I like the idea of asking our fellow hunters what they like and use. My pet rifle is the first rifle I bought after acquiring my hunting license--a Sauer 202 in .300 Weatherby Magnum with a Zeiss 2.5-10x 48mm scope. This rifle was very accurate right out of the box and shot (and is still shooting) sub-minute-of-angle groups with Norma 180-grain PPC (Vulcan) factory ammo. It's my favorite because it has so many “firsts”--first rifle, first hunt, first red stag, first wild boar, first kudu, first moose and so on.
This rifle was with me on 30 hunting trips on three continents and never let me down. From 1993 until today, I’ve shot roughly 300 game animals with it and the confidence in this rifle really improves my shooting. With its detachable stock, it's easy to transport.
I have 15 African safaris under my belt and the 16th was scheduled for August. Over the past 12 years, I took more than 30 species of African game from dik dik to elephant and used a couple of different rifles for those tasks. I always take two rifles to Africa, but my battery changed over time and it depends on the area and the game as to which battery I take.
On my first buffalo hunt, I used a .375 H&H for the big stuff, but to my mind this caliber is overestimated and has not the stopping power I want from a "dangerous game” rifle. So I went to the German custom gunsmith K.H. Ritterbusch and ordered a .416 Rigby rifle with a Magnum Mauser action, equipped with a 1.5 -6 X 42mm Swarovski scope (detachable mount) and open sights. This rifle is a joy to shoot, very accurate with Romey ammo and 410-grain Woodleigh Bullets (20mm group at 100m) and all I want from a DG-rifle.
My second Rifle for the first four safaris was my pet rifle, but I realized that in areas with thick bushes, the .300 Weatherby is not the best choice. So I switched to the following batteries.
Battery For Dangerous Game
I use the.416 Rigby as mentioned above. Also, I use a .338 Winchester Magnum Winchester Model 70 rifle with classic receiver; 24-inch fluted Shilen barrel, Jewell trigger and JRS laminated stock, with Swarovski 3-12 X 50mm scope. For all the different plains game I may shoot on DG safari for bait or as a trophy, including leopard, eland or sable, I find this caliber to be very, very versatile, hard hitting and accurate.
Battery For Plains Game In Open Country
On plains game safaris in open country like parts of Namibia, the Kalahari and so on, where I may have to shoot at distances of 300 yards or more, I like a flat-shooting rifle. So my Number One for this kind of hunting is my .300 Weatherby Magnum pet rifle. For the "little ones" like duiker, dik-dik, steenbok or small cats like caracal and for jackals, my second rifle is a Sauer 202 Outback in .243 Winchester with a Zeiss 3-9x42mm scope.
Battery For Plains Game In Bush-Country
When I hunt plains game in bushy country like Zulu-Natal, I prefer the .338 Winchester Magnum as the first rifle and the .243Winchester as the second.
Ammunition and bullets are a never-ending discussion, and everybody seems to have his pet brand and pet loads. But since I have hunted on three continents and have shot about 500 game animals, I'll try to explain my point of view.
I use factory ammunition as well as handloads, depending on which rifle I am using.
In recent years, I have become a fan of the bonded-core or welded-core bullets. Those bullets usually deliver good penetration, have good weight retention and leave a good blood trail to follow. With the .416 Rigby, I use the Romey factory load with 410-grain Woodleigh welded core bullet for buffalo and lion. For elephant and hippo, I use the Romey factory load with 410-grain Woodleigh FMJ bullet. With the .300 Weatherby Magnum, I prefer the 180-grain Norma PPC load for longer shots, and the 180-grain Norma ORYX (bonded core) load for closer shots.
With the .338 Winchester Magnum, I prefer the 215-grain Sierra Game King on lighter game like red stag, fallow deer or hartebeest. On larger game like eland, kudu, sable, boars and bears, I prefer the 250-grain Swift A-Frame.
With the .243 Winchester, I use 105-grain RWS factory soft-points, and with the .30-‘06, I use the 180-grain Norma ORYX or 180-grain Norma PPC loads, depending on the hunting circumstances. "Waidmannsheil!" (good hunting)