Of the cartriges mentioned, the 300Win is the hands down winner. By far the biggest bullet sellection is a 30 cal. So gopher to godzilla you can pick an optimum bullet for any task at hand. Imo there's no such thing as overkill when you put Elk in the mix, (especially at L/R). Its nice to see Berger comming out with an optimum 30 cal bullet, so now we can compare apples to apples with the old 7 vs 30 debate, & the big 30 wins again. Nice to not have a lopp-sided comparison. The only place a big 30 comes up short in comparison to a 7 is recoil, & muzle brakes make that a non issue.
My personal minimum caliber cutoff for Elk is a 270. Since all my rifles have to pull double duty, that religates anything smaller to a "varmint gun, or a deer/varmint gun crossover, so I personally don't consider those smaller cartriges "optimal" for allround Western hunting, when L/R Elk are on the menue.
Given the choice tho, with L/R Elk thrown in, I'm goin with a big 30.
If Brown bears are on the menue, id still rather have a 388, but wouldn't feel undergunned with a 300 loaded with the propper bullets. Can't say that for the other rounds you mentioned personally.
Now, I'm not saying any of those other cartriges "cant kill Elk", because we all know they can, have, & will continue to kill Elk. I'm also not trying to take anything away from proven performers like the good ol' -06. I'm simply giving you my opinion in the "best all round western big game cartrige" and since Elk are in the "west", & this is an L/R site, I'm naturally adding that into my opinion & given the cartriges you listed, that is my opinion. 300 wm gets my vote.
Im having to agree with you. What you say sounds damn right!
Location: The rifle range, or archery range or behind the computer in Alaska
Re: best western US hunting round
The 'best' is such a subjective term and there are so many capable, proven and versitle rounds to choose from.
My vote would be cast to the 300 Win Mag, or 300 WSM. A close second would be the 7mm Rem Mag.
Nothing wrong with the 260, 6.5x284, 308 or 30-06 either.
All of the above are the best in their own right. There is more to a gun/caliber than being suited for western big game such as recoil, cost of operation, barrel life, gun weight preferences etc....Its hard to pick one for everything AND every one.
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (how bad your last shot was, how big the group is going to be, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.
My first hunting rifle was a model 700 BDL in 30-06, it is a great rifle. For the last 8 years I have been using the 300 win mag in a 700 as well. I love this round! I think it all depends on how far you intend on shooting. If you do not intend on shooting beyond 300 yards than an 06 with a 180 gr will do fine, however beyond that distance it really bleeds off velocity and energy. The 300 win mag retains high energy at longer distances with the 180 gr bullet. The 7MM's are pretty awesome too but you can't get the heavier rounds for this caliber that you can get for the 300 which is why in my unqualified opinion I think the 300 win mag is the most all around caliber. The one big thing I would look at before a purchase is the price of ammunition. The 300 ammo gets a little costly.
I am a hard core 30-06 fan. You can bust elk out to 700 yards easy to shoot and doesn't need a brake. You can buy ammo anywhere on the planet if need be. With the right set up very very accurate. My second for a all around would be the 300 WM. Almost the same availability of ammo as the 06 just a little harder to shoot without a brake. Either would be an excellent choice as the one rifle for everything.
Out here in the S.E corner of B.C. in the rockies, we very seldom have to shoot any thing past 200 yards.
I have both the 06 and 300 win mag. I prefer the 06 over any of the other rifles I have. The only thing that the 300 knocked down was a griz that my son took last year. It was a 295 yard shot, one hit, one dead bear!
The 300 is a nice rifle but to much recoil, it did have a muzzle break but I took it off because of the slap in the face when you fire the darn thing!
After 3+ decades of guiding and outfitting elk hunters in Colorado, I have come to the conclusion the 7mm can do anything the 30's can do, with less recoil. I've had numerous 30's, mostly magnums, and 5 7mms, mostly magnums. I've shot everything from prairie dogs to elk with all of them, and my personal all-round favorite, do it all caliber is the 7mm Rem mag. Superior ballistics give this round a decisive advantage at long distances, with basically identical recoil to the '06. It does not give up enough in energy or momentum to the .300 Win mag to justify the added recoil of that round. This is all just my opinion, but it's mine.
I've had muzzle breaks on a 7 Rem mag, .300 Jarrett, and .358 STA, as well as similar, unbraked, rifles up to 458 Win mag. The brakes work, and very well. I'm just tired of all that muzzle blast.
It comes down to personal preference, as animals shot with these rounds don't know the difference. Hit well, they die fast. Shot poorly, they run off. When it comes to elk at ranges somewhere beyond 1K or so, if I'm going bigger than my 7mm, it will be a .338, but that, to me, is getting into another level that I'm not exploring... yet.