What to know about the best ammo for hunting thick-skinned, dangerous game
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Bullet selection is always an important consideration when preparing for a hunt. However, choosing the appropriate bullet literally becomes a matter of life and death if you’ll be hunting dangerous game like cape buffalo.
The good news is that most of the big ammunition companies now offer several different lines of ammunition that are specifically designed for hunting thick-skinned, dangerous game. In particular, Nosler manufactures its Safari Ammunition line specifically for those hunters.
Before going into detail on Nosler Safari Ammunition, I’d like to provide a little bit of background on the sort of bullet performance hunters pursuing thick-skinned dangerous game (cape buffalo in particular) really need while they’re afield.
You’ve probably heard it before, but it bears repeating here: cape buffalo are really, really big and really, really tough. As a point of reference, a big bull can weigh twice as much as a mature bull elk.
Buffalo have thick hides, dense muscles, and heavy bones that are known for defeating lightly constructed bullets. Since buffalo are often encountered at close range and in thick cover, the margin for error is very small and more than a few hunters have lost their lives (or spent time in a hospital) as a result of poor bullet performance.
With this in mind, heavy for caliber, controlled-expansion bullets are essential for hunting buffalo. In short, you want a bullet that will reliably expand to a certain point in order to cause lots of tissue damage, but not expand so much that it won’t reliably penetrate deep enough to reach the vitals.
At the same time, most professional hunters recommend chambering a good quality expanding bullet for the first shot and loading non-expanding bullets for all subsequent shots. This is because the first shot will most likely be taken at a broadside or slightly quartering angle.
Since those shooting angles minimize the distance a bullet must penetrate to reach the vitals, expanding bullets are better choices because they make a larger wound channel, cause more damage to the internal organs of the buffalo, and are less likely to exit and unintentionally wound another buffalo in the herd than non-expanding bullets.
However, follow-up shots will most likely be taken at less desirable angles and expanding bullets do not typically penetrate quite as well as non-expanding bullets of the same caliber and weight. For this reason, non-expanding bullets are better choices for follow-up shots because they can be relied upon for the necessary amount of penetration to reach the vitals from non-ideal angles.
So, most dangerous game hunters need a mix of good quality controlled-expansion bullets and non-expanding solids that shoot to the same point of impact. Fortunately, product lines like Barnes’ VOR-TX Safari, Federal Premium’s Safari Cape-Shok, Hornady’s Dangerous Game Series, and Nosler’s Safari Ammunition are all designed to provide that sort of performance.
Nosler worked in partnership with Norma Precision to manufacture its Safari Ammunition. This ammo pairs their legendary Partition Bullet with Nosler Safari Solid bullets of the same weight that also shoot to the same point of impact.
On one hand, the Partition delivers rapid and violent, yet controlled expansion that is deadly on all manner of game from impala and whitetail deer all the way up to moose and eland. It’s also a good choice for initial shots on buffalo.
On the other hand, the Nosler Solid bullets are tough, flat-nosed, homogenous projectiles that can be relied upon for deep, straight-line penetration through thick muscles and heavy bones of even the largest creatures. These projectiles are wonderful choices for follow-up shots on buffalo as well as for shots on smaller game like steenbok and duiker to minimize damage to the hides.
Nosler Safari Grade ammunition is currently available in the following cartridges and bullet weights: 9.3x62mm Mauser (286gr), .375 Flanged (300gr), .375 H&H Magnum (300gr), .404 Jeffery (400gr), .416 Remington Magnum (400gr), .416 Rigby (400gr), .450 Rigby (500gr), .458 Winchester Magnum (500gr), .458 Lott (500gr), .470 Nitro Express (500gr), .500 Nitro Express (570gr), 500/416 Nitro Express (400gr), 500 Jeffery (570gr), and .505 Gibbs (525gr).
So, if you're looking for the right ammo to take on safari with dangerous game on the menu, then you should really consider using Nosler Safari Ammunition. This is some versatile rifle ammunition that you can depend on when the chips are down.
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