When we think of dangerous game safari rifles, often the finest doubles come to mind. While they can be both exceptionally beautiful and useful tools, they’re normally well out of the price range of most hunters. The truth of the matter is many common rifles – in hefty calibers – make solid options for dangerous game in Africa.
If you pick the right combination of rifle and caliber for dangerous game, it will take down any big game in the world. Here are five of our favorite options from the Guns.com Vault to help you live those dreams and bag once-in-a-lifetime beasts.
Winchester Model 70 Safari
The venerable Winchester Model 70 bolt-action rifle is one of the most popular of its kind in the world. Many of its model variants and calibers will more than handle dangerous game. However, for safari-specific features, look to one like the aptly named Model 70 Safari.
The Model 70 Safari uses Winchester’s famed pre-64 controlled round feed with a claw extractor. Dual steel crossbolts add rigidity, while double integral recoil lugs are bedded front and rear for accuracy. There’s also a three-position safety, barrel-mounted swivel, and free-floated barrel. Production of the Model 70 Safari Express continues to this day, with caliber options in .375 H&H, .416 Remington, and .458 Winchester Magnum.
New guns are certainly not necessary. In fact, many old classics get top billing. Being nostalgic, if I had the finances and opportunity, I’d gladly take a pre-1964 Model 70 rifle in a caliber like .375 H&H on an African safari. I’d stake my life on that gun.
CZ 550 Magnum
American-made rifles dominate this list, but the CZ 550 is a Czech-built gem that simply excels on big and dangerous game. The 550 Magnum is one that we were especially forlorn to see dropped from current CZ production in 2020, but this platform was so plentiful that many new or lightly used models remain on the market today.
While any of the 550 Magnum actions will do the trick, we’re partial to the 550 Safari and 550 American Safari. Both use the three-leaf express sights, hammer-forged barrel, and CZ’s single set trigger. QD sling mounts are set into the stock, and the optics bases are rock solid to tame recoil, as is the hulky rubber buttpad. Popular calibers in the 550 Safari rifles include 9.3x62mm, .375 H&H, .416 Rigby, and .458 Lott. Not only is the rifle available in all the hardest-hitting, big-bore calibers, but it also uses the preferred Mauser-style extractor and fixed ejector system.
Henry Lever-Action .45-70
Many will argue the .45-70 Government is “not enough gun” for dangerous game, and it is indeed on the lighter side. However, that caliber when paired with the proper ammunition is more than ample for bagging big and dangerous game around the globe. In fact, I recently had the opportunity to harvest my first Cape buffalo in Africa with one shot from what I now consider the best lever action in the business – Henry Repeating Arms in .45-70 Govt.
While any of Henry’s lever-action .45-70 models will get the job done, when we’re talking potentially sketchy situations that can involve charges and fast action, the new side loading gate variants are preferable. They allow quicker top-offs on capacity. I used a Henry All Weather with the side gate and Picatinny rail. It’s built as an alternate type of scout rifle with an extended rail and shorter barrel.
The matte hard chrome finish on the All Weathers, along with their specially coated hardwood stocks, ensures durable performance in rough conditions. Still, not all hunters like stainless, as even in matte finish can catch too much attention from game. In those instances, Henry’s matte-blued steel models are ideal. At the end of the day, those all-American lever-action rifles in the company’s largest caliber are an old-fashioned big game hunter’s dream.
Ruger Guide Gun
It’s difficult to choose the top dangerous game rifle from Ruger. One of my all-time favorite rifles is the single-shot Ruger No. 1 falling block-style action. Heck, I know many hunters who have bagged plenty of big and dangerous game using a whomping caliber in those singles, and those guys can reload quickly to boot.
Personally, I feel better with at least another round or two at the ready, and to that end, Ruger’s Guide Gun makes for a rock-solid choice. The Guide Gun is a Hawkeye variant built with stainless steel mated to a Green Mountain laminate stock. There’s a 20-inch barrel with a radial-port muzzle brake and express-style iron sights. Ruger’s LC6 trigger is clean right out of the box, and the Mauser-type controlled round feed is most desirable for this type of hunting.
Choose one of the biggest three calibers – .338 Winchester Magnum, .375 Ruger, or .416 Rigby – for the best performance. Integral scope mounts ensure solid optic mounting, though the irons are quite nice. The Guide Gun can even be had in left-handed models for southpaws.
Remington Model 700 bolt-action rifles made a living on North American game for generations. While there may be other brands and models more specifically built for big and dangerous game, there’s little doubt that Model 700s in the correct calibers will – and have – bagged these mean-spirited trophies.
While its push-round feed design is not nearly as popular as controlled round feed for such pursuits, Model 700 rifles continue to get the job done time and time again. For the best performance on our target of large and toothy game, look at Model 700 rifles chambered in .338 Win Mag, .375 H&H, .416 Rem Mag, and .458 Win Mag. All offer the knockdown power needed to make those hunting dreams come true.
Find Your Match
These are some of our favorites, and they are all fantastic choices. But there are plenty of great hunting rifles to choose from. Other gems – such as the Dakota Arms Model 76 – will find their way into the Guns.com Vault from time to time. But they often disappear quickly. If I ever win the lottery, I’ll be buying a takedown variant of the Dakota Model 76. Heck, we all need to dream.
We have guns coming into the warehouse all the time. So if you’re looking for an old classic you can’t find anywhere else, you can always search through our extensive collection of certified used rifles to find your own diamond in the rough.