308 ammo for elk (barrel length)

Dean2

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If you look back I said the hornady Superformance with the 165 SST was probably his best bet.
Fair enough, and I didn't intend it to sound like I was picking on you because you actually presented a far more balanced approach and perspective. My big issue with this and many other hunting forums is everyone seems to want to have the perfect setup for the most extreme distance or condition in every case. The whole problem with that approach, is the best 1000 yard hunting gun is rarely the best 200 yard hunting gun. You have to compromise on one side or the other. My view, since 98% of all game is shot at less than 500 yards and probably 95% is at 250 or less, I believe the guns should be optimized for the conditions you see the vast majority of the time.

On top of that, heavy kicking light guns are NOT what 95% of all people can shoot well, especially off of sticks or from awkward positions. I have used a 375 a lot for hunting, recoil does not bother me, I even own a 460 I use just for giggles, but me telling others to do that because I like it is just bad advice. I cannot tell you how many people I have guided that can't shoot light recoiling rifles well even at 100 yards. Good shots are rare, good shots with the heavier recoiling rifles under hunting conditions are REALLY rare. For a great many people a Suppressed 16-20 inch barreled 308 is pretty close to being the perfect all round hunting rifle, especially if they use it to practice off of sticks, their knee, shooting freehand etc.. I just wish we could use suppressors up here.
 

wonderman4

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I have witnessed elk slain with a multitude of calibers. One of my buds shot a great 6x6 with his 338 Win Mag. First shot, the elk never reacted to the hit at all and it was an excellent shot. Second shot flipped him.

I have witnessed a kill with a 243 Win and knocked it down and it never got up.

A buddy of mine killed a nilgai with one shot behind the ear.....222 Rem.

Get your 308 Win with a good bullet (I like the accubonds a lot, also the cutting edge bullets are great), practice a lot, then go on your elk hunt with the confidence knowing that you have a **** good cartridge to do it with.

Granted elk are tough critters, but what you have is completely do able.
 
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I understand what your saying Brother but its like and old timer told me once, " The Elk Don't Know what your using"
The elk will know the difference in what your using when a bullet doesn’t expand. Haha I’m just poking fun.

The 308 is a great caliber. There’s no denying that. But 500 yards is just too far for a 16” barreled 308 on an elk. 2800fps out of a 16” barrel just isnt realistic with factory ammo. Even with superformance. And yes, most shots are under 300 yards, but it’s not rare for shots to extend beyond that. As long as people understand the ethical limits of their equipment and abilities, it’s all good. But some of these comments are a little worrisome.
 

Pro2A

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Only thing short barrel changes is velocity. As long as you have enough velocity to get the bullet to perform your golden. At your listed ranges any descent bullet from 150-180 gr will work fine. If it were me i would use 168 bergers or 165-8 ballistic tips. Both your listed will work great as well.
In similar profiles, shorter barrels are typically also stiffer with lower harmonics and can offer improved accuracy as such. Todd Hodnett, lead lobber par excellence, only shoots 16-18" barrels in 308W for that reason. Todd prefers to dial minimally more lob due to lower velocity rather than deal with greater inconsistency in longer barrels. Probably not a big issue at the ranges noted for minute-of-elk hunting application.
 

Knight

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I have been taking game in just about everywhere in the United States and Canada using Remington 700 in 308 with a heavy barrel in 20" and never had any problem . I find there is no need for over kill with your big magnums, dead is dead with the right bullet used. I'm also thinking about getting a Sig Sauer Cross because of the injenuity of being able to change barrels for the choice of changing calibers. It's ability to fold the stock and the 6lb weight with the possibility of introducing in it's line up of calibers, Hornady 6mm ARC. would make a great back country rifle, sold me completely.
 

FEENIX

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The elk will know the difference in what your using when a bullet doesn’t expand. Haha I’m just poking fun.

The 308 is a great caliber. There’s no denying that. But 500 yards is just too far for a 16” barreled 308 on an elk. 2800fps out of a 16” barrel just isnt realistic with factory ammo. Even with superformance. And yes, most shots are under 300 yards, but it’s not rare for shots to extend beyond that. As long as people understand the ethical limits of their equipment and abilities, it’s all good. But some of these comments are a little worrisome.
Agreed! There is no need to complicate it unnecessarily. Doable does not make it ideal.
 
