Help Deciding on "Budget" Rifle & Scope for Once in a lifetime Elk tag (narrowed down list)

DWier

Well-Known Member
LRH Team Member
Joined
May 16, 2019
Messages
158
Location
Orlando, Florida
Since thus is a once in a lifetime hunt I would not go with one of the newer calibers. I would take a 270win, 7RM or 300WM. You don't want to get there and find out your ammo didn't make it. Get something you can walk into any Walmart or local gun store and buy ammo if necessary. The three above are much easier to find than almost anything else.
Congratulations on your tag. Good luck and happy hunting. We'd love to hear about your hunt when you get back.
Daryl
 

Troutslayer2

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 28, 2010
Messages
450
I’d be taking more gun in case the shot opportunity isn’t perfect. Maybe you’ll want to take a bull that is partially obscured and all you have is a high shoulder shot. Maybe he’ll be standing in the perfect spot to get him out, or 100 YDS from private or some other reason that you need DRT. Opportunities are few and far between and I don’t care how good your shot placement is, elk die hard and they tend to run in the direction that creates the most amount of work to get them out.
 

Whaler63

Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2019
Messages
21
Location
Northern California
So I just found out that I drew a North Dakota Elk Tag which is a once in a lifetime tag (literally can only get one in your lifetime). I have been going over everything I need... which is a lot of gear (lightweight camo, new pack, spotting scope, rangefinder) so I am trying to keep costs down. I am big into archery hunting whitetails but also have shot plenty of rifle in my life. I figured this is a good opportunity to get a new rifle setup as I also have a Wyoming muley tag that I will be guaranteed for but I will put it off for a year after hearing this news.

I narrowed the rifle choices to these three:
1. Tikka lite veil wideland 6.5PRC
2. Tikka lite Roughtech 6.5PRC
3. Christensen Arms Mesa 6.5PRC

I cant imagine I will be shooting an elk past 400 yards. But I do like to go shoot gongs out to around 800-1000 yards. Also I know Tikka's are just coming out with the 6.5PRC but I have heard of a few shops who have gotten them already so I would think it wouldn't take too long to get one. I have had both the tikka and the Christenson in my hands. I like both, I prefer the tikka action. But feel they are pretty comparable, besides Christensen having a better stock. I know I can get all of them for close to the same price. I like the fact the both the wideland and mesa are cerakoted.

Scope Choices:
Athlon Helos BTR GEN2 4-20×50 APLR6 FFP IR MOA
Athlon Midas BTR GEN2 4.5-27×50 AHMR SFP IR MOA HD
Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25x56 EBR-7C (MOA) Reticle
Ziess V4 (used) not sure what would be best reticle for me yet
Meopta Optika6 4.5-27x50 (or56?) or 3-18x56 (unsure on reticles)
Arken SH-4 gen 2 (if I could get my hands on one)
Burris XTR II Rifle Scope - 3-15x50mm 34mm FFP Illuminated SCR MOA Reticle Matte( can get blemished for $640)
Burris Signature HD 5-25x50mm (unsure reticle)
Leupold???

As you can see my price point varies a lot. I would love to stick around the $500 range if all possible but willing to go up if there is a scope absolutely worth having. still want to keep this gun fairly light and easy to carry around all day unlike some of the other guns I have. Please let me know what you believe is the best bang for your buck out of these rifles and optics.

Hey ND243,

Congrats on the "Once in a lifetime tag"
In reading your post, there is a lot to unpack here.
  • Once in a lifetime opportunity
  • Willing to fold over a Wyo deer tag to make this hunt
  • Do not see taking shots on Elk beyond 400 yards, may want to shoot gongs
  • Scopes - high magnification/big tube/50mm+ objective lense
  • Rifles - 6.5 PRC Tikka's and Christensen Mesa's
  • Want to keep the gun light for all day carry
My first concern is the 6.5 PRC. While there are many on this board that may have used a 6.5 bore gun to drop Elk, I do not get the sense that you have spent much time with the cartridge. Being that this is a OLT hunt for Elk, many of us would recommend that you get better insurance with a more traditional cartridge, typically found with the 7mm and 300 magnums. The 6.5's are great a alternative for recoil sensitivity or for those with limited capabilities with properly "doping" scopes.

