Tag Archives: hunting

Guns of SCI Member Terry B.

kuduSCI Member Terry B. has been using and testing many different guns and loads since 1961. According to Terry:

“I’ve been to Africa 24 times, and this year took my 500th animal including my 107th blue wildebeest, and my 5th bush pig in daylight.

“In North America, from 1961 to 1983, I hunted all over Alaska for moose and caribou. I hunted elk in Montana, Colorado, and Idaho, and sheep and goats in B.C. In those years, I pretty well used a simple push-feed Model 70 Winchester chambered for either .30-’06 or .270 Win. with a 2×7 Redfield Widefield scope. In those calibers, I reloaded almost everything with either 180-grain Nosler Partition (the old ones) or 180-grain Hornady spire point bullets.

“In 1985, I took my first trip to Zimbabwe and brought a fiberglass-stocked FN Mauser chambered in .375 H&H using 300-grain Hornady roundnose bullets. The rifle was topped with a Burris scope. I also took a .308 Winchester using 165-grain Speer soft-points. That rifle had a Tasco 3×9 scope and yes, I still have the Tasco, but it is on my .22 for plinking.

“In 1986, I took a 7.65 Argentine Mauser firing 174-grain Hornady bullets as well as some 180-grain Sierra soft-points. The other rifle I took was my “then-new” pre-’64 Model 70 Winchester topped with a 2-7x Refield scope chambered for .338 Winchester Magnum. I used 250-grain Hornady roundnose bullets.blue wildebeest

“Not long after that, I pretty well switched to 3-9x Var II Leupold scopes and still have most all of them in service. I’ve sent them all in to have click adjustments installed rather than the rubber friction.

“In 1989, I took two Cape buffalo using my .375 H&H and old Jack Carter 300-grain Trophy M Bonded Bear Claw bullets.  I also took my .338 Winchester Magnum along for plains game and used 250-grain Bear Claws.

“About 1991-92 I got my first 7mm Remington Magnum and found that it loved only 175-grain flat-base bullets. For the next several trips, I used it almost exclusively with 175-grain Speer Mag Tip, Hornady Spire Point, or Bear Claw bullets to kill everything from impala to eland.

“In 1995, I got my first .300 Winchester Magnum–a Remington BDL stainless.  I made many trips to South Africa’s Eastern Cape with it, and used various 180-grain bullets.  About that time I also started using 180-grain Swift A-Frame bullets.

“In 2000, I used Barnes 200-grain X-Bullets in the .338 Winchester Magnum for the first time, and that was the beginning of a long and loving infatuation with Barnes bullets.  One of the first gemsbok I killed with it really impressed my PH because he could see the bullet hit the dirt after going through the animal. Since then, I have almost always used Barnes X, TSX or TTSX bullets in my .338, and now also the new Vor TX bullets. I always take along another rifle for smaller plains game.

bush pig“I still use those Var II 3-9x Leupold scopes and even own one Var III 2.5-8x scope, and have put a Hogue over-molded stock on my Remington Model 700.

“When I went to Namibia in 2012, I took an old push-feed Winchester Model 70 in .300 H&H with a Leupold 6 x 42 scope on it shooting Barnes 168-grain TTSX bullets for longer range.”

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Favortie Guns of SCI Member Jeff B.

Recently, our Director of Publications, Steve Comus, asked SCI members what makes, models and calibers of rifles they use on hunts these days. Jeffery B. was among the first to reply.

Jeff’s rifles include a .470 Nitro Express double, a custom bolt-action in .458 Lott, a .375 H&H, .338 Win Mag, .300 Win. Mag., a .30-’06, a 7mm-08, and six 7mm Rem. Mags.

“The vast majority of my rifles are 7mm Rem. Mags.,” Jeff writes. “Most of my rifles are Sako L61R actions with John Krieger barrels…I do not own a rifle that will not shoot sub MOA. I shoot most of my big game with Nosler or Swift A-Frame bullets.”

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Jeff has an impressive hunting background and has been an SCI member since 1983 including serving 15 years on the Board of the Wisconsin Chapter, four years there as Treasurer, two as Vice President and two as President. He has 91 international hunting trips–44 to Africa–and has collected 624 head of big game from five continents. Among those head, Jeff has taken seven buffalo, one lion and one 9-foot inland grizzly bear using 300-grain Swift A-Frame bullets in his .375 H&H. His three most recent buffalo needed only one shot each.

“I’m not a fan of monolithic bullets because I find them too long for caliber and not as good as lead-core or tungsten,” writes Jeff. “The atomic weight for the material is much less than lead or tungsten and penetration in a direct line is not as good. They work, but there are better.”

We’d like to know what rifles, ammo, optics, etc. other SCI members are using that are working well for them on hunts. If you’re an SCI member and have information you’d like to share, send the info along with photos and your SCI Member number to scomus@safariclub.org or write to:

Steve Comus, Director of Publications
Safari Club International
4800 West Gates Pass Road
Tucson, AZ 85745

If you’re not a member, take a minute to sign up.

In Praise Of Rook Rifles

By Terry Wieland

One should never underestimate the capacity of the Victorians to take the commonplace and elevate it to the level of fine–or at least functional–art.

By an extraordinary coincidence, the emergence of modern guns and rifles in England occurred just as the phenomenon of Art Nouveau was sweeping Europe and the world. Gunmakers such as Boss and Woodward fashioned their products in accordance with Art Nouveau principles, and Holland & Holland’s famous engraving pattern for the Royal, adopted in the late 1890s, is one of the finest examples of the type to be found anywhere. Art Nouveau, for those who missed it, was a movement that advocated “art as a way of life,” and incorporated it in all manner of objects, from architecture to furniture to jewelry cases.

