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Discussion Starter #1
The year is 1964 and Marlin have just launched the new 444 rifle...

As a boy I read one of the very first test reports (in Guns and Ammo magazine) and I promised myself that, one day, I would own such a rifle and take it to Africa.

Fast forward to 2011. Last week I took my 444SS to South Africa to hunt plains game and in so doing realised a lifetime's ambition.

I had given much thought as to whether I was making the right choice for this trip in taking this one rifle. But my dream of hunting with the Marlin in Africa would not give me rest, so I packed up the 444 and 50 rounds and flew to Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape.

I need not have worried. The rifle performed well on Wildebeeste, Kudu, Blesbok, Springbok, Impala and Warthogs. Five of these animals have been assessed as Gold Medal specimens and one, a Black Wildebeeste, as Silver.

I know I will never sell this rifle.


Nick.
 

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LongRanger said:
The year is 1964 and Marlin have just launched the new 444 rifle...

As a boy I read one of the very first test reports (in Guns and Ammo magazine) and I promised myself that, one day, I would own such a rifle and take it to Africa.

Fast forward to 2011. Last week I took my 444SS to South Africa to hunt plains game and in so doing realised a lifetime's ambition.

I had given much thought as to whether I was making the right choice for this trip in taking this one rifle. But my dream of hunting with the Marlin in Africa would not give me rest, so I packed up the 444 and 50 rounds and flew to Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape.

I need not have worried. The rifle performed well on Wildebeeste, Kudu, Blesbok, Springbok, Impala and Warthogs. Five of these animals have been assessed as Gold Medal specimens and one, a Black Wildebeeste, as Silver.

I know I will never sell this rifle.


Nick.
What ammunition did you take, factory or handloads?
 

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Congrats on a dream come true.

I have been thinking about a 444 and I want one now more than ever. And I haven't even received the 336RC I bought online last week. I need a break from here, I can't afford it!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Dawei,

I have developed a load which comprises a Hornady 265g JFP XTP bullet over 48.5g of Vihtavuori N130 with a Federal Large Rifle primer in a Remington case. I do not crimp the bullet. This combination runs at 2200 fps through the chronograph. The only way I could obtain these Hornady bullets was by buying them as .54 cal muzzle loading sabots in boxes of 15 as old stock from a local dealer - not the cheapest way it has to be said. (Usual disclaimer - this load works fine in my rifle but could blow up in yours, etc). The Federal primer is an important part of this combination as I have changed the factory hammer spring to a Wolf spring and was experiencing the occasional light strike on different brand primers. Switching to Federals solved the problem instantly.

It is a devastating cartridge on Warthog, which are notoriously tough to knock down, with instant kills on a big stationary animal at 70 yards and also on a big tusker running flat out down hill past me at about 50 yards - he tumbled for twenty feet or so before coming to a halt. I missed him in front, I think, with my first shot but dropped him with a fast follow up shot - this is where lever guns excel of course. Both were solid shoulder hits.

I recovered the bullet from the first hog and the metal jacket had performed flawlessly, peeling back as it should. It had lost 103 grains of weight from the lead core though. I was not present when the bullet was recovered so I cannot explain this. The bullet was not recovered from the other hog as it went straight out through leaving large holes each side.
 

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Long Ranger,
I envy you the Safari with the 444. I would love to have both the Safari and a 444. Please more details about both and any photos you may have. I know I am not alone in the request. I have looked at the ballistic tables on the 444 for years and still believe it is a great cartridge for almost anything that walks this earth. Details about the Safari please. Thanks.
 

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I too read about the Marlin 444 back then, I also read about the 350RemMag, and a little later the 25-06, I have had all three since 1977, IMHO the 25-06, 444 and the 350 will do it all. I was warped from a young age!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Camerajam and friends,

Thanks for your interest and kind words. My trip to Africa was a long time coming. It is, I think, an unfortunate fact of life that a lot of people, and I include myself, have to attain a seniority in years before such trips become financially viable. It was a big deal for me. As part of the pre-trip plan I had to lose 40lbs off my weight and was I glad I did.

