Safari 2014: The Caprvi Strip / Update 6/16/2014 Gun Talk

by david on June 16, 2014

I have a standard battery of rifles that I take to Africa, and I am completely enamored with these two rifles.  Both are CZ Safari Classic custom built rifles. The medium rifle is a 9.3×62 Mauser, and the heavy rifle is a .416 Rigby.  With these two rifles I can handle anything on the continent from the smallest duiker to the largest elephant.  Knowing this makes my current conundrum seem completely trivial.  The problem is over the last few years I have been collecting a whole new battery of rifles that have been used with great success in Africa and Europe.  I would love to give them a try but deciding on which one to take has proved problematic.  The even more difficult decision would be which one of my beloved CZ’s should I leave behind.  All of the new (to me at least) rifles are Mausers of either German or Swedish manufacture.  Let me tell you about them.

My first centerfire rifle was a modified WWII German army rifle in 8mm.  The 8×57 (8mm in diameter and 57mm in case length) is, in a nutshell, the 30-06 of Europe.  It is not as versatile because there are not as many bullets available for it, but it is every bit as deadly.  With a 200-grain bullet (what I use for Africa), there is no difference between the two except the ’06 does it with slightly less powder.  They both generate about 2900 ft. lbs of energy.  The 8×57 was the basis for one set of rifles in my collection.

There are four rifle cartridges in based on the 57-mm case.  The first was the 8×57 (or 7.92×57).  It was adopted by the German military in 1888.  It was updated in 1905 by enlarging the bullet diameter from .318 to .323.  The update in 1905 makes it just one year older than the 30-06, which was adopted by the US military in 1906.  The 30-06 comes from a 30 caliber bullet and “06” from the 1906 the year of adoption.  I currently have four 8×57 guns in various configurations and will probably have a few more before it is all said and done.

In 1892, the 8×57 was necked down to 7mm and the 7×57 Mauser was born.  Over the years the 7×57 has probably become more popular than its older and larger brother, the 8mm.  It has been used extensively in Africa as a “meat” rifle.  The hunters liked it because it killed cleanly and efficiently without damaging a lot of the meat.  The mild recoil and inexpensive ammunition was another plus.  The person who probably did the most to ensure the success of the cartridge in the hunting profession was the legendary W.D.M. (Karamojo) Bell.  He used the small bullet of the little Mauser to cleanly take approximately 800 of his 1100 elephants.  His emphasis was on accuracy and putting the bullet where it counted the most. This was no small feat when you compare the 7×57 with the more common elephant cartridge of the day, the .470 nitro.  The 7×57 fired a bullet weighing  170 grains with an energy of 2430 ft. lbs, compared with the 500 grains and 5130 ft. lbs.  Pretty impressive in anybody’s book.

Somewhere around 1900, the 8×57 was necked up to 9mm, and again 9.3mm giving us two more cartridges with a 57mm case.  The 9×57 fired a 250-grain bullet for about 2700 ft. lbs (depending on the load) of energy and the 9.3 a 286-grain bullet for the same energy.  The mild recoil of both of these cartridges was definitely on the plus side of the column as well. The better penetration of the larger bullet eventually outshone its smaller sibling.  Even though it was perfectly adequate, the 9×57 fell from popularity.  I have a sneaking feeling the introduction of the 9.3×62 (bolt action), and the 9.3×74 (double rifle) a few years later, helped the 9.3×57 along, because a hunter could use the 286-grain bullet with energies varying from 2700 ft. lbs to 3970 ft. lbs, depending on which rifle he walked out the door with.

Now you may have a little better understanding of my situation.  I have too many to choose from.  In my defense, there are four cartridges and that translates to at least four rifles. I realize this is a wonderful problem to have, but it still requires making a choice to leave something behind and I am not good at (more like I don’t like) making those kinds of choices.  If anyone out there wonders why I have or even need so many different rifles, there is a very simple answer, but I am going to have you ask someone else to give it to you.  If you really want to know why, ask your better half  (or yourself, for you lady readers) why she/you have so many pairs of shoes.  It is the same reason I would give you if you asked me the gun question.

Nest week: Battery Three

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