You said you hunt elk almost exclusively. Then you should be looking at an elk rifle which will do an effective job on elk in all elk situations. If you want a little rifle for short range elk a 325 short mag would do you and you don't have tp worry about upgrading later. You said you could spend that money on a scope later. A 338 win mag would be great. If you wanted to wildcat a little and stay off the magnums then a 338 gibbs, 338-06 imp., 35 whelen imp., etc. Lots of choices but get an elk rifle if that is what your hunting. Don't go with a marginal weapon when you can actually get one that works for the same money.
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