Back From Vacation. Now I Can Bore You With (Gun Related) Vacation Photos …

Hi there TFB readers. I am back from my vacation in Southern Africa. I would not say I am well rested, it was not that sort of vacation, but I do feel invigorated. I love Africa, having lived there for a number of years, and going back is a special treat. I am going to avoid the temptation to turn TFB into a travel blog and bore y’all with my travel photos and adventures, but I will share a few gun-related encounters.

Zambia Police AK TFB-1

These two men look like militiamen but they are in fact regular Zambian policemen. I approached the young man (on the right) who held the rank of Constable, who I guessed was around 17 years old, and asked him if I could get a photo. I was hoping to get some close up photos of his very old beat-up AKMS rifle. Unfortunately I did not notice his boss, an Inspector, sitting under a tree in the shade across the road. The constable was very enthusiastic about getting his photo taken, I must have inadvertently paid him a compliment, but after taking a few moments to look back and forth between me and the Inspector he decided that he better get permission first.

The Inspector was not a green teenager and was very suspicious. He launched into an interrogation, probably trying to determine if I was a Western journalist. After a check of my passport followed by countless questions about my reasons for being in the country and my profession (I answered the latter questions with very vague descriptions of what I for a living) he finally consented to a photo.

Just down the road from those two cops I ran into a tried, hot and sweaty AK-toting police sergeant who discovered that my papers were not in order (thanks to an incompetent Zambian immigration official). I dreaded the the idea of being dragged to a Zambian immigration office in the midday heat and tried to convince him that it was not my fault. I don’t think he bought my argument, but fortunately for me he seemed just as enthusiastic about hauling me off to at lunch time as I was about being hauled, which is to say not at all. He instead decided to compromise by ensuring I crossed the boarder into Zimbabwe, which was fine with me since I was heading there anyway. These errors then caused some delays in Zimbabwe when a immigration officer happened to pick up on them.

Gun-wise Zimbabwe was uneventful. I noticed some interesting ancient revolvers in holsters of security forces, but not in situations where I felt motivated to ask for a photo. After Zimbabwe I continued south to South Africa.

When I reached Cape Town I was determined to visit a South African gun store. Google was not very helpful, leading me to stores that had closed or moved without updating their address online. After wasting half a day trying to find one I gave up. Luckily I found one of the nicest gun shops I have ever had the pleasure of visiting when I visited the famous wine-producing town of Stellenbosch (Do you remember the vineyard scene in the movie Blood Diamond? That was set in Stellenbosch).

safari and outdoors Stellenbosch , Cape Town TFB

Safari & Outdoor has an African hunting lodge theme going. It was all wood panelling, animal trophy heads, leather couches and even a coffee making barista! Men and boys were sitting around on couches drinking coffee and reading gun magazines. Genius.

safari and outdoors Stellenbosch , Cape Town TFB 2

safari and outdoors Stellenbosch , Cape Town TFB 1

safari and outdoors Stellenbosch , Cape Town TFB 2

safari and outdoors Stellenbosch , Cape Town TFB 3

Later that day a retired Colonel and a group of locals took me shooting at one of the many vineyards that surround Stellenbosch. My terrible camera phone photos do not do this beautiful part of the world justice

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range 1

range 2

range 3

We shot a number of rifles and pistols ranging from .22 to .300 H&H. Nobody owned semi-automatic rifles and I do not recall seeing any at the gun shop, although I did seem them advertised in a South African gun magazine. I meant to ask the locals why they did not have semi-autos, but I forgot. Pistols seem to be the easiest guns to own. I believe rifles and shotguns need proof of a “legitimate” (ie. not self defense) reason for ownership. One person told me he had to get a farmer to write a letter saying he had permission to shoot on his farm before he could get a license to own a .22 bolt action rifle.

braai 2
After the shooting a braai was started behind the range and boerewors was grilled for lunch. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Ok, I promise I won’t bore any of you again with my vacation photos … until the next trip.





Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • I can answer why semi rifles arent as common as in the states, firstly only dedicated sports men and collectors can gain access to semi rifles. Secondly, its illegal for sports hunters to use semi auto rifles for hunting. I personally dont have an issue with the legal arrangement in this country for the ownership of fire arms but really hate the how poorly administered the process of gaining a firearms license is.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      Thanks for the information Anton. I had not realized semi-autos were not allowed for hunting.

  • noob

    Welcome back Steve! Beautiful photos.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      Its good to be back!

  • noob

    Is that a suppressor on the end of the rifle laying on the table next to the two pistols?

    • It looks like it doesn’t it.

    • It is legal to own suppressors , provided you have a rifle to go with it, in South Africa

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      Yes it was. Not sure who made it, I don’t think I fired that rifle.

  • Don McArthur

    I hate those white plastic chairs, universally. They are a blight upon the earth.

  • Steve (TFB Editor)

    I did not mention it in the blog post because it was not gun related, but I Cape Town I was given a tour of the Navy’s Type 209/1400 submarine facilities. I was fortune enough to be allowed to have a play on their ETB (Engineering Test Bed) that runs all the submarine computer hardware along with environment simulators. It is used to test software upgrades before they deploy on the subs. It includes a replica of the combat information centre (CIC) section of the submarine which is used to train the submariners. Between training sessions I was able to play around with the subs information consoles, which was pretty fun. After that I toured one of the Type 209 subs. The South Africa subs are notable for having a lot of female submariners. I don’t know what the ratio is, but about half the crew on board when I was there were woman. If you have you not been on a sub before, let me assure that there is less than zero privacy aboard them.

  • Steve (TFB Editor)

    I did not mention it in the blog post because it was not gun related, but I Cape Town I was given a tour of the Navy’s Type 209/1400 submarine facilities. I was fortune enough to be allowed to have a play on their ETB (Engineering Test Bed) that runs all the submarine computer hardware along with environment simulators. It is used to test software upgrades before they deploy on the subs. It includes a replica of the combat information centre (CIC) section of the submarine which is used to train the submariners. Between training sessions I was able to play around with the subs information consoles, which was pretty fun. After that I toured one of the Type 209 subs. The South Africa subs are notable for having a lot of female submariners. I don’t know what the ratio is, but about half the crew on board when I was there were woman. If you have you not been on a sub before, let me assure that there is less than zero privacy aboard them.

    (Photos attached of the sub and the ETB. I did not take these photos)

    • noob

      After global nuclear war, the only people with working gonads will be government officials, submariners and miners. I’m glad more of them are female these days.

  • Brian Haines

    Wow, look at all that ammo!

  • Andrew Tuohy

    Really awesome photos, I am jealous. Africa is a special place.