Calibres For Africa

Q: Do you want to know the best rifle calibres for Africa?

A: Accurate shot placement and good bullet performance.

"There are 2 subjects that cause a lot of heat - one is the best action for a DG rifle and the other is the best all-round African calibre. Treat both of those as you would a bad tempered Black Mamba..." Peter Lang

There will always be heated debate about what constitutes the best rifle calibres for Africa. Yet, strangely there is never quite the same eagerness in broaching the topics of ammunition, optics or just plain shooting ability as the other components in the equation that influence the success of a shot.

Without getting into detailed ballistic statistics, your choice of calibres for Africa just comes down to their suitability based on the species you are hunting and the expected shooting distance. As said before, accurate shot placement and bullet performance are far more important than the calibre used.

Close Range Bushveldt Plains Game Hunting

This requires heavy slow bullets at moderate velocities. These will punch through light vegetation and provide sufficient momentum to maintain straight-line penetration and optimum bullet performance.

A minimum of a .30 calibre with preferably a minimum 180gr bullet is ideal for most medium-sized plains game. For heavy plains game like eland, you could go to .375 calibre with a 300gr bullet.

Long Range Open Terrain Plains Game Hunting

This requires flat-shooting fast bullets. A .300 Weatherby with 160-180gr bullet will do the job. For a long range eland a .375 will still shoot reasonably flat with a 300gr bullet.

Close Range Dangerous Game Hunting

This requires large calibres with a heavy bullet.

In most African hunting countries a .375 is the minimum calibre allowed for dangerous game. The key to success is for the hunter to use whichever large calibre he can shoot competently and comfortably - big calibres do not overcome poor shooting.

For buffalo, for example, a .375 H&H Magnum, .416 Remington or Rigby or a .450 Dakota are fine calibres.

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Page Updated: Mar 2024

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