21 replies [Last post]
elkkill06's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Fruita Colorado
Joined: 02/02/2009
Posts: 1946
Elk caliber and bullet question ?

What has made you guys decide on your caliber and bullet choice. Is it what you guys have seen on hunting shows and is it what the pro's say is correct to use for elk. Or maybe it is what the the big dogs wrote in books in the past and magazines and say is the correct choice.

For me it was watching my father and the rifle he used and how many animals he has taken over the years. My father never could handle recoil and has always shot light and extremely fast calibers, even with small bullets, and it has always worked even on elk.

Myself, I am the same and I shoot lighter bullets extremely fast out of my 7MM RUM and love the performance of the round. It is like shooting my 22-250 with a ton more energy. Very fast and flat shooting and will definitely reach out and touch something at those longer ranges.

This is the part I do not understand, if a person comes on here and asks what is the right caliber for elk and elk hunting around 75 percent of the guys on here are going to say a 30-06, or even a 300 win mag or bigger and shoot the heaviest bullets that your gun will shoot. Is this so you can hit him wrong and still try to get lucky enough to get into a vital. My 22-250 with a 55 grain Sierra Gameking bullet will penetrate 1/2 plate steel at 100 yards and a 30-06 with 180 grain bullets will not. Which bullet is going to shock that animal more, now I am definetely not telling ANYONE to hunt elk with a 22-250. I am just very curious on how and why most guys choose there weapon of choice and bullet of choice.

SoCoKHntr's picture
Offline
Location: Pueblo Colorado
Joined: 12/18/2006
Posts: 1772
Elk caliber and bullet question ?

Let me ask your question with a question. If you were facing a 350 to 400 yard shot on an elk broadside or quartering away, what would you rather have in your hands a 243 with a 100 gr bullet or a 30-06 with a 180 gr Nosler Partition?

I see the point you are making and agree not everyone needs an artillery piece to hunt elk and more then one factor should go into caliber selection. But, I personally believe you should aim for that balance between the shooters capabilities including what they can heft around and the kind of recoil they can handle and a caliber with enough oomph to confidently put an elk down for the count. For me my 7mm Mag is tame enough for me to easily handle the recoil, I can shoot very accurately with it, and I have the confidence that with a quality bullet like a 175 gr Trophy Bonded Bear Claw or Nosler Partition that I'd take that four hundred yard shot under ideal conditions i.e. solid rest, no wind, broadside into the shoulder or boiler room.

For a smaller framed individual like a youth or female I would easily recommend 308, 243, with a well constructed bullet in a short action lighter to pack rifle. I would recommend they attempt to limit their shots to 300 and under with precision shot placement into the boiler room.

A happy medium would be the 270 in my opinion.

But, hell, if you are a 6 foot four weighing 230 pounds and absorbing the recoil of a 300 Win Mag or better aint no thing for you and that's what you like to put an elk down right now, I say go for it. So, in the end many different variables to take into account when picking a caliber to kill elk with.

exbiologist's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
Elk caliber and bullet question ?

