SAFARI ED“You don’t know what you don’t know.” NOW YOU CAN LEARN! By Craig Boddington

Africa remains the hunter’s paradise. She offers the greatest variety, and a safari is truly the world’s last great adventure. And, if you shop well, the world’s most affordable big game experience! In the wake of the pandemic, Africa is opening up. The game is almost always abundant, but with so little pressure for nearly two years, more plentiful than ever in many areas. Africa’s outfitters and their staffs—and Africa’s wildlife—need your business. And many of you need to get out. The opportunity is there, and the timing has never been better!

Cape buff-shot placement
There’s something about dark animals that confounds the human eye, making proper shot placement difficult. Safari Ed can’t cure the problem, but offers visuals and suggestions that will help

Planning a safari is a big step! Some African hunts are admittedly expensive…but not all. The cost for a memorable, life-changing plains game safari can be similar to a guided elk hunt in the Rockies, or a caribou hunt in Alaska. However, hunting Africa is not free, and cannot be compared to “do-it-yourself” public land hunting. As a visitor, you must hire a licensed professional hunter…who will have a staffed camp and hunting areas. A safari is thus an investment in memories. Taking the plunge can be daunting, so it makes sense to prepare well and, the more preparation, the more successful you will be…realizing the most from your investment!

Crawling
So, what are the best ways to ensure safest possible firearms handling when crawling in on an animal? Safari Ed offers suggestions!

So, how do you prepare? There have always been great books on Africa, and countless magazine articles. Today there are excellent videos and films, but there’s never been “everything you wanted (and needed) to know” in just one place. Which is why my old friend Conrad Evarts and I created Safari Ed!

Boddinton _ Hunting _ Cert
Today, the required Hunter Safety certification is almost universal in the United States. Boddington still carries the California Hunter Certification card he received at Camp Pendleton in 1975.

When I was a youngster, “hunter education” was in its infancy, and not yet required in my home state. My first “hunting training” was when I was stationed at Camp Pendleton; I needed a Hunter Safety certification to get a California hunting license. Since then, Hunter Safety has become almost universal in the United States. In some states the requirement depends on birth year and rolls forward a year every year. All US states reciprocate in accepting an approved course so, no worries, I still have my tattered 1976 California Hunter Safety card…and I carry a copy with my hunting license.

Today’s courses are more standardized, often with a mixture—or choice—between on-line and classroom training. The up sides are obvious: We want all hunters, not just new hunters, to be safe, ethical, and more successful. The down side, especially in some areas, is limited availability of required classroom instruction. We are all aware of the necessity to recruit new hunters, and difficulty in obtaining required certification can be a roadblock.

Hunting_ Cert_ 2
Caroline Boddington with her first game animal, a California wild hog. Obtaining the required Hunter Certification delayed her first hunting experience for several months because of limited availability of course.

American delays and inconveniences are nothing compared to what prospective hunters must undergo in some countries. In Germany, it takes a year or more of weekly night courses to obtain a hunting license. Passing the final exam is pretty much a one-shot deal, and failure carries a major stigma. Gordon Marsh, proprietor of LG-Outdoors and Wholesale Hunter e-commerce sites, took the year-long curriculum when he was a young soldier stationed in Germany. The framed license holds a place of honor on his office wall. I am not aware of any “hunter-training” requirements as rigorous as Germany’s.

Finland_running_moose
Required hunter training is much more rigorous in Europe. Shooting tests are often required; this Finland’s “running moose” target, required in order to hunt. The target runs on a track and is shot standing unsupported at 100 meters.

Even there, temporary licenses can be granted to visitors. However, in many European countries one must pass a shooting test in order to hunt. In Finland, I had to pass the “running moose” shooting test; in Sweden, it was the running boar. The target moves on a track—not so slow—and shooting is standing, unsupported. Not so easy!

Safari Ed wasn’t intended to be difficult, or to put anyone on the spot. Instead, it’s informative, fun, and visual, hundred-percent on-line. It will answer a lot of questions, many you probably hadn’t even thought of.

Gun_safety_ 2
A big difference between Africa and the hunting most of are used to: In Africa, hunters are rarely alone, often with a professional hunter and multiple trackers. This changes gun handling protocols.

