November 13, 2013
When hunting dangerous game, a lot is riding on a relatively inexpensive amalgamation of copper, brass, power and primer. After the hunt cost, travel, trophy fees, rifle, optics and related expenses, the actual ammo — the very thing that can stop a charge, prevent an animal from being lost or save your hide — is very, very inexpensive indeed.
In times past, the availability of true safari ammo — stuff tough enough to stop an animal coming in or going away was hard to find. In fact, it wasn't long ago when the death of the double rifle was going to be because of lack of ammo.
But now, thankfully, safari-bound hunters have much more to choose from than hard-to-find Kynock ammo loaded with Woodleigh bullets.
Nosler Safari Ammo
, (a company who's bullets have been used for decades in Africa) has got into the loaded ammunition market. Offering 15 safari calibers from 9.3 x 62 to .505 Gibbs in both Partition and solids the entire cartridge is designed for life or death situations. The brass is nickel-plated for easy extraction, flashholes are inspected, cases are checked for length, the necks are sized, chamfered and trued, and powder charges are weighed. Finally the finished rounds are visibly inspected and polished — ready to be slipped into a culling belt.
has consistently amazed us with high quality ammo. The 'secret ' (if attention to detail can be called a secret) to their consistency is holding tolerances to a minimum and loading by hand in the US by skilled employees. What we really like about Pro Grade is that they define what type of application a hunter or shooter needs i.e. self defense, match, range, hunting, safari, etc and craft a line of ammo to fill that need. The Safari Grade, is not just a 'me too ' category either with lip service played by adding only .375 and .458 Win. Mag. — it is a well-thought out, complete line of practical ammo for the Dark Continent with 11 different calibers from .375 H&H to .458 Lott with bullets by Barnes, and Woodleigh.
Take it as a testament to quality that multiple manufacturers load Barnes
bullets — both expanding and solids. Barnes has built a reputation around the world the old fashioned way — one dead animal at a time. It is only natural that the famed bullet manufacturer would turn its sights toward loaded ammunition. I shot my last buff with a 500-grain .458 TSX and the results were staggering — over a full inch of expansion with shoulder-to-shoulder penetration. What more can you ask for? With eight safari calibers from 9.3 x 62 to .500 Nitro Express, Barnes has the Safari market well covered.
Like Winchester, Remington
produces only four safari loads, but since they are in the same family/company as Barnes, I guess they figure they have their bases covered with Barnes' additional eight caliber offerings. Remington loads: 9.3 x 62, .375H&H, .416 Remington and the ultra fast (but shoulder pounding) .375 Remington Ultra Mag., which spits out a 300 grain Swift A-frame bullet at 2,760 fps — more than 200 fps faster than a standard .375 H&H! While the extra velocity isn't needed for Africa, it may come in handy to flatten the trajectory on longer shots hunters encounter on the large bears of North America.
It seems like Hornady
wants to keep great old double guns alive all by themselves — and God bless them for it. Of course they offer the classic loadings of .470 and .500 Nitro Express, like many do, but no one else is loading the 450 Nitro Express 3 ¼ or 450-400 Nitro Express 3 '. It may seem obscure and not relevant€¦that is until you find a great deal on a classic British gun. Then you will be head over heals that modern ammo is available. Hornady also offers 15 different safari cartridges loaded with Interlock, GMX (Gilding Metal Expanding), DGS (Danger Game Solid) and DGX (Dangerous Game Expanding) respectively depending upon caliber.
With the .458 Win Mag loading topping its Supreme charts, Winchester
offers four calibers for the safari hunter including: .375 H&H, .416 Rigby and .416 Remington Magnum. Loaded with Power-Point, Nosler Partition or Nosler Solids (depending upon caliber), while they don't manufacturer the widest selection of calibers or bullets, they do have enough of the basics covered to get the average bolt action hunter by. As a bonus, the packaging is ultra tough plastic containers that will stand up to the several flights to Africa.
Federal Premium Cape Shok ***EDITORS CHOICE****
Of all the manufacturers making safari ammo, Federal Premium
hands down has the coolest packaging, but we're not giving them the Editor's Choice award based on good looks. They also have the widest selection of bullets of any of the manufacturers. In their 10 different calibers ranging from 9.3 x 62 to .500 Nitro Express they load: Barnes TSX, Swift A-frames, Fusion, Woodleigh Hydro Solid, Nosler Partition, Trophy Bonded Bear Claws and Sledge Hammer. I shot a giant eland with the Fusion bullet and it worked extremely well — holding together through nearly two feet of muscle, hide and bone. On my last three safaris I shot over 20 African animals with the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw as well as a hippo and a Cape buff with Sledgehammers. All resulted in clean quick kills. All Cape Shok loads feature nickel plated cases for easy extraction and come 20 to a box.
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.