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Dean2

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Okay, so for all you guys that say a 308 doesn't have enough velocity at or over 400 yards, how many elk have you actually shot or been present for. In all the ones I have shot personally and all the ones I have been present for for friends or clients, we have rarely recovered the bullet. The ones I recall that were shot with a 308 we only recovered one bullet. Wound channel makes it clear the bullets expanded, so if all the shots are already pass throughs, and you can't teach the bullet to turn around and go back through, what is the magic of an even faster pass through? It is not Muzzle Energy that kills, it is the hole, period. As long as the hole is in the right place, dead animal. Put the hole in the wrong place, then it doesn't matter how big the gun is.
 

rustyshackleford

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Okay, so for all you guys that say a 308 doesn't have enough velocity at or over 400 yards, how many elk have you actually shot or been present for. In all the ones I have shot personally and all the ones I have been present for for friends or clients, we have rarely recovered the bullet. The ones I recall that were shot with a 308 we only recovered one bullet. Wound channel makes it clear the bullets expanded, so if all the shots are already pass throughs, and you can't teach the bullet to turn around and go back through, what is the magic of an even faster pass through? It is not Muzzle Energy that kills, it is the hole, period. As long as the hole is in the right place, dead animal. Put the hole in the wrong place, then it doesn't matter how big the gun is.
A perforated vital organ is THE requirement. However, I’m not gonna say all things being equal the bullet with more energy isn’t going to be more effective. Dead is dead but sometimes going down in 20 yards vs going down in 80 yards is the difference in filling the freezer or going home empty handed. A lot of “dead” game have run clean over into private property.
 

Ronald W Schaefer

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If there is an option for a longer barrel, I'd go for the 20". Then 165 gr Barnes TTSX...they will give you the highest velocity of factory rounds (depending on charge) as the friction bands usually give me a "free" 80-100 FPS over other bullets in nearly every caliber I've loaded. FWIW, IMO the .308 is fine out to 500 yds in good conditions if you started the bullet at about 2700 & .450 G1 BC, but when hunting I'm a "wait till you see the whites of their eyes kind of guy"...though I love to punch paper and ring gongs at long range just so I can, its not my modus operandi when hunting.
 
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Okay, so for all you guys that say a 308 doesn't have enough velocity at or over 400 yards, how many elk have you actually shot or been present for. In all the ones I have shot personally and all the ones I have been present for for friends or clients, we have rarely recovered the bullet. The ones I recall that were shot with a 308 we only recovered one bullet. Wound channel makes it clear the bullets expanded, so if all the shots are already pass throughs, and you can't teach the bullet to turn around and go back through, what is the magic of an even faster pass through? It is not Muzzle Energy that kills, it is the hole, period. As long as the hole is in the right place, dead animal. Put the hole in the wrong place, then it doesn't matter how big the gun is.
I have personally shot 10 elk myself ranging from 75 to 350 yards with calibers from 243win to 300 win mag (I haven’t drawn an elk tag for 16 years), I have guided/helped with 30+ elk in the last 11 years ranging from 125 yards to 530 yards with calibers from 270win to 338 win mag. I couldn’t tell you how many more I’ve witnessed/been present for. Yes you read that right, I have used a 243 on 2 elk, it’s what I started with. I also stayed within 250 yards. I’ve shot 2 elk with a 270 win, 2 with a 300win, and the remainder have been with my trusty 300 H&H. I know elk very well and grew up hunting them. I have also seen A LOT of elk lost. Some with nice little pencil holes right behind the shoulder. They are a tough animal.

I don’t doubt that you have been successful with a standard size 308, again not my first choice, but it can be done. But how many have you shot at 500 yards with a 16” barrel? A majority of factory ammo would drop below 1800 fps past 400 yards and some even shorter than that. Being that you are a “guide,” I would expect you to be more ethical than to shoot an elk at 500 yards with the stated weapon of choice. The math just doesn’t add up.
 

FEENIX

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It seems like the census is that a 16inch 308 for hunting elk is under gunned. Is everyone agreeing to that? Or does anyone think its do able with the right ammo under 400 yards?
"IF" you're OK with doable vs ideal, then go for it. "I" am not one of those that are in the doable camp, esp. when I have better options. As I said, we can only advice but you have the ultimate choice and responsibility for the consequences associated with your decision.

Again, good luck on your rifle choice and your hunt.
 

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