A Dark Continent Cast Bullet Sixgun Hunt, Part 1


Dick showing his shooting form with a Barranti Sixshot sling and his FA .41 Magnum.

Last month, good friend Dick Thompson went on an African hunt. Dick’s no ordinary hunter, choosing to limit himself with sixguns and his cast bullet handloads. Both Dick and I know he’s not limiting himself performance-wise, not by a long shot. However, long shots are the only limiting factor with sixguns. Dick overcomes this by skillfully stalking the game, putting the hunt back into hunting.

Dick’s a true hardcore revolver hunter, using customized Ruger revolvers built to his standards or Freedom Arms five-shot revolvers. He casts his own bullets and hasn’t hunted with a rifle in over 35 years. He migrated to TC single shots for a while, but for the past 25+ years it’s been strictly revolvers.

He coined the phrase, “you never master a handgun” years ago, and it still resonates in my head with its resounding accuracy. Once you’ve established rifle shooting, for the most part, you can pick one up after a year’s absence and still shoot it relatively well. Not so with the handgun. You must constantly maintain and hone your handgun skills to remain proficient. This is the root of why handgun hunting is so challenging compared to rifle.

Africa’s Call

Like many, Dick heard Africa calling. Again. He was there previously, hunting with scoped single shots and a Freedom Arms .475 Linebaugh. This trip he had a custom Ruger Blackhawk chambered in .45 Colt with red dot sight and a Freedom Arms Model 83 chambered in .41 Magnum with Leupold 2.5-8 scope. Arrangements were made, and Dick was off to South Africa.

I’m going to let Dick tell most of this, as it was his hunt, and he tells wonderful stories, as only he can.

Dick with his Nyala. His first shot would have sufficed,
but Dick listened to his PH and put a second round in him.


The first critter Dick came across on his venue was a Nyala. Dick says, “At 55 yards, I planted one of the big 282-grain hollow points (HP) in the center chest and Joe, the professional hunter (PH) said, ‘He’s hit hard, hit him again.’ Thumbing back the hammer, I waited as the bull staggered, trying to stay up. He turned slightly to our left, and I ran a 306-grain solid through him and he dropped, probably moving three to four yards total. Joe was surprised he went down so fast and wanted a cartridge as a souvenir!”

One shot and this zebra disappeared. She didn’t go far, just straight down!


Dick’s next animal was a zebra. It took hours of looking, but they finally found a small herd. Dick says, “After 15 minutes, they come out right in front of us and Tian (PH) tells me 65 yards and the stallion is behind all the mares. He said to shoot one of the big mares. They were going to run. I put the red dot behind the shoulder, lit the switch, and black and white stripes go in every direction.

“Tian says, ‘I can’t see her.’ Then he steps to the right. She dropped right where she stood, behind a bush. The 282-grain HP hit her behind the right front shoulder on a bit of an angle, dropping her, taking out both lungs.” Wow! What a performance for the humble cast bullet! Dick impressed the staff with both his shooting and the gun/cast bullet combination, as they had never hosted a handgun hunter before.

“I used my Ruger 45 Bisley again with the 282-grain HP, and the bullet didn’t exit. The recovered bullet held up quite well, going 1,350 fps at the muzzle from the 8.5″ barrel. Matt, gunsmith for Tyler Gun Works, did one heck of a job re-barreling this gun. It is a shooter!”

Dick and his huge cow Cape Buffalo! Again, one shot would have sufficed,
but you proceed with caution when taking Mbogo!

Cape Buffalo!

Dick didn’t originally plan on taking a Cape Buffalo. While riding with the Ranch owner, they came across a small herd. The owner asked Dick if he wanted to take one. Dick responded he would, but couldn’t afford the tag. The owner offered Dick a cow buffalo for two animals on Dick’s list and the rest is history.

“My normal routine with the 45 Bisley was: first chamber with a 282-grain cast HP, second chamber was a 308-grain LBT powder coated solid. But I only had one of them. Then I remembered I had a 325-grain LBT solid in my pocket I had been showing the PHs. I had taken a few with me, just in case. The loads were 15 years old, and I’ve taken three elk with this load. They go through elk like a chain saw through tapioca pudding.
“So, I quickly slip out the HP, plunk in the big 325-grain LBT solid now backed up with the 308-grain solid and we went buffalo hunting.
“As we approached the herd, they scattered in all directions in the heavy brush and small trees. We made a wide circle, glassed, then came back to the vehicle. When we did, a large bull charged us off our right rear fender and he wasn’t stopping. Verner had to shift gears to outrun him. It was a little goosey for a few seconds.

“Now we make another pass, and the herd is trying to regroup. When the right one came across in front of us Verner said, take that one now! I glue the Ultra Dot to the right front shoulder and sent 325 grains of the best I had towards Mbogo. I took the high shoulder shot and I would trade my Jeep to have had a video of the reaction of the hit. It really rocked that buffalo! It went down on its leg and nose, but got back up, turning away from us. Verner said, hit it again! I dialed up the 308-grain solid as the buff gave me just a slight angle from the left side. I hit her about halfway back on the ribs, aiming for the vitals, and she dropped in her tracks.

“I’m sure the first shot was fatal, but you never take a chance with a buffalo, so it got the second shot. We approached from the back, Verner said many people get killed by “dead” Cape Buffalo, so put one down through the spine, between the shoulder blades, and I did. The buffalo was already dead.

“The skinners recovered the second bullet, lodged up against the right front shoulder. It started out weighing 308 grains and this morning when I weighed it, it weighed 308 grains. This was a water quenched powder coated bullet of my alloy.

“One hunter in camp said this was the largest cow Cape Buffalo he had ever seen, and he’s been on many safaris. He said it could pass for a bull. I am extremely happy. The size of this cow buffalo speaks for itself.”

As you can see, Dick’s choice of using revolvers and cast bullets surely doesn’t hinder his results. As a matter of fact, his performance is exceptional, proving shot placement beats everything. It also proves cast bullets have a place, for even dangerous game like Cape Buffalo.

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