By Richard Sowry
Thirteen, and then recently three years ago, I wrote an article on a ‘working’ dangerous-game rifle and the differences that certain aspects of its design made. In each case, it was based on my experience at the time. More than thirteen years have passed, and while most of my thoughts remain the same, some have changed because of field experience. What follows is a summary of what has changed for me, and, most importantly, why it did.
In 28 years of working as a field guide and game ranger, including many encounters with dangerous game, I have been fortunate to have met and worked with many experienced people in the field, and have gleaned all I could from them.
In 1994, I bought the first ‘stopping’ rifle I ever owned, a Brno ZKK-602 in .375 H&H. I used this rifle during the onset of my guiding career, and although I never used it on dangerous game, I trained for and passed my FGASA Level 3 SKS Dangerous Animals Exam in 1997 with it. This exam is based on several simulated situations that one as a guide might encounter. It puts you and the rifle through your paces, and fast, accurate shooting at short range is of the essence.
My Brno .375 came standard with most of the basic requirements – a fairly well-fitting stock, iron sights, and a strong Mauser-type action. To get the rifle right for me, Fritz Röhr, the Kruger Park instrument maker and gunsmith, customised the sights, shortened the barrel, and smoothed the action. I used this rifle daily for about four years, and then, needing something heavier, had a .458 Lott built on a standard-length M98 action. It was a light rifle, weighing in at about 8 lbs with similar sights to the .375 and a short 22” barrel. This rifle served me well – it was extremely reliable, and I never experienced a feeding problem.