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elk load

Hi - I am new to elk hunting and just purchased a .300 weatherby magnum. I reload and am looking for a good bullet to use for elk . Also should I use a 180 gr. or 200 gr. for elk - thanks M_S

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Location: Colorado
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elk load

I'd say it depends on what shoots best in your rifle and what you shoot best. Either will work just fine.

Location: Utah
Joined: 02/24/2003
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elk load

I wouldn't say whatever shoots best out of your rifle. If you can hit a pie plate at 300 yds whith either one then I'd say shoot the 200's.

Who cares if you get a 1/2 better group with the 180's. When it comes to hitting around a 20 inch kill zone it doesn't make a hill a beans difference. What will make a difference is deeper penetration and staying together with the heavier bullet.

Elk aren't deer and any experienced elk hunter will tell you elk don't go down easy. I've seen elk hit right through the bread basket and not even flinch. The more bullet you got the better. Now if the 180's shoot well and the 200's are ridiculous then use the 180's but otherwise go with the 200's all the way.

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elk load

Here is a way to look at it. Using some common reloading data, I calculate the difference in kinetic energy at just 0.9% more for the 200 grain vs the 180 grain. Sure you are gaining some mass in the bullet but you are losing the square of the velocity (the 200 grain is going to have a lower muzzle velocity than the 180 grain).

Both bullets and energies are well within the acceptable limit (even for those that like to argue about it) for elk. So I'd make up a batch of 200's and 180's. If they both group equally well, then take the 200's.

However if the 200's are even 1/4 an inch wider in group (consistently), I'd stay with the 180's. Why? Because if you are trying to hit the 20" area quoted above, the lose in accuracy is going (1.25% for a 1/4") to be more than the gain in energy.

Course if the 200's grain group tighter than the 180's, great! More energy and more accuracy! :smile:

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elk load

Thanks for the info on bullet weight. What bullet company and type would you suggest?? ie. nosler partition, remington, speer etc. thanks

Location: Utah
Joined: 02/24/2003
Posts: 596
elk load

Bitmahser, usually I enjoy reading your posts and I've gained a lot of respect for you. So I hope you understand that I respectfully disagree with your post nearly 100%. I know you're an experienced elk hunter which is why your post surprises me a lot.

I agree that the energy isn't much different but thats where agreeing ends. Since its football season think of it like this. If you were facing a 225 lb league leading running back who would you rather have tackling him, a 180 lb DB or a 200 lb linebacker? Sure the 180's are more than capable but like I said before the 200's will stay together better, hold more weight, which will result in a deeper and heavier wound channel. When you're talking elk thats a very good thing. Take any advantage you can. This I learned the hard way.

In reality there isn't a whole lot of difference between the 2 but in my mind one is better than the other.

Now the part that really surprised me. Ok we know what elk hunting is. Leave the grouping data at home. In reality I have no idea how my rifle groups because it just doesn't matter. If I can go out and hit a pie plate at any given range then you're ready to hunt. Go sight your rifle in. At that point you will know if your load sucks. Cause you can't sight it in, you'll be all over the place. But once you sight it in, your load is ok. After that hunters should be practicing in real hunting positions. Hunting just isn't bench shooting and the kill zone is big enough any decent rifle and load is accurate enough. Do you think its really going to matter if your're even 3 inches off at 300yds?

Leave the group sizes for competition shooting. In hunting it just doesn't matter. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone sacrifice a good bullet for accuracy but when it comes crunch time they're shaking and don't make that sniper shot they were expecting and tracking a wounded animal was the result.

I guess what I'm saying is the advantages of the heavier bullet are not found on any reloading data chart and do outweigh a little bit more accuracy.

Shoot a quality bullet like a barnes X or a nosler partition.

[ This Message was edited by: rather_be_huntin on 2003-09-22 10:31 ]

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elk load

No problem on the disagreeing RatherBe. You seem to have been around a bit too, so I take your disagreement seriously, matter of fact that "minimum elk caliber" thread from awhile back is one of the more memorable ones I've had around here, basically because you said the elk deserves your best shot/effort. Anyway, we disagree, so lets nail down exactly what we are disagreeing about.

We both agree that the 200 should be taken if the 200 is slightly less acurate or more accurate. More mass, more energy, more momentum: go for it. On the other end of the scale we both agree if the 200 is way off, stick with the 180. Basically an admission that you can sacrifice too much accuracy to gain energy or momentum. The question is where to draw the line when the 200 is not as accurate as the 180? It is clear that my threshold (1/4" at 100yd) is lower than yours (3" at 300yds). Let me explain why, my earlier post was kind of short.

