THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT is the world's largest game animal, and one of the world's most coveted trophies. The typical American hunter will live out a lifetime of deer hunting, black bear and off-season varmint shooting, with always lurking in his mind the dream of one great safari to Africa. A major stumbling block to realizing this dream is the belief that the hunter must be equipped with rifles of the largest and most coveted sort—that is to say, the most expensive: big, double rifles, custom made by skilled and costly craftsmen. Yet today's fast air transportation plus reduced fares and "economy" style safaris are placing all Africa within moderate reach of an increasing number of American hunters; and the rifles to be used, including the largest, can easily be the practical, everyday rifles which you may already own.
I live in Africa (the Transvaal), have hunted Mozambique and Angola and other places, and have selected my battery with an eye to economy and practical use, rather than in competition with the wealthy sportsmen and princes who come here to shoot. My guns, selected after a variety of experiences, are—Winchester Model 70s in different calibers to suit all game. The newest Model 70 "African" in .458 caliber makes my battery complete.
In considering the weapons we plan to use to hunt the elephant it will be advisable to canvass a wider field of rifles than just those suitable for elephant. Once it was traditional to use a heavy caliber top quality British double. I carried a lovely .470 Rigby double for a while, and a .500-.450 Holland briefly, as well as various magazine
Slimmed M70 with muzzle brake was used by U.S. visiting hunter to take lion. Weyers prefers .375 as "all-around" gun for veldt.
Weyers stood ground with camera to "point blank" range, drew in location of aiming spots giving best success.
Kudu fell to .30-06 which Weyers calls minimum for average African hunting.
rifles—.505 Gibbs Magnum, .404 Jeffery, .375 Magnum, 10.75 and 9.3x62 Mausers. In the course of time I became convinced that there was little to choose between the two types of rifles. Although the rapid and dependable second shot of the double is highly desirable, I personally feel happier with the additional cartridges offered by a magazine. There have been times when I was grateful for them!
Let me explain how I came to select my battery of American magazine rifles for African game. A prerequisite for my heavy weapon is that the bullet must be of adequate weight and strength and sectional density. It must not have surplus velocity—which pushes up pressures and recoil, and only encourages the bullet to buckle or disrupt. Of the rifles available, I considered only the .505 Magnum powerful enough. But this was not satisfactory, as the solids (full patch bullets) are too weak, and the rifle has uncomfortable recoil. The .416 and .404 fired bullets of inadequate weight. Then Winchester introduced the .458 Magnum.
The .458 Winchester Magnum fires a heavy 500 grain slug at a modest velocity, and is easy on the shoulder. The steel casing of this bullet is of unique strength, 1/10" thick at nose and .067" at its thinnest point. This thickness, coupled with its fine sectional density, gives it the penetration required. In many ways, this caliber was an answer to the African hunter's dream. I believe it comes closer to the perfect elephant rifle than any other I have had the pleasure of using. The cartridge case is short (can I forget my companion who once found the .375 Magnum too long of case to operate while an elephant thundered towards us?), and the rifle is not too heavy. It is also well within the legal limits. In Tanganyika, .375" is the minimum for dangerous game, while Kenya requires at least .400" for elephant, rhino, buffalo, and hippo, and .375" Magnum for lion and eland.
The .458 Winchester Magnum is the heavy boy in my battery, and its efficiency can be gauged from the illustration, where it can be seen that the solids are really solid, and the softs splendid for buff.
Now, at one stage, my heavy was a .4-70 double, my medium a high quality British .375 Magnum (with double pull trigger), and my small bore a single pull .30-06. This was clearly confusing, but it was only after I had standardized entirely with Winchester Model 70 rifles that I realized how important it was to have all one's rifles with the same stock feel, the same balance, bolt action, safety catch, and trigger pull. With the exception of the .458, all have Weaver J2.5X scopes, and even the "African" will have one when I find a suitable mount. The recoil of this rifle is not sufficient to jar the scope, as was that of the .505 Magnum. Weaver's scopes are used because they are admirable in every respect, and the "J" series in preference to the "K" because the extra size and weight is, I feel, not justified in African shooting.
The calibers I have selected were final choices after much consideration and experience. The .30-06 is a caliber of unusual versatility. (Continued on page 59)
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