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.

Of course, times move on. For my next African hunt, I’m thinking about going with .45-70. If it’s good enough for Vince Lupo, it’s good enough for me. Or a lever action .500.

Decisions, decisions. Whaddaya reckon?

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15 Responses to Question of the Day: What Rifle Would You Use to Kill A Rhino?

  1. I wouldn’t shoot a rhino. But I think a .300 Weatherby Magnum wouldn’t be too much gun to use on a rhino poacher.

  2. ‘Karamojo’ Bell killed 1,011 elephants with his 7×57 Mausers, and fired slightly over 1,500 rounds while doing it.

    I am not ‘Karamojo’ Bell. If I have to shoot anything living that weighs more than my car, I’ll take a .458, if you don’t mind.

  3. All of my S&W 500 hand cannon’s (700 grain T-REX THUMPERS from ranger rick) are capable of taking down “ANY WALKING MAMMEL” I guess that would leave out a whale, but you shouldn’t be shooting at water anyway.

    • You guys just make me laugh. You say, “All of my S&W 500” like you have a basketful of them. The Internet. So full of bullshit it just stinks worse and worse more each day. “All of my” yeah, right.

  4. Whoa, really close to some political, violent rhetoric in the title there if a certifiable nutjob taught spelling by the public school system reads it.

  5. I would not shoot a rhino either. They are regal beasts and hunting just for sport is a turn off for me. If I had to take an animal like that I would want to do it from a distance, with a sniper rifle in 338 Lapua or higher. Shot placement is ALWAYS #1.

  6. “…. the .303 man-made rifles…”

    Man-made? As opposed to the naturally occurring ones you can prize out of a rock formation? Or harvest from a “gun tree?”

    • You city folk know nuthin’ about growin rifels. They have to be handplanted from a strip o’ handcut walnut stock in soil rich wit iern. Then you gotta make sure they get plenty of sunshine, water, and Hoppe’s #9. For the best results you gotta add chromium just before the barrel is done growin’, and they have to restaked evry week to makem grow straight. It’s backbreakin labor, but it’s worth it when you see the hands bringin in those raw rifels fur finishin…

  7. Generally speaking, .375 (e.g., .375 H&H Mag) is the minimum legal caliber for large dangerous game in most African countries. I’d have no problem using .375 H&H on a rhino, but would probably go with a .416 Rigby, or step up to a .458 Lott (basically a .375 H&H Mag case expanded to .458). Any of these calibers with a good premium solid bullet – Barnes Triple Shock, Trophy Bonded Bearclaw, etc – would be good rhino (or cape buffalo, elephant, or other large dangerous game) medicine.

    Most importantly, it’s all about accurate shot placement in the field under stress – like being charged at close range – which only comes from practice, practice, and more practice.

  8. In answer to the question of what rifle I would use to kill a rhino…… I would use the rifle of my trusty man servant, who would stay behind to use said rifle, as he would need to aim and fire it against the angry rhino who has begun his charge, at about the same time I was running for the Range Rover……

  9. If me, I would use my 1895 takedown in a 405 in the exact configuration that the greatest american of all time took one with. Mine was made in 1919 (years after his safari but exact same configuration) and I’m restoring it along with a complete engraving coverage; a rhino is alredy on the receiver, most scroll done; but still have to put cats on each side of the lever; he called it his medicine for them big cats. Me and 2 others took a model 70 mag. action, douglas barell, custom thumbhole stock, swarvoski scope and chambered it for a 416 rigby and the customer dropped that monster almost instantly. It was taken legally at a preserve to help maintain it; the rhino went rouge and was killing others and a danger and the money that man paid which was more than most make in a year to take that magnificent creature gave the preservation balance; future funding, food to local tribes; and donated time while there to make the place better. To all you nuts who have a problem with hunters I know for a fact most of us do more for nature and preservation than any word out of your mouth has ever done; you are ranked lower to me than a poacher because you preach and criticize and do nothing; you donate money so you think you faught but in reality your compensating for your weakness to actually do real hard demanding work and if you left your cities, suburbs along with your peta ideology and actually spent time in nature you might see things a little different. Conservation is the key to maintain and any good hunter gives back more than he takes; those good ones are responsible for preserving the future and balance, not someone who preachs but to afraid and lazy to take action and actually work; far more hot air than the bad hunter in this world.

  10. I will second the Winchester 1895 with the same reverence above to Theodore Roosevelt. While the .500/.450 H&H Double Rifle was also a beautiful piece I think I would prefer the quicker follow up shots.

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