There are folks here with much more experience than I, but many would say .338 for elk. That said, many take elk cleanly with smaller calibers and good shot placement. Some say that if you want to kill elk beyond 1K yds, you should definitely think about the .338 vs. smaller calibers. If I were you, I'd add another chambering or two to your list. .338 Lapua, .338 Lapua Imp, 30-338 Lapua and 30-338 Lapua Imp, 338 RUM, 338-378 Weatherby and 338EDGE. There...did that make it any more simple for you?
In terms of recoil--get a good brake. Take a look at those that some of the smiths here sell. Kirby Allen's PainKiller series and Shawn Carlocks Defensive Edge brakes are a good place to start. Been hearing about a 'muscle brake' here lately as well. Do some searches and check 'em out. Good luck and have fun!
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