I first met Don Heath about five years ago during a hunt in Sweden. He was working for Norma. They were lucky to have him. Don had more experience doing dangerous things, with guns, in dangerous places, than most could ever imagine. He was also a humble man, eager to lend advice and share his knowledge.
Don worked with me extensively on a study about controlled round feed actions. I mention this because I would like to share an excerpt from that work to illustrate Heath’s pragmatic approach to the debate.
“Many years ago I wrote an article extolling the necessity of having controlled feed on a dangerous game rifle. Shortly afterwards I got shot in the right shoulder and had to shoot left-handed for nearly 18 months. I bought a Winchester 71 and used it fairly extensively. It then struck me how many elephant and buffalo I had shot on problem animal control duties with my issue F.N. FAL, which is of course a push feed. Also, in every fire fight I carried a push feed weapon. For most of the dissident war I carried a BREN and for the rhino war an F.N. or sometimes a SIG 550. Large groups of People with AK’s and RPD machineguns are a hell of a lot more dangerous than elephant or buffalo where trouble usually comes singularly.”
“I have seen many, many controlled feed weapons jam. I have seen many push feed rifles – mostly Winchester M70’s – function 100% fine. There are “problem” rifles. The Remington 700 in .416 Remington is a particular example. And, I hate Weatherbys. I’ve seen them seize up and their ejectors disintegrate but have never seen one fail to feed. Many hold the Mauser in the highest regard and when properly built it works. But, if the magazine box is wrong then you will have feeding or loading trouble and far, far too many people who should know better have tried to take short cuts with Paul Mauser’s work.”
“At the end of the day, the feed mechanism is irrelevant, provided that the rifle is 100% reliable in both feeding and ejecting under all conditions. The three requirements for a dangerous game rifle are reliability, reliability and reliability.”
You may not agree with Don and that’s fine. However, you’re more likely to have a remote and romantic weekend with Kate Upton than you are to have more experience on the matter of dangerous game and dangerous game rifles than Mr. Heath.
Sadly, Don will no longer be able to argue his point. He passed in late 2015. We have lost an experienced and talented hunter and a genuinely good man. I am proud to have known him and benefited from his knowledge.
For more about Don Heath click HERE