I also think that there are more decisions that need to be made:
  • A light carry rig vs longer range (heavier) rig
    • Longer Range - Christiansen Mesa - (Scopes listed seem appropriate, although over kill IMHO)
    • Tikka's---IMHO, these are light rifles, the scopes listed seem better suited for heavier long range guns. FWIW - I had 2* Tikka's and sent them back as they did not live up to the 3 shot MOA guarantee at 100 yards..I was not going to risk a hunt with them
  • Budget vs Once in a lifetime tag
    • Will you only be hunting Elk this time or do you plan to hunt Elk or larger game in the future?
    • Why is budget prefaced/emphasized on a OTL hunt that you would leave your Wyo deer hunt for?
Worthy of consideration:
  • Scope:
    • Leupold - VX5-HD 5-15x44mm, CDS, ZL, 30mm Tube, WindPlex Reticle
    • Mount - Leupold 20 MOA Picatinny
    • Rings - Leupold 30MM Aluminum QR Rings
  • Rifle:
    • Browning X-bolt (Any of the 7mm or 30 cal Magnums)
      • Hells Canyon (Speed or Long Range)
      • Max Long Range (heavy but super accurate)
      • Medallion, Stalker and Hunter versions are fine too..
      • I have also heard good things about the CR - Mesa
  • Ammo:
    • I think you'll find the 6.5 stuff to be scarce these days, along with everything else. But the 6.5 craze and more women entering the sport has made a noticeable impact on 6.5 related ammo, guns and components.
    • High BC bullets for the 7's and Big 30's are well into the .630+ for G1, keep in mind these are big heavy bullets 175 and 180 grains for the 7mm, and 190 and 210 for the 300's. That said their long range performance is superb! And will be further enhanced with Leupold's CDS (Custom Dial System).
To wrap up this "Epistle" I have not recommended anything that I have not bought and used myself. I think I covered the good and touched upon the not so good. Frankly Browning and Leupold are my "Go-To's" as they are US based and have excellent infrastructure to handle warranty issues should they arise. BUSA does not have US based warranty repairs and it gets tricky as they are an "importer".. More importantly, Browning and Leupold make fine products and are fairly priced. They are not over priced and they are not Budget priced.

Again, congrats and best of success on your hunt. Please let us know what you decide on your artillery and please post pics of your hunt.

Cheers,
 

david g ranes

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2009
Messages
491
I’d be taking more gun in case the shot opportunity isn’t perfect. Maybe you’ll want to take a bull that is partially obscured and all you have is a high shoulder shot. Maybe he’ll be standing in the perfect spot to get him out, or 100 YDS from private or some other reason that you need DRT. Opportunities are few and far between and I don’t care how good your shot placement is, elk die hard and they tend to run in the direction that creates the most amount of work to get them out.
Elk die just like anything else if shot In the right spot if-you coach people into making marginal shots then you get marginal hits lifetime tag or not be an ethical hunter I can’t believe all the talk about taking in ethical shots if he hadn’t practiced and isn’t set up for the shot to make it good the trigger shouldn’t be pulled. David
 

wkdwdg66

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2013
Messages
117
Location
Washington
So I just found out that I drew a North Dakota Elk Tag which is a once in a lifetime tag (literally can only get one in your lifetime). I have been going over everything I need... which is a lot of gear (lightweight camo, new pack, spotting scope, rangefinder) so I am trying to keep costs down. I am big into archery hunting whitetails but also have shot plenty of rifle in my life. I figured this is a good opportunity to get a new rifle setup as I also have a Wyoming muley tag that I will be guaranteed for but I will put it off for a year after hearing this news.

I narrowed the rifle choices to these three:
1. Tikka lite veil wideland 6.5PRC
2. Tikka lite Roughtech 6.5PRC
3. Christensen Arms Mesa 6.5PRC

I cant imagine I will be shooting an elk past 400 yards. But I do like to go shoot gongs out to around 800-1000 yards. Also I know Tikka's are just coming out with the 6.5PRC but I have heard of a few shops who have gotten them already so I would think it wouldn't take too long to get one. I have had both the tikka and the Christenson in my hands. I like both, I prefer the tikka action. But feel they are pretty comparable, besides Christensen having a better stock. I know I can get all of them for close to the same price. I like the fact the both the wideland and mesa are cerakoted.

Scope Choices:
Athlon Helos BTR GEN2 4-20×50 APLR6 FFP IR MOA
Athlon Midas BTR GEN2 4.5-27×50 AHMR SFP IR MOA HD
Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25x56 EBR-7C (MOA) Reticle
Ziess V4 (used) not sure what would be best reticle for me yet
Meopta Optika6 4.5-27x50 (or56?) or 3-18x56 (unsure on reticles)
Arken SH-4 gen 2 (if I could get my hands on one)
Burris XTR II Rifle Scope - 3-15x50mm 34mm FFP Illuminated SCR MOA Reticle Matte( can get blemished for $640)
Burris Signature HD 5-25x50mm (unsure reticle)
Leupold???

