Caped buffalo with a 45-70

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Rabun

Senior Member
I was watching Shooting Gallery last night and a guy was hunting caped buffalo with a vintage winchester chambered in 45-70. He ended up killing one after shooting it a good 5 or 6 times.
I'm no expert on the round, but it didn't seem very ethical on such a massive and tough animal. He had plenty of other dangerous game calibers at his disposal. I just didn't like seeing the thing standing there taking hit after repeated hit until he eventually keeled over. Probably just getting over sensitive in my old age.
 
I was watching Shooting Gallery last night and a guy was hunting caped buffalo with a vintage winchester chambered in 45-70. He ended up killing one after shooting it a good 5 or 6 times.
I'm no expert on the round, but it didn't seem very ethical on such a massive and tough animal. He had plenty of other dangerous game calibers at his disposal. I just didn't like seeing the thing standing there taking hit after repeated hit until he eventually keeled over. Probably just getting over sensitive in my old age.
While it would never be my first choice on Cape Buff, the 45-70 or .450 Marlin shooting HCGC bullets of over 400gr at 2000 FPS +/- OR 500gr HCGC at 1600 FPS would certainly do the job. As an aside about the number of shots it took to finally kill the 1 ton(?) beast, you might find it interesting to know just how many shots it took Jack O'Connor AND his guide to kill his first (IIRC) Cape Buff. IIRC, it was over 10 shots (hits) total.
 
There have been a lot of them killed cleanly with that caliber, not to mention hundreds of thousands of American buffalo (bigger animal than a cape buffalo)-there's a reason it's called a buffalo gun by many. Don't really see the problem myself. Modern .45-70 loads can produce around 3600 ft lbs of energy, just a few hundred less than a .375 H&H.

I've seen video of cape buffalo soaking up a half dozen or more shots from .416 Rigbys, .458 Winchester, and even the big Nitro Expresses. When they get mad and aren't hit right, they are a formidable critter, no matter what you're shooting them with.
 
https://thebiggamehuntingblog.com/hunting-cape-buffalo-with-the-45-70-government/

Good read on this subject. Reminds me of a recent thread here regarding 9mm for deer. I also hate to see a magnificent animal suffer needlessly because some wants to push the limits.
There is absolutely no comparison in shooting a deer with a 9mm and shooting a cape buffalo with a .45-70. Shooting a deer with a 9mm is more like shooting a cape buffalo with a .243.

The .45-70 is a hoss of a round, and just about exterminated the American bison, which is a bigger animal than an African cape buffalo. And that was with the original, much weaker, black powder loads.
 

StanB1

Senior Member
There is absolutely no comparison in shooting a deer with a 9mm and shooting a cape buffalo with a .45-70. Shooting a deer with a 9mm is more like shooting a cape buffalo with a .243.

The .45-70 is a hoss of a round, and just about exterminated the American bison, which is a bigger animal than an African cape buffalo. And that was with the original, much weaker, black powder loads.
No offense meant, just said it reminded me of that thread. I’ll remove the comment. Sorry.
 

Big7

Senior Member
And in bolt guns or singles they can be safely loaded to .458 Win. equivalent. I've heard of it being done in modern lever guns but I wouldn't try that myself.
 
No offense meant, just said it reminded me of that thread. I’ll remove the comment. Sorry.
No offense taken at all and no need to remove the comment, and no need to be sorry. My opinion is worth exactly the same as yours, maybe less. :)
 

Big7

Senior Member
Oh yeah. A copper solid is used in most dangerous game situations. Even in "African Dangerous Game" calibers. That would make a world of difference in a warm 45-70 Government caliber.
 
Almost all guides recommend an expanding bullet for the first shot, followed by solids for follow ups.

Cape buff are big tough animals. If you don't shoot one in the vitals your in for a stressful recovery. The have a bad habitat of circling back on there on trail and waiting for who ever is following. Once the adrenalin is up, you have to hit brain or spine to stop them in there tracks. There nick name is Black death for a reason. Most guides recommend to keep shooting as long as hes on his feet too.

Even so, shot well with a big quality bullet, they die pretty quick.

I shot my second one thru the top of the heart with a .375 H&H Nosler partition. It only took 1-2 minutes before we heard the death bellow. Tracked him up and put in an insurance shot. He didn't even flinch.
 
Almost all guides recommend an expanding bullet for the first shot, followed by solids for follow ups.

Cape buff are big tough animals. If you don't shoot one in the vitals your in for a stressful recovery. The have a bad habitat of circling back on there on trail and waiting for who ever is following. Once the adrenalin is up, you have to hit brain or spine to stop them in there tracks. There nick name is Black death for a reason. Most guides recommend to keep shooting as long as hes on his feet too.

Even so, shot well with a big quality bullet, they die pretty quick.

I shot my second one thru the top of the heart with a .375 H&H Nosler partition. It only took 1-2 minutes before we heard the death bellow. Tracked him up and put in an insurance shot. He didn't even flinch.
I've read too many Capstick books to want to hunt cape buffalos. :)
 
The legal minimum caliber for dangerous game, including Cape buffalo is the .375. The reason is these animals will easily kill you even if they’ve been shot through the vitals. Three weeks before my buff hunt, the hunter and PH shot his buffalo with 14 rounds of .375 AND .458 Lott. These animals are tanks even carrying a lot of lead.

I told my two PH’s, “If my buff doesn’t drop, DRT, both of you start shooting until he drops. I don’t want anyone at risk and my ego isn’t injured if you drop it.” I found out later they would only do that if it charged. My buff dropped, DRT, with the first shot, the head PH said shoot it again and again. Robert Ruark said it best, “It’s the ‘dead ones’ that’ll kill you!”.

