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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone, I have been asking around the different forums to get as much advice as possible.

I have been thinking about what caliber to pick for a dangerous game rifle, that I hope to use on a water buffalo hunt in the near future (they are similar to Cape Buffalo). So far I'm torn between a .375 H&H or a .416 Rem Mag, and I'm leaning slightly towards the latter for the added stopping power.

My question to the community is how bad is the recoil on a .416 Rem Mag? To try and create some perspective, the biggest caliber that I currently shoot regularly is a .308. How can the recoil be managed, and would the difference in recoil justify stepping down to a .375.

I would really appreciate any input from the community.

Sincere regards,
John8789
 

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Easy choice: both will do the job flawlessly

John,

Recoil is greatly over-emphasised in the US shooting community - maybe because most shooters do their shooting from a bench where you have to lean into the rifle from the sitting position. My sons started shooting my .375 H&H from 15-16 years age. You will never shoot a heavy calibre in the field, sitting and ¨crowding¨ the rifle.

I have no experience with Remington´s .416 but quite a bit in the field with the .416 Rigby and quite a bit more with the .375 H&H. Let me just say that the latter is totally sufficient for Cape buffalo, but I have lately fallen in love with the .416 Rigby - particularly the European/German/Bavarian style stock. The profile with the visible drop to the comb is new to the American shooter´s eye but it is the most sensible design for a heavy calibre rifle. Recoil is there of course, but not punishing. The .375 H&H in fact has a little sharper slap than the .416 Rigby.

Another thing regarding recoil - ignore advice about getting a heavy barrel to add extra weight - you will soon regret it in the field. I do not know how and where you will hunt but going after Cape buffalo you may walk for 4-6 hours - I have just done that daily in Mozambique and the CZ had a standard barrel of 25.7", weighed about 9.7 lbs with a light, old, 1.5 - 3 x scope and four cartridges - I was glad it was not heavier. I read advice in another thread that the planned buyer of a .375 H&H must have his rifle not lighter than 11 lbs. Man, he is going to hate that if he comes to hunt in Africa.

The CZ 550 I have used the past few months to take seven animals in Mozambique has convinced me that this rifle (a European stocked CZ 550) is going to be my next dangerous game calibre (On edit: I meant platform). Whether it is a .375 H&H or a .416 Rigby or a .458 Lott is immaterial as they all three are capable of doing the job. The .416 Rigby with 400 gr bullets is an impeccable performer on Cape buffalo and elephant - and so is the .375 H&H.

No matter what the calibre, a perfect, low through the shoulder heart shot is required - look at my thread on shot placement on Africa game under hunting in Africa. The Cape buffalo and the wildebeest find it notoriously difficult to die when shot through the lungs, missing the heart, no matter what calibre you used - meaning a shot behind the shoulder, or too high, even if it is still in line with the front leg when viewed side-on. Placement behind the shoulder AND above the lower 1/4 of the shoulder depth is looking for trouble.

The attached photo shows the perfect bullet placement with a .308W on a wildebeest from just under 200 yards that faced ever so slightly away. Had it been exactly side-on it should have been 2-3 inches forward.

Whether water buffalo is of the same mettle as Cape buffalo has been debated on the forum so I shall not voice an opinion - mostly by people who have not hunted either; it in fact is immaterial when you use either a .375 H&H or a .416 or a .458 Lott.

On edit: Be wary of any US published figures for the .416 Remington with 400gr bullets that approach or even exceed 2,400 ft/sec. If any hand loader achieves that it will be at top pressures. There is no difference between the Rigby and the Remington with similar weight bullets. Expect about 2,360 as normal and good and sufficient.
 

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Cannot add anything to that other than my personal choice for any African trip or coming to Aus for a Water Buff would be the 375 H&H. Right bullet in the right place and it will do the job. It is also very manageable recovery wise for that second ...maybe third shot if things turn interesting. Those old cartridges will still do the job.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
John,

Recoil is greatly over-emphasised in the US shooting community - maybe because most shooters do their shooting from a bench where you have to lean into the rifle from the sitting position. My sons started shooting my .375 H&H from 15-16 years age. You will never shoot a heavy calibre in the field, sitting and ¨crowding¨ the rifle.

I have no experience with Remington´s .416 but quite a bit in the field with the .416 Rigby and quite a bit more with the .375 H&H. Let me just say that the latter is totally sufficient for Cape buffalo, but I have lately fallen in love with the .416 Rigby - particularly the European/German/Bavarian style stock. The profile with the visible drop to the comb is new to the American shooter´s eye but it is the most sensible design for a heavy calibre rifle. Recoil is there of course, but not punishing. The .375 H&H in fact has a little sharper slap than the .416 Rigby.

