Elk Rifles: General discussion

Discussion in 'Rifle Opinions' started by TakeEm, Jul 29, 2010.

  1. TakeEm

    TakeEm Well-Known Member

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    Elk season and the other fall hunting seasons will soon be here :mrgreen: :mrgreen: , in light of that I have read a few articles lately that tag the 7mm’s and .277’s as “marginal” for Elk hunting. I would assume that a blanket statement such as this includes magnum 7mm’s and .277’s. :evil:

    Still others say nothing smaller than .30 Cal is acceptable. So a .30-30 or .308 Win is “better” than a 7mm Rem mag because it shoots a .308” bullet instead of a .284? And yet in the same sentence say 90% of Elk hunters cannot handle the recoil of .300 and .338 Magnums without flinch? Pure crap I say. . :roll:

    I will also say this, I have never myself hunted Elk with a rifle, but my basic understanding of how rifles work and knowledge gained from those who are experienced with rifle hunting Elk leads me to believe otherwise. In fact, most guys I know who do and have done a fair amount of Elk hunting use either a 7mm Rem. Mag., a .300 Win or WBY Mag., or a .30-06.

    I don’t buy that a .270 WBY or 7mm Mag is “marginal” I do think the .270 Win is probably the smallest I would consider, if I had no other option. I know of one Elk killed with a .243 Win, which is the smallest legal caliber in many states for Elk.

    Obviously, Elk have been killed with guns from the .243 Win to the .416 Rigby and above. I don’t consider the .270 Win “ideal” by any means for Elk but I do think it is capable with premium bullets such as the Barnes Triple-Shock and others.

    To my thinking I would say the .30-06 Sprg./ .280 Rem. Along with and up through the 7mm, .300, 8mm and .338 Cal. Mags are about “ideal” or the most capable rifles.

    We all know that the “best” gun is the one you shoot most accurately and have the most confidence in for the task at hand; as well as the fact that Elk or any other game animal having taken a bullet through the boiler room will soon expire.

    My personal take on this is that the best gun is the most powerful one you can shoot well. If you can’t handle the recoil of a .340 WBY or .338 Win mag (I would guess most guys who are not serious shooters cannot) but you shoot a .30-06 ok, use the ’06. In my own collection, I could choose from either the 7MM Rem Mag or the .30-06, I shoot MOA groups or better with both guns and I think either are capable of killing Elk as far away as I care to shoot them. Considering that, I might take a stab at the .338 Win or .375 H&H some day, just because I can.

    What are your thoughts on this? I am not looking for advice on what to buy for an Elk rifle, just venting at some outdoor writers and some fish and wildlife departments BS.
     
  2. Drop-Shot

    Drop-Shot Super Member

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    Good question.I live in Montana and talk to Elk hunters and guides all the time.A 270 win in the hand of a true marksman will work as long as distances are kept at a decent level,I have seen a bullet start in an elk broadside at 388 yards and wind up in the neck,that was a 30/06 and the elk died pretty fast but the bullet didn't seem to have enough power to totaly penetrate.
    A starting faster velocity might have gone through as expected,thats why I switched to 300 Weatherby mag and 300 Win Mag.
    That being said a good friend and a very successfull elk hunter has taken all but a couple of elk with a 7mm mag and some at distances I would not even try.
    Many arguments have started over elk cartridges and most have their own opinions but a guide asks such questions as,what caliber do plan on bringing and how well do you shoot it?
    Can you shoot it well under stress such as walking uphill and then shooting off hand?
     

  3. huntswithdogs

    huntswithdogs Moderator

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    Responses to this could get interesting!
    While I've never hunted elk, I think that a cartridge like the 270 would work okay as long as you know your limits.
    I've read more than one story about folks using their 243s and 25/06s successfully also.
    Some of these "know it all" writers would be better named as "sales reps". All any of them do is jump from one side of the fence to the other now-a-days according to what company is paying the bill.

    HWD
     
  4. Captn66

    Captn66 Moderator

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    Like HWD - I've never hunted Elk, but obviously hope to scratch that itch someday. PA sets the minimum on Elk at .27 Even if given the choice of something smaller - I think that the 270 is the smallest I would use .... with a premium bullet of course. But probably would keep myself at the 300 Win Mag/WSM area.
     
  5. Drop-Shot

    Drop-Shot Super Member

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    I have recently fought off the desire to get a Hill Country Rifle Elk rifle in the 35 caliber Hill Country has made popular.They call it a 35 HCR.
    I have long seen the 35 caliber as a quick killer and now the 35 HCR has taken it to a new level.It is a 35 cal in a 338 win mag case that has become a fairly long range cartridge and accounted for a number of animals in Africa and now here in North America.
    One elk was taken in Northern New Mexico at around 400 yards and fell as quick as any animal could possibly fall.
    What do you guys think of the 35 HCR for an Elk rifle?
     
