DB’s Thoughts on hunting: Bullets for Africa

by david on June 1, 2012

Bullets for Africa?  What do you mean — are there special African bullets?  The answer is yes and no but it is not nearly so complicated as you might think.  African critters are extremely thick-skinned and tough.  An expanding bullet must hold together, retain weight, and make a large wound channel.  That being said, all bullets are not created equal.  What I mean is the bullet that works just fine on a thin-skinned white-tailed deer or antelope might come completely apart and not penetrate on a gemsbok or kudu.  I shoot Barns Triple Shock X bullets, and they do a wonderful job on African game.  The solid copper bullet holds together, mushrooms great, and, in my experience, retains 95% plus of its original weight.  There are many more bullets out there such as the Nosler Accubond, Speer’s Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, Hornady’s DGX, and many more.  What these bullets have in common is they are either a solid piece of material or the bullets jacket (outer layer) is bonded to the core to keep it from separating after impact.  If the bullet remains in one piece, it retains more energy, which allows it to penetrate better.

There is one other category of bullet used in Africa, but it is not common in the USA. and that is a solid non-expanding bullet.  These are designed to smash through skin, bone, and anything else that gets in their way.  Their most common use is for the largest of Africa’s dangerous game, like the Elephant and Cape buffalo.  These animals are the toughest of the tough, and a bullet has to travel through a lot of hide, meat, and bone to get to the animal’s vital organs.  Believe you me, if you have to shoot one, you want the bullet to get where it needs to go.  If it doesn’t, it may cost you your life.  I once recovered a solid from my .416 Rigby after shooting an eland with it.  An eland is the largest of the African antelope approaching 1500 lbs.  I was able to angle a shot through the front shoulder and the bullet traveled lengthwise through the eland and into a tree behind it.  When I pulled it out of the tree, the only mark on it was from the barrels rifling.  It did exactly what it was supposed to.  It penetrated and left a large hole.

See you out hunting,

David B

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