There's a couple of parts to this question, but to start off with, I first started elk hunting with a .280 Remington loaded with 150 grain Nosler Partitions from Federal and it worked just fine. Those were the only "premium" factory loads available at that time. Ididn't grow up in a hunting family and bought that rifle after reading all sorts of .270 vs .280 magazine articles at the time, and I always liked having something out of the ordinary. I would occasionally use my Marlin .45-70, but it was seriously lacking for shots over 200 yards and there wasn't much point to carrying it as I wasn't always in the timber. Never took an elk with that gun.
When the .300 RUM came out, I got sucked in by the hype, bought one and put a huge scope on her. I had a difficult time dealing with the recoil of that rifle from a bench and eventually put a muzzle brake on. After that, I quit hunting with it entirely because it was just too loud and too heavy and unnecessary. Besides, I then had a .270 WSM, which I really liked. For elk, I loaded it with Barnes X bullets then switched to TSXs when they came out.
Then, last spring, I saw two Remington 700 ADLs in 7mm Mag on clearance at Wal Mart for $300, so I bought both to build custom rifles out of them. I decided on my version of an 'Alaskan" and "Westerner". A maple stocked .264 Win Mag and a lightweight synthetic stocked .358 Norma Mag. The .264 was for deer, the .358 for elk. But why the .358? Just because, and I get a kick out of interesting ballistics and it's just a little different than a .338 Win Mag. And I like have a cartridge that I know is capable of any shot I'll ever be tempted to take. And I started feeling like, if you can handle the recoil, why wouldn't you shoot the biggest gun you could? The gun weighs 7.65 pounds with scope, and produces 4,400 ft lbs. It's the hardest recoiling rifle I've ever fired, but for some reason I don't mind it as much as my old .300 RUM. Part of it is the trigger and stock that help in accurate shooting, I guess. However, that gun wasn't finished until this spring, and my .264 was done. From what I had read, I was feeling a little undergunned with that rifle last season until I shot my first elk with it. 140 gr Partitions blew through both shoulders on that bull. I was impressed and didn't feel undergunned by the time my second elk hunt of the year came around and did the same thing to the next elk. I love that rifle, but she's a little heavy with a 27.5" barrel and maple stock, plus I worry about hurting her. So that's where having the .358 Norma comes in handy this year, she's ugly, she's light and she's powerful enough for anything in North America and most of Africa. 250 grain Partitions at 2850 fps will do the trick, I suspect.
So, the next question, why hunt with a big gun? I like it. A rifle to me, isn't just a tool. I derive extra satisfaction out of hunting with guns that I like carrying or have a special attachment to.
Now, I'll be the first one to agree that if you can't shoot a big gun, you have no business doing so. But if you can, or actually like it (my big gun puts a weird masochistic smile on my face every time I pull the trigger), then why wouldn't you use as much gun as possible? I don't want to be presented with a shot that I feel like I could take with a gun other than the one I have in my hands at the moment.
The lineup:

elkkill06's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Fruita Colorado
Joined: 02/02/2009
Posts: 1946
Elk caliber and bullet question ?

SoCo, great question and answer! Thumbs up I am mainly just curious about how most of the guys have come to the conclusions of what they use. Was it 20-30 years of experiences of failures and accomplishments or is what they were taught by fathers or mentors or even what they have read or seen?

And just so you guys know I am not a big fan of the 30-06 (and I do know it has proven itself many times over Yes ). I would personally have a flatter faster 270 with a 130 grain premium bullet, but that is just me.

My question is not about what is right or wrong or even ethical, but what helped you guys make the choices you use!

Thanks, Quinton

elkkill06's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Fruita Colorado
Joined: 02/02/2009
Posts: 1946
Elk caliber and bullet question ?

Ex, that is exactly what I was looking for! Thumbs up And I love the fact about how a particular weapon will make you smile just being in your hands. Exactly how I feel with my Ultra Mag!

Thanks for you opinion! Big smile

Centennial's picture
Offline
Location: Front Range, CO
Joined: 10/12/2006
Posts: 55
Elk caliber and bullet question ?

BLUF – bullets/calibers cant make up for poor shot placement which happens in hunting situations for numerous reasons (another discussion in itself).
I choose to hunt with a given cartridge/bullet/weapon combination based on experience and goals of my hunt. Sometimes those goals are hunting with a certain weapon and accepting any limitations.

I hunt close. All but two of my shots have been under 200 yards and the huge majority around 100 yards. The impressive kills that stand out in my memory are with bullets that were heavy for caliber and moderate velocity. So, it’s what I turn to when hunting and reloading for hunting because it’s what I am used to. I am fortunate, I have had a much better than average success on elk (CO resident since forever) and have had a very good run on deer the past 10 years. I can take that experience and trade a “great” elk rifle and hunt with a M94 Win and not even blink. But, I wouldn’t recommend that rifle to someone with less experience because it takes discipline to pass on shots. People who are new to hunting or hunt rarely often don’t have the discipline (gained through experience) to pass on shots. Okay, enough about me.