As you can see my price point varies a lot. I would love to stick around the $500 range if all possible but willing to go up if there is a scope absolutely worth having. still want to keep this gun fairly light and easy to carry around all day unlike some of the other guns I have. Please let me know what you believe is the best bang for your buck out of these rifles and optics.
Based on your choices I have no opinion that would be helpful to you. If it was MY hunt of a lifetime I would go up about 3 calibers to my inexpensive 300 H&H model 70 with good glass.
 

Ninering62

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 14, 2020
Messages
63
Location
Orig from southern Md. In North Central Florida
So I just found out that I drew a North Dakota Elk Tag which is a once in a lifetime tag (literally can only get one in your lifetime). I have been going over everything I need... which is a lot of gear (lightweight camo, new pack, spotting scope, rangefinder) so I am trying to keep costs down. I am big into archery hunting whitetails but also have shot plenty of rifle in my life. I figured this is a good opportunity to get a new rifle setup as I also have a Wyoming muley tag that I will be guaranteed for but I will put it off for a year after hearing this news.

I narrowed the rifle choices to these three:
1. Tikka lite veil wideland 6.5PRC
2. Tikka lite Roughtech 6.5PRC
3. Christensen Arms Mesa 6.5PRC

I cant imagine I will be shooting an elk past 400 yards. But I do like to go shoot gongs out to around 800-1000 yards. Also I know Tikka's are just coming out with the 6.5PRC but I have heard of a few shops who have gotten them already so I would think it wouldn't take too long to get one. I have had both the tikka and the Christenson in my hands. I like both, I prefer the tikka action. But feel they are pretty comparable, besides Christensen having a better stock. I know I can get all of them for close to the same price. I like the fact the both the wideland and mesa are cerakoted.

Scope Choices:
Athlon Helos BTR GEN2 4-20×50 APLR6 FFP IR MOA
Athlon Midas BTR GEN2 4.5-27×50 AHMR SFP IR MOA HD
Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25x56 EBR-7C (MOA) Reticle
Ziess V4 (used) not sure what would be best reticle for me yet
Meopta Optika6 4.5-27x50 (or56?) or 3-18x56 (unsure on reticles)
Arken SH-4 gen 2 (if I could get my hands on one)
Burris XTR II Rifle Scope - 3-15x50mm 34mm FFP Illuminated SCR MOA Reticle Matte( can get blemished for $640)
Burris Signature HD 5-25x50mm (unsure reticle)
Leupold???

As you can see my price point varies a lot. I would love to stick around the $500 range if all possible but willing to go up if there is a scope absolutely worth having. still want to keep this gun fairly light and easy to carry around all day unlike some of the other guns I have. Please let me know what you believe is the best bang for your buck out of these rifles and optics.
I'd personally look for a used Browning A-Bolt ll in 7mm Rem mag with the BOSS brake & get a Vortex Viper PST gens 5-25x50 IRMOA ret. Thats a super affordable combo & a tack driver as well.
 

Randel

Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2014
Messages
18
So I just found out that I drew a North Dakota Elk Tag which is a once in a lifetime tag (literally can only get one in your lifetime). I have been going over everything I need... which is a lot of gear (lightweight camo, new pack, spotting scope, rangefinder) so I am trying to keep costs down. I am big into archery hunting whitetails but also have shot plenty of rifle in my life. I figured this is a good opportunity to get a new rifle setup as I also have a Wyoming muley tag that I will be guaranteed for but I will put it off for a year after hearing this news.

I narrowed the rifle choices to these three:
1. Tikka lite veil wideland 6.5PRC
2. Tikka lite Roughtech 6.5PRC
3. Christensen Arms Mesa 6.5PRC

I cant imagine I will be shooting an elk past 400 yards. But I do like to go shoot gongs out to around 800-1000 yards. Also I know Tikka's are just coming out with the 6.5PRC but I have heard of a few shops who have gotten them already so I would think it wouldn't take too long to get one. I have had both the tikka and the Christenson in my hands. I like both, I prefer the tikka action. But feel they are pretty comparable, besides Christensen having a better stock. I know I can get all of them for close to the same price. I like the fact the both the wideland and mesa are cerakoted.

Scope Choices:
Athlon Helos BTR GEN2 4-20×50 APLR6 FFP IR MOA
Athlon Midas BTR GEN2 4.5-27×50 AHMR SFP IR MOA HD
Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25x56 EBR-7C (MOA) Reticle
Ziess V4 (used) not sure what would be best reticle for me yet
Meopta Optika6 4.5-27x50 (or56?) or 3-18x56 (unsure on reticles)
Arken SH-4 gen 2 (if I could get my hands on one)
Burris XTR II Rifle Scope - 3-15x50mm 34mm FFP Illuminated SCR MOA Reticle Matte( can get blemished for $640)
Burris Signature HD 5-25x50mm (unsure reticle)
Leupold???

