If you were going to build a rifle for Africa what caliber?


Nov 4, 2004
And what action would you use? Not some exotic action but like a CRF M-70, CZ550, Montana, etc. With Cape Buff on the menu would you do .375, 416, 458, 477? I've been thinking more about building up a really nice wood stocked blued rifle to take back to Africa some day. I might be a pipe dream for awhile as I have tons of other projects but I can't decide between a .416 Rem./Ruger, a 458 Lott, or a .470 Capstick (or something else I'm overlooking). I'm doing a 375 Ruger on a SS M-70 Classic in a McMillan stock so I'd probably do something bigger. I have both a 416 Rem. and 458 Lott on Remington actions and have hunted with them both. I've killed 5 elk, a couple deer, and my cow moose with the .416 and I've shot a few bears with my 458 Lott. I have basic Hornady long magnum brass and can have it engraved for 470 Capstick so it matches the rifle if that is the route I decide to go. I do have a 416 Rem Ultra Mag reamer as well but the Ultra Mags, Rigby's, and 378/416/460 Weatherby's seem like too much of a good thing. The recoil starts to get pretty steep with heavy bullets. I do actually have a 460 Weatherby barrel and a 500 A-Square barrel that we used to shoot bears with but they are full 1.25" straight barrels to keep the weight up and recoil down. I also have 1300 423 Dakota cases which are Lapua/Rigby/Weatherby type bolt face but only 2.5" long. I use the brass in my 30-338 Norma Imp rifle. They would be really easy to neck up or down but they would require a big CZ550 or Montana PH action. The case capacity on the 423 Dakota is about half way between the long 2.80 to 2.85" belted magnums (like a 416 Rem and 458 Lott) and the Ultra Mags.
I built my DGR on a LH Ruger 77 and chambered it in the 416 Taylor. It has a Trijicon 1-4 scope with their green post reticle mounted in the Ruger rings, and have a banded NECG front sight and a removable NECG rear peep to put on in a jiffy if the scope fails or I feel the need to switch to open sights. The stock is the factory pepper laminated stock. Ammo is the 350 gr TSX at 2300 fps in QC cases. Need to work up a 350 gr solid load to match.

I also have a second rifle, also built on the same action chambered in the 376 Steyr. The only difference between the two rifles is the full length stock on this rifle, also pepper laminated (photo is on the "Other people posting pics" thread), and that it wears a Leupold Vari-X 3 1.5-5 scope. The open sight set up on this rifle is the same as the first. Ammo is 260 gr AB at 2632 fps in Hornady cases. Need to still work up 260 gr Bonded Solid load to match.
If I were going to build a rifle specifically for Cape Buffalo, I'd go straight to the .416 Rigby in a Montana 1999 action.

I'd skip the scope and go for a receiver sight. The Rigby can kick pretty hard, but compared to other cartridges in that class it's not terrible with a bit of rifle weight.

I had one in a Ruger Magnum...I really liked that gun.
A 416 cal is the way to go. Fast and flat, they hit hard.
I have a 416 Weatherby in a Mark V Euro that will one day see Africa.

Since you are building a 375 Ruger and already have a 416 Rem and 458 Lott, you, of course, dont need anything new to hunt Africa. Therefore if you just want to build something new to hunt Africa, let this one be one of the classic and original big game calibers. The 9.3's, 375 H & H, 404 Jeffery, 416 Rigby, 505 Gibbs are still popular and have been around since the early 1900's. To be honest anything larger delivers diminishing returns for the punishment delivered to the shooter. You also did not mention so I am only assuming you dont have a double and if you decide to go that direction ( which means you would buy, not build of course ) the 450/400 double is an all time and long time favorite in Africa. As you requested I will not recommend an action, but since others have mentioned scoping or not, I would not.

Best Regards


I agree the 416's are good for faster and flatter but I don't think they penetrate as well as a .458 Lott or .470 Capstick. My buddy had a .470 Capstick with a 1 in 10 twist that would blow holes in 1/2" AR500 plate at 100yds. We shot that same plate with all kinds of calibers and none of the others would do that. The 416's are much better for shooting longer distances though. I shot a deer at 450yds and a elk at 350yds with my 416 Rem. Cutting Edge makes a copper 340gr .416 bullet with a crazy high BC (.780) that would allow a large 416 to compete well with a 338 Edge/Lapua for long range shooting. They shot them up in the 2900's with a long barreled 40 Hart (aka 416 RUM). I do have enough 375RUM brass to last awhile if I did a 416RUM and some of it is already neck up to 416.

A 416 Rigby downloaded is basically a 416 Rem and stoked up it's nearly a 416 Weatherby so it's a good choice but it does require a larger action. That is not the end of the world though.

I did ask what action. I'm not really interested in a super expensive exotic action like a Granite but a Montana PH or CZ 550 I can handle. There is no NEED anywhere in rifles for me. I've built so many different calibers it's kind of ridiculous but it's what I like to do. I don't have a double rifle and don't think I have the patience to build one. I know I don't want to spend 15+k on one either. If I do all the work on a bolt gun I can build a really nice rifle for under 2k and use the other 13k to go hunting :mrgreen: . I would put open sights on it but it might also have a scope in detachable rings.

I do also have a 375-358STA (375 H&H Improved) and have built a couple 375 H&H's over the years. We actually tried shooting rockchucks with them but the bullets were too tough to blow up like we were hoping for with the 200 and 220gr bullets. I could make the 375 Ruger into another 375 H&H Improved but they need a really long mag box to work well with heavy bullets unless your OK with seating them really deep. The 375 Ruger has head stamped brass and is a good deal shorter so I chose it. I just sold a 375 RUM I had not too long ago. It wasn't much faster than my 375-358STA and it used 10grs more powder.

