Kilimanjaro Rifles - Custom Rifles - Founder's Blog

Kilimanjaro’s 2010 African Field Tests:

Twenty-Seven Days Of Flawless Performance In The Harsh Conditions Of The African Bush.

Kilimanjaro Rifles field testing

For five weeks, and a full 27 days of hunting, including 21 days in the Selous Reserve of Tanzania, Kilimanjaro Rifles recently subjected its rifles to the most strenuous field testing in the harshest African conditions. Many hunters are wary of subjecting rifles as beautiful as Kilimanjaro’s to the rough conditions of the field, but that is what we create and craft them to handle.  From the strength and stability of our Stealth Lamination of fine Turkish Walnut for the stock, the beauty but toughness of our twenty step “Museum Grade” wood finish, to the even tougher but elegant non-glare finish of our ceramic metal coating, every aspect of a Kilimanjaro rifle is designed and crafted to handle and excel in the roughest of field conditions. As important, we design and craft them to look good (and to stay looking good) while doing so. At Kilimanjaro, we demand tight tolerances for accuracy and smooth operation without slop or play. At the same time, however, our actions must be designed and honed to handle and continue operating flawlessly in the grit, dust, dirt, ash and mud to which they will be subjected in the field. This is a delicate balance, and one we put to the test in the field.

Rifle field testing in Africs

This year, it was to South Africa and Tanzania, the home of our namesake mountain, for the testing. During a week in South Africa, we were able to test the prototypes of our new Kilimanjaro Doctari Professional Hunter Rifle with its designer, Dr. Kevin Robertson. We also subjected our other Kilimanjaro rifles to the dust, thorns, brush and rocks of the South African veld. In Tanzania, the rifles were subjected to more than three weeks of the ash and carbon residue from the burning of the long grass, as well as the dust, dirt and mud of the Selous, while enduring daily long stalks through thick Miombo and Acacia forest bush. Add twenty-seven days of bouncing in the gun-racks in the Land Cruisers, more than 30,000 air miles on planes big and tiny, 18 different occasions with airline baggage handlers, and we put the rifles to the test.

Without cleaning or maintenance of any kind (not even wipe downs in camp), the rifles functioned flawlessly and smoothly for the full duration of the hunt, and finished looking every bit as beautiful and unblemished as they started. They took 16 of 19 trophies with clean, quick one-shot kills, including African Lion, East African Leopard, Hippo, multiple Cape Buffalo, Eland, Masai Bushbuck, Nyala, Kudu, Waterbuck, Common Reedbuck, Warthog, Blue Wildebeest, Gemsbok, multiple Lichtenstein Hartebeest, Impala and Egyptian Goose (a nice free-hand head shot with a 416 Rem., but that is a long story). The first shots on the remaining three would have done the trick, but prudence demanded a follow-up shot on a very tough Gemsbok, a Cape Buffalo, and an Impala. Despite several exciting stalks at close quarters for Elephant, we unfortunately did not find a suitable bull to round out the remainder of the Big 5 on this hunt. Add three different close-quarter encounters with Black Mamba, lions in camp (five on one night alone causing pure pandemonium with the safari staff), as well as elephants and leopards in camp on other nights, and we had a fine African safari experience in the old-style tradition of Roosevelt, Hemingway and Ruark.

As a result of our field testing of currently available scope mounts for Sako 85 dovetailed receivers, Kilimanjaro is now in design and production of our own sturdier and rock-solid scope mounts for these actions. We hope to introduce these along with the new Doctari sights, and the Doctari Professional Hunter Rifle, at the SCI and Dallas Safari Club shows in January 2011. Dr. Robertson will also be joining us at the SCI show in Reno for the debut of the Doctari Rifle which he designed. We will have more than twenty other examples of the finest full-custom hunting rifles on display. We hope to see you at the shows.

Leopard taken with one shot with a Kilimanjaro African 375H&H Rifle

Field testing of this sort also allows us to talk with and gain insight from the most experienced of the African Professional Hunters. Their comments, suggestions, likes and dislikes, are all valuable to us as we move forward crafting the best hunting rifles in the industry. Their combined experience with various cartridges and bullets also helps us in advising our customers during the design and development of their own unique rifles. Kilimanjaro extends its appreciation to Professional Hunters Rob Klemp and Dylan Corns of Siyabonga Safaris in South Africa, Professional Hunter Terry Calavrias of Zuka Safaris of Tanzania, and Dr. Kevin Robertson for their invaluable assistance and advice during our field test hunts, and to Zuka’s Ryan Wienand and Peter Daffner of PD Safaris for their insights and advice over far too many drinks in the Sea Cliff bar in Dar Es Salaam. Thanks also to Annelise of the Afton Guest House in Johannesburg for the exceptional hospitality so many of us African hunters depend upon in route to our safaris.

If you have not hunted Africa, you need to do so. Contact us.  Not only can we provide you with an exceptional rifle for your hunt, we can assist in placing you with the finest outfitters and professional hunters for your own ultimate African safari experience, be it a more modest plains game hunt or an old-style full-bag safari.

Cape Buffalo taken with one shot in the Tanzanian Selous with a Kilimanjaro African 416 Rem. rifle

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