As you can see my price point varies a lot. I would love to stick around the $500 range if all possible but willing to go up if there is a scope absolutely worth having. still want to keep this gun fairly light and easy to carry around all day unlike some of the other guns I have. Please let me know what you believe is the best bang for your buck out of these rifles and optics.
My personal thoughts the 6.5,s is over hypt calibers you can't go wrong with older tried and true calibers 270WIN 7REM MAG 300 WIN MAG 30-06 all ways get premium ammo.
 

Kimber7man

Well-Known Member
LRH Team Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2008
Messages
1,383
Location
Hamilton County, Indiana
Once in a lifetime hunt deserves a rifle and scope befitting the hunt.

I have plenty of 6.5 and 7mm’s, and have used a 6.5 SAUM the last two years to bring home my elk.

However, for a one and done, You may want to consider a Christensen Ridgeline in 300 Win Mag, top it with a Nightforce SHV 4-14x50, and use Nosler trophy grade or federal ammo with 180 Accubonds. Light weight, with 26” threaded barrel if you ever want to use a suppressor.

That combo will not leave you lacking, unless you want to shoot 800+ yards, then you’ll want a better bullet for the longer distance.
 

Skimbleshanks

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
457
Location
Willamette Vally
Something more available than the 6.5prc might be a good idea. 270, 30-06, 7 mag, 300 wsm or 300 win. All probably easier to get ammo for would be my choice. The leupold vx5hd 3-15x44 is a nice scope. A little over your price but worth it. Good luck and have fun with your new rifle on a great hunt.
 

ND243

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
Messages
12
Even though I am not worried about getting ammo for a 6.5PRC as my buddies have them and I know a guy with 3 cases (not box’s, cases) of 6.5PRC. I am willing to go bigger and I think I will go with 300WSM now. Really thinking of getting a Tikka and a VX5 now after all the comments. Wish I had one of those 30% off coupons a year ago for a seekins ph2 or I would have one of those! I plan on putting all my focus on this hunt this year. I feel like some people on here feel like I’m less knowledgeable on hunting because I haven’t been into the rifle game very hard (which for elk I am not I will admit that taking in all the information I can). But I am a very serious hunter and especially archer. Some of you here compete with rifles and i compete in archery (many tournaments under my belt, ND state champ archer, etc). I take hunting very seriously and maybe under estimated the caliber do to me usually getting within 30 yards of an animal.. not 400. So this made me think it was enough. I do respect everyone’s opinion and this was the whole point of the thread to make sure I didn’t pick something I regret! I’m the type of guy who researches everything like crazy(drives my wife nuts). So keep the opinions coming! But right now i am thinking one of these:

Tikka T3x lite veil 300WSM
Tikka t3x lite stainless 300WSM
Christensen arms 300WSM

leupold VX5 HD 3-15x44 windplex reticle

Anyways here’s my last two archery kills! Figured I’d show I do hunt a little bit... actually it consumes most of my life 😂
 

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adk hunter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2018
Messages
571
Location
Chestertown N.Y.
Great news! Post #81

I am currently in love with my Christensen .300WSM and the .300WSM in general. I was just going to buy another (savage ultralight $1250) on here but had an unexpected expense pop up yesterday... I am loading 3 different Hammers looking for the perfect elk load. My "whitetail" load for the 152 grain is crazy accurate and much less recoil. Might be something worthwhile to consider.

I believe most wounded chases are poorly place shots because of flinching or thinking bigger bang will somehow make the vitals move. Take what you can shoot well best. Looks like you know a thing or three about practice with the bow!!

I put a 2-12 vx-6 firedot on the ridgeline and it balances perfectly...My .02 cents
 

Murph1951

Active Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2020
Messages
32
Location
Massachusetts
I hear so many here recommending magnums without taking into consideration the person's experience. Magnums...they burn a lot of powder and in my opinion kick a little to much for the average hunter to do precision shooting. A magnum rifle will probably weigh with scope over 10# probably more like 12#. Carry that up and down mountains all day . I know you can get a lt weight magnum but be ready to get walloped by it. I had at one time or another shot them all and owning a few. The Remington 8mm magnum kicks hard, all the 300's kick hard in 7# rifles and you brain will know what's coming when you pull the trigger. It takes a year range time to to get good with one and some like me never get good enough to trust myself taking game with it. My favorite magnum is my Remington 600 in 350 Remington magnum but not really a long range gun. Oh yeah it does kick.
 
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