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 …

South African hunter, Chrisjan Bakker, used his Sako 85 in .375 H&H to hunt this monster of a Livingstone eland. He loaded Swift A-Frame bullets to a muzzle velocity of 2 400 fps. At a distance of 225 m he placed the shot perfectly on the shoulder. The bullet passed through a massive amount of tissue and the vitals to get stuck underneath the skin on the opposite shoulder. A weight retention of 99% is why Chrisjan loves the A-Frames on big game.

Jandré Arangies from Paarl, South Africa, hunted this buffalo bull in the northern part of the Luangwa Valley in Zambia. He used his Verney-Carron.450/400NE double rifle with Hornady factory-loaded ammunition. The 400 gr DGX bullet leaves the muzzle at 2 150 fps. The bull was standing 88 yards away, facing him, and the first shot struck the animal on the chest. That bullet was discovered in the meat of the hind leg. The bullet from the second insurance shot fired as the bull turned, was also recovered. Weight retention of the recovered bullet fired first (left) was 292,4 gr, or 73% The second bullet weighed 314 gr, or 79% of the original weight after recovery.

Kenny Gunn hunted this sable antelope with professional hunter Dylan Geringer of Ingwe Safaris Africa near Tshipise in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. He used a .375 H&H rifle shooting 300 gr Nosler Accubond bullets at 2 450 fps. The shot was taken from 125 yards. Weight retention was 221 gr out of the original 300 gr, or 74%.

AFRICA’S SPORTSMAN MAGAZINE editor, Stefan Fouché, hunted this mas-sive waterbuck bull with PH and owner of Hartzview Hunting Safaris, Ruan van Greuning, in the Northwest Province of South Africa. He used a CZ550 rifle in a .450 Rigby Rimless, shooting hand- loaded ammunition. The Peregrine VRG3 in 400 gr was the bullet of choice and the muzzle velocity a very frisky
2 754 fps. The bull was shot just behind the shoulder at just over 200 yards. The bullet travelled through the vitals and broke the opposite shoulder, stopping just under the skin. The waterbuck covered about 80 paces before going down. The retained weight was 372 gr, or 93% 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