As a formal movement, it dates from 1895, but the trends in that direction existed for some decades before. Once it was formally recognized, however, gunmakers clutched the idea to their collective bosoms. Soon, every gunmaker sported a distinctive engraving pattern, and began sculpting locks and frames to Art Nouveau principles.

Westley Richards Sherwood Rook rifle
The Westley Richards “Sherwood,” built on a special Martini action with hand-detachable barrel and lock, chambered for the .300 Sherwood.

This approach trickled down to include not only “best” matched pairs intended for dukes and marquesses, but even the lowly rook rifle. This was a small game number that existed in England in one form or another since muzzleloading days, but it really took off with the development of the self-contained cartridge. Small-caliber muzzleloaders, known as “pea rifles” from the size of their bores and lead slugs, were used to shoot small game of all descriptions, from edible rabbits to predatory hawks. With the coming of breech loaders in the 1860s, cartridges were developed for this purpose, ranging in caliber from .220 to .360, and firing a 40- to 145-grain bullet at the usual blackpowder velocities of 1,200 to 1,500 feet per second.

Kynoch .300 Rook cartridges and box
Kynoch, who loaded ammunition for Westley Richards, called the Sherwood the .300 Extra Long, to differentiate it from its parent, the .300 Rook. It launched a 140-grain bullet at 1,400 feet per second, and was extremely accurate.

Generally, such game was shot at 50 to 75 yards, and rarely more than 100. They wanted bullets that would neither destroy edible meat nor carry too far and endanger bystanders. Such rifles came to be formally known as “rook and rabbit” rifles. Holland & Holland made a particular specialty of such rifles, reportedly selling some 5,000 of them in the late 1800s. In Birmingham, Westley Richards–always a rifle specialist–and W.W. Greener were noted for their rook rifles.

Various actions were used, but the miniature Martini, a scaled-down version of the military Martini-Henry, was a favorite for its strength and its accuracy. In 1900, Greener introduced a cartridge called the .300 Rook, and a year later, Westley Richards came out with a lengthened version which they named the .300 Sherwood. Kynoch, who loaded ammunition for it, called it the .300 Extra Long. Westley Richards also developed a special rifle called the Sherwood built on the Martini action. It was modified into a takedown with an easily removable barrel and a detachable lock mechanism held in place by a thumb screw.

The .300 Sherwood launched a 140-grain bullet at 1,400 fps, a considerable gain over the .300 Rook (80 grains, 1,200 fps).

In 1906, Henry Sharp, in his book Modern Sporting Gunnery, extolled the virtues of the .300 Sherwood as a big game killer, quoting hunters in British Columbia who used it to kill bears, bighorn sheep, and one verified caribou at 220 yards. Not something I would do, but there you have it.

Alas, the coming of the .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge killed off the old rook calibers, and many of these vintage rifles were rebarreled and reworked into .22s. The advent of restrictive firearm legislation in Britain caused many to be destroyed, while others were exported to Australia, Canada, and South Africa. Historian Donald Dallas estimates the total number of rook rifles made to be in the hundreds of thousands, and while many have gone to their reward, enough are still around to make it interesting at auctions. The old cartridges are a lot of fun to work with, and a “best” quality rook rifle is something to see. It is also affordable for those who admire English workmanship but can’t aspire to a big name double rifle.

McMillan Adds Caping Knife

Handcrafted knife is specifically designed for delicate work in small areas.

McMillan is best known for its lines of ultra-accurate high-end hunting and tactical rifles, but it also offers custom hunting knives. Recently, McMillan added to that line a small caping knife that’s specifically designed for the fine, detailed cutting necessary when removing a hide that’s going to be mounted.

McMillan Caping knife
When caping an animal, you don’t just remove the hide from the head, you also have to split the lips, nose, and eyelids, and also turn the ears inside out all the way to the tips. And you have to do all of that preferably without cutting a hole through the cape or yourself.

When caping an animal, you don’t just remove the hide from the head, you also have to split the lips, nose, and eyelids, and also turn the ears inside out all the way to the tips. And you have to do all of that preferably without cutting a hole through the cape or yourself. I ran a small taxidermy shop before getting into publishing, and have some experience when it comes to what works and what doesn’t for caping. What works is a sharp blade–one that’s fine, nimble and light, but not so light that it “flutters” around in your hand. For me, caping in the field always meant two knives–one a Victorinox 3 1/4-inch paring knife, and the other a small X-Acto knife with an extra pack of replacement blades. After removing the cape, I’d find a smooth stone about the size of a baseball and stretch the hide over that so I could carefully pare down areas using the Victorinox, and when I got to the delicate areas, I’d switch over to the X-Acto and its razors.

It would be nice to do both the major and fine work with a single knife, so I’m anxious to give the new McMillan a try this hunting season. I see several things going for it as a possible one knife replacement for my two. For one thing, I like its size.  Like the paring knife I’ve been using, the McMillan Caping Knife is big enough to manage making a “Y” or “7” incision at the back of the skull, but is also small enough that you can control it during that incision. Another thing I like are the small serrations along the top of the blade so you can more easily control it using your finger. That’s the type of control needed around the lips, nose and eyes. Finally, it’s made for McMillan by DiamondBlade and from what I’ve read on DiamondBlade, the darn things just stay sharp.

If it holds its edge, then this knife should be just the thing for guides who cape their client’s trophies. For everyone else, it’s a handy size for general utility and camp use.–Scott Mayer