  6. Elkhunter

    Elkhunter Member

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    Hello
    I live here in the great state of Oregon , I am 44 and have been deer, elk, bear, and couger hunting since I was 13 .
    I started out with my fathers 1960 300 savage beatween him and me we took alot of deer and elk with that gun , great little shooter.
    Soon I got my First Remington semi auto 30/06 and that to killed many deer and elk .
    you mentioned the 270 that is a great round its all on the placement of the shot and knowing your limits and that of the gun .
    I did have a 270 pump for a short time , I used it one year elk hunting but did not like the feel of it when I would pull it up .
    Now days I hunt with a 338 mag and a BFR 45/70 pistol I enjoy them both and have had great luck with them the past few years .
    I would say its all about what feels and fits the best when you pull it up and shoot it , and its all about bullet placement , although I would never pass up shooting a 30/06 elk hunting they are in my mind the best all around deer/elk gun and can take down the biggest bull elk to a nice little fork mule deer no problem , but as before its all about your shooting and placing the bullet in the kill zone .
    so on that note hope you get out in the woods and have a safe season and enjoy , and if you have a chance to take someone new out in the woods do it and sare the experiance of the great out doors .
     
  7. rob61

    rob61 Well-Known Member

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    I live in Louisiana and have never had the chance to hunt elk. I love my Rem. 7400 .270 I have had for more years than I can remember. I have killed 2 deer with it at over 300 yds but I wouldn't use it for elk though. I'm sure it would kill it but how far would it run and would you be able to recover it. If I had the chance to go I would take my .300 Weatherby. Why take the chance of being underpowered and just wound an animal. Then again a .416 won't do the job either if you don't place your shot in the right place. Thats just my opinion Everone is intitled to ther own though.
     
  8. Zerbe

    Zerbe Super Member

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    Like several others who have posted here, my next elk will be my first. :mrgreen:

    That said, I have talked to others at the range where I do most of my shooting who hunt elk regularly with .270 win, 30-06, and 300win. They generally shoot those elk inside of 250yds. I also know someone who owns a ranch in Wyoming who a number of years ago got his mule deer, elk, and a moose all with the same 30-06.

    My general opinion is to repeat what others have stated as common sense, use the biggest cartridge from .270 and up that you can shoot well for bulls. In my case, I happen to have a .300wby Vanguard that would be my first choice, and I have a Rem 700 in 30-06 that I would take as a backup. If I didn't have the weatherby, I'd probably take the 30-06 as the primary and a Win mod 70 in .270 as the backup...
     
  9. Elkhunter

    Elkhunter Member

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    I have elk hunted for over 20 years and my longest shot at an elk was in the open at 300 yards, In my experiance most shots are with in 150 yards in the brush and thickets.
    I have had some open range shots but have to say most of my elk were killed with in that 150 yards and I have killed most of my elk with a Ramington woodsMaster30-06 shooting 180 gr round nose silver tips.
    Although I do pack a 338 mag and a BFR 45-70 Revolver now elk hunting I still have the old 06 as a back up in camp .
    So wheather you use a 270 or a large bore its all about bullet placement, timing and knowing your and your guns limits.
     
  10. Wyo. Coyote Hunter

    Wyo. Coyote Hunter Super Member

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    :D Elk rifles are an interesting subject...in the 40 years I have hunted elk here in S. Wy. the change has been from 270's and 06's to flatter shooting more powerful rifles...are elk getting tougher..no, but they are found in more places than they were when I shot my first one years ago..then they were mainly found in the mts. with steep timbered hills sides, and open parks or clear cuts..some long shots were always possible...in the early days, some guys used the .25-06, and a few still do..but they are mostly very experienced riflemen, who have lots of "time" to make a clean kill...one rancher used a .25-06 and a govt. hunter, both went to a .300 because, "they were tired of tracking elk"....while some are shot with a .243, most of these guys never shoot beyond 100 yards and shoot for the ear...I doubt a visiting hunter or most hunters would want that restriction..while a .243 can kill an elk, how far will you have to track him with a lung shot?????right now I have a great spot to hunt elk...if the elk are killed and go down with in 25 yards, the job is simple to load them and pack them out...if they get off in the brush, the job is horrible...so I use a pretty heavy rifle...and try for high shoulder shots or a shot that will down the elk right there....243's dont cut it for me.. Now elk are found in many sage brush canyons, and very open country..long shots are pretty common..the flat shooting mag. rifles take much of the guess work out of shooting elk across canyons, and have more punch when they get there...Bob Hagel felt the core of the elk rifles...began with roughly the 280 and went through the 338's...he recommended premium bullets...bigger calibers shoot flatter and hit harder...maybe the country you hunt this year will be perfect for a 30-06 with a 200 grain part., but next year a 300 with a 180 would be required...generally, my three favorite rifles are the 7mm mag, the ,300 mag. and the .338's..
     