I was young when I went on my first African safari. Like most young people, I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. For a person my age (mid-20s), I’d done a fair amount of hunting, but I also wasn’t as experienced as I believe myself to be. I made a lot of mistakes on my early safaris because I didn’t know what I didn’t know! I’d read everything I could get my hands on, but in those days, there was no internet and no outdoor TV. Today, these resources are invaluable…but I wish there had been Safari Ed, a focused program that addresses both the specifics of African hunting…and the differences between Africa and the hunting most of us are familiar with.

gun_safety
Safety is safety…but, in Africa, when should your rifle be loaded?

Safe gun handling is what it is, and is fairly universal, so (as an author) of Safari Ed, I’d be the first to agree that basic firearms safety is a review. However, in Africa you are almost never hunting alone, so there are important nuances…including gun safety while stalking, tracking, even crawling!

Shooting is a bit different, too. Before I landed in Kenya I’d never even heard of “African shooting sticks. Today they are more common…but they remain in almost universal use across Africa. I still see a lot of first-time African hunters who have done little practice shooting off sticks. So, Safari Ed is rich in what I call “stickology!”

Stickology
Three-legged “African shooting sticks” are in almost universal use on safari. Safari Ed spends a of time, with demonstrating videos, on “stickology.”

 Africa is a huge continent with tremendous variety of wildlife. All African hunting isn’t the same, and there are many options for the modern safari. So, we broke Safari Ed into segments. We start with hunting the non-dangerous game, the antelopes, pigs, and zebras. The “plains game” safari is far the most common today, also the most affordable. Then we move up to buffalo, on to hunting the great cats, and then elephant. The final segment is the aquatics: Crocodile, hippo, and the semi-aquatic antelopes, collectively requiring some of Africa’s most specialized hunting.

Packing tips
Throughout, Safari Ed offers tips on essential and special equipment…along with packing tips!

In all the segments you will find basic information on the animals and their habitats; conservation notes; hunting techniques; shooting and shot placement; recommendations on rifles, cartridges, and sights…and special equipment. There are other places to go to help shop for your safari but, when you go, you’ll be more ready, more successful, and you’ll have more fun if Safari Ed is part of your preparation!

Visit the Safari Ed website Click Here https://www.safari-ed.com/

AR PLATFORM PERFORMANCE By Craig Boddington

More juice from the lemon?

Warm, sunny midday, we were tootling around Zack Aultman’s place in southern Georgia in a four-wheeler. A decent-sized boar jumped up on the forest verge and started jinking across a clear-cut, running at top speed like a champion broken-field runner. Zack was driving and there was an AR-15 between us. I knew it had a loaded magazine in the well, but I was a second slow on the uptake and the pig had already covered some ground before I got the rifle charged and up. The first shot felt good, but I guess the pig zig-zagged out of the way because there was no apparent effect.

Boddington and his friend Zack Aultman with a Georgia hog
Boddington and his friend Zack Aultman with a Georgia hog dropped in its tracks at about 200 yards with the .308 Arrow cartridge. Based on the 7.62x39mm with body taper removed, this cartridge seems to develop about as much bullet weight, velocity, and downrange energy as can be wrung out of the AR15 platform

I lost sight in some brush and figured I’d had my chance—and then the pig reappeared, still in the open and streaking off, now pushing 200 yards. Swinging hard, I got with the pig and a bit ahead. Lucky shots sometimes happen; at the second shot the pig somersaulted in a cloud of dust. The animal had gone down so fast—and so hard—that I assumed I’d broken the spine. Nope, by mysterious coincidence (or the pig’s incredibly bad luck), the bullet had struck center on the shoulder, and there was no exit.

My friend Zack enjoys a long deer season on his place, and has an ongoing problem with feral hogs. He’s also a bit of a rifle addict, so there’s no telling what he might have on hand. Other than to verify it was a “normal” AR with empty chamber and cartridges in the magazine, I hadn’t looked closely at the rifle when Zack handed it to me. Considering hogs are always in season and, knowing Zack, I assumed it was reasonably zeroed. Now we both paused and took a closer look, because the way this little rifle flattened that hog was impressive.

