In July, Derrick is headed back to Africa and he’ll have a 22 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC in tow. What many people don’t realize is that, for plains game, you don’t need a huge caliber. Many of the plains game animals can be directly compared to North American big game animals and harvested with the same popular cartridges. On his last trip to Africa, with a hunting party of 8, Derrick says that nobody used anything larger than a 28 Nosler and together they took more than 60 animals. Having a capable caliber and well-placed shots are clearly important, however, Derrick says that in that scenario it’s equally about bullet selection, as well. Plains game animals are so vastly different, Derrick says, with Kudu on one side of the spectrum that could potentially use a little more gun all the way down to a Springbok. Because of the wide variety of animal sizes, your ammunition selection needs to be on point, so you don’t destroy capes. Derrick highlights a few different caliber and ammunition combos they used in Africa on their last trip and the effectiveness.
When it comes to dangerous game, you don’t want to be under gunned but do you really need to step above a 375 H&H? Higher cost, heavier recoil, heavier gun – there are a lot of things to consider as you move up in caliber. Derrick says that he hasn’t done a lot of dangerous game hunting, so his opinions come strictly from working with his customers who have. With that in mind, Derrick says that the 375 H&H paired with Barnes bullets is a lethal combination, one capable of taking hippos, cape buffalos, lions, and leopards. In addition, it is what he would personally choose to take dangerous game hunting as well. Derrick says he would go with a nice 375 bolt gun with a magazine, back up iron sights, quick disconnect, and scope with a big field of view. The 375’s recoil is manageable and not overly burdensome, plus the great bullet selection is advantageous, as well. Derrick says that, of course, larger cartridges have their benefits for big game, depending on the application, but in terms of recoil they can be much more punishing. Derrick highlights a few different scenarios he has built rifles for, like hunting in Cameroon where the hunters were working through brush and jungle like terrain. In those instances, Derrick says that having big solid calibers to bust through the brush is beneficial. In general though, when paired with the right ammunition, the 375 H&H should be able to handle virtually everything you want it to. Derek says this conversation extends beyond the dangerous game of Africa and can also include bears. Is bigger always better, or is there another option? Many hunters look at the big .338’s, like the .338 Lapua, for grizzlies, brown bear and even polar bears. However, Derrick says that the 33 Nosler is a round that is often overlooked. He says the 33 Nosler is essentially the same thing as a .338 Lapua, but with around 9% less powder, the ammunition is cheaper, and the gun is smaller overall. Before making a knee jerk reaction and going with the biggest cartridge available for dangerous game, Derrick says there are a lot of effective options for hunters to consider depending on the game animal(s) they are pursuing. Derrick also briefly talks about the performance of big bore rifles and how hunters have to keep their expectations in check when it comes to grouping.
When traveling out of the country, a hunter needs to be prepared. How much ammunition should you take? Will ammunition be available to purchase where you are hunting should something happen, and you need more? Derrick makes a couple of points here. First, he says you need to have a thorough conversation with your outfitter, tell them what you are bringing and see if they have any ammunition in stock that you could fall back on, just in case needed. Next, Derrick talks about maxing out the weight limit of your luggage and packing as much as you can. Should you have a little extra room, it won’t hurt to bring along a little extra ammo. Putting both of these points into perspective, Derrick talks about one of his customers that went to Africa on a hunting trip and had his bag lost on the way. Showing up in a rougher part of Africa without his luggage left him in a bad situation. Aside from having to barter for local currency, his customer also had to go to a gun store of sorts where there was just one box of the ammunition he needed on the shelf. The hunter ended up paying a high price, hundreds of dollars, for just 10 rounds to get him by until his luggage showed up days later. Derrick says you can’t assume that what you need will be easily available, if it is, you will likely pay a high price for it. Instead, hunters that are traveling abroad need to think ahead, pack smart and bring along all of the essentials.
Finally, Derrick talks iota stocks. Not only does Horizon Firearms make custom rifles, but their sister company, iota, makes the custom stocks that their rifles are built on. Derrick talks about the light weight, super tough stocks they have spent years perfecting. Initially, Derrick says they got into stocks because they were having a hard time finding a good stock to build their rifles on and that vacancy spurred them to develop their own. Using a proprietary material, he says their KREMLIN stocks are only 32-33 ounces, but have amazing strength. If you don’t believe it, head to iota’s Facebook page and watch Derrick drive over an iota stock multiple times with a fork lift! Derrick says they are working on a muzzleloader build right now using one of their lightweight stocks and the result is obvious. Picking up the gun, you would expect a certain amount of weight and heft based on the size of the barrel, it’s a 50-cal. However, Derrick says the lightweight stock offers more of a featherweight feel, reducing weight without sacrificing strength.
Tune in as Derrick Ratliff with Horizon Firearms and iota joins The Revolution to talk hunting abroad, calibers, the importance of bullet selection, lightweight and tough rifle stocks and more! Listen in.