There’s no better way to test hunting guns and gear than by taking them into the field and putting them to use. With that in mind, I packed my favorite firearms, ammo and accessories and headed to South Africa to discover what guns and gear really shined on Safari.
Savage Arms High Country and Storm
Stan Pate and author Kristin Alberts used the Savage High Country rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor to take a number of Warthogs, including this one. (Photo: Boetie Cooper/Waterval Safaris)
One of my favorite hunting rifles, the High Country, proved equally at home on the plains of South Africa as it did in the woods and fields of the Midwest. Using both 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Win Mag chamberings in the 110 bolt actions, the High Country rifles performed well with sub-MOA groups.
Savage’s AccuFit stock system brings adjustable length-of-pull and comb height configurations for better fitment. I harvested several animals with the Savage High Country models including Kudu, Roan, Zebra and Sable.
Savage’s 110 bolt action Storm rifle uses the same AccuFit, AccuTrigger, and AccuStock as the High Country, but with a few less features is a more budget-friendly option. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)
A close cousin of the High Country is the slightly more utilitarian and cost-conscious Storm. Still built on the 110 action with the AccuFit system, the Storm offers black synthetic furniture paired with a stainless barreled action.
I brought a Storm chambered in .30-06 Springfield along on my trip which proved more than enough gun for African animals. Like the High Country, the Storm puts out decent groups (despite its lack of MOA guarantee).
Norma ammo claimed this beautiful Red Hartebeest at almost 385 yards with one clean shot. (Photo: Stan Pate/Guns.com)
Rifle performance depends on ammunition and for my adventures, I opted for Norma ammunition. For this trip, I packed Norma’s .30-06 BondStrike, 6.5 Creedmoor Professional Hunter Scirocco and .300 Win Mag Professional Hunter Oryx which accounted for a dozen harvested animals in the Northern Cape.
Popular in Europe, Africa and other countries, Norma is just now beginning to gain traction in the States.
I put Bushnell to the test in the rugged African bush with dust, dirt, and hardcore use. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)
Bushnell’s Forge, Nitro and Prime optics brought reasonable glass to the hunt. The top-of-the-line Forge is my favorite of the series, albeit the most expensive of the family. Though a step down in price, the Nitro scope represents a major bargain in hunting optics. Similarly, the Engage DX binos and the Prime 1300 rangefinder more than held their own.
Backed by the Lifetime Ironclad Warranty, Bushnell’s optics handled the rugged conditions and demands of the African plains.
5.11 Tactical Apparel
Though 5.11 is not marketed as hunting apparel, their pants, shirts, boots, and even backpacks are ideal for the Safari hunter. (Photo: Stan Pate/Guns.com)
Hunters tend to lean towards traditional camo when packing but for most African hunts subdued tones and patterns are preferred. Khaki, coyote brown and olive drab are ideal for the South African terrain and 5.11 Tactical brings a bevy of options in those colors.
While they’re not the first company that comes to mind when discussing hunting, their apparel, footwear and gear are actually ideal for Africa. 5.11 Tactical’s pants are well built and the shirts are cool enough to put the stalk under a blazing African sun. The boots also delivered comfort for all-day stalking of big game.
Some of my favorite items were the ATACS Side Zip, M-65 Field Jackets, Stryke pants and Freedom Flex shirts.
Carter Cutlery Knives
This Camp Knife is right at home as a workhorse along with 5.11 Tactical ATACS Side Zip boots. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)
Murray Carter is a master bladesmith and with his team of Muteki smiths and apprentices, his shop turns out some of the finest hand-forged knives in America. While Carter knives could easily be put on display, they build these knives to perform.
I carried neck and camp knives on safari, and the craftsmanship is nothing short of fantastic from the blade detail to the scales.
Pelican Hard Cases
All of these pieces performed remarkably, especially the Pelican hard cases which kept all the gear, including the rifles safe on the long journey. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)
To transport guns and gear, I selected a few Pelican hard cases to protect my valuables. Rifles were stowed away in Pelican V800 double cases while I chose the Pelican 1650 for camera equipment and ammo.
Though some cases looked like they’d been through a small war at the airport, every piece of gear remained safely inside the cases just as I’d packed it. Traveling great distances with guns and gear can be fraught with worry over whether beloved rifles and hunting gear will arrive safely and in one piece. Pelican eases the anxiety with rock-solid hard cases.
Dark Angel Medical
Hunters venture into some remote and rugged terrain, and as such, should always be prepared. Carrying an IFAK like one from Dark Angel Medical is the ideal way to be ready in the field. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)
Hunters venture into some of the most rugged, remote and dangerous countries in pursuit of game. Such adventuring requires preparedness gear and the right know-how to deal with emergencies. To that end, I packed an Individual First Aid Kit from Dark Angel Medical.
I selected both a Dark Slim and Dark Trauma kit with each carrying a Gen 7 CAT tourniquet, QuikClot gauze, HALO Seals, nasal airway, emergency bandage, trauma shears and more all vacuum-sealed in a MOLLE pack.
While the options for Safari ready guns and gear are limitless, these were some of the standout arms and accessories that helped make my adventure on Safari in South Africa an amazing success.