  11. mountainview

    mountainview Super Member

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    The topic of how many angels can dance on the top of a pin will be figured out long before a consensus is reached on what is the "best" elk rifle or rifle for most any other critter for that matter. That is all part of what makes the forum so interesting and to hear a wide range of opinions and experiences.

    Due to budgetary constraints and practical concerns, I have pretty much settled on my Wby V'guard in 300 Winnie Mag and Winnie Supreme 180 grain Loads as my elk and primary combo for about everything. That combo drops things for me like Thor's hammer and I enjoy hunting with that particular rig. I'd be willing to my lad's 7 mag or 30-06 as a back-up or even a primary if that was all I had for elk. Sometimes you got to go with the tools you've got and I've used a 7-08 (when that was all I had) but that was as low I personally would want to go.

    Hey D-shot, is there any info on the 35 HCR? It sounds interesting and I've been hankering for a 35 bore for when I'm able to get back to repopulating the gunsafe.
     
  12. thumbuster

    thumbuster Super Member

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    Believe it or not, before we got John Nosler's fine bullets the 30/40 Krag was a very popular Elk rifle. Why? Because the long 200 grain rounds penitrated. Nosler himself shot an elk eight times once with a 300 H and H mag once and didn't kill it until the last round. Bullets all blew up just under the skin. This is what motivated him to go into the bullet biz, which he did in a big way.

    Old John just died by the way at age 93. He was quite a guy and his bullets revolutionized the shooting industry.
     
  13. jerry d

    jerry d Well-Known Member

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    I believe a .270 with a with a well constructed bullet like a 150g. Nosler Partition is deadly on elk out to 300 yards.At 300yds.it carrys over 1700ft. pounds of energy and the sectional density of the bullet is about 279.I think most experienced hunters will agree that it's more than adaquate for elk.

    I've talked with a couple of outfitters that feel more comfortable when a client shows up with a .270,.308 or 30.06. Their reasoning was alot more people can shoot those calibers more accurately than the magnums.

    If you put the bullet here it belong {heart lung shot}with a .270 you'll have a quick & clean kill.
     
  14. Wyo. Coyote Hunter

    Wyo. Coyote Hunter Super Member

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    :) jerry, I live in elk country..I can hunt elk with in 10 minutes of my front door..I am also a student of rifles and have kept account of the calibers guys use in my area and others in the state...Our elk population has expanded from mainly mountain country to the plains and other open country..When I first came here over 40 years ago, the .270, .300 Sav. and 06 were pretty popular..but elk populations had not exploded yet, and these were deer hunters who were occasional elk hunters...Now the situation is different..elk are common..While I KNOW guides want hunters who can shoot, poor marksman ship is the most common complaint I hear, .a 270 does not make you a good shot anymore than carrying a .30-30 makes one a good deer hunter...from experience, I know guides like hunters who can shoot, and they love hunters who can shoot heavy calibers accurately...I have several friends who are guides and they have shifted from std. calibers to .300's...when I ask why, they simply said, we are tired tracking elk..Unless you have done some elk hunting on your own, killing an elk is only part of the problem...getting it out is a major task..If you are like Old .270 Jack, you can kill the elk, and let the work to the poor guide who is being paid meger wages to lead you around...If you are on your own, killing an elk and getting it down quickly is important..otherwise you can spend 3 days of backbreaking labor packing it out in chunks..I have watched the evolution of elk calibers in this area and others...The old .270 doesn't have many followers in this area, guys have shifted to four calibers: first the old 06 is very popular...it is used by the casual elk hunter who usually drives up from one of the mayor towns and hunts one weekend..The 7 mag., 300 mag. and 338 mag.s are the calibers of choice by the serious elk hunters in this area..This is no an "I think" situtation this is the way things are in elk country.. :D
     
  15. jerry d

    jerry d Well-Known Member

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    Hi Coyote Hunter, I understand what you're saying.In your particular area the shots are longer so hence the magnum caliber. So now you're talking about long shots with heavy recoiling rifles alot of guys aren't capable of handling the heavy recoil let alone making a long shot. I think you'll have wounded animals from people shooting outside their capabilities.
    Anyone will shoot a rifle with less recoil more accurately than one with heavy recoil.Yes there are guy that can shoot 300 & 338 mags with consistant accuracy,but in my experience they are few and far between.
    Now if you're talking about shooting an elk past 300yds. I would say the 270 isn't the rifle to do it with.I'm not familiar with the terrian where you hunt but if you're saying shots are beyond 300yds.and it's difficult to stalk closer.then I 'd agree with you.
    But like I said within 300yds. a heart-lung shot with a .270 you'll have a dead elk.
     
