Rifles For Africa

There is no end of literature on rifles for Africa and it is not the intention here to reproduce the virtues of different makes or calibres. It is the aim here to give an overview of practical features for a hunting rifle intended for use in Africa.

You're worn in the barrel, you're gone in the stock,
Your sights are deceptive and battered askew,
You're foul in the breech and you're crank in the lock,
Yet I love you far more than I loved you when new !

Cullen Gouldsbury, 1914

Rifles For Africa And Hunting Basics

  • The rifle you use to hunt Africa is a personal choice but make sure you know it well and are comfortable shooting with it.
  • For African game, use the heaviest bullet and calibre that you can consistently shoot accurately without flinching.
  • Shot placement and bullet penetration are far more important than rifle calibre.
  • Remember African game is usually wounded and lost because of poor judgement and poor shooting rather than insufficient firepower. Too many hunters come to Africa with very little big game hunting experience, if any at all, and they equip themselves with a powerful rifle that they are afraid of shooting.
  • Knowing when to shoot and when not to shoot would save a lot of wounded animals. Some hunters get over-excited in Africa and forget the shooting basics - like good shooting stance, breathing and trigger control. A competent hunter will know his own rifle and bullet capabilities.
  • Most African hunting is done at close range with careful stalking. You will rarely need to shoot over 200 yards or shoot a running animal.
  • Have a healthy respect for all African game as being tough and capable of inflicting damage. Some hunters feel they may take less care with shots on plains game than dangerous game. Do not attempt shots at any animal unless you have a clear view of the vital area and you are completely sure of the shot.
  • Don't stop to 'admire' your shot, listen to your PH who may tell you to shoot again, especially if the animal does not go down immediately.
  • Make sure your safari rifle functions properly before your hunt. Double check that rifle feeds from the magazine reliably - run every cartridge through that you intend to take, before you get to Africa.
  • Get your rifle for Africa prepared in good time before the hunt in case it needs a visit to the gunsmith, especially if it is one you don't often use. Give it a good check for cracks in the stock and loose screws and give it a last pre-hunt clean.

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Page Updated: Mar 2024

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