Help chosing an Elk Cartridge.

Paparock

Previously Rocky W.Latham
Joined
Jun 27, 2008
Messages
139
Location
Canyon Country, CA
Of the cartridges you mentioned I would go with the 280AI with the ultra-premium bullet your rifle likes the best. I like the heavy for caliber but each to their own.

May I ask why you want a very lightweight rifle? The reason I ask is of all my friends that had them build found them great to carry but hard to shoot accurately under actual hunting conditions in the mountains. When chasing Elk or Mule Deer sometimes you have to move fast to get to a good shooting position and that is when those ultra-light rifles move with every heartbeat making those crosshairs dance. Personally I have always preferred a slightly muzzle heavy rifle as it helped me steady the rifle for such shots. This is where a great custom rifle builder comes in. Back in the stone age when Dale Story built my custom .375 H&H I was sort of unsure of such a big caliber as I had never shot anything bigger than a .30-06. Dale came into my wife's restaurant in Casper, Wyoming as a regular so I went to his shop and talked with him. He told me he hunted with a .375 H&H and not to worry as he world treat me right and boy did he. The rifle was built on a fiberglass stock, I don't recall the brand now, but it was so light I could hold it up with my right arm, aim and shoot it with very light recoil. He put his personal favorite muzzle brake that he said had the last series of holes slanted forward to lessen the muzzle blast. The recoil was like a .243 and was a dream even off sandbags at the range. If you told me I had to shoot 100 rounds of full power loads at the range I would have chosen it over my custom .30-06 it was such a pleasure to shoot. So if you pick the right custom gunsmith he can build you a rifle to fit you that makes a big difference in felt recoil (I'm 6' 5" and ape hanger arms). So you can pretty much pick whatever caliber you think fits your needs the best if you pick the right custom gun maker that takes the time to custom build the gun to fit you! I hope this helps you and wish you great success and joy in your hunting future! I know they are expensive but they are worth every penny when you get the right one.

Rocky
 

FIGJAM

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Southeast, Idaho
I'm personally sick of hearing"it's all about shot placement". Where's the perfect placement for a 22LR on an elk at 300? Where's a bad shot from a howitzer? Why do African guides and countries specify minimum cartridges for certain game animals.
No disagreement that accuracy plays a major role. Turns out bullet construction, penetration, expansion, and energy delivered are of equal importance. People often try to justify marginal cartridges saying " it's all about shot placement ".
BTW I'm not specifically calling you out or your chosen cartridge. I'm saying there are many considerations and to count on a perfect shot is foolish.

I think the flipside to your argument is a lot of guys try and rationalize poor marksmanship with big magnum cartridges. I have hunted with a lot of people with this mindset in the past. There is no trade off for time spent at the range time, so you can put your choice of bullet in the right spot.

I'll never forget coming into town in the middle of an elk hunt in Soda Springs Idaho for a quick bite at the A&W where I met a couple of guys from Georgia who had traveled to idaho for their first mule deer hunt. One of the first questions was what caliber I was shooting. When I told them I was using my 25-06 they were speechless. They then told me they were both shooting purchased-for-this-trip 338 rums. We had a lengthly discussion about my 25-06 choice then went on our separate ways. I wasn't critical of their 338 rums, but I did find it interesting that they spent all that money on those 338 rums, but then they told me they had some lower end 3-9x40 duplex scopes on them.

I agree that bullet selection and shot placement are both key. The reality is there are so many excellent bullet choices available to us now, coupled with laser rangefinders and advancements in optics, you don't need big magnum cartridges to kill stuff at longer ranges ( you do have to have the skills to put the bullet in the right place) If you want to own them and hunt with them you can, I have had and still do have several magnum cartridges. I find my self using the 270 wsm, 260, or 25-06 for all of my big game hunting - I personally haven't noticed a difference in performance between those three and my 300 rum, 338 win mag, or my 7mm Rem Mags.
 
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MudRunner2005

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Alabama
FIGJAM, agree completely! I've heard more people claim the bigger calibers "leave more room for error" than I have guys with normal size calibers saying shot placement is key, as a means for compensation.

