How To: The Best Calibre for Arica

by | May 7, 2020 | How To hunting

You booked your first African Safari and you are counting the days until you board the flight. You are going to hunt plains game ranging from the huge 2 000lb Eland to the 15lb Steinbuck and hopefully a few other animals.
You look at your collection of rifles and wonder what will be the best to take. Will it be your new Accuracy International in .338 Lapua or maybe your custom made rifle in 6, 5 Creedmoor? Tucked away in the back corner of your strong room under some “stuff” is an old .308Win that has not been used in a decade.
You read up and talk to “experts” on what will be the best to concur Africa with. You get to much advice from everyone and that does not help you decide. You will only be able to take one rifle for some or other reason. What should it be or must you go out and buy something new?
There has been thousands of articles written on just what the “best” calibre is for a plains game hunt in Africa. I am not going to copy them. I am going to try and change your thought process on the whole idea of what is best.
There is no such thing as the best calibre. There are however wrong calibres to bring depending on what you want to hunt. You cannot bring your favourite little 25-06 and expect to have clean kills on Eland every time. You can bring your .505 Gibbs but you are going to have a tough time hunting Black Wildebeest with it.
The way you should go about this is to think of time and money. You are going to be in Africa for 7 – 10 days. You are going to waste or save time and money by using the right tool for the job.
So what is the right tool?
Good shot placement is paramount. What is good shot placement? Is it to print a sub-MOA group out to 300y on a target? No sir!! It is to be able to put a bullet TROUGH the vitals of an African animal. Not just inside the vitals but through it. You must chose a calibre that can do that. But, to punch a hole through the vitals of a Zebra or Waterbuck or Eland you need premium bullets as the rifle or the calibre does not kill. It is the bullet that does the job.
You must also know that the vitals of African animals is located between the shoulders and not slightly behind them like the animals in the US or Europe. That means that the bullet has to punch through a big heavy shoulder before it can reach the vitals and then carry on to exit and leave a good blood trail.
See what I am getting at?
There is no ways that a 6mm bullet will penetrate all of that in an Eland and exit so that takes care of the smaller calibres. Yes, your 505 Gibbs with its 600gr bullet will but you also want to hunt Blesbuck and Black wildebeest in the plains and the shot might be 250y so that makes your big thumper a little short on legs.
Your .300 Ultra Mag can do both but the poor 15lb Steinbuck will vaporise if hit with a 180gr bullet at over 3400fps at 30y. Now what?
Your decision should be made by taking people into account. You will be guided by a Professional Hunter. You will also have 1 or 2 trackers in the party. They hunt almost every day in Africa and have seen and heard it all. If you have a muzzle break on your rifle the trackers will suddenly fall ill. Your PH will start getting the shakes but he will bite his tongue and pray that you will only fire one shot at an animal.
The bottom line is,,,,,,
Take any calibre in the .275 to .35 class with premium bullets that does not need a muzzle break or any other special recoil reducers that you can shoot very well while standing. Practice the way you will be hunting and you will save lots of time by not following a wounded animal. You will also save money for not losing a wounded animal because you shot through the vitals of what you aimed at.
Once your rifle is dialled in from the bench, you must shoot and practice from different positions until you can hit what you aim at without bothering with comfort.
What is the best calibre then?
The one that meets the above requirements and that you can use well.
If your mind is still scrambled on choices then just trust that your PH will have a rifle for you to use that he puts his trust in to get the job done.
Easy as pie.

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