By Stefan Fouché

What is the most important piece of equipment you will use on your African safari to determine the success of the hunt? Will it be the calibre, the rifle itself or your optical equipment?

I am sure one can argue that all these are equally important to achieve a certain goal (taking your intended trophy swiftly and successfully), and rightly so. However, I think there is one specific piece of equipment that determines the level of accomplishment, and that is the bullet you use.
It’s that small item that does all the work and must therefore be of top quality. In today’s world, where technology is developing faster than the consumers’ ability to keep up, we are spoilt for choice. There are numerous brands and ranges available on the market. This facilitates choosing the correct type of bullet for the intended application.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that every bullet is designed to perform at its best at a certain velocity. It is no use torturing a softer lead bullet with extreme velocities – it will simply break up. Also, when choosing a monolithic type of bullet, you need to achieve the velocity prescribed by the manufacturer, otherwise it will not open up enough or even open up at all, leading to total bullet failure and compromising the success of your hunt.
The point where the bullet strikes the animal is of utmost importance. This is the deciding factor, the difference between success and failure. If your bullets are substandard, you put your whole safari at risk. Spending days tracking a wounded animal is hardly ideal, especially not for the animal. And in the case of a dangerous animal, you will be putting your own life, as well that of your PH and tracker, at risk.
In this series of articles we will be showing what happened, with real bullets recovered from real animals after a hunt. We will put the facts on the table, give credit where it is due and also highlight mistakes, weak points and failures. This is what it is all about – where the Metal meets the Meat …

Jandré Arangies from Paarl, South Africa, bagged this buffalo bull in the Manica province of Mozambique, close to the Save River. He hunted with PH Hancke Hudson and used a .375 H&H rifle and 300 gr Swift A-Frame bullets, leaving the barrel at            2 350 fps. The bull was standing 55 yards away and the first shot struck on the point of the shoulder. This bullet was found in the opposite shoulder, having travelled in a straight line through the vital organs. Weight retention of the recovered bullet (pictured right) was 295 gr, or 98%. The second shot was fired at the depar-ting buffalo and was recovered in the neck – showing awesome penetration. This A-Frame weighed 294 gr, or 98%, of the original weight.

AFRICA’S SPORTSMAN MAGAZINE editor, Stefan Fouché, hunted this sable bull with PH and co-owner of Tom Dreyer Safaris near Rooibokkraal in the Limpopo Province. He used his Verney-Carron double rifle in .500NE for the hunt, shooting hand-loaded ammunition – the Woodleigh softs in 570 gr leaving the barrel at 2 150 fps. The shot was aimed at the point where the neck and shoulder join, and taken from about 90 yards away. The spinal cord was hit and the animal went straight down. The bullet was recovered underneath the skin of the neck on the opposite side. It weighed 557 gr, or 98% of the original weight. (Read the full article about this sable hunt “A very special sable hunt in a drought-stricken Limpopo Province” with Tom Dreyer Safaris, and watch the hunting video as well.)

A client hunting with PH Martin Snyman from Mashambanzou Safaris in Mozambique took this big Livingstone eland bull with a .338 Win Mag. He used factory ammunition, shooting a      250 gr Swift A-Frame at roughly 2 650 fps. The shot was placed neatly on the shoulder and was recovered in the opposite shoulder. The Swift performed very well, creating an almost perfect mushroom. It retained 232 gr of the original weight, or 93%.

Stephan Brancken hunted this Burchell zebra stallion near Zeerust in the Northwest Province of South Africa with his Winchester Model 70 rifle in a .338 Win Mag. He reloads 250 gr Barnes TSX bullets to a muzzle velocity of 2 600 fps. The shot, taken from 190 yards away, was placed neatly on the shoulder. The bullet was recovered in the opposite, broken shoulder. The heart and lungs were destroyed and the animal collapsed on the spot. Weight retention was 100% despite passing through very big bones. Excellent performance.

Malcolm Macdonald with a buffalo cow hunted in Zimbabwe. The cow was taken with a Brno 602 in .458 Lott shooting 500 gr Hornady DGX factory ammo. The muzzle velocity was around 2 300 fps. The buffalo was shot in the chest at a distance of 30 m away and was killed on the spot. The top of the heart was destroyed and the bullet was recovered in the stomach. The weight retention was 421 gr, or 84% of the original weight.

Contributions to “Where the Metal meets the Meat” are welcome.
Please send pictures of your trophy animal and recovered bullet to ASM