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Too much gun?Too much gun?Over the last 3-4 years I have proved comfortably to myself that a 45/70 lever action can and does take down the largest of our game and cannot be discarded as an unworthy rifle for Africa – there are simply a few things one needs to be aware of and I have addressed these throughout this website. My quest for the ultimate African carrying rifle has seen me try many of the popular bullets and methods, make the small and big fixes recommended for each rifle and I have more often than not been thoroughly surprised at the outcome. I grew up in humble times in a small African country so have hunted what many consider the most dangerous of game with calibers that may have not seem suitable, especially to our modern day experts – BUT when I say that I have proven to myself that the 45/70 is suitable for me, it does come from more than 25 years of experience on dangerous game!

My grandfathers and grandmothers came to Zambia, then part of the Rhodesias, on foot leading teams of oxen pulling great big trek wagons, with worn out shoes and rifles from the boer war slung over their shoulders. Others arrived on the newly built railway line which stopped at Lusaka, the one Owen Letcher Thomas traveled upon and wrote about in his famous hunting book, the furthest most stop north of the day. 

 

Mostly they carried German Mausers and old British war rifles, the 7 x  something bolt actions and the Lee Enfield 303's. These were rifles used in the wars and carried stories from the Orange Free State family farm at Smithfield through the western Transvaal at Zeerust and then through Bechuanaland to Rhodesia at the mighty Zambezi where they swam the river ahead of the oxen to distract the Crocodiles.
 
These rifles were proven guns, carried and tested through generations, handed down by means of necessity rather than sentimentality. These rifles saw children grow into men and became and still remain today as trusted tools in a country where the great beasts and predators roam, where a calm clear situation can turn quite unexpectedly and where you need a rifle that you know and trust.
 
It may be difficult to understand, especially for Americans and their 2nd amendment rights, but obtaining a rifle in the ex-British colonies was and is not an easy task. Perhaps a remnant from the very early days when the Colonial government passed an act requiring all “natives” to hand in their guns – mostly old muskets and powder guns or ‘gogodas’ – this law pertains to this day in varied forms.
 
Thus growing up in Zambia in late 70’s and 80’s meant that proper hunting rifles were few and hard to obtain, and ammunition even more so. Good rifles were those owned by family generations, ones passed down from fathers to sons, be they fancy London made doubles or simple German Mausers that originated from the early wars in the south.
 
There existed one key ingredient however and that was a simplicity in our rifles that is becoming rare today – rifles that were used, wore in by regular use rather than some fancy highly expensive machined product AND this is what I have carried with me throughout my professional hunting career – the older well used calibers are perfectly good and adequate for use in Africa if you keep one thing in mind – respect for both animal and rifle.
 
Too many times do I see the ‘new age’ outlook on hunting our continent – some foreign colonel in tight shorts telling us our business and making generalised statements about shiny new sponsored rifles he totes over to our continent with him. Telling us why we as born and bred African hunters raised in the wilderness with 4 generations of hunting tradition under our belts should now take up the colonels new endorsed guns!
 
There’s alot of BS that goes along with the Safari Hunting industry I am born into and more so now with the advent of the internet, anyone can chime in and become an expert from what they read and see on the hunting channels. There is one thing however that can never be bought or learned from watching those sun tanned hard men of the African wilderness in their ball huggers potting elephants and the vengeful killer of the savanna the Cape Buffalo – AND that thing is experience!