Safari 2014: The Caprvi Strip / Update 6/23/2014 Gun Talk II

by david on June 23, 2014

Last week I promised you battery three, so here goes.  Due to my love affair with Mausers, I have picked up a few more.  The two choices for a light-to-medium rifle in this battery are a .300 Holland and a Holland made by FN in Belgium, as well as a 30-06 made in Obendorff, Germany.  These two are recent enough acquisitions that I have not had time yet to take them to my gunsmith to ensure they are safe to fire.  I almost learned the gunsmith thing the hard way when one of my previous purchases turned out to have excessive head space and was unsafe to shoot.  Lesson learned.  From now on, all rifles with any age on them will go straight to the smith for a good going over.  With today’s safety lesson over, I’ll get back to the gun talk.

My original plan was to acquire Mausers in .300 H&H (light) and .375 H&H (medium/heavy).  The .375, I might add, is the rifle caliber most mentioned when the conversation comes up about having only one gun for Africa.  The .375 is said to be able to do it all, from the smallest plains game to the largest elephant, and do it well.  After doing my own research and talking to others, I came to the same conclusion and that’s why I want one.  I thought the .300 would be tougher to find than the .375, but it has turned out to be exactly the opposite. The .300 revealed itself fairly soon into the search, but a .375 chambered Mauser has remained elusive.

The .300 came out in 1925 and is (with the possible exception of the .30 Newton) the forefather of the modern .300 magnum rifles. It is capable of shooting anything from 110-grain bullets up to 220-grain bullets.  If you are curious about how much a grain weighs, there are 7000 of them in one pound or it takes about thirty-two 220-grain bullets to make a pound.  The 220-grain bullet is what I would use for Africa, as it delivers a respectable 3500 ft. lbs. of energy. Once again, by way of definition, a foot pound is the amount of energy required to raise one pound one foot in the air.  You may have to use your imagination a little bit to imagine something the diameter of a pencil and about an inch long having enough energy to lift 3,500 lbs. into the air, but that is the way the math works out. Now back to the .300 H&H.  After its early success as a long-range target rifle, hunters soon discovered its accuracy and hard-hitting bullets were also good in the field.  The rest, as they say, is history.  While its popularity has declined in the US since the introduction of the bigger, faster and harder recoiling .300 magnums, it is still popular in Africa as an all-around plains game rifle.  It definitely deserves a place in an African battery of rifles.

Last week I mentioned the 30-06 in reference to the 8mm Mauser. As it turns out the 30-06 may be an even better rifle for Africa for the average American safari goer than the 8mm.  The first reason is the availability of different bullets.  Without too much thought, I can come up with a dozen for the ’06 compared to four for the 8mm.  The heaviest ones are the most useful for Africa and just so happen to be the same bullets available for the .300 H&H.  The only difference is the .300 does it with about 15% more power.  Where the ’06 really shines is in the confidence department.  Most American hunters grew up with the 30-06, or at the very least knew someone that did.  Their 30-06’s have accounted for countless white-tailed deer in the freezer and have given their owners supreme confidence in its ability to take game.  That confidence in the rifle makes the user shoot better and take more game cleanly.  They know that when the rifle comes to their shoulder and they pull the trigger, what they are shooting at is going to go down.  That is worth its weight in gold and gives the 30-06 a spot in an African battery.

I recently picked up my first double rifle.  Although not really powerful enough for dangerous game, it is more than adequate for the largest plains game.  I am currently experimenting with different loads for it and going through the regulation process.  If all goes well, the double will be my topic next week.

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