Take the .338. Short tale. Friend borrowed my .300 to elk hunt.Out on one side of the canyon...trail high across the other side...about 300 yds. Line of elk come across...last day...Spike bull comes out...guide says"your call", friend says,"oK". Levels down on the bull and lets fly. Little bull turns around and runs back into the timber, then returns heading across the high slide again. Friend levels down again...boom. Little bull slows, falters, then begins slide down mountain. Just then, the OTHER little spike bull runs out of the timber and heads across the slide...gets half way across and crumples, dies and slides down to his friend. I.E. ...both were hit, but the .300 gave no immediate indication of a hit, so he killed another in the same place and time. I have not seen ( in mylimited experience) a bull hit with the .338 that did not show a reaction to the shot. Only killed 7. Not a long list of kills. Take it for what it's worth tho...seems that size does matter (at least at first contact). All will work. Just have fun. Paul
Oh, By the way...last elk, big 6 by was at 550 yds...across a canyon...couldn"t get closer. Sighted in at 3 1/2 inches high at 100. 210 grain Nosler Partition. 2900 FPS/at sea level. Aiming point 12 inches above line of back. First shot dropped into shoulder and chest, breaking off side shoulder joint. Bullet found under hide on off side. Bull, of course, didn't drop,,,just staggered around. On good advice, I kept shooting until he was on ground. Five rounds. Five hits. All in chest/lung area. All gave indication of hits. Would I have been as well off with one of the.300? Probably. Was I happy with my SAKO .338. Absolutely. Again...Have fun, but, as Robert Ruark said, "Use enough gun." I think the .338 is a wonderful large game cartridge. Paul
The gun doesn't do the killing, the bullet does. With the right bullet any of them would work. Personally, I would choose the 300 RUM. It shoots the flatest. Less margin for error when you start getting out there assuming you aren't adjusting the scope for elevation.
Shooting Elk. Well I've only shot one and it was a cow last winter. Frist shot about 120 yds with an M14 175gr SMK dident even make the Elk flinch. It ran about 300yds to an open field. I move to the tree line on the edge and shot agen about 175 yds. Elk flinched but did not move. No blood on the side of the Elk. I shot one more time same point of aim. Elk flinched and stagers then drops. All 3 rds in between 4th and 5th rib. 2 pass throw and the 1st into the left sholder. Then I lone the rifle to the other guy I'm hunting with. He shoots 1 rd at a cow Elk about 225 yds 175 SMK and the Elk drops on the spot. All I know is next year out Elk hunting I'm useing my new 338 Lapua with 300 gr SMK.
All the guns you mention have killed elk and killed them well. Which one do you like to shoot?
Historically the 338 Win Mag has been the predominate "elk" cartridge so you see many opting for that. The new RUM's are great if a person can shoot them well. Many who buy them cannot handle them effectively and assume lots of speed and power will make up for bad marksmanship.
Try matching the gun with the type of hunting / terrain. For example, my brother has a 338 RUM setup for long range (bigger and heavy), and has a 338 Win Mag that is more of a lightweigt carry gun. He has two elk tags this year. One will be in open, sage country for a cow and he is excited to go cow tipping with the RUM using 300 SMK. The other tag is for bull in some mountain country with the horses involved so out comes the Win Mag using a 250 gr X with shots limited to where you are still holding on hair.
Take any one of those guns. Decide what matches your style of hunting, and make sure you can do your part.
Shaky has great advice. Make sure you use a bullet that does its part. Use a Groovebullet or any other premium and your margin of error on delivery can be minimized.
Quiethunter. The 338 Lapua I have is on a Rem 700 action and was built by one of the armorer's from Quantico. On an A4 stock like the M40A4. With an Mark 4 16x on top. I've been shooting all summer at sniper matches and what ever I can shoot it at. Poor little woodchucks. And I have mastered the recoil of the rifle. And shooting 1/2 inch groups at 100yds with it. And the 300 gr SMK works well with it. The only thing I have a problem I have is the scope. Very short depth of field. Not much long range shooting in Michigan where I hunt. And not much light gathering in low light. But next week is opener for white tail here so I'm going to take the 4.5x14 off my 300 WSN and use it.