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elk rifle help

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Unread 11-11-2012, 02:01 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Western Colorado
Posts: 253
Re: elk rifle help

Originally Posted by rsess32 View Post
im looking into getting a new rifle for hunting out west, more specifically elk hunting and i was wondering if i could get some recommendations on a rifle that will be accurate at 1000 yards and still carry enough punch to take down an elk. I've looked a bit into the .300 win and wsm, .300 rum, .308, and the 6.5 grendel. What would you say is the best gun for this job? Thank you so much for your time.
Great advise so far on the rifle to go with. Also look at where and how you are going to hunt. "Out West" and elk hunting usually means packing weight at altitude and that's before you get to the weapon system; rifle, ammo, LRF, wind meter, ballistic computer/smart phone, GPS, etc.

I just bought a 16 pound 338 with a NF NXS. It's a great rifle/optics package and I love it, but not so much on the uphill bits. On a couple of hikes I was only half joking with my grandson about trading for his R700 Titanium 270 win.

Suggest looking at how much weight you can comfortably carry in the areas you hunt as being a big part of the equation.

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Unread 11-11-2012, 02:07 PM
RTK RTK is offline
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Left coast, kalifornia
Posts: 331
Re: elk rifle help

You got that right Jack, not all hunts are as easy as some see on TV. Weight adds up fast and hills get much steeper with age
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Unread 11-11-2012, 04:56 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: May 2007
Location: California
Posts: 458
Re: elk rifle help

After decades of hunting elk, and to a lesser extent similarly sized African plains game, I would agree with all of the above...especially the last few posts about rifle weight.

How comfortable you feel with your rifle is absolutely the most important factor in the success of any hunt. I mean complete confidence in scope, cheek weld, trigger release...under all conditions (rain, snow, sweating hot, freezing cold, out-of breath, etc.). You and your rifle must be best buddies (but not to the point of carelessness).

Being the least bit afraid of releasing the shot is the kiss of death in any firearms dicipline; therefore, choose your caliber with that foremost in mind, i.e., don't pick some hard kicker you don't have time to truly master.

Practice, practice, practice...dry firing and live firing as much as possible...and remember: "tiger" the reticle on the target, and release the trigger smoothly.
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Unread 11-11-2012, 08:34 PM
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,614
Re: elk rifle help

I'm having an elk rifle being built right now and I"m going with a 300 winmag. Just heard about this new 210 grain Nosler ALR. If the bc really is what they are advertising it's going to be a tough bullet to beat.
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Unread 11-12-2012, 06:40 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Pocatello Idaho
Posts: 557
Re: elk rifle help

these guys are on the right track and i agree 100%, to truly shoot "long range" 500 yards and beyond you will need a weather station of some kind, the atmospheric conditions change around here hourly and some times quicker and you can not shoot accurately past 500 without knowing them period....that being said you will need a range finder, a ballistic program of some quality that has been tested and that you can rely on and most importantly a rifle you shoot and shoot well that has been validated out to and past your chosen affective range. i would suggest any of the 7 mags, 300 mags, 338's etc. for elk you want raw horse power in the event you make a so so shot at distance so you get two holes instead of one little one, i would lean towards the accubond if your goal is 0-1000. at close range you want a bullet thats bonded and will hold together you want to break an elk down trust me they can soak up inferior bullets. whatever caliber you choose shoot a well costructed heavy for caliber bullet with a high bc, work up a great load one that is consistent and with low extreme spreads, validate it at ranges past your goal hunting range and shoot alot and get use to your rifle and what its capable of. If your not comfortable with your rifle it will not perform the way you want it to, get it set up so it feels right in every position, then ..... go shooting and practice,practice,practice...........good luck
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Unread 11-13-2012, 11:34 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 805
Re: elk rifle help

I agree with almost everything said.

First define how & where you will be hunting. A 16-pound .338 Ultramag outfitted with a NightForce is great for long-range use UNLESS you are climbing mountains. A 6.5 pound rifle with a titanium action & carbon-wrapped barrel is great for climbing mountains but not suited for launching heavy bullets at high velocity unless you are looking at having your brain rattled in your skull every time you pull the trigger.

