By Major Van Harl
Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- “All writers are agreed as to the hazards of invading the haunts of this savage animal, whose skulking habits, no less than his tremendous strength, render him an object to be greatly dreaded………..he is described to of so irascible a disposition that he will attack his great enemy, man, without the smallest provocation. And should he succeed in destroying his victim, it is his wont to stand over the inanimate corpse, goring and tossing it in vindictive fury with his formidable horns, trampling it under his feet, crushing and mangling it with his knees and stripping off the skin with his rough and prickly tongue; desisting occasionally, but to return again with renewed appetite, as though his revenge might never be glutted!” –Captain William Cornwallis Harris: The Wild Sports of Southern Africa
Hollywood has given us the image of the classic African big game hunter. He must look like Allen Quatermain, a character who originated in H. Rider Haggard’s 1885 book, King Soloman’s Mines.
There has to be the prescribed hunter’s uniform that consisted of khaki pants with lots of pockets, khaki shirts with lots of pockets, a khaki bush jacket with four pockets in the front, ascot if you are English and a slouch hat with the brim hanging down.
The 1890s in-style African hunter also has brown, not black leather everything, meaning brown boots, brown belt and brown pistol holster, brown sling for your rifle and binoculars and brown leather cigarette case. Of course you also had to have a extra man on your safari crew to carry the brown shoe polish and brushes to keep everything brown, brown.
The most important item of all is the double rifle that every Hollywood envisioned African hunter must have, especially when it is time to take photos after a successful kill.
The problem with that is, today’s world of African hunting double rifles are astronomically expensive and when most people see a double rifle in a picture they think it is a shotgun.
A modern double rifle without the big names of Holland & Holland, Westly Richards or even Jeffery can start at $10,000 to $15,000. If you go with one of old classic named rifles you obviously are not sending children through college.
After you adjust your budget to pay for an African big game hunt and no matter how much you spend on your double rifle it is still only a double rifle, and that means it only shoots twice before you have to reload. Now granted the double rifle you would want for dangerous big game should be in cartridges like 500 Jeffery or 600 Nitro, ammo you will never see on the shelf at the local Walmart.
The Allen Quatermain stories has been made into a number of movies over the past sixty plus years with stars like Richard Chamberlain, Sean Connery, Stewart Granger and even Patrick Swayze in the lead role. I can find pictures of the first three actors holding double rifles as they portray Quatermain in their perspective movies. Patrick Swayze is different in his movie version of re-telling the Quatermain story.
Quatermain in the books and movies is English and travels between Africa and England. Swayze’s portrayal of Quatermain has the African hunter as an American who travels between Africa and England. What is more notable about Swayze’s version of Allen Quatermain, is Swayze carries a lever action 1870s American made rifle and wears a ammunition belt (brown) full of big, old black powder, straight walled cartridges. Sometimes we forget that American made lever actions rifles were sold all over (Henry Arms being the first one) the world and not just John Wayne hunted and stopped evil with a lever gun.
The 45/70 cartridge has been in continuous use in this country since 1873. It was originally a black powder cartridge that was chambered in rather weak single shot rifles. It could stop anything in North America but because of its low black powder pressure and a 405 grain lead bullet, it was not going to work in Africa against dangerous game.
Times have changed for the 45/70 and changed for the better. First off you do not have to deal with a weak trapped door single shot rifle and weak by African standards ammo. A modern lever action Henry rifle can safely take enhanced 45/70 loads that would blow the trap door off of an old Springfield rifle.
Pete Swanepoel of Denver, Colorado has been guiding African hunts for his family’s business, Safari Bwana ( fortyfiveseventy.com ) in Zambia, most of his adult life. Mr. Swanepoel is a very good writer and I strongly suggest you go to his web site if you are considering hunting in Africa. He is a wealth of knowledge.
I found Mr. Swanepoel while researching hunting in Africa with a 45/70 rifle. He has successfully hunted and written about using the old American post Civil War cartridge to kill dangerous game in Zambia. This was accomplished with a lever action rifle, a brand -X rifle, but a 45/70 chambered lever gun.
Mr. Swanepoel, through real world experience hunting animals that were hunting him at the same time, has become a enthusiastic believer in the 45/70 round of ammunition, within reason that is.
