Three Best Dangerous Game Calibers to Stake Your Life On

Dangerous Game

Big bore ammo allows hunters to down large game. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Standing face to face with some of the meanest animals on the planet will raise the hair of any dangerous game hunter. When the hunt of a lifetime, and even your own life, is on the line both caliber selection and bullet selection become paramount.

With that in mind, here are my top three choices for proven dangerous game hunts.

.375 Holland & Holland

Dangerous Game

Though on the light end of the dangerous game spectrum, the .375 H&H is nonetheless a favorite. (Photo: Stan Pate/


The .375 H&H made its way to hunters in 1912 when gunmaker Holland & Holland introduced the belted magnum. Since it has become one of the most accessible and versatile chamberings in the world. Though on the light end of the dangerous game spectrum, the .375 H&H is nonetheless a favorite among professional hunters for its wide range of bullet weights and types. The load also boasts considerably manageable recoil allowing even recoil-sensitive hunters to confidently place shots on everything from Duiker to Cape Buffalo.

Hornady offers the 250-grain Outfitter’s GMX bullet which brings a rapid expansion for lighter game while the .300-grain DGX Bonded penetrates the big boys. Hornady’s 270-grain SP-RP SuperFormance round offers a nice middle ground. Federal serves up the 250-grain in the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw for thinner skinned animals, the 300-grain Swift A-Frame for heavier dangerous game and the 270-grain in the Power-Shok for everything in between.

For my purposes, I used both the Hornady Dangerous Game Series ammunition and Federal Premium Safari ammunition in 300-grains. Whether shot in a custom Savage or a fine old Winchester 70, both brands turned in groups under a minute of angle. Though there have been many .375 spin-offs over the years–including those from Ruger, Remington, Weatherby, and Steyr—there’s no replacement for the original.

.416 Rigby

Dangerous Game

Three solid options in modern .416 Rigby ammunition are the Barnes VorTX and Hornady Dangerous Game Series Bonded or Solids, which performed flawlessly in the author’s Dakota Arms Model 76. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Designed by gunmaker John Rigby in 1911, the .416 Rigby was the first cartridge to use the .416 diameter projectile. A favorite among adventurous Safari hunters, the .416 Rigby is capable of stopping thick-skinned game like Cape Buffalo, Elephant or Brown Bear.

Two solid options in modern .416 Rigby ammunition come by way of the Barnes VorTX and Hornady Dangerous Game Series. Hornady offers both DGX Bonded and DGS Solid projectiles, while Barnes is a bonded solid round nose.

Both performed well in the Dakota Arms Model 76, shooting impressive groups at 75-yards using only standard express iron sights. Though calibers like the .416 Remington Magnum, .416 Weatherby Mag, and .416 Ruger offer similar ballistics, there’s no replacement for Rigby’s original design.

.458 Winchester Magnum

Dangerous Game

The .458 Winchester Magnum is a revered big-bore among Safari hunters and PH’s alike. Though both the .458 Lott and .458 Ackley Improved represent a step up in performance, the Win Mag is a proven classic winner. (Photo: Stan Pate/


The youngest of our trio, the .458 Winchester Magnum was created by Winchester in the mid-1950s to coincide with the gun maker’s Model 70 rifle. The .458 Win Mag delivers a belted, straight-taper cased round with a single purpose – to stop dangerous game quickly. A time-tested winner, this big-bore is a favorite among Safari hunters and professional hunters.

458 Frank Pachymar

The .458 Win Mag has been big medicine for dangerous game for generations, seen here on a Frank Pachymar custom Remington 30 safari rifle crafted in the 1970s (Photo: Richard Taylor/

Hornady provides the Dangerous Game Series DGS SuperFormance while Federal Premium delivers the Safari Grade Swift A-Frame. I used both offerings in 500-grain with great results at 50-yard though it is not a gentle round to shoot from a bench. Both Federal and Hornaday ammunition turned in sub-minute of angle groups with many approaching half minute groupings when fired through the Winchester Model 70 Super Express.



Though any of these rifle chamberings will further increase the odds of bagging some of the most dangerous trophies of a lifetime, as with anything outdoors, a prepared hunter will be a successful one. Regardless of the rounds you choose, head to the range to build confidence first before heading out for the hunt.

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