As to sights, I think the open broad v best, made very broad with a silver line, or ivory or platinum pryamid, leading to the centre of the notch. These are much quicker in use than any form of peep sight, and I consider telescopic sights only necessary for old men whose sight has failed. They are heavy and very easily damaged by a fall or knock, and in cases where they are fitted an opening should be left for using the ordinary V sights when necessary. They are sometimes fixed to the side of the barrel, which is a good plan.
After firing at an animal with a magazine rifle, load up at once, as the noise of the discharge drowns the noise of the magazine working. With practice one can be very quick with a Mauser or Mannlicher-Schonauer; in fact so quick that a charging animal will not have come far before one is ready.
A single magazine or a falling block is generally more accurate than a double, as with the latter it is difficult for the rifle maker to adjust both barrels to shoot the same.
People who have done a lot of shooting with a shotgun often prefer a double rifle, as they say they can shoot quicker, especially for running shots. This may be so, but rifle shooting and shotgun shooting are two absolutely different accomplishments.
With a rifle, if the sights are not properly aligned on the object, the bullet will not hit it except by the greatest fluke, and with a shotgun hand and eye act together, and there is not the need of great accuracy with a charge of small shot.
No doubt if some of our best shots with a shotgun had bullets in their guns instead of shot, they would often hit at short ranges, but they would not hit much at the ordinary range for big game shooting, which is usually between 100 and 200 yards, even if the ball carried as far.
For a sum of from £12 12s. to £20 one can get the best magazine rifle made, and nowadays fairly large bores can be got in magazine form, such as .375, .404, .416, and .425.
The .416, which has lately been introduced by a first class London firm, shoots a very strong charge, and the solid bullets have particularly well covered nickel jackets, so as to improve penetration. Such a rifle I would infinitely prefer to a double .450 or .470; and with a 7.9mm. as the small bore for all-round work one could not do better than get one of these new .416 Mausers for use on very heavy and dangerous animals. Being special rifles, they cost 30 guineas, but this figure includes a rubber heel pad and a spare front sight.
Such a rifle would be the best for elephant and rhino obtainable, used with solid bullets, and, with hollow point or soft nose bullets, buffaloes would seldom need more than one shot with such a rifle. The bullets weigh 410 grains, the velocity is about 2400ft. sec, and the striking energy at muzzle is over 5000ft lb., which is equivalent to the .450 type of nitro rifles.
In making particular mention of the 7.9mm. and .416 rifles I have, I believe, mentioned two of the best weapons in existence for the big-game hunter.
For Asiatic or American shooting these would be just as serviceable as for African game, although for the latter country the 7.9mm. is enough.
The .450 and .303 bores are barred for importation into India, and also into Uganda, I think, except to Government officers.
Having given my ideas as to the best rifles, whatever these opinions may be worth, I shall now mention something about tents and camp equipment.
As with firearms, the great desideratum should be lightness combined with strength, so I think the best tent is a single fly covering. A good pattern is the " Whymper," as it only weighs about 351b. complete with poles, pegs, ropes, and hammer, and it has a ground sheet sewn in which is useful as an aid to comfort.
Instead, however, of having the back sewn as a fixture, I think it should be made to open like the front, and, if a small window with mesh is made, it makes the tent cooler.
If a window is made, there should be an outside flap, with tapes (or hooks and eyes), to draw over the opening in case of rain or wind.
Another good tent is one known as the " Patrol," 7ft. high and 8ft. by 8ft. It has walls of about 2ft., and is roomier, but slightly heavier, than the " Whymper."
Needless to say, all the tents and everything made of canvas should be the canvas known as " Green Willesden."
There are several good patterns of beds, and I have found none to beat the "X" pattern; tables and chairs can be bought of this pattern also, though the strongest chair is an ordinary deck-chair with seat made of green canvas to lace on.
A folding canvas bath and a bucket and basin of the same material will be most necessary, and, of all the kit, perhaps one of the most important items is a small-mesh mosquito net. I say " small mesh," as sandflies will go through an ordinary-sized mesh, and they are quite as troublesome in some places as mosquitoes.
Candle lamps are the best for travelling, as paraffin oil is difficult to carry without leakage, and if it gets on things, especially foodstuffs, it is most objectionable.
Cooking pots are best made of aluminium, as it is very light and strong. Its wearing qualities are most excellent.
A china or crockery cup or two is a comfort, and the best I know are a German pattern, made very thick and solid. These are seen on the German East African line of steamers. It is wonderful how a china cup will last through much rough travel, and I have had cups remain unbroken for a year or two. Of course, a few enamelled iron cups and plates should be taken, and these latter are more easily cleaned than aluminium.
The sportsman will likely take a camera, and a Kodak of 3 A size (post card size) is one of the best.
A pair of binoculars and perhaps a good telescope will prove most useful, in fact necessary at times, and the kind chosen is a matter of personal choice.