IMO there are only three objective variables that are of any importance in gauging a rifle and load. These are:

- Kinetic Energy ((mass * velocity^2)/2)
- Momentum (mass * velocity)
- Accuracy (diameter of grouping at 100 yards)

Lets take the first 2 and compare to a 30-06/180grain. KE (ft *lb) MV, momentum, (ft*lb/s)

30-06/180 300/180
----------------------------------------
KE 3000 3860
MV 70 80

Now compared to a 270 win/150 (just for kicks)

270/150
---------------------
KE 2650
MV 60

So at the muzzle, the 300 wthby mag 180 is packing 29% more energy and 14% more momentum than a 30-06/180 a round that everybody agrees is enough elk killing power. If that wasn't enough it is packing 46% more energy and 33% more momentum than a 270/150, a round which is debatable but still has killed a lot of elk.

The bottom line, the 300 wthby mag 180 has plenty of killing power (KE and MV) to spare. The 200 grain only lengthens its lead over known effective rounds, so we are not debating whether or not an extra 20 grains is going to take it from marginal killing power to "acceptable".

The first two measures are definitely in the green, so that leaves only accuracy to be a deciding factor between 180 and 200.

Think about all the things that can go wrong when you square up to take a 300 yard shot in the field. Wind, jitters, moving animal, inaccurate judgement of distance: all of this acts to decrease our accuracy. If I already have a round (180 wthby mag 300) that is more than adequate enough, why knowingly add another 3" of unknown to the situation just to get 20 grains? There is so many factors we can't control, why not control the one you can in this situation? Why even knowingly add more than a 1/4"? Why knowningly add any?

3" of controlable unknown is a lot in the big scheme of things. I think your 20" pie plate kill zone is about right just from having killed/skinned/butchered elk, but I have read experts that say it is only 15" on an elk. Given those numbers 3" is putting on an extra 15-20% of inaccuracy on top of everything else.

True you might hit a shoulder and that extra 20 grams of MV/KE might help you, but that same shot (everything else being equal) might have been 3" lower and toward the rump and been a boiler room shot.

This is splitting hairs and chances are good the 200 will shoot as well as the 180.

By the way, Missed_Shot, I use nosler partitions, although I shoot a 30-06.

[ This Message was edited by: bitmasher on 2003-09-22 21:00 ]

Location: Utah
Joined: 02/24/2003
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elk load

Bitmasher your numbers are pretty impressive. I haven't sat down with the calculator to verify them but based on what I know about you I'll assume they're correct.

Now don't get me wrong those numbers are important but as in any aspect there is the paper data and the real world application. The question was, 180 or 200? So we narrow our discussion to those 2 slugs. If he ends up choosing the 180's he will be fine for elk hunting, that I do agree with. But again the question is between 180's and 200's so I have no choice but reccomend the 200's.

Why?

Simple. Its the real world application in my opinion that seperates the two. Adequate is not the question. They are both more than adequate but if you were going into the super bowl do you want Jay Fiedler as your quarterback or do you want Joe Montana? To me its a question of good vs. better.

Ok we've got three basic concepts we're talking about. Accuracy, bullet weight, and bullet construction. It seems we both agree heavier is better and the magnitude is high when we're talking elk. Bullet construction is a mute point in this discussion. So we are left with accuracy. Now this is where we could argue for a year about group sizes and what that means at long range. However lets put real world experience here.

A pie plate or paper plate is only 12" in diameter, not 20". If you can hit a 12" zone at 300 yds or even 400 yds you are more than adequate to hit what you expect to hit. At 300 yds the 200's might only have a 6 inch group but you know what, thats ok. The 180's might have a 3 inch group but its still doesn't matter. You're still going to hit what you're aiming at either way. In this case extra accuracy gives you no advantage but the heavier bullet does and why I say as long as the accuracy is within certain parameters bullet weight and construction play a much more vital role in bullet selection. Trust me when you're looking at a 1000 lb. 7x7 you'll wish you had a .50 caliber machine gun cause you'll know you need all you can get to take the beast down.

With that being said the heavier still have the practical advantage because both bullets will hit their mark but the heavier bullet will hit harder. Now if you can't hit that 12" pie plate at 300 yds, then thats a different story.

Thats the best I can do with years of elk hunting experience behind me.

PS. Your 180 30/06 load is an adequate elk load but there are lots better ones. :smile:

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elk load

Well there is not much more I can say. You've made your case, I've made mine, guess that Missed_Shot or whoever reads this thread will need to decide for themselves.

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