The fact is, shot placement is key, no matter what you're shooting.
 

MudRunner2005

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Alabama
Its funny how many people assume guys shooting magnums are terrible shots and light caliber shooters only make perfect shots.:rolleyes:
I've been shooting magnums for over half my life. I still own a bunch of them, and have been hunting deer with a 7mm RemMag for going on 17 years. I have some big mags, too, such as several 7mm STW's pushing 180-195gr bullets, and a .300 Ackley with 210-215gr bullets, that all shoot ragged-hole groups, just as well. I'm just as comfortable behind the magnums as I am my .22LR and .17 HMR, and everything else in the safe leading up to the big boomers.

Precision shooting, or making good shots on game has nothing to do with what type or size of cartridge your shooting, so don't try to justify your comment with that. Don't you think you owe it to the animals you harvest to give them as quick and painless a death as possible? If so, then that takes precision shot placement, and has no bearing on what size cartridge or caliber of bullet you're using to kill it.
 

Wolf76

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Grandville, Michigan
Fig and Mud
I don't wish to start a online battle with either of you and nothing I said was meant as disrespect.
Here was my point:
It's the same conversation over and over again. Its assumed that magnum guys can't hit the broad side of the barn, while light cartridge shooters are never more than a mm off the ideal point of impact.
I'll recommend shooting the largest cartridge one can shoot accurately, within reason (no 375 hh for rabbits)
I think we all agree being a proficient marksman and putting the bullet in the vitals is paramount to a successful hunt. Having ample energy to destroy bones, tissue, organs, and the CNS is equally important. In short, the answer isn't A or B. Its C, which is A and B.
"Its all about shot placement " disregards the havoc the bullet needs to do once it gets there.
A lack of proper shot usually can't be compensated with a magnum(well maybe a 50 BMG). BUT I'm fairly certain most would prefer the ample energy of a magnum on a marginal hit.
This is just an opinion and nobody has to agree with it. Good luck.
 

Guy M

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Jun 4, 2007
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Chelan Co, Washington
So now this guy, the original poster, has 12 pages to wade through...

I am looking to build a lightweight rifle for mountain hunting. Primary game will be Elk with a maximum range of 400 yards. I also plan to use the gun at the range and would like to keep the recoil low.

A short action cartridge would be nice but am willing to compromise on this. I don’t currently reload but am willing to spend the time to learn. The option for factory ammo is desired.

I have been considering these cartridges, 308, 270WSM, 7mm-08, 6.5PRC for short actions. 30-06, 270, 280AI if I go with long action.

If I do reloading I would like to use a cartridge and bullet weight combination that allows for reduced recoil loads. I would plan to use the lighter loads for practicing at the range.

Wow. Did we do him a favor? Or not? I dunno.

Regards, Guy
 

35 Whelen

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May 21, 2018
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Montana
I seem to run it to more guys that say you have to have a magnum or large caliber for Elk than I do guys that say you do not need them. I don't think what caliber/cartridge is a big deal as long as you are comfortable with it, use a bullet made of good construction, and are able to shoot it well. I think if you have these all together you'll do fine. If you like the big guns, enjoy them and shoot them well, use them. If you feel you do better with a smaller gun use it. I don't think we should down any one for what the shoot, but maybe help them do better with what they are shooting. As the old saying goes shoot the biggest gun you can shoot well. For some that may be a 270win. and for another it maybe a 460 weatherby mag. Yes we all have our favorites and want to get every one we meet to use them, but that is not going happen, that's why we have so many good calibers and cartridges, too fit so many different people.
 

djm670

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Fenton,Mi. and Castle Mtns. Mt.
So now this guy, the original poster, has 12 pages to wade through...



Wow. Did we do him a favor? Or not? I dunno.

Regards, Guy

I think what the 12 pages say is you can shoot elk and kill them effectively with many diffferent cartridges; just be aware of the engergy required and the maximum distance each cartridges bullet of the proper construction loses that energy figure. I think if I was shooting match type hunting bullets I would want a larger magnum with a heavy bullet, if I was shooting partitions or accubonds I could shoot a lesser cartridge.

