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Joined: 04/18/2011
Posts: 5

Hi all, I live in Colorado and have hunted mule deer with some success the last several seasons - I did get one a couple years ago.

This year, I'm attempting to get both a cow elk and doe tag, so I can hunt simultaneously.  I've done some limited research on using a .25-06 on elk, and there are mixed opinions on doing so.

Are there any opinions on the use of a .25-06 specifically for cow elk, which I have to guess are (on average) less "thick" than bull elk?  I'm considering using a 100 grain Barnes Triple Shock bullet for both cow elk and deer, as I've read they are very tough bullets, usually retaining most if not all their original weight.  I would expect to keep any shots within 200 yards.  

Thanks for any thoughts.   

Critter's picture
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Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4413
The .25-06 is a fine round

The .25-06 is a fine round but in my opinion it is on the bottom side for elk cartridges.  If it was me I would load it with the 115 gr TSX just for the added weight over the 100 gr bullet.  Also don't kid yourself a cow elk is just as hardy as a bull when it comes time to drop them so don't underestimate them.  The bullet will still have to crush heavy bone to get to the vitals if a shoulder shot is taken and even a Barnes bullet will be doing all it can to get the job done with that shot.

Now don't get me wrong, there are elk taken every year with the .25-06 and even the .243 but there are better rounds out there where the margin isn't as great.  But if that is all you have then like I said load the 115 gr TSX to around 2900 fps. and practice with that load it will get the job done.   

Joined: 04/18/2011
Posts: 5
Thanks for your opinion.  For

Thanks for your opinion.  For what it's worth, I very much was wanting to try out the 115 grain version of the TSX, but as I understand, they require a faster rifling twist rate than the typical hunting rifle (in my case, a Ruger M77 Mk2) affords.  It sounds like some folks are getting keyholing and subpar accuracy with the 115 grain version, and it's not factory loaded that I know of. 

I may need to add a .338 or .35 Whelen to my arsenal...or buy a batch of the 115 grainers and give that a whirl.  I have the reloading equipment, but have shot primarily factory loads over the last decade.

Joined: 02/02/2010
Posts: 28
Rifle season is a funny time

Rifle season is a funny time of year for elk hunting.  Especially in this day and age of burns and open country.  25-06 is a fine round for elk or deer.  All boils down to ability with the weapon.  with the 25-06 100 grains is all you want.  accuracy goes down quick with more lead then that.  I shoot this round almost exclusively.  Do not shoot an elk through the shoulder with this round.  In the ribs or neck.  300 yards is the max I would attempt unless you are an excellent shot.  It sounds like you are fairly new to the elk game.  For that reason alone I would use a larger round.  The down side to that is if you don't like large bore recoil your accuracy will be real poor so you won't really be any better off then with the 25-06.  Myabe try a 30-06 or 300 Win mag.  For anyone not possesing sniper like skills; which I believe to be the vast majority of hunters; the 300 win mag is a perfect rifle.  I am a fulltime guide and this is by far my favorite elk rifle for hunters.  I carry it on every hunt and let my hunters with smaller rifles use it if they want.  Most end up hunting with it.  Good punch, won't hurt deer meat, and not a ton or recoil.  Very easy to shoot and not to heavy for mountain terrain.  Hope this helped.

Topgun 30-06's picture
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Location: Allegan, MI
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I would have to argue with

I would have to argue with the previous post, guide or not, stating that the 25-06 is a fine round for elk.  It is fine for deer, but it's considered a marginal caliber for an animal the size of even a cow elk.  With that in mind, I have a Ruger M77 that shoots the 117 grain Hornady BTSPs with fantastic accuracy and efficiency on antelope and the occasional mulie in Wyoming.  I move up to my 30-06 with the Interbonds when talking about elk and would suggest if you have to use the 25-06 that you get a box of 110 grain Hornady Interbonds and work up some handloads with that heavier grain bullet.  I'm sure you can find a load that will do the job and that bullet will penetrate well if you only take broadside or slightly quartering away shots into the ribs and keep your distance to no more than about 250 yards on a cow.  As stated in another post, they might be smaller than a bull, but they are still a big critter and will need a well placed shot into the lungs with that smaller caliber to get the job done.  Stay away from the shoulder, as mentioned, or you are just asking for trouble.  I'm using 50 grains of IMR 4350 for that 117 grain BTSP load I use and its a couple grains below what my buddie's computer program shows is max and it's moving at about 3000 fps at the muzzle.  Good luck on whatever you decide and have a great hunt out there!

