Recommended calibers

Recommended caliber for hunting in Africa
The best caliber for hunting big game in Africa, can and will be debated for many years to come. In the end, the decision for which hunting rifle and caliber to bring to Africa, lies with you. This decision will many times be a no-brainer, but for some who have never travelled out-of-country for a hunt, it can become a major decision.

After a number of years in the African safari hunting business, we have learned that a possible definition of the best caliber for hunting big game in Africa is rather simple: Bring the rifle caliber or calibers (you are allowed to bring two rifles) which you feel most confident shooting with. Keep in mind though that the law stipulates minimum bullet weights for the different species, which in return will influence which calibers is useful. These regulations regarding minimum bullets weights can be studied HERE (please study these, before deciding which rifle(s) to bring).

The most popular calibers brought along on any South African hunting safari trip range from a 270, 7mm-08, 7 mm Rem Mag, 308 Winchester, 30-06, 300 Win Mag and .338 Win Mag.
If we were to recommend one or two calibers, it must only be seen as a recommendation, and not as a rule. With a 30-06 and a 375 H/H, you will be able to hunt ANYTHING that walks in the African bush, and so it would be a good choice. 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. Several animals have been wounded and lost due to hunters not adhering to this advice. We recommend the following bullets for most game: Nosler Partition, Barnes TTSX and TSX, Swift A-Frame and Woodleigh. This does not mean there are not several other manufacturers of premium grade bullets. The manufacturers mentioned are the ones we have first-hand experience with, as the best ammunition for hunting in Africa.

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