Elk and deer and a humble .308

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by 4ked Horn, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

    Messages:
    1,519
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    I'm looking for some general advice from some of the more seasoned long range elk hunters.

    I'm using a 175 gr berger hunting vld bullet this year in my rem vls .308 rifle. I have had great success shooting a 168 gr nosler custom comp bullet at deer in excess of 500 yards so I feel confident that the new bullet will do fine if I stretch the distance to 600 or 700ish but I have never shot an elk, with any bullet. I'm wondering (assume I have the accuracy to place the shot where I want) at what distance will my potential for rapidly killing an elk start to dwindle. I'm wording this question with a lot of grey terms to encourage discussion (including choice of shot placement) but really I am looking for someone with experience to tell me why I might want to hold shots inside of a certain distance (based on the tenacity of elk and the ballistic limitations of the .308 win with a berger bullet.)
     
  2. RockyMtnMT

    RockyMtnMT Official LRH Sponsor

    Messages:
    3,034
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    I would say that you want to limit your impact velocities to 1800fps and above. Also my personal preference is to get maximum penetration on elk. So a bullet that gives consistent deformation with retained weight enough to carry through.

    How is that for answering a general ? with a general answer? :D

    Steve
     

  3. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,311
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    +1

    Almost any well placed round at a nominal distance will kill an Elk. But how fast is the question
    and a general rule for an Elk is any distance that a given bullet will produce at least =
    1500 ft/lbs of energy, have an impact velocity that will allow the bullet to function the way
    it was designed and a well placed shot (In the Vitals) should give good results.

    Of course more is better and these are considered to be the minimum for consistant results.

    The type of bullet and impact area will have an impact on this so all of these things have to
    be placed in the equation.

    Look at the ballistics and bullet performance and determine a max distance for the game to
    be taken and reduce it by about 100 yards to start with just to be safe.There are a lot of factors to be considered before a shot is made and the results are in.

    The Main difference in performance on game between a 308 and a 300 mag is the distance
    it can produce the same results.

    So ultimately it becomes your choice of how far you wan't to push the ability of a given cartrige.

    J E CUSTOM
     
  4. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

    Messages:
    1,519
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    Thanks guys.

    Rocky that (1800 fps) puts me out at 535 yards. That's a fair poke and about what I was expecting (hoping for) as a reasonable distance.

    J E based on your guideline of 1500 ft/lbs of energy my chart puts that at 425 yards.

    I would love to hear from others and am hoping that a representative from Berger responds to an email I sent by responding here but based on what we have so far I am loosely concocting a plan to limit my first shot on an elk to about 400/450 yards (or less) thereby giving me about a 100 yard "safety zone " for any possible follow up shots out to around 500/550 and still expect proper expansion.

    Any other thoughts?
     
  5. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

    Messages:
    1,519
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    Just got return email from Mr. Berger and he confirmed that a velocity of 1800 f/sec is necessary for reliable terminal performance from the bullet. He agreed that keeping the shots inside about 500 yards (based on atmospheric conditions) would help ensure that the bullet was doing its part.

    I think I see my plan of action taking shape.:cool:
     
  6. winmag

    winmag Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,528
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    I agree with RockyMtnMt, and J E CUSTOMS.
    Although both answers differ somewhat, thats exactly what I would consider a ''max range ballpark'' on an elk with a 308win.

    Im not about to tell anyone they need a bigger gun, cause Id hunt elk with a 22lr if it was legal, and that was the only rifle I had. Id just limmit my shots to headshots only at about 10paces:D.
    There is alot of ''grey'' in the L/R shooting world especially concerning targets with an ability to soak up lead at times, with cartriges on the ''lighter side'' of the scale. IMO 500yds may be pushing it, but its doable. Id rather get closer if I was using a 308, but you on the other hand, may want to push it further. In the end its all up to the shooter. When conditions are right, theyre right, let er rip. But I can tell you from personal experience that even at alot closer range than that, and with a bigger cartrige, if you even slightly botch the shot you feel lower than dirt, and it can take days to find your critter. Go with your gut, and youll do well, be it 400 or 600yards, whatever. When its right its right, and when it isnt, get closer.
    Listen to your gut and youll be satisified, and have an elk in the freezer.
    Good luck
     
  7. ICANHITHIMMAN

    ICANHITHIMMAN Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,380
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2008
    Where the heck did Mike go I never shot an Elk with my 308. I dont know some times I buy in the the whole foot pounds thing and some times I dont. Bottom line is I guess it can hurt to have alot but a good shot is a good shot.

    Best of luck
     
  8. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

    Messages:
    8,853
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    4ked horn,

    Shot placement is the key! I know you can put it where you what (if you don't get the fever:D)

    Be observant of the terrain conditions. Double lung shot is deadly but not DRT on a large bull and maybe not any elk. You don't want to be chasing after it.

    A heart shot is good for 0 to maybe 150 yds on the out side.

    Get as close as you can even if its 600 yds, if you can put the shot in the heart it won't go very far regardless of what cartridge/bullet you are using.

    The "crazies" around here shoot their 308s as long as they see elk. Once in awhile they get one:rolleyes:.