The Brux barrel is ordered for the 375 and I should have it in the next couple weeks.
IdahoCTD":1vdnknxk said:

I agree the 416's are good for faster and flatter but I don't think they penetrate as well as a .458 Lott or .470 Capstick. .

The fellow I bought my .416 from (and later sold it back to) shot 2 big brown bears with it.

A 9.5'er nose to tail and a 10'er tail to nose....clean through both and wrecked the whole works in between. That's a lot of bear to shoot through...especially a Texas Heart shot.
Would this help?

Not sure what cartridges the the bolt face will work for though.

I would build a 404Jeffry or a 416Ruger on a large Mauser type action. Maybe a 416x33Nosler?
I think I'd stay away from wildcats though. I'd want the brass stamp to match the chambering just for customs issues. I'd like a 400gr bullet doing about 2400fps.


I'll be going back to Africa sooner than I thought. I was just gifted seven days for two people at the lodge I hunted in 2010. All I need is airfare and trophy fees. (y)
That is a Gibbs action (.632 bolt face) Scott. I don't need anything that big but it would be fun to build one and let your friends shoot it. I do have a massive 50BMG barrel in my gun room and I have another .50 caliber barrel but I'm not sure if it's a .500" pistol barrel or a .505 Gibbs barrel.

You don't usually have a problem with wildcats as long as part of the description from the case head is marked on the barrel. It is easier if it matches exactly though. That's why I'd engrave the case heads on the Hornady basic brass if I did a 470 Capstick.

That hunt sounds fun Scott. What are you going to be hunting for? I'm sure I won't go back for 5+ years unless something like your deal falls in my lap. I have several AK trips planned for the next couple years and I'd like to do a DIY trip to New Zealand after AK. Then I should have enough points to draw a few hunts in WY and maybe UT. It might take me that long to figure out how to checker the stock myself while not screwing up a expensive wood blank. :lol:
Always interesting reading these "If Africa" threads! (y)

Two of my rifles have been to Africa without me. Prior owners. The .375 Number One took Cape Buff and Gemsbok at least, probably more animals, but I know about those two. The .375 Win Model 70 is credited with 22 game animals on its first trip to Africa! I don't know which species.

With cape buff on the menu, I'd grab the Model 70 in a half a heartbeat. If I didn't already have it, I'd have it built:

If it was just plains game, I'd be real tempted to go with my .30-06, loaded up with 180 or 200 gr Nosler Partitions. That rifle and I really bonded in 2016!

But - that's just based on what I've got, and what I've read or heard about. Africa is still on my "want" list.


Sir: Perhaps I misread or misinterpreted your original post, but since you do not like Granite mountain, I elected to pass on the action suggestion. My mum does like Granite mountain, Kilimanjaro's improved Sako 85, Holland and Holland, CZ, Mayfair Engineering or basically an improved or even a new copy of a Mauser 98. My father is a die hard pre 64 model 70 fan. They have also used Montana with no complaints and if you like them, their actions are well built, cost less than some of the others mentioned, and you can receive one of their actions sooner than some of the others mentioned. My caliber suggestions were based on "the old classics" but any and all of the calibers you mentioned will work well on Africa's dangerous game. Yes, the double's are a little more expensive, but they have so much old world charm, at least to me. To me a double rifle, screams "Africa", but granted you can build and /or buy bolt much cheaper, that is for sure. Best of luck in whatever you choose, enjoy the "build" and best of luck when you hunt Africa with the rifle you build sir

Best Regards

If me (and have never done it, so the following is nothing but armchair quarterbacking....), I would go with two rifles.....

For plains game a 9.3x64 based on a Heym action with a turkish walnut stock loaded with 250 grain AB's. This cartridge is able to out perform (on paper at least) the .375 H&H and will be able to take any plains game at whatever distance I choose. At least, that is my understanding............. And I would also have some 286 grain NF's or PT's loaded up for just in case I wanted to defend myself from something mean.

For Dangerous game I would go with a 404 Jeffery on a CRF M70 magnum action. I've been told by a very good source that the mauser 98 magnum action is the cat's meow for this cartridge. My thoughts are that the M70 is also a good choice especially if cost is a concern.

Nothing against the larger bores but, the 404 jeffery with modern powders & bullets has become a very good cartridge. Like the 9.3's it also has a long track record of excellent performance and with improved velocities/better penetrating bullets it would be an excellent D.G. round. It should be able to push a 400 grain bullet at 2300 fps without high pressures. Also a fan of nice lumber and a high gloss finish for this rifle.

Hope to someday be able to offer more than an educated guess on this combination. :lol:

I didn't say I didn't like the Granite Mountain action. I just think it is more than I would spend for a action on a rifle that would see very limited use. I liked hunting Africa and really want to go back for Buff but the reality is it's expensive (I do have 4 and 5 year old boys to pay for) and I'm more of a DIY guy. So having a PH or guide isn't overly appealing to me. Some things you can't do without a guide/PH, unfortunately. I can get a Montana PH for a little over 1000 and a CZ550 for 800. A Winchester is even cheaper. The Winchester would be limited to belted magnums, 404 Jeffery, or the RUM cases. The others can handle the bigger cases like the 416 Rigby, 423 Dakota, 505 Gibbs, etc.

I dig the 404 Jeffrey Nathan. Cool cartridge with a lot of Bullet. Kind of a tweener between the 416 and 458's. I'd imagine a super barrel, twisted up well would be really cool as well. No real issue getting the right brass either.

I really like your 470 Capstick idea as well. That is one read about as a kid. Those would be my picks, either on a Model 70... Plus you'd have some money leftover for a nice wood blank and making the rifle perfect.