Best caliber for hunting big game in Africa

Best caliber for hunting big game in Africa

The best caliber for hunting big game in Africa will be debated for many years to come. In the end the decision for which hunting rifle and caliber to bring to Africa for a South African hunting safari will lie with you. This decision will many times be a no-brainer. For those who have never been for an out-of-country hunt it can become a major decision.

After a number of years in the African safari hunting business we have learned that a possible definition of the best caliber for hunting big game in Africa is rather simple: bring the rifle caliber or rifle calibers (you are allowed to bring two rifles) you feel most confident shooting with. The rifles you intend bringing along are subject to government rules and regulations as set out in the SAPS 520 section of this website.

If we were to recommend two calibers it would be a 30-06 and a 375.

With these two calibers you will be able to hunt anything that walks in the African bushveld. The most popular calibers brought along on any South African hunting safari trip range from a 270, 7mm-08, 7 mm Rem Mag, 30-06 to a 300 WSM and 300 Win Mag.

Best ammunition for hunting big game in Africa

Please only use the best ammunition for hunting big game in Africa. If the one type of premium grade ammunition does not shoot accurate from your specific rifle, find premium grade ammunition that does. Several game animals have been wounded and lost due to hunters not adhering to this advice. Do not try and save cost by using non-premium grade ammunition.

We recommend the following brands of ammunition: Nosler Partition, Barnes TTSX and TSX, Federal Premium and Woodleigh. This does not mean there are several other manufacturers of premium grade ammunition. The manufacturers mentioned are the ones we have first-hand experience with as the best ammunition for the best caliber for hunting big game in Africa

The projectile weight will be determined by which weight performs with the best accuracy in your particular rifle. Good thing is with premium grade ammunition you can hunt African big game with smaller bullet weights.

Best caliber for hunting big game in Africa the way we see it

The way we see it when recommending the best caliber for hunting big game in Africa is according to the body size of the animal you would like to hunt. Of course there are several exceptions to the written and unwritten laws.

However, we look at smaller body antelope, medium size antelope and then the big guys.

Smaller body size antelope would be steenbok, klipspringer, gray duiker, mountain reedbuck, springbok and vaal rhebok.

Medium body size antelope would be impala (slightly smaller than white tail deer), bushbuck, blesbok, tsessebe, common reedbuck, fallow deer, warthog, bushpig and black wildebeest.

Then the big body size animals starting at blue wildebeest, eland (Africa’s biggest antelope), gemsbok, giraffe, kudu, red lechwe, nyala, red hartebeest, roan, sable, waterbuck, common or plains zebra and mountain zebra.

The two animals we prefer to be hunted with the largest possible caliber are blue wildebeest and zebra. These must be the two toughest plains game animals anywhere. We have spent more time tracking wounded blue wildebeest and zebra than any other plains game animal.

Calibers smaller than 300

These are the most popular calibers smaller than 300 that have found their way to Africa:

  • 22 Hornet
  • 243
  • for small body size animals
Calibers in the 300 range

These are the most popular calibers in the 300 range that have found their way to Africa:

  • 270
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 WIN
  • 308
  • 30-06
  • for medium and large body size animals
Calibers larger than 300

These are the most popular calibers larger than 300 that have found their way to Africa:

  • 375 – also for large body size animals
  • 416 Rigby
  • 458 WIN
  • 458 Lott
  • 470 NE
  • 500 Jeffrey
  • for dangerous game

African hunting calibers the way the local law sees it

Draft guidelines: minimum caliber for hunting in South Africa

Minimum calibers for rifle hunting South Africa:

26. (1) Hunters should adhere to the following guidelines in respect of minimum calibers

for hunting, a;

(a) .22 or 5.56 mm centre fire rifle or larger caliber may be used for

hunting –

(i) furred game up to and including the size of springbok; and

feathered game;

(b) .270 or 7mm rifle or larger caliber may be used for hunting –

(i) furred game up to and including eland, but excluding any

dangerous game or giraffe; and

(ii) feathered game including ostrich;

(c) .375 H&H Magnum or larger caliber may be used for hunting –

(i) any furred or dangerous game; and

(ii) any feathered game including ostrich;

(d) .22 rimfire rifle (5.56mm) may be used for hunting –

(i) furred game up to and including the size of a rock hyrax and all

rodents; and

(ii) feathered game.

Minimum caliber for hunting in Africa

(e) .375 H&H Magnum or larger caliber must be used for hunting a giraffe

or any dangerous game, provided that for the hunting of any pachyderm

the bullet must be of full metal jacket (solid) or monolithic solid

construction.

Best caliber for hunting big game in Africa:

Plains game

 

Follow this link to the best calibers for African dangerous game

Further down this page is a comprehensive list of best caliber suggestions for hunting big game in Africa. However, we consider the 30-06 as the best all-round caliber for hunting plains game in Africa. The 30-06 has a proven track record, ammunition is readily available in South Africa and it is just a sweet shooting caliber. This does not mean we do not have confidence in any other calibers. On the contrary, other calibers like the 270, 308, 7 mm Rem Mag, 7 mm-08, 300 Win Mag and others have all been used with big success on our African hunting safaris.

