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jim boyd's picture
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Acceptable Elk Bullet Performance

Knowing that bullet construction and performance is key to taking any animal, is there a minimum of foot pounds of energy for any particular projectile - to be accepted as an ethical and effective elk round?

I read authors fairly frequently that state it must be a 30 caliber or larger and must have a MV of XXXX feet per second - and then the next author states that 270 and 7mm offerings are acceptable elk cartridges.

I shoot a 22" barrelled 7mm-08 and right now, I use a Hornady 139 grain bullet that has a MV of 3000 fps (rated from a 26 or 28" barrel, I am sure) and retains over 1300 foot pounds of energy at 500 yards.

I can not shoot that far and have not even tried to practice at distances like this.

My question is - would this be an acceptable and ethical elk round?

If yes, is it yardage limited, in that it might only be advisable to shoot at - say - 300 yards?

I want to hunt in 2012 - so I have basically 22 months or less to prepare.

If I need to upgrade rifles, no problem..

Thanks - all help is genuinely appreciated!

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If you don't win that 300

If you don't win that 300 Ultra mag your 7mm-08 will work quite fine. But if it was me I would upgrad the bullet to either a Nosler or Barnes in 140 gr. As far as performance at the range either should almost be the same as your 139 gr loading.

As far as the shot range you'll need to stay where you are comfortable at and if 200 yards is what you like then stay within that range. The biggest draw back is if you don't have that nice broad side shot and need to take a quarting away shot where you need to punch through a lot of muscle or bone at that 200 yards.

As far as a elk rifle I know of hunters out there that use a 25-06 and take a elk every year. It is all in knowing what your rifle is capable of and staying with in it.

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true

There is this new and erroneous school of thought out there with the philosophy that nothing less than a 375 H&H should be used on elk, even on white tail deer.  Ludicrous!!  I've taken elk for several years with a .270 Win using 130 grain bullets. I have one buddy who uses his .243 Win on cow elk with humane kills.  It's all he has. Personally I would go bigger, but he uses it with success. My own personal obersvations and opinion is that any high velocity rifle cartridge of  .25 caliber or larger weighing at least 120 grains can be used very effectively.  I would however advise on using .270 or bigger for elk, especially bulls.  Truth is that more elk have been taken with a .30-06 using 150 grain bullets over the years than with any other biggame cartridge out there. 

Your 7mm-08 will work just fine if that's what you have.  But as Critter said, every rifle and cartridge has it's limitations.  Know your rifle/cartridge and use them within their performance envelope.  On elk I never have needed to take a shot of farther than 200 yards.  In fact on game (elk and deer) I've taken before most kills have been inside approx 150 yards, the exception being some pronghorn out to 300 yards.

One question jim boyd, are you sure it's a 7mm-08 you have and not a 7mm Mag?  140 grains being thrown at 3000 ft/sec?  The performance you stated for your 7mm-08 sounds closer to a 7mm Mag than it does to the -08.  Most ballistic numbers are typically given from a 24 inch test barrel.  Your 22 inch barrel will yield you about 120 ft/sec less velocity than from a 24 inch test barrel ballistic.

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+1 +2 +3

I agree completely on what both have said ! :thumbsup1:  Stick with a rifle you are comfortable with and know very well. One other thing, 139 gr SST Interbonds is all I run in my 7MM RUM and they have performed flawlessly.

