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Help me decide on an elk rifle

 
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  #1  
Old 04-20-2014, 10:48 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 69
Help me decide on an elk rifle

I just found out that I will be going on my first elk hunt! I live in the Midwest so the largest rifle I own is a .308. So I am in the market for a new elk / multipurpose rifle.

1st question: what cartridge? As I look at articles I see .300 win mag, 7mm mag, 300 wsm and .338 win mag. mentioned the most. I will probably not be hunting elk with a rifle much, I hunt with archery and muzzleloader the most. Therefore I want a more multipurpose gun for doing some long range work (target and deer / antelope). I would probable not take a shot on an Elk over 500 yards and only if I have confidence in the rifle and the shot conditions. I shoot long-range varmints but big game with rifles is new to me. Here in Indiana we are limited to slugs, muzzleloaders and handguns. I have only hunted out west once for antelope and I used a 7-08 handgun to take him at 200 yards.
Some day I would like to own a 6.5 X 284 but the outfitter recommends 300 win mag? What are your thoughts? Most important thing to me is accuracy. If a 300 wsm is inherently more accurate than a 300 win mag. I would lean that way, for example. Also I am a reloader so I can work up loads to fit the rifle.

2nd question based on your answers above, what rifle? I could go cheap and put a 300 win barrel on my Encore? I love my savage rifles but it seems that to have various stock options I might be limited to a short action and therefore a 300 wsm. If I go that route am I limited on bullet choices due to magazine length? Would a vld bullet work with that combination? I would be willing to go custom but I would probably limit my budget to around $2400. I would like to keep the bare rifle to 11 pounds or less if possible. I also have a brand new .308 savage in the gun safe that could be re-barreled and a new bolt face for wsm added? I also have been wanting to get another (I have a custom savage) custom smokeless muzzleloader in .45 to shoot sabot less bullets but I am sure the outfitter might not be too excited about that?

Any thoughts on gun / cartridge combinations? I appreciate your feedback!
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  #2  
Old 04-20-2014, 11:41 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Southern United States
Posts: 284
Re: Help me decide on an elk rifle

Quote:
Originally Posted by encoreguy View Post
I just found out that I will be going on my first elk hunt! I live in the Midwest so the largest rifle I own is a .308. So I am in the market for a new elk / multipurpose rifle.

1st question: what cartridge? As I look at articles I see .300 win mag, 7mm mag, 300 wsm and .338 win mag. mentioned the most. I will probably not be hunting elk with a rifle much, I hunt with archery and muzzleloader the most. Therefore I want a more multipurpose gun for doing some long range work (target and deer / antelope). I would probable not take a shot on an Elk over 500 yards and only if I have confidence in the rifle and the shot conditions. I shoot long-range varmints but big game with rifles is new to me. Here in Indiana we are limited to slugs, muzzleloaders and handguns. I have only hunted out west once for antelope and I used a 7-08 handgun to take him at 200 yards.
Some day I would like to own a 6.5 X 284 but the outfitter recommends 300 win mag? What are your thoughts? Most important thing to me is accuracy. If a 300 wsm is inherently more accurate than a 300 win mag. I would lean that way, for example. Also I am a reloader so I can work up loads to fit the rifle.

2nd question based on your answers above, what rifle? I could go cheap and put a 300 win barrel on my Encore? I love my savage rifles but it seems that to have various stock options I might be limited to a short action and therefore a 300 wsm. If I go that route am I limited on bullet choices due to magazine length? Would a vld bullet work with that combination? I would be willing to go custom but I would probably limit my budget to around $2400. I would like to keep the bare rifle to 11 pounds or less if possible. I also have a brand new .308 savage in the gun safe that could be re-barreled and a new bolt face for wsm added? I also have been wanting to get another (I have a custom savage) custom smokeless muzzleloader in .45 to shoot sabot less bullets but I am sure the outfitter might not be too excited about that?

Any thoughts on gun / cartridge combinations? I appreciate your feedback!
You want to shoot a bullet with a BC of at least 0.600 at a muzzle velocity of 2900 fps. If you have a faster cartridge, shoot a heavier, higher BC bullet at 2900 fps.

There are a lot of cartridges that can do this. A 6.5x284 is fine. A .300 WM is fine. If you put a 140 grain AMAX from a 6.5 into the wheelhouse of an elk, it will die quickly enough. A 208 AMAX from a .300 WM is nearly a ballistic twin with 50% more weight and energy, so the elk might drop a few steps sooner.

I'm not a fan of VLD bullets for hunting, having seen a couple of failues to expand. I prefer a plastic tipped bullet to ensure expansion, give greater shot to shot consistency on BC and wind drift, etc. The sectional density of the highest weight AMAX in each caliber will ensure penetration as long as you keep the muzzle velocity to 2900 fps.

