Bullet Performance

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Bullet placement

Calibers

Introduction, MY choice, History, Recent development, Straight wall cases

Introduction

As with your rifle, the caliber is simply personal choice. In short any caliber from the 9.3x62mm upwards loaded with quality ammunition will do the job on your BUFFALO safari.

(Check the legal requirements for the area you intend to hunt in and ensure you adhere to it!)

In most cases the .375 H&H Magnum will be the smallest caliber you are allowed to use for BUFFALO, and, only ammunition weighing in at 300 grains bullet weight will be allowed. Be legal at all times!

As mentioned in the other sections about rifles and "My choice", the choice on ammunition is personal, but performance is vital! Buy and use the brands shown here and you will be happy. Any reload is only worth something if if the loads are chronographed - until then, you simply do not know what you are talking about. BUFFALO safaris are not cheap, so do not skimp on cheap ammunition.

You should be able to shoot a 3 inch grouping at 50 yards after a 5x mile walk. In other words, after a fair amount of exercise you must be able to handle your rifle with ease, confidence, and efficiency! Practice this over and over. Walk the last 5 miles to your rifle range, pick up your rifle and shoot at the target. Get to know your rifle, and be in a comfort zone to handle the recoil comfortably. Large calibers are not shot 50x times in a session, but you must be able to pull off 4x shots without a flinch or nasty jerk, and shoot a 3 inch grouping.

Naturally the recoil from your rifle will affect your shooting style and accuracy. So DO NOT buy a 600 Nitro if it kicks like a donkey and you cannot handle it! Bullet placement and Bullet performance will make for a good BUFFALO safari not a large caliber rifle. You must be able to shoot your rifle several times in one day, and still be able to smile, talk and lift your elbows high over your shoulders.

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My Choice on calibers;

.458 Winchester Magnum for the Ruger No 1, and then reamed out to the .458 Express caliber (www.458express.com)

.458 Express for the Truvelo & CZ 550 Safari.

.458 Winchester Magnum, the 458 Express is 76mm long (2.99 inches) Both the .458 Winchester Magnum and .458 lott ammunition can safely be fired in the .458 Express (www.458express.com)

picture from HORNADY internet domain.

 .450 NE 3 Win Mag for the Heym Double and the .458 Winchester Magnum!

 .450 NE 3

picture from HORNADY internet domain.

Remember I wanted to show "off the shelve" standard products with the rifles! So my choice is dictated accordingly by the availability of calibers and standard factory produced ammunition.

For practice I will then use .458 reloads and play all day long. It is true that I am starting to talk about reloads now! Most large caliber fanatics are serious reloaders as well. I do reload all my calibers and enjoy it tremendously. The reloading makes for less expensive alternatives on the practice range and some very mild recoil loads can be easily setup to suit my needs. In South Africa ammunition is very expensive, in any caliber, so unless we reload, we do not practice as much as we like to.

I was once told by a very irritated hunter:  "... my boy, we don not waste ammo on paper..." Guess what, I was also told by his close friends that he was chased off a ranch because he wounded animals!

Practice makes perfect. There is a reason why the old wise professionals tell us to dry fire and practice all day long. After all shooting is a wonderful way of getting to meet new friends, so go to the range often and learn.

The true beauty of a BUFFALO Safari will be learning curve and loads of literature available on the subject. There are numerous calibers available and even more custom wildcats calibers available. All based on two caliber cases as primary design - the .375 H&H Magnum and the .458 Winchester Magnum. Do your research and enjoy it. Don't break your head over mathematical numbers and equations, choose a caliber you like and combine it with ammunition you like! Trust me, you will shoot straight and like it even more!

A 400 grain bullet traveling at 2150 fps will do just fine.

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Other Calibers

It is also relevant to mention other calibers that will do the job and present a very exciting and interesting safari.

I no specific order:

The .375 H&H with 300 grain Barnes X ammunition.

The 404 Jeffrey will never be forgotten and ammunition manufacturers recently started to produce ammunition for this widely used caliber again. It will work well on BUFFALO.

The .458 Winchester Magnum with 500 grain ammunition as mentioned above.

The .450 Rigby with 500 grain ammunition, it is definitely a African classic and will be a good choice.

The .416 Rigby with 400 grain ammunition is widely mentioned as a good BUFFALO caliber.

....if and only if ...you are well aware of the recoil, the bigger calibers will also do the job just fine and a long list of big calibers are available. The very popular .470 NE and 505 Gibbs are only two available. If you cannot hit the target because you flinch you will also not enjoy the BUFFALO safari because you flinch. These calibers are also used by the Professional Hunters as backup calibers because the backup shots do require to penetrate at awkward angles.

You will not be presented with the incorrect body position of a BUFFALO by your professional hunter. It is too risky and normally ample time will be available to wait for a change in the Buffalo's position. The shooting distance will be "up close and personal". You will be amazed at the very close range Buffalo are presented and shot placement will not require a big bore caliber. If indeed you are faced with these scenarios in a different way, you booked with the wrong professional hunter.

It is unnecessary to start a "new and endless" campfire debate about calibers. IF you can handle the recoil of your rifle and hit the target, you are going to have the time of your life.

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History of the calibers

 .450 NE 3 - 1898, (rimmed case, also designed by John Rigby, not be confused with the .450 Rigby rimless version).

.375 H &H - 1912

.416 Rigby - 1911

.450 Rigby - 1925 (rimless)

.458 Win Mag - 1956

.458 Lott - 1971

.458 Express - 1999

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Recent development

I do not intend to start a major search for equipment that is not available on the shelve. However the rifle and caliber world changes all the time and manufacturers do not always tell us what they are up to. Lets take a closer look at what is available "tomorrow"!

In no specific order:

.450 Rigby Rimless

.458 Express and .458 Express R (see the domain at ww.458express.com) I bought a .458 Express from the importers in South Africa in January 2009 in .458 Express caliber!!!

These are two calibers that I truly believe will be available by Gun Makers as a standard rifle calibers soon. We can expect these two to create a very good reputation for themselves in Africa. The .450 Rigby is a .416 Rigby case sized up to handle a .458 bullet. NORMA lists the ammunition in their catalogue. The .458 Express developed by Prof K Badenhorst is a 2.99 inch case , larger than .458 Lott cases, and .450 Watts cases, taking the .458 diameter bullets. According to the developer more than 200 (in year 2008) rifles has been built in this caliber and the ballistic performance is good. I eagerly await his literature!

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Those brilliant straight wall cases.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:

.458 Express, .450 Watts, .458 Lott, .458 Winchester Magnum, 500 grain Soft, 500 grain Solid.

Read more at www.458express.com

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Introduction, MY choice, History, Recent development

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