AR Bolt
Almost all rifle actions have limits on cartridge size. The standard AR15 bolt face is sized to the .223/5.56mm’s .378-inch rim diameter. The bolt face can be altered, but the AR15’s integral magazine well and magazine put a sharp limit on cartridge length.

Look, maybe that was a fluke…like my shot. No two animals react exactly alike upon receiving a bullet, and flukes can be both good and bad. So, when evaluating cartridge and bullet performance on game, it’s risky to make assumptions based on limited exposure. I make no definitive claim, but terminal performance gave us pause. The rifle was from Arrow Arms in nearby Macon, Georgia, and the cartridge was their proprietary .308 Arrow, propelling a 125-grain jacketed hollowpoint at 2814 feet per second.

The .308 Arrow, left, shown with its parent cartridge, the 7.62x39mm Russian.
The .308 Arrow, left, shown with its parent cartridge, the 7.62x39mm Russian. Essentially an “improved” version, the .308 Arrow increases velocity by removing body taper and using a sharper shoulder angle.

 There’s nothing magic about those numbers, slower than a .308 Winchester, also faster, and yielding more energy at 200 yards, than anything else I’ve shot out of an AR15 platform. The AR10 was developed for the 7.62×51 (.308 Winchester) cartridge. In the late 1950s, Gene Stoner and his team the AR10 scaled down the AR10 to create the AR15, lighter, handier, and intended for smaller, less powerful cartridges. The .223 Remington was essentially a parallel development, created in 1957 to fit the AR15 action.

Remington released the .223 Remington as a sporting cartridge in 1963, and in 1964 both the .223 (5.56mm) and M16 were adopted by the U.S. military. The .223 quickly became a popular varmint and target cartridge, but decades would pass before semiautomatic sporting versions of the AR15 achieved widespread popularity. During most of those decades, the AR15 and the .223 Remington (after 1980, 5.56x45mm NATO) were inextricably linked, with few other options.

During the last 20 years, much effort has been expended developing cartridges that increase, or significantly alter, performance from an AR15 action. Cartridges are often developed for specific actions…especially popular actions. And, most rifle actions have limitations. Over decades, Winchester developed several cartridges for their 1894 lever-action. Most were based on the .30-30 case because the ’94 needs a rimmed case…and the action has both pressure and cartridge dimension limitations.

The .300 AAC Blackout has become extremely popular.
The .300 AAC Blackout has become extremely popular. Although it offers the advantage of using standard AR magazines, it was at least partly designed for suppressed fire. Velocity is low, and Boddington considers it extremely marginal for hunting.

Even the versatile bolt-action has restrictions. Classic and current bolt-actions like the 98 Mauser, Winchester Model 70, Remington Model 700, and Savage 110 can be adapted to a wide range of cartridges, but cannot house the largest cartridges like the .338 Lapua and .378 Weatherby family (although there are extra-large bolt-actions that can).

Action length is always a consideration. As a detachable-magazine rifle with integral magazine well, the AR15 action is limited to cartridge length of 2.275 inches. This is a short centerfire rifle cartridge. Cartridge overall length specification is 2.825 inches for the popular 6.5mm Creedmoor. The Creedmoor (and the entire .308 Winchester-based family) fits easily into the AR10 action (because that’s the cartridge size it was designed for), but you simply cannot house that size of cartridge or that level of power into an AR15 action.

On the bench with a left-hand-eject AR from Wilson Combat.
On the bench with a left-hand-eject AR from Wilson Combat. The incredible popularity of the AR15 platform has led to much cartridge development. There are numerous options but, ultimately, the action size can yield only so much power.

There’s only so much juice to squeeze from a lemon. However, because of the incredible popularity of the platform, a lot of cartridges have been developed to squeeze just a bit more juice from the AR15. Cartridge length is the primary limiting factor. The .223 Remington case can be necked up or down, changing bullet diameter and weight, which dictates potential velocity. The .223/5.56mm rim diameter is .378-inch. Without altering bolt face, this is also a limitation, and you can’t alter the case shape much without going to cartridge-specific magazines.

chambering, ARs
Depending on chambering, ARs are suitable for a wide range of hunting. For sure, it’s a ball to use an AR for shooting prairie dogs!

