Best calibers for hunting South African plains game

The selection of the right caliber for hunting plains game in South Africa is a crucial decision that can significantly impact the success of a rifle hunting trip. The choice of caliber should be guided by the size and habitat of the game species being pursued, ensuring effective hunting practices. On a hunt in South Africa, where plains game species abound, hunters have a range of calibers to choose from.

Smallest Game

When hunting species like Duiker, Klipspringer and Steenbok, calibers such as the .222, .223, .243 Win and .260 Remington are recommended. These smaller calibers ensure minimal damage to the trophy and are suitable for the size of the game.

Small to Medium Plains Game

For smaller plains game like Springbok, Blesbuck and Impala, a caliber of .243, .260 Remington, 7mm-08, or 7mm Rem Mag is often preferred. These calibers offer the necessary accuracy and trajectory to take down these agile and nimble species.

Medium Game

As you move up the size range of plains game, calibers like .30-06, .308, .300 WSM, and .300 Win Mag come into play. These calibers offer versatility and stopping power, making them ideal for species like Kudu, Gemsbok, Nyala, and Waterbuck. Their ability to handle larger animals with thicker hides and larger body sizes makes them a go-to choice for many plains game species.

Large Plains Game

In the case of larger plains game, such as Eland, Roan and Sable Antelope, hunters should consider heavy-hitting calibers like the 30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, or the 9.3×62. These calibers provide the necessary energy and penetration for these sizeable species.

Largest Plains Game – Giraffe

The minimum caliber for Giraffe is the .375 or any larger caliber.

The general rule of thumb in South Africa is to choose calibers that offer sufficient stopping power to ensure a clean and humane kill, while also considering the trajectory, recoil, and personal comfort. While the table above provides a comprehensive list of recommended calibers for various plains game species, it’s crucial for hunters to match the caliber to their individual preferences and shooting abilities.

It’s important to note that hunting plains game requires not only the right caliber but also the right shot placement, stalking skills, and ethical hunting practices. South Africa’s commitment to conservation and sustainable hunting means that hunters are expected to take only ethical shots and strive for quick and humane kills.

In conclusion, the best calibers for hunting plains game in South Africa are those that strike a balance between power, accuracy, and suitability for the size of the species being pursued. Hunters have a wide selection of rifles and calibers to choose from, allowing them to tailor their choices to the specific requirements of their African hunting Safari. Ultimately, the success of the hunt depends on the hunter’s skills, knowledge, and respect for both the game and the environment, it is always best to consult the hunting outfitter.

Government draft guidelines:

Minimum caliber for hunting in South Africa for legal compliance.

CategoryMinimum Caliber Allowed
Furred Game up to the size of springbok.22 or 5.56mm centerfire rifle or larger caliber
Feathered Game.22 or 5.56mm centerfire rifle or larger caliber
Furred Game up to the size of eland.270 or 7mm rifle or larger caliber
Feathered Game including ostrich.270 or 7mm rifle or larger caliber
Any Dangerous Game.375 H&H Magnum or larger caliber
Furred Game up to the size of a rock hyrax and all rodents.22 rimfire rifle (5.56mm)
Feathered Game.22 rimfire rifle (5.56mm)
Giraffe and Dangerous Game.375 H&H Magnum or larger caliber (Full metal jacket or monolithic solid construction for pachyderms)
Adrian Anderson has been a Licensed Professional Hunter and Hunting Outfitter for 32 years

Adrian Anderson first obtained his Professional Hunters license in 1991. He is a Big Five and Dangerous Game licensed Professional Hunter and Hunting Outfitter. He has a tremendous love for wildlife and the African bush and enjoys sharing his knowledge with the hunting clients that he guides. Guiding hunters in Africa’s wild places is a passion and seeing them succeed with their goals brings satisfaction. With knowledge of the Safari industry built up over 32 years he is well qualified to give guidance to his hunting clients.