Hunt the World with Five Firearms

By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff

Mike Bailey, a regular Guns and Shooting Online correspondent who has been there and done that, suggested that you can hunt every continent in the world with five firearms. He thought this would be an appropriate subject for an article and sent along his five gun list, plus comments. The G&S Online staff concurred and Owner/Managing Editor Chuck Hawks, Gunsmithing Editor Rocky Hays and Chief Technical Advisor Jim Fleck contributed their own five gun lists and comments. Here are the results:

Mike Bailey

  1. .22 LR rifle (autoloader or bolt action)
  2. .30-06 rifle (single shot or bolt action)
  3. .375 H&H rifle (bolt action)
  4. .500 NE rifle (double barrel)
  5. 12 gauge shotgun (double barrel or pump action)

The .500 is for flushing wounded dangerous game (Class 4) from heavy cover and the .375 could be replaced by any of the .416's or a .404 Jeffery, if desired. The .30-06 is the all-around (Class 2 and Class 3 game) hunting rifle. The .22 is for practice and rabbits, etc. No varmint rifle was included, since Mike feels it is unlikely most hunters would plan a major expedition to hunt varmints.

Mike is not a fan of autoloading shotguns and centerfire rifles and neither are allowed in many countries. In addition, current military caliber are banned in some European and African countries. If you are traveling, this is something with which you must reckon. Mike once had to buy a Marlin lever action .44 to hunt bushbuck in South Africa, because he wasn't allowed to take his (autoloading) Ruger .44 Carbine. The cartridges chosen for a world battery should be available worldwide; airlines have twice lost Mike's ammo en route to a hunt.

Chuck Hawks

  1. .243 Win. rifle (single shot or bolt action)
  2. .30-06 rifle (bolt action)
  3. .375 H&H rifle (bolt action)
  4. 20 gauge shotgun (SxS or O/U)
  5. 12 gauge shotgun (SxS or O/U)

The .243 is for Class 1 and the smaller species of Class 2 game. It should be light enough to serve as a mountain rifle and could also serve for small predators (coyote and jackal, for example) and even varmints. A single shot Browning/Winchester Low Wall or Ruger No. 1 would be ideal and a bolt action Winchester Model 70 Featherweight (or something similar) would also fill the bill. The .30-06 is the all-around rifle for hunting Class 2 and Class 3 game. The .375 is for outsize and dangerous game. Since it can drop even African elephants and is legal for the purpose, Chuck figures a big bore rifle is unnecessary. Chuck is not an avid bird hunter, but he figures someone willing to travel overseas to shoot birds would probably need an upland gun (the 20 gauge) for some trips and a waterfowl gun (the 12 gauge) for others, hence the inclusion of two shotguns.

Chuck agrees with Mike about not including a varmint rifle in a world battery and further thinks that few hunters would travel overseas to hunt small game, hence the absence of a rimfire rifle in Chuck's five gun world battery. The cartridges chosen should be widely available and these are.

Rocky Hays

  1. .17 Win. Super Mag. rifle (single shot or bolt action)
  2. .257 Roberts rifle (single shot or bolt action)
  3. .30-06 rifle (bolt action)
  4. 9.3x62mm rifle (bolt action)
  5. 12 gauge shotgun (SxS or O/U)

Rocky chose the new .17 Win. Super Mag., a 3000 fps rimfire, for small game and varmint hunting, because he is confident it will achieve worldwide popularity. He prefers the .257 Roberts to the .243 Winchester Chuck picked for the same purposes. He agrees with Mike and Chuck that the .30-06 is the best all-around caliber and it can be used for all Class 2 and Class 3 game. Rocky is not interested in hunting pachyderms, hence his choice of the 9.3x62mm instead of a .375 or .416 for large game, including the big cats and great bears. The 9.3x62 was designed for use in standard length bolt actions, another advantage over the .375 and .416's; substitute a 9.3x74R double rifle if you prefer. 12 gauge is the most versatile shotgun bore and all Rocky anticipates needing, since he views any bird hunting as incidental to big game hunting.

Jim Fleck

  1. .17 HMR rifle (single shot or bolt action)
  2. .270 Win. rifle (single shot or bolt action)
  3. .338 Win. Mag. rifle (any repeating action)
  4. .458 Win. Mag. rifle (bolt action)
  5. 12 gauge shotgun (SxS or O/U)

Jim is an avid small game and varmint hunter and the .17 HMR is his favorite caliber for the purpose. The .270 Winchester is a good all-around caliber and makes a suitable mountain rifle; it can also be used to pop the occasional small predator. In Jim's battery, the .270 replaces both the .243/.257 and .30-06 rifles chosen by the other guys. The .338 can handle all Class 3 game, including the great bears and big cats. The .458 is for thick-skinned dangerous game (Class 4) and it is legal for the purpose everywhere in Africa that allows hunting. Like Rocky and Mike, Jim views bird hunting as incidental to big game hunting and a general purpose 12 gauge is all the shotgun he needs.

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