Best Caliber for Croc
I just returned from my third plains-game hunt in RSA and I want to return next year for crocodile. My PH told me to hunt crocodile with whatever rifle that I am most comfortable with, but recommended solids. Kevin, what is your recommendation? My PH actually took a croc in the Limpopo River with a .22-250 Rem, but I don't want to be undergunned. I was thinking about my .300 Win Mag with Barnes solids.
Wouldn't the world be a boring place if we all agreed on everything?
I just returned from 21 days in Zimbabwe's Zambezi Valley and while there one of our hunting party took a monster Zambezi River crocodile. I was on hand to assist with the loading thereof and it was good to reacquaint myself with just how big and tough these big lizards are. The outfitter I was with, and my good friend, Gavin Rorke, has more crocodile experience than any other I know of (he personally shot over 3,000 on a cull in Mozambique in his youth).
To answer your question: no, I do not quite agree with your SA PH's advice that "any caliber will do as long as you only use solids." Sure, within reason this will work, but it is my experience and that of Gavin that good quality expanding bullets are a lot more effective simply because they are more destructive and offer a significantly enhanced level of shock transfer.
Personally I think the .375s are the ideal medicine for really big crocs when used with a quality 300-grain soft point like a North Fork SP, a Barnes TSX or a Swift A-Frame.
The secret with croc hunting is to hit them in exactly the right place the first time--and the right place is only about a golf ball in size. If this can be done with a scoped .375 and a good 300-grain soft point, then this is my recommendation. Then, once the croc has been anchored with a brain or spinal shot just behind the smile tip, a couple of 300-grain solids through the shoulders and hips (to stop it from standing up and getting away even after being declared brain dead) is a good thing.
Many crocs have, however, been successfully taken with the various .30 cartridges and quality bullets in the 180- to 220-grain range, so your .300 Win Mag would certainly work just fine. I would recommend the best quality 200-grainers you can find and to then make sure that your rifle shoots them exactly to point of aim at the expected shooting distance.
You will also need some solids to shoot into the shoulders and hips. These target areas are a lot bigger so do not lose any sleep if the solids do not shoot exactly to the same point of aim as the soft point. Remember, it is the first shot which has to be perfectly placed.