So, why a 30-06 with 180g factory loads. Because it works as well as anything, is available, and most people can shoot them well. It’s a one standard deviation rifle meaning it can do almost everything well for almost everyone. Gain the experience then try a .243 or a .405 or a 32WS, or a muzzleloader, or a you name it. A dead elk wont know what killed it. But an ethical hunter will know what to use so the elk is killed and recovered.

SoCoKHntr's picture
Offline
Location: Pueblo Colorado
Joined: 12/18/2006
Posts: 1772
Elk caliber and bullet question ?

Regarding what influenced my choice, when I was much younger my father reloaded for three calibers namely for Elk and Mule Deer, the 270, 7mm Mag, and 444 Marlin. He did (and still does) heavily influence my knowledge and use of calibers for hunting. He's 66 this year and his caliber choices are now (besides muzzleloader) the 270 and 30-06. My uncle who also reloaded primarily used the 270 Weatherby Mag and 280 or Elk and Mulies with great success. The two of them are my mentors when it comes shooting and hunting.

Critter's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 3865
Elk caliber and bullet question ?

There are some interesting opinions here. I started to hunt elk with a 30-06 because that is the only rifle that I had owned since I was 5 years old when an uncle gave it to me and it fit the bill perfectly for me at that time. In the 60's there was talk of a real elk rifle and it was based on a necked up 300 Weatherby round. This became the 340 Weatherby. When I was a kid I couldn't get enough information about this round. It shoot flat and fast and with a big bullet. I read every article that was written about it both good and bad and there wasn't too much bad. My problem was that I could never scrape up enough money to buy "That Rifle". Now it was 20 years ago when a gun shop was going out of business that I happened to be in the store. There on the shelf was a 340 Fibermark stainless that was calling my name and $600.00 later it was mine. The funny thing was that I didn't fire it until 5 years later when I could afford a scope that was right for the rifle. 15 years later that rifle has accounted for 19 elk, 3 black bear, one buffalo, and a number of deer. The furthest shot was just under 700 yards on a 350pt 7x6 elk. Knowing what that rifle would do gave me the confidence on that shot. As far as what bullet I shoot out of it it is a Barnes 185 gr at around 3,000 fps.
Did I say that I love this rifle?

HeavyC's picture
Offline
Location: Greeley, CO
Joined: 07/19/2008
Posts: 634
Elk caliber and bullet question ?

COST!

LOL! I was looking for a nice Weatherby mag in an elk size; and just happened on a gent at another's houese who happened to have a hardly shot .340 Mark V Deluxe for VERY cheap! Fancy, expensive & heavy (~9#!) but I have NEVER had an animal move ofter downing it, even on a gut shot due to 40mph crosswinds Oops!

Heavy rd too, but I practice & zero at 200yds and can still reach out and touch something w/ it. Thumbs up

I always figure it is like show cars, why the heck have it if you can't drive or shot it!

Though FYI...I am saving for a 30-378 cool

Late!

HeavyC's picture
Offline
Location: Greeley, CO
Joined: 07/19/2008
Posts: 634
Elk caliber and bullet question ?

Critter, you reload those 185gr? Would love something like that for those long muley shots cool

Critter's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 3865
Elk caliber and bullet question ?
HeavyC wrote:
Critter, you reload those 185gr? Would love something like that for those long muley shots cool

You have to reload them. I came across a dealer that was selling Barnes 185 gr. XBC's for $25.00 a box and I bought all of them that he had 10 boxes, so I am set for quite a while on them. I should of said that the elk that I took at 700 yards was with a Weatherby factory load with the Barnes 225 X bullet with two shots and complete pennetration through the ribs with both shots, but the 185's would of done the job just as well. He was done for on the first shot but my spotter didn't say if I hit him so I hit him the second time and down he went.

Related Forum Threads You Might Like

ThreadThread StarterRepliesLast Updated
358 WinchesterHuntnFish212/21/2008 21:27 pm
Boar Hunting (Bullet selection)NewHunter201/07/2005 06:22 am
Cartridge LengthJJD1302/12/2009 07:50 am
small caliber tnhunter3210/26/2013 07:41 am
Bullets7mm Moose710/05/2010 19:48 pm