Another thing regarding recoil - ignore advice about getting a heavy barrel to add extra weight - you will soon regret it in the field. I do not know how and where you will hunt but going after Cape buffalo you may walk for 4-6 hours - I have just done that daily in Mozambique and the CZ had a standard barrel of 25.7", weighed about 9.7 lbs with a light, old, 1.5 - 3 x scope and four cartridges - I was glad it was not heavier. I read advice in another thread that the planned buyer of a .375 H&H must have his rifle not lighter than 11 lbs. Man, he is going to hate that if he comes to hunt in Africa.

The CZ 550 I have used the past few months to take seven animals in Mozambique has convinced me that this rifle (a European stocked CZ 550) is going to be my next dangerous game calibre. Whether it is a .375 H&H or a .416 Rigby or a .458 Lott is immaterial as they all three are capable of doing the job. The .416 Rigby with 400 gr bullets is an impeccable performer on Cape buffalo and elephant - and so is the .375 H&H.

No matter what the calibre, a perfect, low through the shoulder heart shot is required - look at my thread on shot placement on Africa game under hunting in Africa. The Cape buffalo and the wildebeest find it notoriously difficult to die when shot through the lungs, missing the heart, no matter what calibre you used - meaning a shot behind the shoulder, or too high, even if it is still in line with the front leg when viewed side-on. Placement behind the shoulder AND above the lower 1/4 of the shoulder depth is looking for trouble.

The attached photo shows the perfect bullet placement with a .308W on a wildebeest from just under 200 yards that faced ever so slightly away. Had it been exactly side-on it should have been 2-3 inches forward.

Whether water buffalo is of the same mettle as Cape buffalo has been debated on the forum so I shall not voice an opinion - mostly by people who have not hunted either; it in fact is immaterial when you use either a .375 H&H or a .416 or a .458 Lott.

On edit: Be wary of any US published figures for the .416 Remington with 400gr bullets that approach or even exceed 2,400 ft/sec. If any hand loader achieves that it will be at top pressures. There is no difference between the Rigby and the Remington with similar weight bullets. Expect about 2,360 as normal and good and sufficient.
Thanks for the awesome response, MusgraveMan! Very useful information. This has me leaning even further towards the .416 Rem.
 

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.... This has me leaning even further towards the .416 Rem.
Indeed.

I do not know how long the Remington Magnum will live - the Rigby chambering has been passed from fathers to sons to grand sons and is becoming more popular than ever in South Africa with the buffalo population growing as fast as it does.
 
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Recoil can NOT be determined by caliber. Recoil is a physical calculation using bullet and powder weight, weight of the gun and velocity, but much more than that is a perceived impact on the shooter and that impact can be altered VERY dramatically without changing any of the physical components of calculated recoil.
I have a Hoffman Arms .375 stocked by Dubiel in 1922 with typical cast-off and a hard Silvers pad that barely weighs nine nine pounds that is MUCH more pleasant to shoot than several rifles that have half the calculated recoil.

Look for a nice rifle in either caliber and enjoy it. There's not a dimes worth of practical difference to the Buffalo.
 

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¨Look for a nice rifle in either caliber and enjoy it. There's not a dimes worth of practical difference to the Buffalo.¨


Perfectly summarised, Jack.
 
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One thing that does make a huge difference is one of the new supersoft recoil pads, such as LimbSaver, Decelerator or Kick-Eze. Also, when shooting at a bench, wear a P.A.S.T Recoil shield on your shooting shoulder and you will be in great shape to handle the recoil.
 

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I'm personally looking at buying Ruger M77 African in .375 Ruger and toying with it. As I plan, further in my life. To hunt Alaska and Africa. From what I'm told, is that the .375 H&H is like the .30-06 of dangerous African game cartridges as far as popularity. The .375 Ruger is supposed to match it in ballistics but fit in a standard length action.

I've also looked around, and there are some reduced loads you can do that will make it a very adequate medium game rifle for large deer, elk, and hog without taking as much abuse to your shoulder.

You might want to take a look at the .375 Ruger too... If you have not already.

Edit: there is also a .416 Ruger based on the same casing as the .375 Ruger. Although I think only Ruger chambers it and only Hornady makes ammo...
 

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John,

No matter what the calibre, a perfect, low through the shoulder heart shot is required - look at my thread on shot placement on Africa game under hunting in Africa. The Cape buffalo and the wildebeest find it notoriously difficult to die when shot through the lungs, missing the heart, no matter what calibre you used - meaning a shot behind the shoulder, or too high, even if it is still in line with the front leg when viewed side-on. Placement behind the shoulder AND above the lower 1/4 of the shoulder depth is looking for trouble.

