Help me decide on an elk rifle

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by encoreguy, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. encoreguy

    encoreguy Well-Known Member

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    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!
     
  2. Michael Courtney

    Michael Courtney Silver Member

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    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.
     

  3. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  4. el matador

    el matador Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  5. encoreguy

    encoreguy Well-Known Member

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    $2400 for rifle only. I have a vortex PST that I will use on the gun.
     
  6. mtwarych

    mtwarych Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  7. Tikkamike

    Tikkamike Well-Known Member

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    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...
     
  8. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    Be careful...Some of the guys on here will jump you for saying things like that. Don't let the people know animals can be killed with smaller bore calibers. :D

    Same goes for the people who feel they NEED a .500 S&W when a .44 Mag is more than capable.
     
  9. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    This kinda makes me wonder coming from someone shooting small whitetail with a 7 STW, seems much more gun per pound of animal than a 338 on an elk.
     
  10. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    I shoot whitetails with a 7mm STW if they are beyond 500 yards. I HAVE (in the past) shot a couple at closer ranges with it, but I do not carry my STW unless I am sitting on a LONG powerline. If I am shooting inside of 500 yards, I have my 7mm RemMag or .257 Wby or several other smaller calibers with me. :cool:
     
  11. Tikkamike

    Tikkamike Well-Known Member

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    What is the difference in shooting a deer with a 7stw or a 7rm a few hundred feet a second makes a difference? No... I shoot deer with a 375 rum is that really too much? No it's a few thousandths of an inch. I have never understood people who think you can be over gunned. 7stw seems like the perfect deer gun for any range.
     
  12. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    Everybody is entitled to thier opinions, and it's a free country. And we all have what works best for us. For me, the STW inside of 300 is taboo, after losing half a deer to a double-shoulder shot with a 160 SGK at 100 yards. That was 12 years ago. I immediately went home, and the Sierras got turd-canned and shot at the range, and I swapped to Accubonds, and never shot another one in the shoulder...Always in the vitals. You lose 1/2 a deer to a nasty shoulder shot, you never do that again. You eliminate every possible factor from a screw-up like that. If I was just a trophy hunter it wouldn't matter...But I eat what I kill, so I want as much meat as I can retain.

    I DO believe you can be over-gunned. I mean, somebody actually made a post on here about hunting deer with a .50 BMG...Anybody remember that? How retarded can you possibly be??? You're not only making yourself look bad, but you're also hurting our cause as hunters, since a .50 BMG is NOT a hunting weapon, unless you're hunting Panzers...Not to mention the fact that if you shoot a deer with it, it's still NOT gonna stop until it hits something REALLY solid or runs out of steam... It's just plain dangerous for other people.

    This is America...And we are Americans. We can have and own whatever we want to. Hunt with whatever you want. What i'm saying is, that 1/2 of the people in the woods are well over-gunned. I have a buddy who bought a .338 Lapua for deer hunting in Alabama where you will rarely have a shot over 300 yards, unless you strategically plan your shooting area for long range, or you hunt in a hilly or rocky/mountainous area in Alabama.

    Do I own guns I can hunt with that are overkill....I sure do. Why? Beacuse this is America, and because I wanted them. Simple enough. But that doesn't mean I "NEED" them to hunt.

    A .30-06 can kill everything on the American continents, and has been doing so for over 110 years.

    All I'm saying is that just because you CAN kill something with a big-bore or a magnum, doesn't mean it's necessarily a "must have". But now-days the trend is "If big is good, huge must be better..." Dead is dead, regardless of what dispatches the animal.

    Sorry for the rant, it just irritates me when people say someone "has to have such-and-such for this-or-that". Buy what you want, buy what you are comfortable with, buy what makes you happy. But just because that is your personal choice, doesn't mean it's not considered overkill, or that the animal can't be killed with a smaller bore-diameter weapon. Remember...Game animals aren't armor-plated, and dead is dead, it can't be any more or less dead depending on what caliber bullet killed it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  13. MMERSS

    MMERSS Well-Known Member

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    If you are not completely partial to a cartridge why not show up on your first hunt with what your guide recommends? Better yet, show up with the rifle AND complete confidence in your ability with the rifle. There is no magic solution but having the confidence in what you have and your abilities go a long way, especially to the success of your hunt and second to your guide.

    A 300 Win can be just as precise as a 6.5 X 284 if not more with proper load development and bullet/ammo selection.

    There are several options available based on the range you intend to limit your shots. Some considerations, install a brake or buy a rifle with one already installed such as the Savage LRH (comes in both 6.5 X284 and 300 Win), practice with the rifle after confirming loads from positions you will be shooting in the field, read, learn, shoot.

    In the end it comes down to you. Go on your hunt knowing the outcome before you pull the trigger. Life will be easier on you and your guide.

    Shoot confident, shoot smart, shoot straight!

    Best of luck on your hunt.
     
  14. encoreguy

    encoreguy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the responses so far. I have been doing some research and what about a 7mm SAUM?