Best Guns & Caliber to Hunt Water Buffalo

Selecting the Right Gun for Water Buffalo Hunting

Water buffalo are large mammals, weighing up to 2,000 pounds. They are typically between 8 and 9 feet long and over 4 feet tall. Despite their intimidating size, they are not naturally aggressive animals, unless they feel threatened or have been invoked. This can easily occur during hunting and as a defense the buffalo can charge. For this reason, it is best for the safety of the hunter if they are hunted using the spot and stalk method. This method ensures a safe shooting distance while also reducing the chance of the water buffalo spotting the hunter before the shot is fired. Water buffalo are usually hunted at a shooting range of 50 to 100 yards. In order to deliver a fatal shot from this distance to an animal of this size, a rifle chambered in .375 H&H Magnum or .375 Ruger is recommended as a minimum. However, it is preferred to use a bigger caliber. Some good options include the .404 Jeffery, .416 Rigby or .416 Remington Magnum, .458 Winchester Magnum, .470 NE, or even larger. A double barrel rifle that holds 4 to 5 rounds with either open sights or a low powered scope is often used.

.375 H&H Magnum

Price: ~ $1,900

This smaller diameter cartridge is the minimum caliber that should be used for hunting water buffalo. The .375 H&H’s unique design generates sufficient velocity without causing spikes in pressure. It also has a relatively flat trajectory up to 300 yards and great terminal ballistics. A .375 Holland & Holland Magnum rifle typically goes for around $1,900. Since the .375 has a significantly longer design, it requires a longer, more expensive rifle. It is an investment piece, but its versatility justifies the price. This gun will accommodate not only water buffalo hunting, but also many other smaller game hunts. Reviews say compared to some other smaller cartridges like the .308 Win. or the 6.5 Creedmoor, the .375 H&H has quite a bit more recoil.  Although it is not as powerful as the other options for water buffalo hunting, it is still a widely effective and reliable choice.


 .404 Jeffery

Price: ~ $8,250

The .404. Jeffery is not the most popular cartridge in the safari world, but it is still a notable and well respected option for many species of plains game. It has 4,800 ft. of muzzle energy along with easy handloading and ample compatible ammunition available. It also has a beltless design and a large case capacity. .404 Jeffery rifles are a more economical option in comparison to other similar rifles, averaging a cost of $8,250. Reviews say that the .404 Jeffery cartridge makes for an easy shooting rifle and these guns deserve more recognition.

.416 Rigby

Price: ~ $3,750

Either the .416 Rigby or Remington Magnum is the most popular caliber used for water buffalo hunting. The .416 Rigby is so popular for a reason. It has a relatively low pressure load, which is especially helpful in hot weather conditions. A .416 Rigby rifle is worth an average of about $3,750 new. While the .416 Rugby is also suitable for smaller game, the ammunition costs and recoil make it not the most practical choice. It has over 52 pounds of recoil energy, which is more than double the amount of a .30-06 Springfeild for comparison. This is a big kick, but it is still manageable to most experienced hunters.

.458 Winchester Magnum

Price: ~ $1,800

The .458 Winchester Magnum is another popular choice for hunting thick skinned species including water buffalo. With the right bullet, this cartridge can handle just about any game. It is great for short to medium range hunting. Its performance thrives within 150 yards, which is more than enough range for water buffalo. A .458 Winchester rifle is worth around $1,800. Reviews say not to expect a light recoil with a .458 Winchester rifle, but it will still be reasonable. Another thing to consider is if you are someone who does not reload, then the ammunition choices will be limited. However, if you do not mind reloading, then this caliber is super versatile and the lighter bullet loadings help to minimize recoil.


.470 Nitro Express

Price: ~ $19,500

The .470 Nitro Express rifle cartridge is very big and can handle any large game, even elephants. It delivers deep penetration and outstanding stopping power. A .470 NE rifle costs around $19,500, but can fluctuate depending on the manufacturer.  Reviewers have described the recoil as similar to a .416 Rigby, but stronger. It is important that the rifle fits you properly if you plan on using a .470. This is a powerful caliber that can be difficult to control unless you are well prepared and know what to expect.

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Book Your Water Buffalo Hunt with South American Adventure Safari

With water buffalo season lasting 9 months out of the year, there are plenty of opportunities to visit Argentina yourself for the hunt of a lifetime. Getting the chance to see water buffalo up close and personal in their natural habit is an experience you will never forget. Booking your hunt with South American Adventure Safari is the simplest way to begin planning your trip. SAAS does all the work for you, including setting you up with top quality rifle rentals geared to all your needs and preferences. Your only job once you arrive is to relax, take in the breathtaking South American scenery, and go get your trophy.

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