The attached photo shows the perfect bullet placement with a .308W on a wildebeest from just under 200 yards that faced ever so slightly away. Had it been exactly side-on it should have been 2-3 inches forward.
Well, I have been telling folks the wildebeest just refused to die. Both my hunting partner and I put four magnum rounds in our respective gnus and they kept popping up until the final shot. Mine continued to graze. Bad placement was the reason, not the indestructibility of the animal. Tough animal just the same.
 

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I'm personally looking at buying Ruger M77 African in .375 Ruger and toying with it. As I plan, further in my life. To hunt Alaska and Africa. From what I'm told, is that the .375 H&H is like the .30-06 of dangerous African game cartridges as far as popularity. The .375 Ruger is supposed to match it in ballistics but fit in a standard length action.

I've also looked around, and there are some reduced loads you can do that will make it a very adequate medium game rifle for large deer, elk, and hog without taking as much abuse to your shoulder.

You might want to take a look at the .375 Ruger too... If you have not already.

Edit: there is also a .416 Ruger based on the same casing as the .375 Ruger. Although I think only Ruger chambers it and only Hornady makes ammo...
Trent, I wish a .375 R hunter would contact me. I have several M77s. The .375s split their stocks at the tang even after Ruger supposedly modified them.
 

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Well, I have been telling folks the wildebeest just refused to die. Both my hunting partner and I put four magnum rounds in our respective gnus and they kept popping up until the final shot. Mine continued to graze. Bad placement was the reason, not the indestructibility of the animal. Tough animal just the same.
Compared to elk and mule deer it is a sissy animal. In fact all African big game are - they fall to single heart shots from .308W, 7x57, 30-06, .303 Brit by their hundreds every year.
 
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Trent, I wish a .375 R hunter would contact me. I have several M77s. The .375s split their stocks at the tang even after Ruger supposedly modified them.
Well that's not good to hear. Are you referring to the Ruger M77 African in .375 Ruger? That's the first I've heard of stocks having problems.

I'm now wondering if this is why they discontinued the "Alaskan" model with the synthetic stock and stainless action. I wonder if they synthetic stock couldn't hold up to the recoil?

The African is an absolutely beautiful rifle from Ruger and I've heard excellent reports for accuracy. I'm really looking forward to messing with one and loading some milder loads for it to use on hog until I can get rich enough to make a trip to Alaska or Africa!

Edit: I know Nosler makes a beautiful rifle in .375 Ruger, but is pricey. Savage and Howa are making rifles in the cartridge as well I believe. I always liked the M77 design though. I hope they fixed the stock problems.
 

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Trent,

Yes indeed I am referring to the Ruger African.

I am not in the USA now, but there are magazine articles and then a report in one magazine of a test of a problem fixed, modified one received from Ruger which was sent for a review and an article - and which promptly split on the fifth shot.

US rifle manufacturers simply ignore a problem when the customer base is small. For DG hunting it is better to stay with known calibres and European manufacturers like CZ, married to European stocks.
 

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Also no point in hitting 'em in the same place. You've destroyed all the nerves in that spot. Choose a slightly different point of aim, spread the trauma. We used to think a double tap in the centre of body mass, with holes touching was good back in the 70s until more experienced men with only Christian names advised us to choose a second spot for the second round, preferably chest then nose. Same on an animal.
 

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Well that's not good to hear. Are you referring to the Ruger M77 African in .375 Ruger? That's the first I've heard of stocks having problems.

I'm now wondering if this is why they discontinued the "Alaskan" model with the synthetic stock and stainless action. I wonder if they synthetic stock couldn't hold up to the recoil?...
No issues with the stock splitting on my 416 Ruger Alaskan. The Hogue stock is tough. I also have a custom 416 Remington Magnum carbine with 20" barrel built on a Zastava Mauser action properly bedded to prevent the stock from splitting.



 

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Trent,

Yes indeed I am referring to the Ruger African.

I am not in the USA now, but there are magazine articles and then a report in one magazine of a test of a problem fixed, modified one received from Ruger which was sent for a review and an article - and which promptly split on the fifth shot.

US rifle manufacturers simply ignore a problem when the customer base is small. For DG hunting it is better to stay with known calibres and European manufacturers like CZ, married to European stocks.
Well, upon googling the stock problems. It seems Ruger addressed it with another cross bolt in the stock to help support some more. All the complaints I see are from earlier production rifles.

I won't be hunting any dangerous game for a few years, just hog and maybe black bear or mountain lion. So I will have some time to play with it. I'm going to risk it though and go with the Ruger. I'll try bedding the action and see if that won't help. If it still has problems, I can try a McMillan stock.