45/70 For African Big Game
The lever action rifle gives you three times the amount of ammo in a loaded firearm, that a $25,000 double rifle will provide you. Sometimes you just need rapid access to more rounds on target, such as when a Cape Buffalo is trying to charge you and rip your intestines out. The real issue for Mr. Swanepoel and using a 45/70 lever gun in Africa is the ammunition.
Standard velocity factory 45/70 ammo will always be loaded to shoot safely in whatever is left of the weak single shot rifles that General Douglas MacArthur’s father was shooting when he was posted with the US Army in frontier Arizona in the 1870s.
Buffalo Bore Ammunition has developed 45/70 ammo that will stop anything on earth, now this is within realistic ballistic capability. If you are trying to shoot one of the big five dangerous game of Africa at 300 yards with a 45/70 you are pushing the envelope way too much. If you are dropping a Hippo or Cape Buffalo at 50-75 yards, one of Mr. Anthony Imperato’s brass Henry lever action rifles, loaded with some of Mr. Tim Sundles’ 45/70 magnum ammunition will get the job done.
Buffalo Bore’s Mr. Sundles’ has two 45/70 magnum loads that will fill the requirement for a deep penetrating round to use on dangerous game. Both the 8D 500 gr Barnes FMJ-FN bullet moving at 1650 FPS and the 8A 430 gr LFN-GC travelling at 1925 FPS will provide approximately five to six feet of penetration on large dangerous animals with practically no expansion of the bullet. Shooting those cartridges will get your attention.
Should you desire something a little easier on the shoulder to practice with I suggest either the 8NBPE with a 500 gr hard cast bullet or the 8MBPE that uses a 440 gr Hard bullet. The second two Buffalo Bore cartridges are black powder equivalent and are safe in any 45/70 rifle to include the old trap door Springfield.
Even so, Mr. Sundles assured me they will stop the thin skinned animals of Africa.
The issue is not the Henry lever action rifle or the venerable old 45/70 with new ammunition getting the job done, the problem is Allen Quatermain, khaki bush jackets, slouch hats and double rifles. International hunters, to include Americans and Canadians, show up in Africa after watching Stewart Granger and Debra Kerr take on the wilds of that continent with nothing, but Khaki and firearms with two barrels. That, is what the first time visitor/hunter to Africa wants to see.
Mr. Swanepoel told me there is a certain amount of fantasy that goes into hunting in Africa and it is not him guiding a party in the bush while wearing a pair of shorts, a Starbucks t-shirt and an Yankees ball cap, because its 100 degrees outside. Where is the khaki and the slouch hat? This fantasy also plays out in the firearm of choice in the need to see the double rifle, not Pete Swanepoel standing there with an American made lever action rifle like its high noon in Tombstone.
However, Mr. Swanepoel likes lever action 45/70 rifles and the truth is, so do most of his fellow professional hunting guides. If you have to go into the thick vegetation of the bush tracking a wounded lion, a 45/70 might be just the item to keep you alive. Over the years he has taken five 45/70 lever action rifles with him to Zambia. He always does the required paperwork to legally import the rifles into Zambia because he knows they are not coming back home to Denver with him.
There will always be a family member who also guides or a fellow professional guide who wants the 45/70. It is again however, about the correct ammunition that will take the dangerous wildlife and keep the hunting party safe.
If you are not going to Africa you still need a Henry brass lever action rifle in 45/70. You acquire the rifle and you acquire some of Mr. Sundles’ Buffalo Bore ammo and there is nothing in North America you cannot hunt with that combination.
Pete Swanepoel will be returning to Zambia this coming summer of 2017 and he will be taking a Henry brass 45/70 lever action rifle with him, along with some Buffalo Bore ammunition. I would suspect the Henry 45/70 will find a new loving home in Zambia.
When you are hunting Africa, Buffalo Bore’s philosophy of “Strictly Business” takes on a more profound understanding.
Mr. Swanepoel is a long time user of Andy Larsson’s, Skinner Sights, aperture /Peep Sight (www.skinnersights.com/henry_rifles_18.html), having successfully hunted in Zambia using the Skinner Sights. He will be installing Skinner Sights on the brass Henry 45/70 rifle he is takes to Africa. You never want to lose sight of what is trying to eat you out on the veldt.
Henry rifles built at the corner of Henry Ave and Quality Ave soon to find that quality in the possession of professional African hunters.
It does not take two barrels on a rifle to get the job down, it only takes the right ammunition, the steady hands of a practiced hunter and one brass Henry lever action rifle in 45/70.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” [email protected]