    Go for the yearling cow or spike. Makes life a lot easier.:D
     
  9. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

    Messages:
    1,519
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    Roy I read you loud and clear. I'm not concerned at all about hitting where I aim and will cut my distance according to conditions. I was just curious about what to expect from the .308 as far as dumpin the animal once the bullet got there. My brother has had terrible results from his .338wm and 250 gr SGKs. They poked holes right through the elk and we got no reaction. His first elk took 8 rounds and stood in place until it got wobbly legs. His second elk took the 4 rounds in his gun and the only sign that we connected was that it refused to jump a fence with the cows. A .270 in the neck anchored it. Both elk got all .338 shots through the lungs. Missed the heart on the first and went below the spine on the second. Thats why I'm asking about the .308 and the Berger bullets.

    I actually did put in for a cow hunt with my son. It would be his first year hunting and he would have nabbed a cow and a deer. I blew it and forgot to pick up the tags before the deadline so no more chance of getting him a cow his first year. Oh well. We will see what I can come up with for a bull. Deer is going to be fairly easy (as usual)

    PS you can ignore the private message I sent you. I got it handled.
     
  10. winmag

    winmag Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,528
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    OK, so after reading your last post Im confused as to why you would want to push the distance with a 308.
    Yes its doable
    Yes bullet selection has alot to do with it
    and Yes shot placement is key, but after watching your brother put 8 rounds out of a 338 win mag into one, you saw first hand how tough they CAN BE. (not always the case), but what would make you want to push it out there so far with such little energy?
    It is do-able, and if the CONDITIONS are right AND your GUT says do it, GO FOR IT, but if your gut says no........... get alot closer, cause youve seen first hand what kind of energy they can be capable of soaking up, and your 308 has alot less at any distance.
    Im not trying to disuade you from taking elk with a 308. Ive seen too many Elk killed with a 308 to think its not up to the task. Im definately not judging you either, but if you havent personally taken an elk yet, maybe you want to get a couple under your belt before you reach way out there with a 308. This is just my opinion of course, and there have been folks that have taken elk even farther with lesser cartriges. But there have been alot more who have lost elk with much bigger cartriges and with relitively decent shot placement. for instance, look at your brothers story. What if he was only able to hit it once in the lungs with a 250gr sgk out of his 338 before it took off? would you guys have been able to find it?
    Like you said theres alot of grey here. So listen to your gut. When its right its right, take the shot. If its even slightly questionable get closer.
     
  11. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

    Messages:
    1,519
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    I don't feel you are judging me. Let me cover some of the things coming up in this thread.

    First, my brothers bullets flat out failed. Period. No expansion. They penciled straight through. This is all my fault. I clobbered a 350 lb black bear with his gun and these bullets worked great but I hit heavier bone. The shot knocked the bear on his side and he died dead in about 10 yards. I assumed they would work on elk as well. Little did I know I would get (and expect) the same result if I were shooting FMJ bullets from any gun. It's not actually energy that causes an animal to hit the ground. Its gross disruption to the nervous system or bleeding to death. Thats why his round, with lots more energy than a .308 failed.

    I would, with great confidence, plop a deer at 600+ yards with my .308 (all conditions being correct) for 3 reasons: I know I can make the hit, I am confident the new Berger bullets will have at least as good terminal performance as the Noslers I have been using and where I will be shooting deer would require them to run steeply up hill to get away (not a chance).

    I am looking for info regarding the elk because the area I will be hunting them will most likely put them at ranges exceeding 300 yards and there is the possibility of them running away. So at this point (long before any shots are fired) I am trying to determine where I should draw the line on a "don't shoot" scenario. Basically the farther away from animal we get the greater the chances that something will go wrong. But there is a point where those chances rise exponentially. That is what I am gathering info on. At this point it seems to be around 450-500 yards. Also this is not my only plan. This is just me putting a plan together.

    Sorry if this reply seems a bit disjointed I am trying to type in a very busy Sunday morning household which includes very loud music to accompany Sunday chores. Now off to help with chores. Maybe a trip to the range this afternoon.
     
  12. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,840
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    There are two things to consider when killing elk for me. One is staying within the functional fps for the bullet and two is staying within the range that you can keep the hits in a 10-12 in circle for the environmental conditions. That's all it takes, a well placed bullet or two that function and you will kill every elk that has walked the earth.

    Bad things happen when you don't have bullet function or a bad shot placement, plain and simple with no mystery or mythical bullet absorbing elk. gun)
     
  13. Nomad

    Nomad Banned

    Messages:
    366
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2007
    Lately been working with RL-17 in a 308 with a 180gr speer spbt and Fed brass worked
    primer pockets, flashholes and neck sized .335, 210M.
    With 47.5 RL-17 @ 15' from chronograph averaged 2767 FPS doing a JMB workup
    it says 1538 ft-lbs @ 600yds so hope is possible....
    Shot placement is possible.......
     
  14. Topshot

    Topshot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,085
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2008
    4ked horn,
    The experience that you observed with the Elk and the .338WM was all part of the learning curve.

    That particular bullet was obviously a bit hard for side on chest shots. Had the same bullets struck the front shoulder instead you may have seen a much different result.

    The same applies with your .308 win. You wont know how it will perform with any particular bullet, until you have shot a few Elk in different areas of the vital zone and observed how they perform. You can then adjust your target area in the future to match the characteristics of the bullet.

    What you can do is take advice from others and also make an educated guess. Obviously a .308 will have less punch than a .338 for long range shoulder shots, so maybe a bullet that expands rapidly into the lighter chest area might be the answer.