It’s been a high-capacity kinda day here at TTAG. The MSM’s all abuzz with NY Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s bill to rid the United States of any handgun or rifle magazine that holds more than 10 cartridges, and populate prisons with anyone who doesn’t surrender same to federal authorities. Frankly, my mind’s been elsewhere. I’ve been thinking about lower capacity firearms. Rifles. Rhino-killing rifles. It started with this from our good friends at buanews.gov.za: “Spokesperson for the provincial South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) joint tactical head office, Captain Albert Mathonsi, said that a .458 rifle recovered following a shoot-out with a group of suspected rhino poachers in the Kruger at the weekend was used as a defence weapon during the war between Frelimo and Renamo.” .458? I hate poachers but I love .458! As does gunsandammo.com . . .
A few years after the end of World War II, Africa’s professional hunters faced a growing dilemma–a shortage of ammo for their fine British double rifles. Most ammo on hand was from prewar stock, and Kynoch, the sole source of ammo for the big stoppers, had decided to stop production for most of them.
Just when the shortage was becoming critical, Winchester came to the rescue in 1956 with the revolutionary .458 Winchester Magnum–an honest-to-God elephant caliber. It was chambered in the Winchester Model 70 African bolt action, and the combination became an instant success among African professionals and their clients alike. Today it’s a reasonable certainty that more African professional hunters use a .458 than any other cartridge.
The introduction of the .458 was a watershed event that changed the face of American sporting arms forever, and it had almost nothing to do with the cartridge’s demonstrated effectiveness on African game.
The impact of the .458 was that it sired a new class of American magnum cartridges suitable for .30-06-length actions, including the .338 and .264 Winchester Magnums, and their success spawned the 7mm Remington Magnum. The high muzzle velocity offered by these new cartridges caught the imagination of American shooters, and “magnumania” was born.
So the poachers got the .458 the same way Los Zetas get HK fully-automatic weapons: the military.
These guns were supposed to have been surrendered to the government after the war ended, but some people decided to keep them. Some former soldiers are believed to be selling the weapons to make a quick buck,” said Mathonsi.
He said while many poachers were Mozambican, the .303 man-made rifles from Swaziland were also commonly used for rhino poaching in South Africa. “Guns are circulated on a very fast pace as there is huge demand for the weapons,” he said.
.303? That would be the British round produced from 1888 to 1950, replaced by today’s 7.62x51mm NATO. That bad bullet would stop an elephant. Has done. Many times.
Decisions, decisions. Whaddaya reckon?