My Favorite Cartridges for Africa. (Part 2)

by david on October 16, 2012

The Power Factor

            The energy of a bullet is due to two things: the weight of the bullet and the speed at which it travels.  The faster a bullet goes and the more it weighs, the more energy it has.  A lighter bullet traveling at extreme speeds is often capable of the same mathematically calculated energy as a heavy bullet traveling at slower speeds.  What difference does this make, you might ask?  Well, let me give you my two cents’ worth.  A small light bullet has the tendency to ricochet off bones and it can veer away from the targeted internal organs.  Some of the less expensive or older makes of bullets also have a bad tendency to break up, or the lead core will separate from the copper jacket, when traveling at very high speeds.  A larger, heavier bullet is more likely to break or punch through bones and on to the vital organs.  African game is thick-skinned and tough.  You will need every bit of penetration you can get. 

Some will say that a .270 Winchester is ok for plains game in Africa.  I think it is ok only if you shoot it EXTREMELY well and limit your hunting to the smaller African game.  Sure, it will take a gemsbok or kudu, but the shot has to be perfect.  If it is not the 270’s small bullet cannot deliver enough energy to cleanly kill the game.  The smallest cartridge I recommend is a 30-06 Springfield, or the 8mm Mauser (the European equivalent of a 30-06), provided they are loaded with heavy for caliber bullets (180 grain and up).  Either of these cartridges can deliver between 2650 and 3000 ft. lbs. of energy (yes I know the .270 can produce the same energy but the bullet is just too light).  These cartridges will be on the light side of a medium African rifle.  For the true medium African rifle, I would start in the .338 Winchester class all the way through the 375 Holland and Holland class.  These rifles develop between 3500 and 4200 ft. lbs. of energy.  For the really big boys, I’ll start with the .416 class and go up to the .500.  This class of rifles develop an astounding 5000 and 7000 ft. lbs. of energy.  There are even a few larger if you have the shoulder and the pocket book for them.

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