2-weeks ago I was elk hunting high in the Rockies. My GPS measures 12,388 feet of total ascent ON FOOT the first day as we trailed, and eventually cut-off a herd of elk. On that hunt I planned on carrying my .300 Weatherby but it had "issues" so I carried my Weatherby Accumark in .338-.378. I REALLY felt the weight of the Accumark and it's much lighter than a lot of rifles on sale on this site.

Next consideration is a muzzle-brake. Muzzle-brakes are a tradeoff in that they make rifles much easier to shoot accurately but also make hunting with ear protection mandatory. If you are apt to be jumping game at close ranges, hearing game is critical so I recommend against hunting with a muzzle-brake. If you are hunting open country, hearing protection won't hinder you much, so muzzle-brakes are OK.

I believe elk rifles START with the .300 mags and run up to the .375 H&H. The many .338s are generally the best cartridges for elk in that they offer heavy enough bullets to penetrate even on "less than ideal" hits while shooting much flatter than the .375 and larger loads. Many have said the .340 Weatherby is the best "all round" elk cartridge and even though I've never owned one, I agree. My suggestions for "general" 1,000 yard elk cartridges: .300 Weatherby or RUM, .338 Win Mag, .340 Weatherby, .338 RUM, or .338-.378 Weatherby. Of these, most hunters can handle rifles up to .340 Weatherby without a brake. In a "light rifle", I would start with the .300 WSM and Win mag and stop at .340 Weatherby.

Beyond 600 yards even small differences in wind and weather conditions can make the difference between a good hit & a poor hit that will have an animal die slowly several days later. For 600-1,000 yard shots you must have a good rangefinder, inclinometer, weather station, ballistics software (or lots of charts), a very accurate rifle with a good scope, and most importantly, LOTS OF PRACTICE. The higher the velocity and greater weight of your bullet, the more "room for error" in your shooting and shot placement.
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Unread 11-15-2012, 11:56 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Colorado
Posts: 69
Re: elk rifle help

Good stuff. Buano and Elk Hunter I agree whole heartedly with 95% of what you say. I wouldn't nit-pick with the other 5% if you hadn't said it so adamantly: weather station, weather conditions..."you can not shoot accurately past 500 without knowing them period". Come on - I have to waive the BS flag on that one...a little evangistic there. I've killed bull elk 4 of the last 5 years at 500+ yards - one shot kills, public land Colorado with no weather station and no ballistic software - just a rangefinder and dropchart. If you keep your shells in a pocket and somewhat temperature stable, 40+ degree temp swings and 3000ft alt density changes only affect a bullet path by an in or two at 600 yds.

1000yds is a bit different, but you guys make it sound like hitting an elk at 500 or 600 takes every bit of science and vodoo that a mile takes. Come on. Agree--get an accurate gun, accurate load, good bullet, practice and all that, but all you need is ONE drop chart for your approximate elevation, temp etc, and you can kill em all day long very accurately at 500-700 or 800 - if you have a high BC bullet at good speeds. I'm expanding to 800 and beyond and know I need the weather info, calculator and more, but don't tell all those dead bulls I needed it under 700. Nice to have - sure, if it doesn't take 10 minutes to work it all, but absolutely necessary - no way! I had the shooter app on my droid this year, but after playing several what ifs and knowing I'd likely be 800 or less...I didn't see the real value added - I just left it in camp and used the old tried and true drop chart - got my bull - 622 yards.

I do agree on the gun weight thread like all the others. I have a 16# gun, for a purpose, walk (hopefully a short way) to a ridge and sit/shoot. If I'm hiking miles, and doing more of a general purpose hunt (not just sitting a ridge) - I'd never use that gun in a million years. I have an 11-12# gun I use for that - to cover 800yd and under long shots and still be able to carry. Even then, as I've stated elsewhere, it's darn hard to hit well on a quick, unbraced shot (for me) at that weight...it's a compromise. This year when I went walkabout for elk (almost no chance of a long shot) I took my daughters 7# gun...sweet. Gotta decide if its dedicated real long range, or long range and carryable, or how you plan to hunt. If no other elk rifle yet, probably don't want a 16lb 1200yd beast as only horse in the stable.
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