Course Outline

Plains Game Cartridges

A centerfire .22, such as the .223 Remington, is ideal for the smallest antelope and smaller predators. Lighter cartridges, such as the .243 and .25-06 (both very popular among local hunters in southern Africa), are excellent for medium-sized antelope up to impala and blesbok. However, the limitation on how many firearms can be brought suggests that if one rifle is either highly specialized or limited in capability, then the second rifle must be extremely versatile.

  • Minimum choices. Most American favorites are African favorites as well. Sound and adequate minimums for most plains game include 6.5mm, .270, and 7mm cartridges. With good shot placement, which is always the essential key, these cartridges will be adequate for game up to kudu and zebra.
  • All-around excellence. The most versatile choice is probably America’s favorite, the .30-caliber. The .308 Winchester, .30-06, and the several .300 magnums are fully adequate for almost all plains game.
  • Larger cartridges? For plains game hunting, there is very limited need for cartridges larger in caliber and more powerful than a versatile .30-caliber. There are, however, two situations where a larger cartridge might be considered.
    • If you decide that one rifle must be a very light cartridge, perhaps because it’s a favorite or you intend to do some serious predator calling, then the second rifle should probably be considerably more powerful. A .30-caliber is always a good choice, but a faster 8mm or .33-caliber cartridge might be considered.
    • If you intend to hunt eland, Africa’s largest antelope, then a .30-caliber becomes an extremely minimalist choice. With that animal in mind, you might consider a fast .33 (such as the .338 Winchester Magnum). The traditional favorite for eland is the .375 H&H, not at all a silly choice for an animal weighing up to 2,000 pounds. Although the .375 is extremely versatile, its power level is not needed for any other plains game.
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