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June 19, 2006

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The Guns I Own: the Dakota Model 76 African


Whenever I go to the SHOT Show, I try to sneak by the Dakota Arms booth without looking at the guns or making eye contact, because I know I have as much self control around Dakota rifles as the average Senator does around a lobbyist with an open checkbook. I mean, you see some stuff ...

Anyway, about 5 years ago, there was a rifle there that had been built for a customer who could not pay for it, and so it was up for grabs. It was a Model 76 African, which is the standard Dakota Model 76 in a heavy caliber and with all the bells and whistles. It was a .450 Dakota, which is ballistically identical to the .458 Lott--500 grains of bullet at 2,400 fps out of a 23-inch barrel.

This particular rifle had one of the most spectacular stocks I’d ever seen--fiddleback Bastogne walnut with figure running from butt to muzzle. (Bastogne walnut is a hybrid--claro walnut crossed with English, and it produces some very showy blanks.) The rifle had a dropped magazine, giving it a 5-shot capacity, mercury recoil reducers in the stock, and Dakota’s own muzzle brake, which you need. It had express sights and a Leupold Vari-X III 1.5X-5X scope in Talley detachable rings.

Well, what the hell. I figured if I ever went chasing after Cape buffalo again this was the ideal rifle, so I resigned myself to living on cat food in my retirement and bought it. So far, it has not killed a buffalo, but there is always tomorrow, and in the meanwhile it’s fun to just admire it or take it to the range and frighten people with its godless blast and inhuman recoil.


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Peter Caroline

That is one gorgeous rifle! And so what if you never use it on a Cape buffalo?
Years ago, I was doing some freeelance writing for US Repeating Arms and, because they had cash flow "issues," I agreed to be paid in merchandise. I selected a Model 70 in .458 Win. Mag. with a nice piece of wood. My wife asked me, "Why the elephant gun?" My answer, "Quite honestly, because I didn't have one."


Nice Rifle!!!! It’s a fine example of functional art.

And don’t worry about the temporal financial hardship. There’s gov’t cheese to sprinkle on the cat food.



That is a gorgeous gun. Every person who has not yet purchased a large caliber rifle dreams of it. What kind of scope is that? Hopefully you'll be able to put it to good use.

Dave Petzal

To rboes: It's a Leupold Vari-X III 1.5X-5X, and thanks for the kind words.


"Godless blast?" "Inhuman recoil?" GO, DAVE!

mike shickele

As one who is frightened of dislocating my shoulder, and scratching wood stocks in the field; it is not a gun that I would own. Who knows though; the last gun that I bought was a Rem mod 7 with a custom piece of wood resembling the new CDL.
Perhaps there's hope for me yet.

Jerry C

To be honest,.....i've never hunted with my favorite "hunting" rifle,.....its too pretty!!!!


Go Dave! Life's too short to hunt with an ugly rifle. Besides, if a Cape Buffalo ever ventures into your yard, you'll have a blast!

O Garcia

There are lots of things to like about the Dakota. As Dave said in the listing of the 50 Best Guns, there's hardly anything wrong with it, mechanically, aesthetically, it's one fine gun. It is one of the few new guns that easily qualify as a "classic" action. (Even the Dakota cartridges are cool, too bad they got sideswiped by the beltless short magnum revolution.)

As a bonus for us sinistrally-inclined, it is available in left hand.

What do I not like about the Dakota? Just one thing, really. Too much $$$$$. Even the barreled action alone costs thousands.

Of course, like they say, if you have to ask [how much], you probably can't afford it. It's probably not the rifle for you either.

You are lucky Dave.

Now where did that T-Rex go?


Incredible rifle - one that could be considered an heirloom to be passed down from generation to generation with pride.

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