Among others, the very fast .17 Remington is the .223 case necked down; the .300 AAC Blackout is the .223/5.56mm shortened and necked up, but designed so standard 5.56mm magazines can be used. The AR15 action can handle a wider or fatter case, which increases powder capacity. Winchester’s .350 Legend retains the .378-inch rim and, at 2.25 inches, is short enough. However, the rim is rebated (smaller than the base), and the base diameter is larger (.390 inches). Wider cases with rebated rims are also how they cram the .30 Remington AR and .450 Bushmaster into the AR15 action. Both of these use a rim diameter and bolt face of .473-inch, same as the .30-06. Performance is amazing from the little AR15 action. However, magazines must be modified (with a single-stack follower), and magazine capacity is greatly reduced.

Jason Morton and Boddington with a good Kansas whitetail
Jason Morton and Boddington with a good Kansas whitetail taken with a CZ 527 bolt-action in 6.5mm Grendel. AR15-compatible, the Grendel is a versatile hunting cartridge but, provided velocity is meaningful, no 6.5mm can hit as hard as a .30-caliber.

It’s probably not a coincidence of design that the AR15 action easily houses the 2.2-inch 7.62x39mm Russian. Propelling a 123-grain bullet at a bit over 2400 fps, the 7.62 Russian is obviously a long-proven military cartridge. It’s also a pretty good hunting cartridge, effective on deer and hogs at short to (very) medium range, with performance on game on par with the .30-30 (which is not damning with faint praise). With rim diameter of .447, the standard .223/5.56mm bolt face won’t work, and specific magazines are required, but the 7.62mm Russian is a fairly common and popular AR chambering. The 6.5mm Grendel, which I like very much, is simply the 7.62x39mm case necked down with body taper removed. It is much faster, propelling a 123-grain bullet 2650 fps. Now 20 years old, the 6.8mm SPC Remington is another option. Designed as a military cartridge to offer better terminal performance than the 5.56×45 yet with minimal reduction in magazine capacity, the 6.8 SPC is also an effective short to (very) medium range hunting cartridge. Based on the old .30 Remington, the 6.8 SPC has rim diameter of .422-inch. Although never widely adopted by the military, the 6.8 has its fans, but I never warmed up to it.

n Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel
An Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel in a prairie dog town. With light recoil and the aerodynamic advantages of 6.5mm bullets, the Grendel is a wonderfully versatile AR cartridge…but the 6.5mm (.264-inch) bullet doesn’t have the hitting power of a .30-caliber.

As a hunting cartridge, I considered the 6.5mm Grendel one of the most versatile options for an AR, and still do. Then, by chance, I ran into the .308 Arrow. It is nothing more, nor less, than the 7.62mm Russian case, blown out to remove body taper, with sharper shoulder, but retaining the .30-caliber bullet. It is thus essentially an “improved” version. A proprietary of Arrow Arms (www.arrowarms.net), the improvement is considerable, with Hornady offering cases and dies.  Arrow Arms loads are rated: 125-grain bullet at 2814 fps; 130-grain bullet at 2739; and 150-grain bullet at 2545 fps. This is still far short of .308 Winchester velocity; that’s just not possible from the AR15 action. However, these are very credible velocities: Much faster than the .300 Blackout, 7.62 Russian, or .30-30, and in the ballpark with the .300 Savage (also not damning with faint praise).

hogs taken at sunset with a .350 Legend.
A couple of hogs taken at sunset with a .350 Legend. Although chambered in bolt-actions, Winchester’s .350 Legend is AR15-compatible, sharing the .223/5.56mm bolt face. In any action type, it’s a fine short-range hunting cartridge, but lacks the velocity to be effective beyond about 200 yards.

Unlike many of the AR cartridges, the .308 Arrow was not designed as an alternative military cartridge, nor for use with suppressor; it was designed as a hunting cartridge, to wring maximum .30-caliber performance from the AR15 platform. Again, it’s dangerous to reach conclusions based on limited exposure. However, like so many Americans, I believe in .30-caliber performance…and I believe in at least moderate velocity. We probably have all the cartridges we need (maybe too many), so I don’t predict huge popularity for the .308 arrow. Even so, it’s a sound cartridge that really does squeeze a bit more juice out of the AR platform. I’m going to spend a bit more time with it.