Elk Rifle Input Needed

mnoland30

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Dec 24, 2010
Messages
314
I hunt with a Browning Mountain Ti in 7mm WSM. It weighs 5.5 lbs. without scope, and 6.5 with scope and homemade Safari sling. I have a Leupold 3.5-10x40 scope on it. I like their Boone & Crockett reticle, but the WSMs are fast enough that you don't really need it. Leupolds are one of the lighter scopes. Longest two shots on bull elk were 340 yards with Berger 168 gr. bullets. Neither made it more than 5 yards. If I were purchasing again, I'd get the .270 WSM. Much more popular and easier to find ammo. With todays premium bullets, you can get by with smaller calibers. I like heavy for caliber bullets for elk.

I've hunted with heavy recoiling rifles and light. Much easier to shoot well with a lighter recoil. I find I'm less tolerant of recoil in my old age.

If you're going from the flatlands to hunt elk, the altitude will be a huge factor, and a light rifle is a joy to carry on a steep mountain. The skinny barrel doesn't matter if you're only taking one or two shots. At the range, let it cool a bit between shots. My hunting buddy fondled my rifle at the range one day and went out and bought one (in .270 WSM). I have never had to send a center fire rifle back to the manufacturer, so customer service doesn't seem like a big issue to me.
 

FEENIX

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LRH Team Member
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Dec 20, 2008
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17,616
Location
Great Falls, MT
Hey Y'all,

I am wanting to purchase a great "big game" rifle. I have deer hunted in Georgia for the past 20 years and I am looking for another rifle to take to the mountains one day. I currently shoot a .270.

My father shoots a .308 and recently took a cow at 320 yards.

I really don't want to go with a big box brand of rifle. Ideally, I would like to buy from a company that stands behind their rifles and provides excellent customer support. I have had friends buy from Beretta, Winchester, etc and if they had any weapon problems, it took them 8 plus months to get their weapon back.

I'd like to keep the rifle under $2000. What caliber? Muzzle brake?

It seems like a lot of folks run some variation of the 300, but then I read a lot of posts that mention that caliber causing folks to develop bad habits and flinching.

Additionally, I need input on a scope that would handle the longer ranges without a problem. Do I need a scope with mil dot, BDC, etc? Turrets for range adjustments?

I am pretty green to all of this and honestly I am quite overwhelmed.

I appreciate your help!

Trapper
Welcome to LRH, and enjoy.

Since it seems like you are not in a hurry, my suggestion is to take your time and enjoy the learning process. All of your queries can be answered if you do due diligence in your search queries on this site, as this topic has been covered plenty of times with nearly almost the same answers. As you noted, the learning process can be overwhelming; again, take your time and enjoy the learning process.

You can also go to your favorite local gun store and see what they have. Handle it and see how it feels for you. Look at their offerings and ask if you can try them out. The local gun store and your friends/family are excellent sources and starting points of actual/hands-on experience of what you are looking for.

Good luck!

Ed
 
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Wolf76

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Jan 5, 2014
Messages
923
Location
Grandville, Michigan
Tough question without knowing some additional info like:
Shot distance
Recoil sensitivity
How many "Big Game" hunts
Etc...

Your 270 is fine provided reasonable distances and bullet selection.

Your initial research is correct. The bigger 30 cals do have more authority to thump bigger animals. The 300 wm is probably your best bet for a host of reasons. These cartridges really shine past 400 yards. With the newer mono bullets, you have a laser beam that will penetrate end to end if needed.

As for guns....Ford, Chevy, dodge.
I second the recommendation for a tikka or sako. They tend to be a better production rifle. I'll take a muzzle brake because it helps reduce felt recoil and I shoot with hearing protection regardless.
 

jessej

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Apr 14, 2010
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300
Location
Misipi
Which Bergara model?
A9E62BC7-C4D9-4B71-9A65-E510C320BB8E.jpeg
 

gatrapper

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Joined
Oct 18, 2021
Messages
9
Location
Georgia
Thank for you all the input and well written responses. This forum is truly amazing and I can't thank y'all enough for all the information you have provided.

I definitely want a new gun. My current 270 has a lot of sentimental value and I don't want to change stocks or modify it in any way. I would like to have a dedicated big game mountain rifle. Similar to having a dedicated wing shooting shotgun and one intended for turkeys.

Shot distance---I don't want to feel limited.

Recoil sensitivity--I shoot a 12 gauge 870 SuperMag with 3.5 inch shells. The gun is miserable to shoot, but I don't target practice with it. When I pull the trigger, a turkey is dropping. Additionally, I don't notice the kick when shooting at a turkey.

How many "Big Game" hunts? I honestly don't know. I would like to start taking yearly trips out west.

I have read that 3.5 inch turkey load is 71 ft lbs of recoil and 300 WM is 30.5 ft lbs.

