Recommended calibers

Recommended caliber for hunting in Africa
The best caliber for hunting big game in Africa, is like talking about religion, and can be debated forever. In the end, the decision on which hunting rifle and caliber to bring to South Africa, lies entirely with you. This decision will often be straight forward for most hunters, but for those who have never hunted in Africa before, it can become a major one to take.

In our opinion, the definition of the best caliber for hunting in Africa is rather simple: Bring the rifle caliber or calibers which you feel most confident shooting with, and from which you can handle the recoil. Please bear in mind though, that the law stipulates minimum bullet weights for the different species, which will in some cases, influence which calibers you should bring to meet these regulations. The regulations regarding minimum bullets weights can be studied HERE (please study these, before deciding which rifle(s) to bring).

The most popular calibers used in South Africa is the 270, 7 mm Rem Mag, 308 Winchester, 30-06, 300 Win Mag and .375 H/H. You are allowed to bring 2 different rifles. If we were to recommend two rifle calibers, we would say the .308 Winchester, 30-06 or 7mm Rem Mag (as the one rifle), and the a 375 H/H (as the second). With this combination, you will be able to hunt ANY of the species in South Africa, and these are well known calibers, for which its also easy to get ammunition for. If you are not hunting buffalo and bigger game, you will not need the 375 H/H, unless preferred. It all depends on which animals you want to hunt though (read more below). 


Recommended caliber for hunting Plains Game
Pete Safaris consider the 30-06 as the best all-round caliber for hunting plains game in Africa. The 30-06 has a proven track record, ammunition is readily available in South Africa, and recoil is at a minimum (especially with a silencer, which we also recommend hunters to bring). This does not mean we only believe in the 30-06 – Other calibers like the 270, 308, 7 mm Rem Mag, 7 mm-08, 300 Win Mag is also excellent calibers, which fulfill the legal requirements for most game. 

PLEASE NOTE: In spite of the bullet weight requirements which may dictate the use of a certain calibers, according to the Eastern Cape Act, it is NOT allowed to shoot the following plains game species with a caliber of 6.5 mm or less: Kudu, Wildebeest, Oryx, Red Hartebeest, Eland and species of a similar size. 


Recommended caliber for hunting Big & Dangerous Game
Only use premium grade ammunition on any dangerous game hunting for obvious reasons! The best caliber for hunting african dangerous game (elephant, cape buffalo, lion, leopard, rhino and hippo) would in addition to the legal requirements, be the largest caliber you feel comfortable shooting accurately with between 25 and 70 meters!

The best african safari hunting rifle calibers for hunting buffalo, elephant, rhino and hippo starts at .375 H/H. All though the 375 H/H is well suited for all dangerous game, it is considered as the minimum caliber (in some african countries also by law). Other big bore rifle which we would recommend and fulfills the legal requirements is:

  • 416 Rem Mag
  • 416 Rigby
  • 458 WM
  • 458 Lott
  • 470 NE
  • Any calibers in between these or larger if you can handle the recoil


Ammunition for african game
One aspect that we do have our own requirements for, is the ammunition you bring along. Please only use the best premium grade ammunition that your rifle shoots accurately with. We recommend the following bullets for most game: Nosler Partition, Barnes TTSX and TSX, Swift A-Frame and Woodleigh. There are of course many other premium bullets to select from, but these have proven them self to do the job with the outmost satisfaction to us and our clients through the years. 

Ammunition for dangerous game
Hunting leopard and lion, we recommend using soft nose ammunition as Woodleigh, Norma Oryx or Nosler Partition.

Thick-skinned animals (categorized as: elephant, buffalo, rhino and hippo) is by South African law required to be hunted with Full Metal Jackets or Monolithic bullets. For buffalo, we recommend using Barnes TSX – This bullet is a premium monolithic and expanding bullet (highly recommended). For elephants, rhinos and hippos, we have seen very good results with Hornady and Barnes solids.

In any case when planning a dangerous game hunt, please consult us before bringing your own firearms.




Muzzle brakes / silencers
We encourage hunters to bring silencers for your rifle(s). We kindly ask hunters (if possible) not to bring any muzzle brakes though. Muzzle brakes are devastating to the PH´s hearing and forces them to wear heavy ear protection, which in return impairs their abilities to hear the surroundings.


General rules to consider when bringing your own firearms

  • You are not allowed to import more than 4 firearms (max. 2 pr. case)
  • No more than 1 firearm of the same caliber is allowed
  • You are not allowed to import more than 200 bullets in total
  • Ammunition must not weigh more than 5 kg. (13 pounds) in total per. person
  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • You need to complete and bring a Temporary Import Permit Form (SAPS 520)
  • You must bring an official Invitation To Hunt (we will provide you with this)
  • You must bring proof of ownership of firearms and customs declaration form

Please study our detailed guide on how to bring your own firearms by clicking HERE