The 6 Best Rifles for Hunting Africa

Getting ready for a safari hunt? Read on to learn about the best rifles for hunting Africa.

The subject of selecting the best rifles for hunting Africa is an extremely controversial topic that has been hotly debated for many years. Fortunately, there are a bunch of really good rifles currently manufactured in a number of different rifle cartridges suitable for most hunting safaris.

Africa is an extremely large and diverse continent and the different species of game that inhabit Africa are as varied as the continent itself. For that reason, a hunter on a plains game safari will need a different rifle from another person pursuing thick-skinned dangerous game like buffalo hippo. For that reason, "one size fits all" solutions are hard to find, but a few different rifles come pretty close.

Regardless of what and where in Africa you plan on hunting, spend plenty of time at the range prior to your safari and use quality bullets like the Barnes TSX/TTSX, Nosler Partition, and Swift A-Frame. You'll make your Professional Hunter (PH) very happy if you show up with a rifle you are very familiar with and can shoot accurately, even if it's in a lighter cartridge.

All of the choices on our list of rifles are accurate, well built, and reliable. They will hold up their end of the bargain if you do your part.

Continue reading to learn all about our choices for the best rifles for hunting Africa.

1. Ruger Hawkeye .30-06

No list of Africa hunting rifles would be complete without a rifle chambered in .30-06 Springfield. The Ruger Hawkeye is the latest incarnation of the venerable Ruger M77 and does the Ruger name proud. Not only is the rifle very accurate, but it also has a Mauser type controlled round feed system, which is a very important feature for any rifle that will be used for hunting in Africa. All Ruger rifles are also made in the United States.

While it is not suitable for hunting game like cape buffalo, the .30-06 Springfield is a great all-around cartridge for hunting plains game animals such as kudu, wildebeest, zebra and impala. If you want something with a little more power, the Hawkeye and its cousin, the Hawkeye African, are also available in several other calibers including the 7mm Remington Magnum, .338 Winchester Magnum, and .375 Ruger.

The Ruger Hawkeye isn't particularly expensive, but for hunters on a more strict budget, the Ruger American is another good choice for a plains game rifle. It doesn't have a controlled round feed system, but it's still a good value rifle and is also chambered in big game calibers like the .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield.

2. Weatherby Vanguard .300 Winchester Magnum

The Weatherby Vanguard is another great choice for a plains game hunting rifle. The Vanguard comes with the standard Weatherby guarantee of sub-MOA accuracy (less than 1? at 100 yards).

Combine that with the flat shooting characteristics of the .300 Winchester Magnum cartridge, and you've got a rifle ideally suited for taking long-range shots on African game. For instance, the Weatherby Vanguard would be a perfect choice for hunting springbok in the Karoo in South Africa or gemsbok in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia.

That being said, this rifle isn't restricted to long range hunting either and will also work extremely well on closer range shots in thicker conditions. Indeed, the .300 Win Mag can use heavier bullet weights than the .30-06 Springfield, which gives it a bit of an edge over the .30-06 class of cartridges on really big species of plains game like eland.

3. CZ 550 .375 H&H

For good reason, the CZ 550 chambered in .375 H&H Magnum is always near the top of the list of the best rifles for hunting Africa. If you could only take one rifle on a hunt and you want to hunt the widest variety of animals possible, the CZ 550 in .375 H&H Magnum is a solid choice.

The CZ 550 chambered in .375 H&H is well suited for hunting dangerous game and a hunter carrying one is adequately armed for hunting even the biggest elephant and buffalo. The rifle has a controlled round feed action, which is essential for hunting dangerous game. It also can hold six bullets (five in the magazine and one in the chamber), which is great if things go wrong when hunting Cape Buffalo or elephant.

However, it is not limited to just dangerous game hunts and is also a very popular choice for hunting plains game. When shooting solid or controlled expansion bullets, even the mighty .375 H&H will cause surprisingly little damage to the hides of smaller animals.

For this reason, the a nice rifle in .375 H&H is about as close as you'll get to the perfect rifle for hunting plains and dangerous game.

4. Ruger Guide Gun .375 Ruger

Best Rifles For Hunting Africa


Even though it is a relative newcomer to the game, the Ruger Guide Gun is a compelling choice as one of the best rifles for hunting Africa. Designed to be extremely rugged, accurate, easy to carry, and powerful, the Ruger Guide gun delivers on all counts and is starting to become more and more popular among professional hunters in Africa.

The .375 Ruger was designed specifically to mirror the performance of the .375 H&H in a standard length action on a Ruger rifle. The cartridge was introduced in 2007 and has developed a great reputation in Africa over the last few years. The flat shooting characteristics of the cartridge are great for hunting game like blesbok and black wildebeest in the highveld, but the rifle is also easy to handle and powerful enough for hunting game like cape buffalo and kudu in thick bushveld conditions.

Like the Ruger Hawkeye and CZ 550, the Ruger Guide Gun does have a controlled round feed action. However, the rifle has two strikes against it when compared to the CZ 550: it only can hold four rounds (three in the magazine and one in the chamber) and .375 Ruger ammunition is not nearly as widespread or as easy to find as .375 H&H ammunition. However, this is still a great rifle and, like the .375 H&H, is suitable for virtually every species of plains and dangerous game in Africa.

5. Mauser M98 Magnum .416 Rigby

When it was first introduced, the Mauser 1898 revolutionized the shooting world and is the rifle that virtually all modern bolt action rifles are compared to. Fortunately for hunters and shooters all over the world, Mauser recently restarted production of the legendary Model 98 and is now producing a magnum version chambered in .375 H&H and .416 Rigby.

Like the rifle it is descended from, the Mauser M98 Magnum features a controlled round feed action. Additionally, even when chambered in the large and potent .416 Rigby cartridge, the Mauser can hold five bullets (four in the magazine and one in the chamber).

This makes it a great rifle for the person searching for a hard hitting and dependable rifle to use while elephant, hippo, and/or cape buffalo hunting.

6. Winchester Model 70 .458 Winchester

Best Rifles For Hunting Africa


For those who want something even bigger and more powerful than older cartridges like the .45-70 Government or the legendary .375 H&H and .416 Rigby, the .458 Winchester is another serious rifle for dangerous game hunting.

Originally designed to duplicate the performance of traditional English double rifle cartridges like the .450 and .470 Nitro Express in a modern bolt action, the .458 Winchester developed a bad reputation in the 1950s and 1960s for being unreliable, which lead to the development of cartridges like the .458 Lott. However, the issues with the ammunition have been fixed and companies like Hornady are now producing .458 Winchester ammunition that will absolutely hammer a buffalo or an elephant.

Couple this development with the fact that FN Herstal is now producing Winchester Model 70 rifles that feature controlled round feeding and you've got a winner. As long as you can handle the stout recoil of the .458 Winchester, it is a very solid choice and will serve you well in Africa. After all, there's a reason why so many game rangers in Zimbabwe have used this rifle and cartridge for dangerous game culling and problem animal control over the years.

What do you think of our choices for the best rifles for hunting in Africa? Did we miss any?

Like what you see here? Check out John McAdams on his hunting blog