If this is true, I am leaning towards a 300 WM.


Thoughts?
 

Ranger Rick

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Sep 6, 2019
Messages
545
Location
Idaho
Since you’re leaning toward a 300 win mag, I’d recommend leaning a little bit farther and look at a 300PRC. It’s an improved 300 win mag. Plus, many rifle makers offer it in the faster barrel twists than the old 1:10” twist. I built one in a 1:8” twist and it handles 200gr+ weight bullets significantly better at 400 yds+ than any 1:10” rifle at our gun range.
 

gatrapper

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Oct 18, 2021
Messages
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Location
Georgia
What are your thoughts on 300 recoil? I was watching a Randy Newberg video and he shoots a 308 and mentioned not shooting a 308 and not having a muzzle brake.
 

dougduey

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Apr 11, 2011
Messages
1,384
Location
San Antonio, TX
Take your time and do a bunch of research so you feel good about your decision and won't second guess yourself. That being said, you're going to need to take some things into consideration.
First, since you don't reload, you will be purchasing factory ammo. You will want a cartridge that is readily available anywhere you hunt. This puts the 30-06, 308, 7 Rem Mag, 300 Win Mag and 6.5 Creedmoor at the top of your list.
Second, if this is mainly for elk, you're going to want a 30 cal or larger. This caliber just kills more efficiently and effectively on animals weighing 300 lbs and larger. This doesn't mean elk can't be killed with a 243 or 6.5 Creed, it's just that a 30 cal makes a bigger hole and has shown to be a better killer than any of the cartridges smaller than 30 cal. Go to this website www.ballisticstudies.com. Nathan Foster from NZ has done extensive terminal ballistic research with just about every bullet imaginable in a huge library of different cartridges. His knowledgebase is very detailed and extensive. I know I'm going to get roasted by a bunch of 7mm guys that my statements are full of bologna (and I own and love my 7 STW and 280 AI), but the data shows differently. Yes, shot placement and proper bullet selection trump all, but wind blows and animals move, so your perfect shot may not be perfect when you squeeze the trigger. Why not have a caliber that helps stack the outcome a little more in your favor
Finally, if you're going to limit yourself to 500 yards or less, the 30-06 is your man. If you want more, then the 300 Win Mag is what I'd buy if I were you. You can hunt everything in North America with the 300 Win Mag. My dedicated elk rifle is a 300 WSM and every elk I've shot with it was either DRT or died with 10-20 yards.
As far as scopes are concerned, I have or have had just about everything out there except the Luepold VX5 or 6. Look hard at the Zeiss V6 (or the V4 if not in your budget). If you need a very light optic, the Swarovski Z5 is excellent. You want a tank that is bulletproof, the a Nightforce NXS (or ATACR if budget allows) will be your winner
Good luck in your quest
 

Sealesniper

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Oct 14, 2009
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Location
Eastern NC
I agree with most of that has been written. To me, the biggest questions are:

1: Will you be flying to use this gun? If so, even though I love my wildcats, that means you need a gun that shoots factory ammo. Once that is established, you need to decide what caliber. You can't go wrong from 6.5-.30 and I have them in between, but when I am going for knock down, accuracy and known reliability and availability of ammo, the .308, 30-06 and 300WM are the only options to me. Since you already have a .270, you may want to stay in the same caliber as that is a very flat shooting and great ballistics round and they are available in most gun stores (pre-covid) Caliber means very little in taking an animal ethically. Shot placement and accuracy are key. Don't get hung up on the round, get a rifle and glass that are accurate and then practice, practice, practice.

2: Are you recoil shy? If so, you need a brake and or heavy gun. Can tame it some by downsizing your caliber, bullet weight and charge. My 300wm has less recoil than a .308 factory Rem 700, but my buddies 300wm, shooting my same round will make you want to take up knitting. His gun is so light and without a brake, it is miserable to shoot.

3: What gun fits you the best, and will you modify. If you find a factory gun to fit you perfectly and you don't want to modify any accessories, then the world is your oyster. If you may want to make trigger, stock, bolt or other modifications in the future, then you may want to look at a Rem 700 action/clone. I am not saying you can't modify other actions, as you can, just not as many options.

Good luck. I hope you find a great gun that suits you, but I know from personal experience, once you find it, your "needs" will change and you will be on the hunt for another rifle.

Last thing, make sure you leave room in your budget for good glass. I feel a $2000 rifle should have at least a $1000 scope. I am a NF ATACR fan, and as long as just a normal gun, that is what sits on mine. If a mountain gun, the NX8.

If you are looking for your "Forever" gun, keep saving and buy the gun and best glass you can afford. You will not regret it. I wish someone had told me 35 years ago the same thing. The amount of money I have wasted on cheaper guns and glass is almost criminal.
 
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