One of the most popular discussions around any hunting camp is which cartridge is the best for a particular type of hunt. The decision can be difficult with so many factory cartridges on the market today. Typically, there are several good options for each type of animal.
Guides and professional hunters see a lot of different rifles chambered for different calibers, so they generally have a wealth of information regarding a particular cartridge’s effectiveness on game.
For this piece, I polled several of the top guides and PHs around the world to determine which cartridge—if they could only choose one—they would recommend for their clients to hunt one animal in one area.
I asked each professional to recommend their favorite cartridge based on their own hunting area, which varies from the flat, open country of New Mexico to the peaks of the Alaskan Range and the muddy banks of the Lower Zambeze River.
Based on their past experiences, here’s what each hunting professional recommended to their clients for the perfect hunting cartridge.
- PH: Jason van Aarde, Game Frontiers of Tanzania. Although the venerable old .375 H&H has been with us for over a century, guides and PHs still swear by it. You can add Jason van Aarde, professional hunter with Game Frontiers of Tanzania, to that list. As a young professional, Jason couldn’t understand why his mentor, Tony Tomkinson, recommended clients bring a scoped .375 H&H shooting 300 grain bullets, which seemed light to Jason. After years as a professional hunter, he now sees the value in Tomkinson’s advice. “The bigger the caliber the less accurate the hunter will be because he will concentrate less on his first shot,” van Aarde says. “When you give a hunter a .458 Lott, he will shoot when he thinks he is on target. But give him a .375 and he will only shoot when he is sure he is on target.” Van Aarde recommends that his hunters bring scoped rifles, as he has found that hunters under pressure tend to shoot high with iron sights, especially on follow-up shots. The .375 H&H Magnum is considered marginal by some, but Jason and other PHs have pointed out that a 300 grain .375 H&H bullet in the vitals will kill a buffalo; unlike a 500 grain .470 slug in the wrong place that will leave the bull injured and angry. For the most part, hunters can shoot the .375 H&H well and place their shots where they need to be.