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7mm-08

The ballistics table I'm looking at shows the Hornady 139 grain BTSP LM is 3000 at the muzzle and still has 1112 ft/lbs of energy left at 500 yards with a 42 inch drop when sighted at +1.5" high at 100 yards.  I believe you are talking about their 139 grain SST because it shows that at 3000 and still has 1344 ft/lbs of energy left at 500 yards with a drop of 38.5" when sighted in at +1.3 inch at 100 yards.  Both will be slower in your barrel, but I would definitely not use the SST for elk in any caliber and that statement is made from in the field experience.  The SST expands way too fast for elk or moose.  You need a good bonded bullet like the Hornady Interbond for a big bull elk and most of the expert opinions I have read over the last 40+ years say 1000ft/lbs of energy is needed at the animal if it is a deer and 1500 ft/lbs on elk or moose.  I don't necessarily agree with that statement, but they are basing that on what they feel will be a sure, humane kill if the bullet is placed in the boiler room.  Your gun will take an elk, but I would limit the distance to 300 yards or so and, using a good bonded bullet, try for broadside or slightly quartering away shots if the animal is at any real distance from you.  A lot of guys that hunt elk every year go to the bigger calibers so they can take any decent shot presented at longer distances and can still get the bullet into the boiler room on angles that you wouldn't want to shoot with your gun.  The previous post leaves me a little perplexed because the SST and Interbond are two DIFFERENT bullets by Hornady.  The SST is what Hornady offers in what they call an Interlock and I quit using them because they expand too fast.  I now use their BTSP for antelope and deer and go to the Interbond for bigger animals.  Both shoot to the same POI, so I don't need to rezero my scope when I change bullets in my 25-06 or 30-06s.

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Let me clear it up ;)

Topgun 30-06,

I load both the SST interlock and Interbond bullets. I killed two of my biggest bulls using the SST Interlock before the Interbonds came out. One was at 520 yards and the biggest was at 419 yards. The only reason I started using the Interbonds was because of the speeds of my Ultra Mag and close range on mulies is not very pretty.

I am also going to load some GMX's and see how they perform. I really like the Hornady line of bullets and that is all I shoot even in my .22-.250.

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One more thing

One thing I want to stress is that shot placement is crucial no matter what sized caliber you are using.  A gut shot or butt shot with a .458 Win Mag isn't going to result in a quick and humane kill, maybe a kill in a few days or weeks down the road. 

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Yessir - 7mm-8

Western Hunter,

 

Yes sir - 7mm-08 - actually I mis stated one thing.. the round I shot this year is a Hornady load - 139 grain bullet at 3000 feet per second - they used to call it a LightMag and now they have changed the name and I do not recall what it is now. It is a common Hornady offering, though.

I am shooting a Savage rifle with Accutrigger and muzzzle brake - factory installed.

The recoil is very manageable (I hate recoil) and this is the MOST accurate rifle I have ever owned.

I am generally considered a lousy shot but I rarely shoot over 1.5" @ 100 yards and often shoot MOA with this little rifle.

I am very confident with it and thus, my love of the rifle and this caliber.

This is my second 7mm-08 - it was a Stevens and it was generally a MOA rifle also - I sold it to a friend of mine and she shoots better than I do - her groups alway hover at 1".

Mine is topped off with a 3-12x56 Meopta Meostar in Leupold 30mm high rings, which might be a bit heavy for toting around out west - what is your opinion there?

Shot placement - I am a disciple of that. I strive for pinpoint accuracy when hunting and on whitetails, almost always go for the "bowling ball" shot and with all modesty, it is rare for my deer to take a step.

I will definitely have to study elk anatomy to help learn where to index the projectile on the animal.

Thanks!

Jim

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7mm-08

jim boyd wrote:

Western Hunter,

 Mine is topped off with a 3-12x56 Meopta Meostar in Leupold 30mm high rings, which might be a bit heavy for toting around out west - what is your opinion there?

Shot placement - I am a disciple of that. I strive for pinpoint accuracy when hunting and on whitetails, almost always go for the "bowling ball" shot and with all modesty, it is rare for my deer to take a step.

I will definitely have to study elk anatomy to help learn where to index the projectile on the animal.

Thanks!

Jim

It sounds like a big scope, but you are not alone. I think most hunters these days have more scope than they really need for biggame hunting.  I subscribe to the old fashioned school of thought that for biggame hunting your really don't need anything more powerful than 6X.  But that's just my opinion and preference.  Not really all that important.  What's more important is that as long as it's a reliable scope and you shoot well with it on your rifle, and you can lug the combo around comfortably through the woods, those are the most important thing.  As far as everything else I'd say your way ahead of the game.

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elkkill06

I'm with you on the Hornady components.  I don't think there is anything better.  That is also all that I use and I will never change because I believe in that old saying that if it ain't broke don't try to fix it, LOL!!!

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