My Favorite Cartridges for Africa. (Part 1)

by david on October 15, 2012


            I thought I’d change things up a bit and talk about some of my favorite cartridges for use in Africa.  I am sure some of you have heard about a few of the cartridges, but you may not know the history or how they perform.  Most of what I will talk about are cartridges that I own and shoot, so the knowledge is first-hand.  There a few others on my want list and I hope to expand my collection to include them.  I will be using a few reference sources for this.  I want to give them credit now and tell you a little bit about the books themselves. 

            The first book is Cartridges of the World by Frank C. Barnes and edited by Stan Skinner1.  I am using the 11th edition.  This is the first book I grab when I want to look up something.  This volume lists over 1500 different cartridges, gives good information about ballistics and history, and it is easy to use.  Another is Ammo and Ballistics, Volume Three, by Bob Forker2 .  It has the same type of information but includes some cartridges the first book does not.  The last book is “Big Bore Rifles and Cartridges” from Wolfe Publishing3 .  I will use the number I gave them for footnote purposes.  All of the recoil ratings come from

            What makes a great African cartridge?  This has been a hotly debated question ever since the introduction of cartridges in the mid to-late 1800s.  For the purposes of this blog, I am going to gear this towards the scope of someone picking out a rifle or rifles for their first safari.  I am also going to gear it toward a traditional two-rifle battery for an African safari.  I am using a two-rifle battery, rather than the older, more traditional four-gun battery simply because it is too expensive for most of us to travel with, and some countries only allow two rifles anyway.  There are three things for each cartridge I will consider when I discuss them.  The first is the power of each cartridge.  The unit of measure I will use is “foot pounds” of energy.  Overly simplified, a foot pound is the amount of force to move one pound one foot.  There are few more complicated where fourths and what-not, but this is the general idea.  The second item up for consideration is felt recoil.  Most of you will probably remember the theorem from school that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.  Again, to overly simplify: if a bullet coming out one of a gun has a lot of power, there is going to be a lot of power (recoil) felt from the other end of a gun as well.  The last thing I will discuss is probably the least important, but it is something to think about, and that is the availability of the cartridges and the types of bullets and bullet weights available in them.

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