Travelling time, door to door from home to the hunting lodge at Thorndale which is about an hour north west of Port Elizabeth in an area known as the Sundays River Valley was around 33 hours. This involved three flights from my home. I was too excited to get any sleep on the night flight out of London to Johannesburg. I was met at the airport in Port Elizabeth a few hundred miles south of Jo'burg by the main man, Polla, a very experienced professional hunter or "PH" and ex Springbok team rugby player. I had barely time to unpack when I was told there was still a couple of hours of daylight and that we were going hunting.

I was quickly introduced to the head tracker, Petros, and his assistant, Boutie. Less than an hour later we had stalked in on a small group of Impala and I was invited to take a nice ram. I was glad I had my sticks with me as they looked to be a good sporting distance away. Somehow I had the presence of mind to take my time, and I was elated to see the ram drop on the spot with a neck shot which Polla ranged through the finder at 174 yards.

It was an amazing start to the week's hunting. The Impala was a fine specimen, easily making Gold Medal standard.

I will try to post some photos but I am happier with a rifle than a computer so I don't know if that will work out.
 

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Congratulations on a fantastic hunt!!! I've only owned a 444 about 3 years, but have no doubt It will handle anything I will come up against in Montana. At 58 with 5 of the 7 kids still in the home, I'm afraid I will never realize my dream of an African Safari. Thank you for sharing to allow me to still daydream. DP
 

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I'm glad you had a great time. I was surprised to read that the 265FTX did so well on thick skinned antelope, especially the Wildebeest. I am sure it made that 174 yd shot alot easier.
 

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I was 2 on March 1, 1964 (Spring Chicken here)...

Congrats on the "Bucket List" check mark!!!

What's next?

*v*
 

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Nick,

congrats and welcome to Marlin Owners. hope you get the picture thing to work out.

where you from?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi Joe S,

Thanks for the welcome. Still haven't quite cracked the picture thing - thought I had it but my pics have been rejected as too large, so I need to shrink them. Should be easy, right?

I have not been on the site for a few days as I had been feeling a little off colour. A visit to the Doc confirmed my suspicions - tick fever - Africa's revenge. The antibiotics are starting to kick in and the accompanying rash I'm learning to live with. My wife is far from convinced that it is not transmittable. Not so good is that there can be absolutely no sipping of whiskey until the course is done...not much fun when the fever symtoms replicate a pretty good hangover.

But I was not surprised as I was still picking the odd tick off my body even after I got home. So I had to ask the wife to conduct a full "inspection" - even that didn't locate all the little devils. I know what you all are thinking...too much information... :)
 

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That sucks man! Hope you shake it soon.

Nice to get to know ya
 

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Go to www.shrinkpictures.com, rezive them down to 25% and follow the rest of the instructions. Someone here suggested the site to me, and it's easy.
Sorry to hear about the ticks, but I suppose that's better than Black Water Fever, or whatever it was that killed Robert Redford's pal in Out of Africa,ha. I am still impressed with that 265FTX results you got. I have been blessed to have hunted plains game several times, and found that all the bigger antelope have thick, heavy skin. We used Barnes XBT exclusively, from .35 Whelen Improved to .340 Weatherby, and one guy used the Winchester 270 Fail Safes in his .375H&H. Kudu and up seemed pretty thick skinned, but especially the zebra and the Blue wildebeest. Might I ask where you hail from?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ok, still working on getting a photo or two posted, in the meantime I hope you might be interested in my the tale of the Kudu Bull.

I was very keen to try for a trophy bull and from midweek onwards Polla was working hard at putting me in the right spot for a shot. We had tracked a very large bull for more than three hours one morning when it occurred to me what was going on. It was just me and Petros. I asked him if he thought the Kudu knew we were trailing him and he just smiled and nodded. So, while it was very exciting, there was no way we were going to get in close enough for a shot while the big bull was leading us around and playing the wind against us in heavy cover.

