Handgunning In Africa

Fresh back from Africa, I have a new respect for the savvy species that inhabit the continent.

This trip was a combination of field tests and personal tests to assess the muscle of Smith & Wesson's X-Frame handguns. I was joined by several industry members and we tested both the .460 S&W and the .500 S&W. Each was topped with an EOTech EXPS3 sight for fast target acquisition in the thick, South African brush. I teamed my handguns with Hornady Custom Handgun ammunition. The .460 shot the 200-grain FTX like a pro and the .500 was a shoe-in for the 300-grain FTX.

Our group was as diverse as the species we pursued, and everyone had a favorite animal they wanted to check off their list. I spent several days in the company of Paul Pluff, director of marketing communications for Smith & Wesson. Paul was targeting eland, but fate has a way of intervening, even half a world away.

For the first day Paul and I hunted side by side, flipping the coin as who would get the chance to stalk any animal we stumbled across. We didn't get a shot the first day so the next morning we split up and Paul slipped into one blind and I another. Halfway through the morning we heard the distinct thunder of a .500 and knew Paul was likely grinning. He was. When he and his tracker met up with us at midday, Paul was all smiles while sharing the story of his warthog encounter.

But that wasn't the end of Paul's pig feats. He and I were teamed up again and in pursuit of a waterbuck a few days later. I climbed to the top of a high, rocky outcropping to peer over the other side with my tracker. Paul stayed a few feet below, examining the real estate before him. Suddenly our professional hunter (PH) said he saw movement on Paul's side. It was a bush pig group—an oddity in daylight. They were on the move as they paralleled Paul's position. I watched as Paul lined up on a small opening and, as the big male hit the shooting lane, our PH whistled. The pig stopped and the .500 S&W roared, dropping the hog in its tracks. I was impressed, not only with the stopping power of the bullet, but also the great shot that tallied more than 100 yards and through an opening not much bigger than a laundry basket.

Paul was likely the first hunter to take both a bush pig and a warthog with the S&W Performance Center .500 X-Frame handgun. We dubbed him "Pig Man Pluff," and he proudly proclaimed, "Smith & Wesson: Bringing home the bacon since 1852."

Stay tuned next season for a great episode of Africa hunting in handgun style on North American Hunter-TV.