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 416 Rigby - Classic African Dangerous game caliber416 Rigby - Classic African Dangerous game caliberIt's funny if I think back on the rifles I have hunted with throughout my life, not only as a PH but from the very first times I can remember holding a rifle or a gun. Hunting has been in my family since I can remember, since my father can remember and certainly has been a tradition that was never considered a special activity, this is what we did each year, a kind of gathering of the clan. This had been done for generations, although somewhat refined by the time I came along, we had land rovers, a tractor and trailer and some modern conveniences such as cooler boxes and a couple of new bolt action rifles.



My grandfather came to Zambia, then part of the Rhodesias, on foot leading teams of oxen pulling great big wagons, others arrived on the newly built rail line which stopped at Lusaka, the furthest town north at that time. Their families all seeking a new life, new beginnings after a devastating war in South Africa which robbed many of them not only of land but also their loved ones.

The rifles exhibited at these gatherings were an exemplification of the the past being taken over by technology, those of my grandfathers and their brothers and then those new shiny rifles that looked so good to me, those of my dad and my uncles. It was a war of words each morning as the men set out for the days hunt - my grandfathers, who would walk out of camp at first light with their German mausers and old British Enfield rifles, and those new magnums of the younger men who would drive out in their land rovers and land cruisers. My grandfather flatly refused to believe that my dads new Carl Walther .375 H&H Magnum would kill a buffalo. He owned a beautiful 10x75 Mauser which his sidekick and lorry boy Lenart would carry while he carried the lighter Seven9 (7.9 mauser) - a war rifle which his father used to shoot British soldiers. It carried stories from the Orange Free State family farm at Smithfield through the western Transvaal at Zeerust and then through Bechuanaland to Rhodesia, first used to defend against men and now to feed the family.

Cape Buffalo - 375 H&H Magnum - Kaoma, Zambia 1976Cape Buffalo - 375 H&H Magnum - Kaoma, Zambia 1976Part of my grandfathers disdain at the Carl Walther .375 H&H Magnum that my dad had brought, brand spanking new was exactly this fact - it was a rifle that came off the shelf and had not proven itself like the mausers had done through generations. The rifle was a foreigner, it still had to make its name and until then there was no trust in it. He also knew that my dad could shoot far better with family mausers because he had grown up with them, he had taken his first duiker and kudu with them on the farm at DrieHoek - there is no substitute for experience it seems and nobody knew it more than him.

The same thinking applies today, in a world where perfectly good time tested calibers are being pumped up and trumped as the next best thing to sliced bread all in the pursuit of sales and ego. Your grandfathers hunted Elk and Moose and deer with a plain old 30 06 Springfield, yes a simple caliber in bolt action. So why can't you do it today? There is no need for fancy exotic newer faster more shiny calibers and guns - a plain old Winchester, or Remington, or Savage, or Browning in bolt action in a steady .270 Winchester and 30 06 Springfield will do the job day in and day out!

Minimum caliber restrictions for Africa usually dictate, in our minds at least, what we need to bring over to tackle any of the large beasts and many PH's will argue these are too small or insignificant. They would like you to carry the biggest rifle possible, they think it will make their life easier - but in the end, if you can't shoot it well enough then you're going to be wounding those brazen infidels of the savanna.