classic cartridges

John Answers a Question from 24HourCampfire

Hi Matt,

I didn’t comment on the thread because I have no experience with the Heym Express Rifle, though do have considerable experience with other Heyms–including an SR-21 in .300 Winchester Magnum I owned for more than a decade. It turned out to be the most accurate .300 Winchester I’ve ever owned–and I’ve owned quite a few, including two American custom rifles. Bought it after doing a cull deer hunt in Ireland, of all places, thanks to an American guy living in Germany who was doing Heym’s U.S. promotions at the time. (During the hunt I ended up using one Heym’s straight-pull rifles in .25-06, which was superbly accurate with the Remington 120 Core-Lokt factory loads provided for the hunt–but it belonged to the Irish guide who had the deer lease, and he was NOT interested in selling it!) Anyway, basically all I know about Heyms is they’re superbly made, and very accurate!

I do have considerable experience with the .416 Rigby, and some with the .416 Remington as well. I always wanted a .416 Rigby, due to reading HORN OF THE HUNTER too many times, and 20-some years ago got to shoot Harry Selby’s Rigby, which he eventually sold to one of his frequent safari clients, a wealthy rice farmer from Arkansas. Was among several writers invited to hunt ducks and deer on his plantation, and one of the side-treats was shooting the famous Rigby. I was impressed by two things: Its relative lightness (9-1/4) pounds, and surprisingly moderate recoil with typical 400-grain loads.

Soon afterward I bought a slightly used CZ 550 Magnum from my friend Steve Bodio, and remodeled the typical humpback stock to resemble Selby’s rifle–whereupon the CZ weighed 9-1/4 pounds, and I could hit softball-size rocks at 50 yards using only the front sight at 50 yards. (It also turned out to have a pretty nice wood once it was refinished!) I had to do a little work to make it feed perfectly, but not much. It cost a total of $1000.)

All I ever killed with it was buffalo, both Cape and water, where it worked fine–but I can’t say it hit any harder than a .375 H&H, which in my experience kills buffalo fine with 300-grain, or even lighter bullets. If I were to hunt buffalo again with a .375 would probably use 270-grain Barnes TSXs, for a couple of reasons–but sold a number of my rifles in the past couple years, as I’m not traveling to hunt nearly as much as I did for a while. Among them were the CZ .416 and my customized Whitworth .375 H&H–but I kept my CZ 550 9.3×62 as my “heavy” rifle, as have found the 9.3 with modern-pressure handloads kills just as well as the .375 H&H, but the custom-stocked CZ only weighs eight pounds with scope—and easily holds five rounds in the magazine.

I suspect the main reason so many safari hunters think the .416s hit harder than the .375 is .416s kick harder–which I have become convinced is one way many hunters judge “killing power.” But from what I have done and seen done, the .375 is plenty, especially for a visiting safari hunter.

Among the many PHs I’ve gotten to know in Africa, only one carried a .416 Rigby. I hunted with Luke Samaras Safaris in the Selous Reserve in Tanzania in 2011, and Luke has spent most of his life guiding in Kenya (before it was closed to big game hunting) and Tanzania. He really likes the .416 Rigby—partly because he worked for Rigby in England for a couple years between Kenya closing and Tanzania opening.

We had a long talk about the round after he discovered I’d brought my CZ, and he likes the .416 Rigby for several reasons. First, he REALLY likes to guide for elephants, and the .416 with 400 solids penetrates somewhat deeper than a .375 on the angling shots he sometimes has to take when backing up clients. But the .416 also shoots flatter than larger-bore rounds in the .45-caliber class, which Luke has found handy on several occasions when wounded lions needed extra shooting as they ran away at ranges up to 200 yards.

But he isn’t convinced the .416 is any better for buffalo than the .375 (or the 9.3×62) for the average sport hunter, because too many flinch from the extra recoil of a .416. This is also the opinion of the majority of the other PHs I’ve hunted with.

All that said, if you really want a .416 Rigby (or Remington) in my experience they can be considerably lighter than the typical 10+ pounder and not kick obnoxiously. Or at least mine didn’t for me, though one reason I sold mine (and my .375) is I eventually found myself not being as recoil-tolerant as I was during my 40s and 50s, when I was hunting with those cartridges a lot. But also part  is after decades of experience with different big game rounds I found less and less difference in the way they killed, as long as the bullets penetrated and expanded sufficiently.

Dunno if this helps or not, but would be happy to answer any other questions.

Good hunting,

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