  16. TakeEm

    TakeEm Well-Known Member

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    I think what Wyo. was saying is; it's not a matter of simply killing the Elk, it is a matter of killing him as quickly and effectively as possible so he doesn't get rude and die somewhere down in the steep nasty stuff; no matter what the range is.

    For my money, back and legs I would feel more confident in a .30-06, or any 7mm, .300, or .338 caliber mag. If recoil is a factor, anyone comfortable shooting. 180's out of a .30-06 can shoot a 7mm Rem Mag or even a .300 Win Mag, working up to full house loads in the .300.

    As has been said many times, shooting more is the only way to shoot better no matter what the caliber. Recoil can be mastered with practice. Joe blow who shoots two shots to sight in a year is probably less effective with a .340 WBY than a serious shooter who uses his .30-06 or .270.

    I would be the first to say if a guy isn't comfortable using a magnum and feels better with his .270 Win, go ahead and use the .270.

    Dead is dead, but having the confidence to take shoulder shots to drop a bull "right there" for me, that means well constructed bullets (like a Nosler Partition you mentioned) launched out of a more powerful caliber than the .270 Win. There is nothing wrong with the .270, but I would consider it the sensible and minimum as an Elk caliber. If you take nothing but broadside heart/lung shots you'll kill Elk all day, but on day five in the high country that 340 bull steps out quartering away on the edge of the dark timber, what then?
     
  17. jerry d

    jerry d Well-Known Member

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    The recoil from a 30.06 using 180g bullets in an 8lb rifle is 20.3 lbs. of energy...the same as a 7mm shooting shooting a 160g bullet in a 9lb rifle.The 300 win mag aint even close 25.9 lbs of energy with a 180g bullet. The 338 win mag 32.8 lbs of energy with a 200g bullet with 225g it's over 35 lbs of energy

    The 270 win with a 150g bullet in an 8lbs rifle is 17.0lbs of energy.Everyone can shoot a lighter kicking rifle more accurately............EVERYONE. Me personally I'll take shot placement over horsepower any day.
     
  18. jerry d

    jerry d Well-Known Member

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    The majority of authorities seem to agree that recoil of over 20 ft. lbs. will cause the average shooter to develop a flinch, which is ruinous to accuracy. I estimate that about 15 ft. lbs. of recoil energy represents upper limit of the average shooter's comfort level. Above that recoil becomes increasingly intrusive. The effects of recoil are cumulative. The longer you shoot, and the harder a rifle kicks, the more unpleasant shooting becomes and the more likely you are to jerk the trigger or flinch.

    This is an excert taken from an article about rifle recoil writen by Chuck Hawks
     
  19. thumbuster

    thumbuster Super Member

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    I have a friend who shoots two 300 win mags. One is a Blazer. The other a new Nosler. I'll take a couple of shots and then decide to shoot something lighter and fire my Mannlicher model 52 carbine in 30/06. No fool'n.

    My other killing rifle is a pre-64 Model 70 in .270. It's a bit heavy, made in 1953. It is comfortable to shoot. For the life of me I can't understand why a 300 win mag kicks as hard as it does, since it only spits out the pill about 100 fps faster, maybe a bit more. So what's the diff? Why take the beating?

    I'm also a fan of the .308. I have a Win. 100 and a Savage 99 in 308. Good light guns and they don't kill at both ends. I knew a guy who hunted all over Africa with a 308. He did fine. I don't think he used one on a buff, but I wouldn't hesitate to use one on a Kudu or a Moose.
     
  20. thumbuster

    thumbuster Super Member

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    There is another player in big gun shooting. It's muzzle blast. An o6 blows things up pretty well, but it seems to me that a 300 mag, or a 7mm mag bark louder and blow stuff all over the place. A 338 wakes the dead. But somehow a 375 H&H magnum doesn't seem to...but maybe that's just me. I'd rather shoot a 375 over a 338 anytime. I had a Weatherby 7mm WM that kicked me so hard and blasted so loud that I sold the thing. Pretty rifle too.

    If you are hunting in the brush, I suggest you use a Model 94 or 336 in 30/30 or 35 Remington. If you are shooting deer sized game in the open range I suggest a .257 or .270. If you are shooting at big bears I believe either a 30/06 with a 180 grain bullet or even a hot loaded 45/70 will do him in. Take your time and don't just shoot "at hair". The night before around drinks, discuss with your guide where you want the bullet to hit, and then put it there.

    It is also very important that you know which bullet to use. You want the thing to go deep inside and break bones. So think about the construction of the game you are trying to kill.