Joined: 01/22/2007
Posts: 118
I've killed a number of cows

I've killed a number of cows and spike elk with a 25-06 shooting the 120g Nosler Partitions.  It did the job for me.  I fell on some ice and broke the stock of that rifle and when I replaced the rifle I upsized to a 270WSM because so many folks had told me the 25-06 was too light for elk. 

I shoot the 140g TSX in the 270WSM and it has also preformed well on elk.

I've also hit some big bulls with 180g bullets from 30 cal rifles and needed multiple hits to put them down.  So is there a right or wrong here.  No!.  If you are going to use a 25-06, keep it to 300 yards or less. Broadside boiler room shots. And I personally keep it to cow and spikes. No mature bulls. I also stick with shooting calm animals that have not gotten excited and gotten their adrenaline pumping.


Location: Kentucky/ Colorado
Joined: 06/23/2005
Posts: 1748
We have killed 4-5 elk with

We have killed 4-5 elk with our 25-06. 2- bulls and 2-3 cows. The last one was a mature 5 pointer. My wife put 3 or 4 shots into the broiler room and he kept staggering along, thankfully I had the same tag and was able to back her up with 2-3 shots from my .300 Win Mag. He was dead but didn't know it. When we skinned him out, he had 4-5 different hits in his rib cage. We usually load with nosler partitions or Hornady IBs. If I remember right both rifles had Nosler Partitions in them. 25-06 had 115 gr. and .300 had 180 gr. That bull was one tough critter. The cows we have killed dropped after one or two shots into the lungs. I doubt if we will use our 25-06 for bulls again.

ndemiter's picture
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Location: lawrence, KS
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i think the 25 caliber is

i think the 25 caliber is probably ideal for elk. it's a good shooting rilfe. you have to remember that kinetic enerygy= (1/2)( Mass)*(Velocity^2)

forget the 1/2... it's just a constant applied to the equation. pay carefull attention to the V^2. velocity is where most of your energy comes from.

shooting a 100 grain bullet may be light, can you find 130's? my concern with a 100grain tripple shock is that it will expand TOO RAPIDLY and come apart and fragment inside of the elk. i would use the hollowpoint version of the tripple shock not the polymer tipped version

lots of poeple kill elk reliably with this every year. just practice, practice, practice. if you hit your mark every time, you could use a .223 and kill them.

barnes makes some great bullets, and their lead-free  alloy is a bit harder than lead with a copper jacket, so it expands somewhat less rapidly.

i am a HUGE fan of the way hornady interlok perform. they are inexpensive and plain, but they do an acceptional job on game. the weight retention and mushrooming is incredible. it makes me feel wierd when i load them though, because they're so cheap, like i could get something "cooler" to shoot. but they do just as good of a job at half the price.

that being said, i use barnes tripple shock and hornady g-max bullets mostly. i don't know why. because i have money to burn i guess.

exbiologist's picture
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2397

no such thing as a 130 grain bullet for a .25, which is one of the great limitations of the caliber.  Most of the useful big game bullets are only available from 100-120 grains.  And I wouldn't be concerned about bullet break up with the 100 grain TSX at .25-06 speeds.  

Location: Colorado Springs
Joined: 02/23/2009
Posts: 188
I use the same rifle and

I use the same rifle and bullet for Elk.  I have a Ruger 77 and reload 115 TSX.  I do believe you'd want to shoot the heavier bullet - I haven't taken an Elk with the 25-06 but have shot them with .270, 30-06, and .300's.  The 115 TSX will give better penetration and deliver more ft/lbs to drop the Elk.  On the side, I've loaded these with both IMR 4831 and Re-19.  Re-19 has proven very accurate.  I get 2" groups at 200 yds. and velocity is near 3000 f.p.s.  I use CCI lg. rifle primer.  4831 gave me good accuracy also, but preasure's increased quickly and I didn't feel comftorable with it.  Good luck, hope this helped.

ndemiter's picture
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Location: lawrence, KS
Joined: 05/17/2007
Posts: 647
i use R-19 for my 30-06. i

i use R-19 for my 30-06. i think that the case dimensins and the volume make it an ideal choice for either -06 case.

i've always used cci BR-2 (bench rest) primers, and it's awesome.

the only reason i'd suggest a heavier bullet is so it doesn't come apart after impact. the smaller bullets expand super fats and tear apart inside.

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