The most important issue, using your dangerous game caliber, can you hit a paper plate at 100 yards, every single time off of shooting sticks.

I don’t care for the “I shot this big animal, with this little caliber, at this great distance”. Our game deserves a clean death by an honorable hunter who is competent to shoot at the right distance.
 
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The legal minimum caliber for dangerous game, including Cape buffalo is the .375. The reason is these animals will easily kill you even if they’ve been shot through the vitals. Three weeks before my buff hunt, the hunter and PH shot his buffalo with 14 rounds of .375 AND .458 Lott. These animals are tanks even carrying a lot of lead.

I told my two PH’s, “If my buff doesn’t drop, DRT, both of you start shooting until he drops. I don’t want anyone at risk and my ego isn’t injured if you drop it.” I found out later they would only do that if it charged. My buff dropped, DRT, with the first shot, the head PH said shoot it again and again. Robert Ruark said it best, “It’s the ‘dead ones’ that’ll kill you!”.

The most important issue, using your dangerous game caliber, can you hit a paper plate at 100 yards, every single time off of shooting sticks.

I don’t care for the “I shot this big animal, with this little caliber, at this great distance”. Our game deserves a clean death by an honorable hunter who is competent to shoot at the right distance.
Depends on which country you're in if you have that minimum caliber. You do realize that the .45-70 with modern loads has almost as much juice as the .375 H&H? It's not some "little caliber." It was designed partly to kill bigger buffalo than the African ones, and succeeded greatly at that job.

A 405 grain bullet going 2,000 fps with 3600 foot pounds of energy on paper isn't something to sneeze at.
 
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My point is, whatever you choose to shoot, do it legally, with respect for the animal, the safety of the trackers, in a sportsman’s manner.

Talk directly with the PH’s you’ll be hunting with, get THEIR opinion on best caliber and shot placement. Ask how you should prepare for your hunt. Fire a lot of rounds, off of sticks, at photographic targets of your game animal. Ask what the terrain is like, the altitude, too. I struggled the first few days of my hunt, thought it was just jet lag. Turns out, altitude adjustment was also an issue. Oh, and get in shape, walk three, four miles twice a day, carrying a ten pound weight(simulates your rifle).

The other issue, if you import your rifle to your hunt country, be sure the suitable and correct ammunition is readily available at your destination. I know of one situation a friend had going to South Africa. His rifle made it to SA, because the claim ticket destination was checked by U.S. Customs. But his personal luggage and ammunition went to Germany or some other European country. He didn’t get it until the last day of his hunt. He was shooting a .375 so getting ammo wasn’t a problem. Check your baggage claim tag to insure the correct destination.

And be careful of advice from those who haven’t “been there, done that”. Everything I’ve written is from my experience hunting with three different professional hunters on three trips.

The last word, hunting in Africa will change a hunter dramatically. Nothing else ever matches up to it. I haven’t fired a rifle since my last trip, we moved back home and I’ve gotten too old now to do the walking. Have a wonderful trip, stay safe, stay downwind and shoot straight!
 
My point is, whatever you choose to shoot, do it legally, with respect for the animal, the safety of the trackers, in a sportsman’s manner.

Talk directly with the PH’s you’ll be hunting with, get THEIR opinion on best caliber and shot placement. Ask how you should prepare for your hunt. Fire a lot of rounds, off of sticks, at photographic targets of your game animal. Ask what the terrain is like, the altitude, too. I struggled the first few days of my hunt, thought it was just jet lag. Turns out, altitude adjustment was also an issue. Oh, and get in shape, walk three, four miles twice a day, carrying a ten pound weight(simulates your rifle).

The other issue, if you import your rifle to your hunt country, be sure the suitable and correct ammunition is readily available at your destination. I know of one situation a friend had going to South Africa. His rifle made it to SA, because the claim ticket destination was checked by U.S. Customs. But his personal luggage and ammunition went to Germany or some other European country. He didn’t get it until the last day of his hunt. He was shooting a .375 so getting ammo wasn’t a problem. Check your baggage claim tag to insure the correct destination.

And be careful of advice from those who haven’t “been there, done that”. Everything I’ve written is from my experience hunting with three different professional hunters on three trips.

The last word, hunting in Africa will change a hunter dramatically. Nothing else ever matches up to it. I haven’t fired a rifle since my last trip, we moved back home and I’ve gotten too old now to do the walking. Have a wonderful trip, stay safe, stay downwind and shoot straight!
Good point on the ammo. That's one reason I tend to stick with older, common calibers here instead of the latest 6.37x58 shortmag sensation flash in the pan that is popular this year.


I'd love to go to Africa someday, but will probably never get there. I don't really have any desire to shoot any of the Big Five, except maybe a leopard. I'd like to just experience the place and hunt some plains game.

It would be great just to see it. I've spent many enjoyable hours over the years reading Ruark, Hemingway, Roosevelt, Capstick, and many others' stories about their experiences over there. It would be cool to walk in some of their footsteps and see some of the same things.
 

Ruger#3

Senior Member
I’ve carried a 45/70 for decades. In a modern falling block it is a weapon far superior to its predecessor the trap door Sharps. There is no comparison.

It’s interesting this discussion came along as this month’s American Hunter has an article about a pistol hunter taking cape buffalo with a 500 JRH. It’s a pip squeak compared to the 45/70.
 

furtaker

Senior Member
I had a beautiful JM Marlin 1895 45-70 that I sold in a moment of utter stupidity. Man, I wish I had that rifle back. Most factory loads today are loaded somewhat light (though plenty for close range hunting) but as said above, hot, modern loads (reloads or factory loads such as Buffalo Bore) in a modern rifle turns that old cartridge into a serious, nasty thumper.
 
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