I'm betting Ruger has addressed the issue. As Ruger is actually fairly good at fixing their problems. If I do have problems, I promise I'll let y'all know. I'll probably get the rifle sometime before next hunting season. As I have spent all of my firearm money for the summer on suppressors and black rifle garbage. :(
 

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Trent,

I like the M77s because in my view it is closer to being the American Mauser than the 1903 or the Winchester 70.

As I said I have all three models in the development, up to the Hawkeye.

It indeed was a modified as per the Ruger information cross-bolt that failed in the magazine test. I would, just before you buy it, inform Ruger of your interest, mentioning the issue and the moment you have bought it immediately inform them of the serial number - also to have it registered with them. For $10 they will send you a certificate. This is all to involve them with their product from the very beginning.

Then make sure that the wood has a visible clearance behind the tang - not ugly, just a neat little enlargement so that the tang does NOT touch the wood anywhere on the rear radius. If you can not slip an office pin all around the radius, take close-up photographs of it and send them off to Ruger and ask their opinion.

Before shooting it the first time:

Remove the barrelled action from the stock. Ensure that you have an inch/pound torque screw driver.

Make sure that the magazine box has an ever so slight, very slight loose fit between the action and the bottom trigger guard assembly. ANY pressure here will cause transmitted stresses elsewhere and distinctly influence the rifle´s accuracy. I have yet to inspect an M77 that has the needed clearance. Careful working with a fine file (it is easy to spot the interfacing surfaces) will do the job and cold blue will cover the areas where the file had worked,

Tighten the three hold down screws in the sequence and to the torque values as instructed by Ruger. This is as important as the play in the magazine box and the prevention of a stress concentration point behind the tang.

After ten shots or so again remove the barrelled action to check on all of the above, particularly for tang-wood contact.

I am very interested in your planned acquisition, and honestly, I see no need to bed the action.
 
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Compared to elk and mule deer it is a sissy animal. In fact all African big game are - they fall to single heart shots from .308W, 7x57, 30-06, .303 Brit by their hundreds every year.
That may be. But if I put two rounds through the chest of a mule deer, I would expect it to leap, or take off or fall down and stay down. I would not expect it to get up and start grazing. Anecdotal, I know. I just hope I can get more experience with African game than I have.
 

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If I may say so, guiding hunters in Colorado I have seen different views of what the chest is and where inside the chest the bullet should go.

There should be only one aiming POINT and that is the heart inside the chest. The heart is protected on the sides by the two shoulder bones, that part of the upper leg that attaches to the scapula and by the breast bone underneath - hanging just above the latter. It almost is impossible to shoot too low to miss the heart and still put the animal down. The bullet misses the heart too high or towards the rear of the shoulder causes only lung damage, and on all Africa game and elk and mule deer you may lose it in the dense vegetation.

Shot with a 30-06/7x57/.308W (bullets in the 180gr range) big game have a distinct, massive contracting spasm when the heart is hit and then bolt off to die in mid-stride between 20-60 yards away, depending on whether it had seen the hunter before the shot or not.

One zebra that surely did not see me simply ran off with no indication of being shot at all, jumped a fence and fell dead after my .308W SAKO Hammerhead 180gr demolished the heart and went out behind the opposite shoulder. A big kudu bull that was contemplating to jump a six feet fence saw me and hesitated to take a look and as I shot him 90 degrees side-on with the 30-06 and 220gr ProAmm cup and core he shuddered in that typical spasmodic fashion, still jumped the fence and fell dead on the other side. The bullet passed low through both shoulders with very little meat damage and had demolished the heart completely.

Springbok and blesbok very often leap straight up into the air and often tumble and hit the ground on their backs when a .308W 150gr bullet hits the heart when the hunter was not seen before the shot. Then again I had a springbok ewe run in excess of 200 yards after a perfect heart shot. She was carrying and refused to die.

There are typical reactions to a heart shot and then untypical. Behind or above the heart lung shots - or the biggest mistake a hunter can make: behind AND centre of body height shots - on African big game are distinctly typical - they do not die soon and in many ways give you a hard time.

Behind the shoulder and above the half way line you may never see it again if it is any dense bush. As mentioned earlier I had that with a bushbuck ewe just recently - I called the shot high and behind the shoulder; the 400gr from the .416 Rigby knocked her down in her tracks but she got up and went off into the very dense riverine forest with virtually impenetrable undergrowth. and we never found her. The same bullet, same distance knocked a waterbuck bull down fatally when the opposite shoulder was broken with a side-on semi frontal shot, exactly the stance as the one on the photo in the next post, just hit it a little higher than the ideal placement as shown.
 
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