The AMAX rules are simple.
1: Use the right weight bullet for the task. IE: DONT use a 155 30 cal for elk or a 178 for that matter.
2: Dont hit any major bones except for spine or scapulas on lighter game such as medium deer.
3: Dont hit game at very close range with hyper velocities found in the RUM cases etc....
All that said, allow me to share some experiences.
1: Sitka blacktail at 505 yards. 300 RUM with the 178 AMAX. MV was 3250 FPS. The buck was hit square in the chest with a strong quartering to me shot. The lungs were soup and there was ALOT of bullet fragments inside the chest and hide.
2: Sitka blacktail at 90 yards with the 155 AMAX in 308 winnie. MV was 2750 FPS. The bullet was recovered in the offside hide after passing through the lungs. The bullet was a typical mushroom with no explosion. This was due to the low exit velocity and lack of bone connection.
3: Dall sheep at 350 yards with the 168 AMAX in 308 winnie. MV was 2830 FPS. The ram was hit through both shoulder scapulas and exited completely. Roughly a 2" exit hole.
4: The same dall ram was finished off at 702 yards with a shot to the neck just infront of the shoulder. There was about 3" of spine missing.
5: Coues whitetail at 440 yards with the same load. This buck was hit quartering to me through the lower leg and shoulder for a heart shot. The exit was over 2".
6: Coues whitetail at 500 yards (same load). Buck was hit with a hight shoulder shot. Another 2"+ exit.
7: Bull moose at 438 yards. 155 AMAX exit at 2750. TRUST me I knew this was not the best load for the job (I was carrying it for dall sheep) but my partner had wounded him twice with his 30-06 (sloppy shooting in the hind quarters). The bull was getting further and he missed his 3rd shot. It was just about black out and the bull was nosing into the alders. I asked for permission and he said go for it. The bull stopped for one last look. Knowing that a shoulder or lung shot most likely would be very dissapointing with this load, I took a neck shot just below the head. The bull dropped in his tracks. NOTE: the bull had to be finished off upon arrival AND when we examined the cross section of the neck we found that the vertabre was severely broken and cracked but the bullet never penetrated the bone. Again, not the best load but it worked out.
8: Berger 338/300 grain and 308/208 AMAX moose test.
My opinion is that for medium game at average to low velocities the AMAX bullets are awesome for hunting. Violate the target size and or velocity rules and you may be hating life.
If I had to hunt elk with the 208 AMAX, I would feel comfortable so long as it was not shot at hyper velcoity AND the bullets stayed in the rib cage. Just remember, the reason guys use them for longrabge hunting is NOT because they are great hunting bullets. They are not great hunting bullets. But they do expand with very minimal velocities. This is why they work well for long range hunting. The 208 for example is a dream come true for us 308 fans. A super high BC bullet that will expand at 1300 FPS. Heck, this gets us to 1K. On the flip side, if you launch it at 3200 FPS and take 200 yard shots on elk, guess what? It may get very ugly.