Some of you may recall, I went to the Safari Club International convention back in February. I was looking for a good rifle to take on safari. I have been wanting a dedicated rifle for these trips that can take any game. I went back to Africa again in April/May and had a fantastic time with Superior Safaris and have become hooked on hunting buffalo. Not just any buffalo…South African Cape Buffalo. Possibly the meanest critter on earth . . .
Robert was most generous in lending me his Bighorn Armory lever gun in .500 S&W. a very adequate caliber for taking game. It performed well on plains game like my Nyala.
My search for a rifle began years earlier when settling on a caliber. Part of my decision, admittedly, is the lore of big game hunters that have preceded me and what they used. I have also spoken with fellow hunters about what they’ve used and their reasons for their caliber choices.
My current big game rifle is a beautiful Sako bolt gun in .375 H&H and it’s fared well for me. But it’s considered a medium bore. I like big bores. So my dream gun had to be the classic African cartridge. The .470 Nitro Express. The usual load is a 500 grain pill flying at 2,150 fps.
After settling on caliber, I had to decide on the type of rifle. Single shot, bolt gun, lever gun, or double. Again, my heart yearned for the classic…a side-by-side double rifle. I looked at Krieghoff, Blaser, Heym, Merkel, Searcy, et al. I would have loved a Searcy because it’s made in the US of A, but they’re somewhat difficult to come by, and even used, command a hefty price.
So, after scrimping and saving, after neglecting and ignoring other firearms-related purchases (well, not all of them, I couldn’t pass up the Colt Python that came my way. Nor a S&W 17) I finally took delivery of my dream rifle. A Sabatti double in .470 NE.
As a bonus with this particular “Safari” model, it comes with a second set of barrels in 20 gauge for hunting the many African bird species. The the reason that’s so great: you only have to do the paperwork on one gun to hunt both fowl and big game.
This particular model has double triggers. The front trigger fires the right barrel, and the rear fires the left. It also has automatic select ejectors. If you only fire one barrel and break it open, it chucks only the spent brass about five feet aft. A good friend had lamented several times that he wished he’d have paid for ejectors instead of extractors, so I had that mental note in my selection process.
The engraving and wood on this rifle is stunning.
Fit and finish is rock solid. Lock-up sounds better than my safe door closing — a pleasingly solid “thunk”. As an accurate shooting platform, the factory goes through a fairly lengthy process in regulating the barrels so that the left and right shoot as close together as possible, with a point of impact of 50 meters.
This is an exhaustive process and I would seriously not want to be the guy who shoots these rifles during the tuning process. To understand it, I recommend reading Shooting the British Double Rifle by Graeme Wright. Here’s the final result from my gun.
And now, the sad part of this story.
That used to be a tendon in my left shoulder. While the surgery/repair at the beginning of the month went well, I won’t be shooting any long guns for, well, months. Mostly because I can’t support the forend with my left arm. And because I don’t want to go through the recovery process again. That was pain with a capital ‘P.’
So my new Sabatti will get a thorough cleaning and occupy a special place in my man cave. It just won’t launch any lead for a while.
I may let friends shoot it in the meantime so it doesn’t get lazy and out of shape.
In the mean time, I’m dreaming of my next trip back to Africa with this beauty. While one hunt may be over, others are just beginning.