A mad keen buffalo hunter, Graham Williams has been very busy, as usual, during the dry season in Australia’s vast and tropical Northern Territory. The Professional Hunter, who has 20 years of guiding experience, has long been converted to the .416 Rigby cartridge and his life depends on his Rigby bolt rifle by the London gunmaker.
Three decades ago I recall meeting Paul Roberts in the UK and returning home with some Rigby brochures which featured the huge .416 Rigby case and its ballistics. At the age of 24, a friend booked a banteng and buffalo hunt in Arnhem in the Northern Territory and I tagged along.
Colin had a .470 double and I carried a .375H&H. I can still vividly recall the excitement of my first shot at big game – stopping a wounded banteng at eight yards that was charging at us. It planted a seed for big game hunting and the requirement for a heavier calibre rifle.
After a few trips to South Africa and Zimbabwe I decided to start my own hunting business in 1997 called Outback Expeditions, which took enquiries by telephone, fax or post. When email and websites arrived, we changed the name to Australian Buffalo Hunters.
One of my first guiding back-up shots was at a running wounded water buffalo. With glimpses through the trees, my .416 Rigby raking shot at 250 yards dropped the buffalo in a cloud of dust. It was amazing. My investigation found that the 410 grain Woodleigh bullet had entered the left rump and stopped in front of the brain with over eight feet of penetration. From that point on I knew why many African hunters chose the .416 Rigby cartridge for all game and all circumstances. It has incredible penetration and the best Mauser-controlled feed action with four rounds available.
After three years of hunting buffalo in wet mosquito-infested muddy swamps, we then secured some huge concessions in dryer central Arnhem land. Early on, Paul Roberts and his nephew, Ricky, did a buffalo hunt with us, and he brought two stunning bolt-action rifles in .450 Rigby and .416 Rigby. Paul could see for himself that Australian water buffalo are as tough as the African Cape buffalo.
For over 20 years now we have offered wilderness safaris, real adventure, classic canvas-tented safari camps. I enjoy excellent Coonawarra wines, smooth whisky and most of all ethical hunting. Hunting buffalo in the hot and dusty wilderness takes some beating.
I believe many hunters seek old-style real hunting and real adventure. We have worked with Blaser Safaris for many years and that resulted in one of the current managers at John Rigby and Co. coming hunting with us a few years ago.
It has been an honour to be associated with Rigby for a long time. My Rigby .416 Big Game rifle is getting some hard use and many scratches. I must say the current Rigby Big Game series with its stock design, cheek piece, forend, balance and barrel contour all make this the most comfortable .416 Rigby chambered rifle I have ever shot.
The 416 caliber is not a compromise. Rather, it is the ideal size for any large and dangerous game. When compared to even larger calibers, the 416 is at least as effective for getting to the vitals at any reasonable angle; and even when not necessarily from a reasonable position. Physically, the frontal area, sectional density, and velocity of a 400- to 410-grain bullet presents the best overall combination of any other bullet from .375″ and larger. Further, bullet placement is the most critical factor, and the 416 Rigby is quite comfortable in recoil compared to so many larger-bore cartridges. My first use of a 416 Rigby Rifle dates back far earlier than the current stock design, and with its greater drop I must admit that recoil was a bit of a chop. However, the dimensions of the current stock make it a pure pleasure to shoot. Now, quite some time past its 100th Anniversary, the 416 Rigby is not only quite probably the best dangerous game cartridge and rifle available, it is also possibly the best cartridge for that purpose ever designed.
Paul Roberts did a .416 safari with us in Botswana many years ago. It may make a real interesting newsletter as Harry Selby was the PH and Jack Carter who designed the Trophy Bonded bullet was also on the safari.