Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why are so few doubles in use in Africa today?

Dear Cal:
Why are so few doubles in use in Africa today?
Phil Adams, USA

I love to see doubles at work in Africa and would love to see more of them. However, I doubt that will change unless the lower priced doubles from the continent become more popular. First of all is the expense of a vintage or modern English double. I know it may surprise some of us, but today’s PHs are not the highest paid professionals in the working world. The average PH‘s wage in Zimbabwe is US$150 per day and up to $225 per day if he has and maintains his own vehicle. Even by African standards and the cost of living there being low, it would take a long, long time to save up for a good double.

With the above, is the chance of theft or confiscation in Africa. Add to that is the chance of theft whilst flying between African airports and then charter flights. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m definitely not saying it is dangerous to fly with a double but, when you do it all the time, year in and year out, the chances of loss increase.

The value of a double, added to cost of repairs, may make it a poor choice for a working rifle in Africa where the rifle may not be treated with the tender, loving care it deserves. Gunsmiths, I mean qualified gunsmiths, are few and far between in Africa and the choice of a bolt rifle makes more sense. Also, ammunition availability is easer to come by and is less expensive with most bolt action calibers than with double rifle calibers.

Added to the above, is the fact that many PHs have a member of their African camp staff clean and care for their rifles. Some may have a staff member carry their rifles when in the bush. The average worker does not know the value of a rifle ‘with two pipes’ and may treat it a bit rough.

Last of all, is the increased magazine capacity of a bolt rifle. It may make many modern hunters feel a bit more secure knowing they have four or more cartridges in reserve. Especially when backing up a client with little or no experience.

Good shooting,