Re: Would love some help developing my Elk load.
Generally speaking, if you are primarily going to hunt elk, I would recommend shooting a heavier bullet in the 180 - 210 range. Elk are big critters and shooting them a long ways off needs a bullet that still retains energy at lower velocities.
Here are my thoughts to your 3 questions at the end of your 1st post:
1.) lighter vs heavier bullets: It sounds like you have a very nice rifle. I would guess that you will be able to shoot any weight bullet with accuracy, although, some rifles do prefer one weight over any other. Your trajectory will be flatter with the lighter/faster bullet, but you will have larger wind drift. Likewise, the heavier/slower (higher b.c.) bullet will drift less with the wind, but will have a more curved trajectory. The thought is that using a rangefinder is very accurate, while reading the wind is not an exact science. More error comes from wind drift than trajectory... that's why so many people like shooting high b.c. bullets.
2.) powder burn rate: I try and find a powder that comes as close to 100% case capacity for a particular bullet and seating combination. I think others here with extensive experience with the 30-06 will be able to give you some of the go-to powders for this cartridge.
3.) There are lots of guys here who have posted quite a bit about high VLD bullets for hunting, and have had great success out to very long range. Definitely not hype, but the hunting specific performance of any bullet is a hot topic ... VLD long range bullets can have a reputation to explode at closer ranges, while the more durable bullets (barnes, partition, accubond) often times do not have the desired expansion at longer distances or below 1800 fps. You may find that it is very hard right now to find anything in stock (powder/bullets/primers). You may have to play the waiting game to find any particular bullet/powder, so you are on the right track by asking around here to see what the most popular long range bullet/powder combo is for the 30-06.