velocity bullets that are not easily affected by wind.
Large caliber hunting rifles / Short distances(375, 416, 458, 500 Nitro express etc.)

calibers are very heavy and have a fair kick in them. This category's rifles are mostly used for the hunting of dangerous game over very short distances.

These calibers, especially the .375, are a favourite among professional hunters and Safari guides as back-up weapons due to their excellent performance and reliability in the veld in dangerous situations.

So what is the best caliber hunting rifle in my opinion?
30-06 due to the versatility of the caliber, especially when you are reloading your own ammunition.

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