I think those who grew up with Elk in the hay field next to the house, tend to use lesser cartridges and those that come from the east and midwest tend to favor larger ones for a number of reasons - although that could be totally wrong assumption. I believe most hunters on this forum no matter what they shoot or where they grew up: tend to shoot what they shoot well, be it a 338 Lapua, exotic Allen Magnum, Sherman 6.5ss, 6.5 Creedmoor, .25-06, 6 mm Remington or .243 Winchester.

I think that if you combined all the elk killed with either a .30-06 or a .270 it would probably be the majority of them. Although I suspect the number killed with a .300 Winchester magnum would be close.
 

djm670

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Fenton,Mi. and Castle Mtns. Mt.
I seem to run it to more guys that say you have to have a magnum or large caliber for Elk than I do guys that say you do not need them. I don't think what caliber/cartridge is a big deal as long as you are comfortable with it, use a bullet made of good construction, and are able to shoot it well. I think if you have these all together you'll do fine. If you like the big guns, enjoy them and shoot them well, use them. If you feel you do better with a smaller gun use it. I don't think we should down any one for what the shoot, but maybe help them do better with what they are shooting. As the old saying goes shoot the biggest gun you can shoot well. For some that may be a 270win. and for another it maybe a 460 weatherby mag. Yes we all have our favorites and want to get every one we meet to use them, but that is not going happen, that's why we have so many good calibers and cartridges, too fit so many different people.

Well said!
 

FEENIX

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Dec 20, 2008
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18,234
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Great Falls, MT
I am looking to build a lightweight rifle for mountain hunting. Primary game will be Elk with a maximum range of 400 yards. I also plan to use the gun at the range and would like to keep the recoil low.

A short action cartridge would be nice but am willing to compromise on this. I don’t currently reload but am willing to spend the time to learn. The option for factory ammo is desired.

I have been considering these cartridges, 308, 270WSM, 7mm-08, 6.5PRC for short actions. 30-06, 270, 280AI if I go with long action.

If I do reloading I would like to use a cartridge and bullet weight combination that allows for reduced recoil loads. I would plan to use the lighter loads for practicing at the range.

Don't complicate it unnecessarily, this is not going to be your last. All of your choices listed are capable of harvesting an elk at 400 yards with the right bullet and of course placement. Pick one and go have fun with it. It boils down to personal preference. The .300 WM remains my go to chambering for antelope to elk size game up to 1K yards. As you can see, we all have varying personal preferences, opinions, and experiences. There are plenty of effective and reasonably priced muzzle brakes out there to choose from that will help mitigate your recoil concern. Effective muzzle brake serves two purpose, reduce felt recoil and reduce muzzle rise ... seeing your target on impact is priceless.
 

FEENIX

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Great Falls, MT
So now this guy, the original poster, has 12 pages to wade through...



Wow. Did we do him a favor? Or not? I dunno.

Regards, Guy

I know what you mean, because "WE" tend to complicate it unnecessarily for the OP too. I am a big fan of "real world experiences", keeping it simple, and staying within the boundaries of the OP's query.
 
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chparatrooper88

Active Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2017
Messages
40
Location
TX
Any number of cartridges will work. My last elk was a cow at 338 yards, one shot with a 30-06, 165 grain bullet. It was more than enough.

My big bull was a 7mm Rem mag, about 180 yards, with a 175 gr Nosler Partition. It was more than enough.

I didn't think either rifle kicked all that hard, they're actually remarkably similar in recoil and performance. Others that aren't as powerful will likely kill very well. For me, cartridge just isn't that important. Accuracy, reliability, how the rifle handles... Those are more important.

Put a good, expanding bullet through the lungs, and you've got your elk! Elk have big lungs too. :)

I don't see any reason to look at anything bigger/more powerful than a 30-06 for your situation.

Regards, Guy
Hard to beat the 7mm Remington. Good luck.
 
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