It is your right to own and bear firearms. It is your right to own as many firearms as you like. It is your right to own any caliber firearm you want. You would be missing out if at least one of your rifles was not a 30 – 06.

Best calibers for plains game hunting in Africa – see the detailed list below where calibers are recommended per plains game animal

Best caliber per individual animal

We recommend the calibers per animal solely on what we have experienced over the past 24 hunting years.

Best caliber for hunting baboons

  • First rifle handy!
  • 22-250
  • 222
  • 223
  • 243
  • 270
  • 7mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06 and all 300 calibers
  • 338 Lapua – just get it

Best caliber for hunting black wildebeest

  • 270
  • 7mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting blesbok

  • 243
  • 270
  • 7mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting blue wildebeest

  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 300 Ultra Mag
  • 338 Lapua
  • 375 and any similar or comparable caliber.
  • Generally: the bigger the better.

Best caliber for hunting bushbuck

  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting bushpig

  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 12 ga shotgun
  • 45 – 70 or any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting caracal

  • Any caliber larger than 22 Hornet
  • 410 shotgun
  • 12 ga
  • 17 Cal
  • 22 – 250
  • 222
  • 223
  • 243
  • calibers that you have solid ammunition for
  • avoid high-velocity calibers like 300 Ultra Mag

Best caliber for hunting duiker

  • 17 Caliber
  • Any caliber starting at 222
  • 22-250
  • 222
  • 223
  • 243
  • 308
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 mm – 08

Best caliber for hunting eland

  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 (all)
  • 338
  • 375
  • 404 Jeffrey
  • 416 Rigby
  • 416 Rem
  • 458 Win Mag
  • 458 Lott
  • 460 Weatherby (Wby)

Best caliber for hunting fallow deer

  • 243
  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting gemsbok

  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 300 Ultra Mag
  • 300 Weatherby
  • 338 and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting giraffe

  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 300 Ultra Mag
  • 300 Weatherby
  • 338 Lapua
  • 375
  • 416 Rigby
  • 416 Rem
  • 458 and
  • any similar or comparable caliber
  • ONLY use premium grade ammunition

Best caliber for hunting impala

  • 243
  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting jackal

  • The very first rifle handy!
  • 17 cal
  • 22 Hornet
  • 22-250
  • 222
  • 223
  • 243
  • 270
  • 30-06
  • 7 mm – all 7 mm calibers
  • 30-06, 308, 300 WSM, 300 Win Mag, 300 Ultra Mag
  • 338 Lapua and any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting klipspringer

  • 17 cal
  • 22 Hornet
  • 223
  • 243
  • 270
  • 308
  • 30-06
  • any caliber larger than 22 Hornet with a solid round
  • avoid using high velocity calibers

Best caliber for hunting kudu

  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 300 Ultra Mag
  • 338 and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting red lechwe

  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 300 Ultra Mag
  • 300 Weatherby
  • 338 and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting mountain reedbuck

  • 243
  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308 and
  • any similar or comparable caliber
  • avoid using high velocity calibers

Best caliber for hunting nyala

  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting ostrich

  • 270
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 mm Ultra Mag
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 X 64
  • 308
  • 30-06
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 375 and
  • any other comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting reedbuck

  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting red hartebeest

  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting rhebok

  • 243
  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag and
  • any similar flat shooting caliber

Best caliber for hunting roan antelope

  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 300 Weatherby
  • 338
  • 375 and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting sable

  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 338
  • 375 and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting springbok

  • the following applies for hunting
    • common springbok
    • black springbok
    • copper springbok
    • Kalahari springbok
    • white springbok
    • and any other type of springbok
    • 222
    • 22 – 250
    • 243
    • 270
    • 30-06
    • 308
    • 7 mm (all)
    • 300 WSM and
    • any other smaller caliber

Best caliber for hunting steenbok

  • 17 cal
  • 22 Hornet
  • 222
  • 223
  • 243
  • 270
  • 308
  • 30-06 and
  • any caliber with solid ammunition

Best caliber for hunting tsessebe

  • 243
  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting warthog

  • 270
  • 7 mm-08
  • 7 mm Rem Mag
  • 7 X 57
  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag and
  • any similar or comparable caliber

Best caliber for hunting waterbuck

  • 7 X 64 Breneke
  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 300 Ultra Mag
  • 300 Weatherby
  • 338
  • 375 and
  • any similar or comparable caliber
  • these are tough, stocky animals

Best caliber for hunting zebra

  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 300 Ultra Mag
  • 300 Weatherby
  • 338 Lapua
  • 375 and
  • any similar or comparable caliber
  • generally, the bigger the caliber the better

Best caliber for hunting mountain zebra

  • 30-06
  • 308
  • 300 WSM
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 300 Ultra Mag
  • 300 Weatherby
  • 338 Lapua
  • 375 and
  • any similar or comparable caliber
  • generally, the bigger the caliber the better
Best African hunting calibers
Trackers and skinners shooting the best caliber for hunting big game in Africa
Tracker shooting a 458 Lott

The 110 lb tracker said he wanted to shoot the 458 Lott after a dangerous game hunt. We decided to allow him to shoot it.

Tracker and skinner shooting the 458 Lott

Both trackers wanted to experience shooting the 458 Lott. So we said yes.

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