If you are not bothered by the recoil go w/ the 300rum. If the recoil bothers you send it to Kirby and have him put one of his painkiller brakes on it. It will make it so you can free recoil the rifle. I think the 30 cal will give you more option especially since you do not hand load yet. Don't let anyone tell you it is too big for deer or other smaller big game. It makes them dead when you shoot them, and my experience, the smaller bullets seem to do more meat damage than the larger bullets.
Buy any quality factory rifle and go from there. You will get lots of opinions as to what brand to buy, like asking what brand of truck to buy. I have done very well with my Sako, and Browning rifles. Get one that is comfortable to handle, and has a nice crisp trigger.
Thanks for your help!! One more quick question, where does the 7mm rum fit in with the others I asked about.
The 7mm RUM falls just below the 300 mags.
Now for a complete answer to your question. You are after a rifle that will be capable to taking elk a 400-500 yards. So all the calibers you mentioned are capable to that. However lets take a look at the ballistics of the matter. First off you will be using factory loads seeing as you don't reload thus we take handloading out of the equation. Next you are talking about a factory rifle thus the long barrel with a heavy dose of slow powder is gone. This leaves us with a factory rifle having roughly a 26 in tube and factory ammo. Given this I would stick with the 300 RUM. This round is a bit more common the the 7mm rounds and will do all that you need. Also as mentioned before in terms of terminal ballistics it is a better choice as it leaves a bit larger wound channel and a bit larger hole(s) to bleed out of. However you will give up some of your external ballistics however this will be minimal given the factory ammo.
Happy I would just go with the 7 MM Rem Mag if your limit is 500 yds. You will need to choose the right ammo for the job, but remember your hunt is going to be 7,000 plus feet above sea level and the KE numbers are much higher downrange at that elevation. Here is a great load if it shoots well for you:
At 7000 feet elevation it will delivery well over 2,000 lbs KE at 500 yards which is more that adaquate for any responsible angle shot on an elk. Actually this company has some 06 loads that would work fine to 500 yards at 7000 foot elevation.
The 7mm RUM is a great cartridge as is the 7mm Dakota and STW. Long shot makes some good points about the 300 RUM, but here's my take. If you are getting a factory rifle and shooting factory ammo then your likely not going to be getting better than MOA accuracy out of it, plus or minus. This will limit your long range shooting to maybe 500 or 600 yds. For economy and performance, I would recommend a 300 WM. The ammo is going to be a lot cheaper than the 300 RUM or WSM, or 7mm RUM or STW. IMO, the 300 RUM is more than you need and will cost more to shoot and there is much mor variety of ammo availble with the 300 WM. If you plan to upgrade and customize your rifle someday, then the 300 RUM or 7mm RUM would be good choices. If you are going to upgrade your rifle and start reloading, then I personally would stay away from the belted mags, such as the 7mm RM and 300 WM.
Last edited by MontanaRifleman; 10-08-2008 at 08:05 PM.
Sendero SfII, jewell trigger. Load: 68 grains retumbo, fed 215m primers, 180 berger. Jammed into lands. Shoots super tight groups. However, the gun seems to be copper fouling more than usual which is bothering me. It seems I'm getting copper around 30 rounds. When new it seemed I could go farther. Oh well, shoots lights out. Almost forgot: That's max load in the book. How do you like the finnlight? I was looking at one the other day for backpacking. I'm gonna haul in the superpig tommorow for the opener. Has a Ferrel base and rings and a Mk4 6.5-20x50 lit. Also sports a harris swivel 3-9 and horus vision cosine with level followed by a eagle stock pack. It should kill my shoulder quite nicely after the first 10 mile tomorrow.
I just started working up loads for my Finnlight and got the barrel broke in last week and showing very little signs of copper fouling now. Yesterday I shot my first half inch group just in time for antelope this weekend. I wasn't thinking about LR shooting when I bought it last spring but I figure it's a good way to break into the sport. I've got an NSX 5 1/2x22x50 on it. I'm hoping I can fine tune my load to sub .5 The Finlight and NF weigh 8 3/8 lb together, not bad for hauling around.