Help chosing an Elk Cartridge.


Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2011
N. Texas and S. Africa
According to the recoil table the 300WSM has considerably more recoil than the 30-06 when using the same bullet weight. That is why I left the 300WSM and 300 WM off my list.
Put a decent brake on it and don't worry about it.

Honestly if i were in your shoes my choices would be the .264wm, .300wm, and 7mm RM.

The older and smarter I get the more I lean towards the 6.5's so I'd be hard pressed not to go with the .264 but if I did, I'd go with the .300wm.

The more I shoot the 6.5's though the more impressed I am with them. I"ve now had 7 one shot kills with the 6.5's at 600yds plus on boars over 350lbs.

I would not be the least bit hesitant to take any sized elk with the 6.5's at any practical hunting range.


Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2018
I shoot a 7mm08...the 280 has a pretty good kick to it...about the same as a 7 mag or more....I like my 708...savage...great accurate gun

a guy I know has killed more elk than you can imagine with a 270....great elk gun

another guy I know has killed a hundred elk with his 243....can hit what ever the hell he wants where ever he wants with it....

I have shot elk with 7 mags and had em run off and ive dropped em with 7 mags as well..same with the 300 win mag..

it really seems to be all about making a good shot...but you certainly dont need a howitzer to kill an need a good clean shot...


Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2018
Both my .280s recoil less than my three 7mm-08s! I load all of them pretty warm. Shooting 140 gr. Nosler Accubond at 3010 and 3040 fps out of my .280s. Very, very mild recoil in the two X-bolts I own. I wouldn't hesitate to shoot elk to 5-600 yards with that load.
I believe it is a combo of 26" barrels, powder and the X-bolt recoil pad... but they sure are a joy to shoot.

6x6 elk

Well-Known Member
Dec 5, 2013
Another thumbs up for the 35 Whelen. With 225 gr Accubonds it shoots as flat as the 30-06 with 180 gr bullets, but hits harder, and makes a bigger hole. With recoil being about the same in like weight rifles.


Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2012
Central Oregon
I just built a 35 Whelen with a 22” standard contour barrel. It is light weight and very accurate. I’m shooting a 200 grain Barnes TTSX and I was amazed how quickly it took down a 5x5 bull at 236 yards . The shot was a double lung and he went 20 yards and fell over dead. When it comes to recoil I find that the 35 is just a big push. In fact I was able to watch the elk through the scope when I made the shot. I’ve owned 7mm Rem Mag, 300 WSM, 270 WsM, and 30-06 and they are all great cartridges but truly love the 35 Whelen and it will be my go to rifle for elk.


Well-Known Member
Jan 10, 2013
Meridian, Idaho
I am currently building a light weight mountain rifle. It is sub 8 lbs scoped. This rifle is designed for long range wolf hunting so I am not suggesting this is an elk rifle but....

If you look at bullet design, sectional density of a particular bullet diameter, and look at required energy to efficiently do the job at your max range then pick your cartridge based off that info. The problem with the forums etc is that people have their favorite and promote it over a cartridge they likely have never owned.

For me it boils down to choices, short or long action, magnum or non.

When going lightweight a short action makes the most sense when counting ounces. For energy a magnum makes a short action magnum. I am not a huge fan or magnums so I tend to lean toward something like a 308 case that is Ackley improved. For elk I might be headed toward the 7-08AI. You might be able to run a 284 in a SA and seat the bullets deeper in the case but I haven't looked at the negatives there yet.

What I chose was a 6.5 creedmoor. My test shows a 147 at 2700fps which delivers 1500 ft lbs at 500 yards. At 1k it is 865 ft lbs which is more than enough for wolf. I would not use this rifle for long range elk.

Savage short action, trued, bolt flute, ptg head, other mods
Skeleton bolt handle
Savage internal box mag pillar bed stock.
Skeleton trigger guard
Talley rings
Proof research carbon barrel
Thunderbeast ultra 7 suppressor
Leupold Vx6 3-18x50 cds, MOA.

As a final note, I have a friend who is an outfitter and I guide for him occasionally. We have killed quite a few good bulls with 6.5 creeds and 140's out to 500. I have not seen a hunter use the 147 yet. I have killed 7 wolves with it, from 25 yards to 980. Works well for that.


Well-Known Member
Sep 7, 2009
Denton County, Texas
Not on your list, however the 300WM is my choice. My cow elk this year at 410 yards took 2 steps and dropped. Used the Hornady 212g XLD-X bullets travelling at 3030 f/s. Also use the same setup on last year's Aoudad. It's all about shot placement.


New Member
Nov 7, 2015
Camillus, NY
I'm not sure what you define as "light" recoil. If you have shoulder issues, I would recommend a 6.5 Creedmoor with 143gr-150gr bullets. It fits all your criteria for accuracy, field weight, retail ammo availability, and stopping power. 308Win would also be a great round if you can take a bit more recoil. I know there are a lot of "go big or go home" guys out here, but if you are already sensitive to recoil and you will be putting significant rounds downrange for practice, don't punish yourself. There is no legal animal in North America that you can't put down with these two calibers. It all comes down to shot placement. Good luck!

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.


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