Elk are tough. Bring a real (centerfire, smokeless, high performance) rifle for your first few trips. If you need more of a challenge down the road, then you can start chasing them with smoke poles. Don't handicap yourself on your first try.
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  #3  
Old 04-20-2014, 12:59 PM
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Location: Alabama
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Re: Help me decide on an elk rifle

If you want the best multipurpose caliber, and something you can pickup ammo off the shelves for... I say go with the 7mm RemMag. You can shoot deer, antelope, plains game, and elk. Plenty of folks have even shot bears, caribou, & moose at long ranges, too.

If you handload, then my suggestion is a Remington 700 Long Range in 7mm RemMag, and have the chamber opened up to 7mm STW for that extra added "oomph" at long range.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildRose View Post
The 284 is to the STW what a tricycle is to a Ninja.
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  #4  
Old 04-20-2014, 01:00 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 67
Re: Help me decide on an elk rifle

300 win mag is popular for a reason! It fits your criteria perfectly. I would prefer a .338 for strictly elk but since you want a multi-purpose gun the .300 gets my vote. A 300 WSM is still a great cartridge but you give up the ability to push the heavier bullets well.

Is your budget $2400 for rifle only or for scope and rifle? The Remington 700 5R is a decent long range gun for under $1200. Snowy Mountain will sell you a semi-custom Paladin for around $2500. Other than that I'd probably get a Remington 700 of some kind and have it rebarreled with action trued. For that you're looking somewhere around 1200-1500 bucks.
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  #5  
Old 04-20-2014, 01:27 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 69
Re: Help me decide on an elk rifle

Quote:
Originally Posted by el matador View Post
300 win mag is popular for a reason! It fits your criteria perfectly. I would prefer a .338 for strictly elk but since you want a multi-purpose gun the .300 gets my vote. A 300 WSM is still a great cartridge but you give up the ability to push the heavier bullets well.

Is your budget $2400 for rifle only or for scope and rifle? The Remington 700 5R is a decent long range gun for under $1200. Snowy Mountain will sell you a semi-custom Paladin for around $2500. Other than that I'd probably get a Remington 700 of some kind and have it rebarreled with action trued. For that you're looking somewhere around 1200-1500 bucks.
$2400 for rifle only. I have a vortex PST that I will use on the gun.
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  #6  
Old 04-20-2014, 01:36 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Stevensville MT
Posts: 75
Re: Help me decide on an elk rifle

I have seen elk killed with everything from a 257 rob to the 300 winmag.
Whatever you choose to shoot an elk with, you should be comfortable with the recoil and the weight of the rifle itself.
Pick a bullet that you know will do the job based on your abilities, not on what you hear or read.
My family has done well with .257rob, .270win and a 7mmremmag. I have killed elk with a 300winmag and can say that compared to the "smaller" calibers, the 300 was the best for me but I can no longer tolerate the recoil.

Long story short, choose a caliber you are comfortable with and you can shoot well. There is no magic caliber for an elk.
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  #7  
Old 04-20-2014, 01:46 PM
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Location: 4422′44″N 1082′35″W
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Re: Help me decide on an elk rifle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Courtney View Post
You want to shoot a bullet with a BC of at least 0.600 at a muzzle velocity of 2900 fps. If you have a faster cartridge, shoot a heavier, higher BC bullet at 2900 fps.

There are a lot of cartridges that can do this. A 6.5x284 is fine. A .300 WM is fine. If you put a 140 grain AMAX from a 6.5 into the wheelhouse of an elk, it will die quickly enough. A 208 AMAX from a .300 WM is nearly a ballistic twin with 50% more weight and energy, so the elk might drop a few steps sooner.

I'm not a fan of VLD bullets for hunting, having seen a couple of failues to expand. I prefer a plastic tipped bullet to ensure expansion, give greater shot to shot consistency on BC and wind drift, etc. The sectional density of the highest weight AMAX in each caliber will ensure penetration as long as you keep the muzzle velocity to 2900 fps.

Elk are tough. Bring a real (centerfire, smokeless, high performance) rifle for your first few trips. If you need more of a challenge down the road, then you can start chasing them with smoke poles. Don't handicap yourself on your first try.
If you don't mind me asking where did those 2 arbitrary numbers come from? .600 b&c and 2900 FPS. I and a lot of other people here have killed animals over 1000 with 300 grain bullets out of big 338's going 2700-2800 FPS... Given the bullets are typically a smk or vld with a bc of 760+... But I also use a lot of heavy Barnes bullet. Last year I used a 338 win exclusively with 225 ttsx at 2750fps and killed a couple of deer in the 600's and an elk at 425 and another at 880 yards. That doesn't meet any of your criteria and I didn't feel at a disadvantage one bit. I used to shoot my 7mm with partitions a lot I don't know what the bc is but it's not 600. And i killed a lot of elk around 5-600 yards with it too...
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