It was not until the third day, having moved to a neighbouring area owned by farmer and professional jackal shooter, Johan, that I sensed that we could be on for a shot. We had seen a couple of lone big bulls during the day but had not managed to get close. It was getting late in the afternoon and with daylight just beginning to wane we decided to make our way off the hills and down into the valley to radio up our transport. The big Toyota 4x4 was soon with us and stopped quietly, engine off. Suddenly Johan hissed that there was a bull standing in the hill we had just come off.

I found myself staring at a huge bull through the Leupold 4x. His body was hidden behind bushes but his head and neck shone in the evening sun. And he was looking right at us. I don't believe I either heard the shot or felt the recoil of the 444 but instantly there was shouts that he was down. The two trackers ran forward. Johan was grinning as he took the rangfinder from his eye and said 167 yards.

Then there was a big commotion from the trackers. The bull had dropped alright but had come round and struggled back to his feet and turned on them as they approached. I could not cover the ground fast enough yelling at the trackers to stand back. The bull then turned on me and at a range of 6 feet I had to shoot him through the head. Game over.

What had happened, apparently, was that my first shot to the neck had dropped him ok. He was down, but not out. I was amazed that he was able to get up again. Luckily, the finishing shot had entered the bottom of the left eye socket and exited at the base of the right horn, with no trauma, so the trophy head was fine. He was a wonderful fully mature specimen of about 12 years of age and Polla assured me he would have him shoulder mounted. I guess I had a few Irish whiskeys that evening.
 

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nice
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Hi Preacher,

Thanks for the helpful advice on the photos. You are of course quite right about the bigger plains animals being tough, especially wildebeeste. My wildebeeste hunt turned into an epic. It was like shooting at a tree. But the 444 did the job. On the other hand, I have a friend recently moved to my neck of the woods (Ireland) who was a professional hunter in Zimbabwe. He had a client put 8 rounds from a .416 Rigby Ruger into a black wildebeeste before it decided to lie down.

I have been told that blue wildebeeste are not to be trifled with if wounded - a very sobering thought. I had a small group move in on me while crouching in a tiny grass hide (I think you would call it a blind) way out on the plain. Very exciting!
 

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Ireland! Well now, most of my folks are Scots-Irish, and on my mothers side they are 'Pure-Dee" Irishmen,ha.
I am glad you didn't get "skewered" on those corkscrew Kudu horns,ha. My first trip over, I used a 35 whelen Improved and the old style Barnes 250X at 2550 fps. I took Blue W., Red Hartebeest, zebra, kudu, Gemsbuck with it. ( I used a 300winmag and the 180XBT on Blesbuck, Impala, and a 375 H&H 270X on a warthog, just to see!) I only recovered two bullets from the Whelen, both from lengthwise shots on zebra and Kudu (48", but very nicey shaped) all the broadside shots exited, shoulder bones and all! My second trip, I started out with a .340 Weatherby and the Barnes 210XBT, then went to a 300Winmag and the Barnes 180XBT. We hunted the Transvaal then drove over to Namibia and shot a bunch of Springbuck and Gemsbok. My Third trip, I went back to the 35 Whelen Improved, but this time with the Barnes 200X. Shot a Black Wildebeest at 347yds (ranged) with scope on 5X. Also shot a big zebra mare around 250yds, but used the 300 Win with the 180XBT on a 150yd shot on a big Red Hartebeest. I had a ball, got screwed out of my Gemsbok, Black hartebeest, Impala (23") and the Red Hartebeest mounts by my "so-called" Afrikaner friend. Long story. He is "Forgiven", but I ain't dealing with him anymore. ha.
Try soaking in a tub of tepid water and a bunch of tea bags for that rash, it works for sunburn, should work on that rash same way. You may as well just "quit" drinking that nasty Irish Rye while you are on the Wagon anyhow,ha. :-* :p
 
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