Help chosing an Elk Cartridge.

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by John Spadaro, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. John Spadaro

    John Spadaro Member

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    I am looking to build a lightweight rifle for mountain hunting. Primary game will be Elk with a maximum range of 400 yards. I also plan to use the gun at the range and would like to keep the recoil low.

    A short action cartridge would be nice but am willing to compromise on this. I don’t currently reload but am willing to spend the time to learn. The option for factory ammo is desired.

    I have been considering these cartridges, 308, 270WSM, 7mm-08, 6.5PRC for short actions. 30-06, 270, 280AI if I go with long action.

    If I do reloading I would like to use a cartridge and bullet weight combination that allows for reduced recoil loads. I would plan to use the lighter loads for practicing at the range.
     
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  2. Guy M

    Guy M Well-Known Member

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    Any number of cartridges will work. My last elk was a cow at 338 yards, one shot with a 30-06, 165 grain bullet. It was more than enough.

    My big bull was a 7mm Rem mag, about 180 yards, with a 175 gr Nosler Partition. It was more than enough.

    I didn't think either rifle kicked all that hard, they're actually remarkably similar in recoil and performance. Others that aren't as powerful will likely kill very well. For me, cartridge just isn't that important. Accuracy, reliability, how the rifle handles... Those are more important.

    Put a good, expanding bullet through the lungs, and you've got your elk! Elk have big lungs too. :)

    I don't see any reason to look at anything bigger/more powerful than a 30-06 for your situation.

    Regards, Guy
     
  3. Rick Richard

    Rick Richard Well-Known Member

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    If your going after elk and want little recoil, then put a break on something that is adequate for taking that size of animal.
     
  4. jmcmath

    jmcmath Well-Known Member

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    If you’re worried about recoil and want an elk cartridge buy a 7 mag Browning BAR.
    There’s one for sale here with a cds Leupold ready to rock and roll.

    I have quite a few BARs and they recoil like absolute kittens. My 30-06 BAR has half the recoil of my 6.5prc bolt gun

    Or literally any of those options with a brake/supressor
     
  5. Edd

    Edd Well-Known Member

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    I just bought all the components to build a lightweight, shoot any critter at close range, hunting rifle. It will be a 338 Federal. If I was planning to do a lot of shooting at the range, I would probably choose a 308.
     
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  6. Capt RB

    Capt RB Well-Known Member

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    The 30.06 has reduced loads over the counter as well as a load for every conceivable application. Everyone should own a 30.06 at some point in their shooting career. A good muzzle brake or suppressor and electronics muffs should also be on your list for your rifle
     
  7. Guy M

    Guy M Well-Known Member

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    Funny, I remember being told that I absolutely had to have a 30 or 338 cal magnum for elk...

    I don't think those are bad choices, but I don't think they're required either.

    Guy
     
  8. Guy M

    Guy M Well-Known Member

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    Oh, re the "lightweight" thing - If find that I have a tougher time shooting "lightweight" rifles well. A standard "sporter" is about as light as I want to go for a hunting rifle. 8-9 pounds, ready to hunt, is just fine with me.

    Those real light "mountain rifles" are difficult for me to shoot well. Not that they're not accurate, I just don't shoot 'em well.

    Nor do I want to pack a heavyweight howitzer in elk mountains...

    Right now my "everything" rifle is a 30-06 Rem 700 CDL with a 6x Leupold. It's sighted in at 200 yards and has taken antelope, mule deer, elk, black bear, wolf & grizzly. Longest shot was the 338 yard shot on the elk, but the black bear was at about 325 yards. It will reach out just fine. Never had to hold higher than the back of the animal I was hunting either. Nice and simple: crosshairs on, squeeze, go tag the animal.

    The grizzly at 40 yards did take several shots. That rascal did not want to quit! They're tough.

    I'm a big proponent of fixed power scopes too. At 400, for big game, a lot of magnification isn't required. I'd highly recommend a 6x scope, likely a Leupold. They're simple. Rugged. Light. The glass is very good. Nothing to mess up. Zero it at 200 and call it good. Learn your elevation holdover for 300, 350, 400 yards. Pretty simple really.

    I'll probably come up with some other absolutely wonderful contributions to this thread too. My mind is mulling the subject.

    Regards, Guy
     
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  9. Rick Richard

    Rick Richard Well-Known Member

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    I took a nice New Mexico bull this year with a 6.5 SAUM and 140 Bergers.
     
  10. Guy M

    Guy M Well-Known Member

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    Is that the one in your avatar? Heck of a bull! Congrats! :)

    The old "rules" weren't bad... But there are alternatives... We sometimes forget that Lewis & Clark fed heavily on elk, using flintlock muzzle loaders, and the 30-06 used to be considered a "big" cartridge by many American hunters. I've certainly found it more than adequate.

    Now we're seeing the smaller bore cartridges like your 6.5 SAUM, and "oddball" bullets like the Berger being used, successfully, time after time, and producing quick kills.

    Things change. I don't see anything wrong with using a 300 Wby, or 338 Win mag on elk, but... I don't really think it's necessary either. A good bullet in the lungs will do nicely. Buddy of mine uses a 6mm Remington... He's quite successful!

    Regards, Guy
     
  11. CO_Guy

    CO_Guy Previously MojoMike

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    John, your first 3 choices are great and I'd add the 300WSM. I gotta say that the Tikka T3 Lite is a nice lightweight platform but I'd suggest the Limbsaver 10010 pad for it. They may have improved on the T3X model.
     
  12. KyCarl

    KyCarl Well-Known Member

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    I think I want a 280AI next? But what about the tried and proven 300WM?
     
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  13. 30calyooper

    30calyooper Member

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    Since you've said action length is not a critical factor - Honestly, if you want something that is a good utility caliber, won't kick like a PO'd mule even in a light rifle, and can take care of elk at 400 yds - I have to say the classic 270 Winchester is worth a very serious look. My pet load - a 150 Nosler Long Range Accubond leaving a 24" tube at about 2830 - still has over 1700 ft-lbs of energy at 400 yds, and the accuracy from several bolt guns tested (with either 22" or 24" barrels) has been consistently 1/2 - 1 MOA at the ranges we're discussing. The performance on both deer and elk has been everything you can hope for. Other virtues - plenty of high-quality factory ammo available everywhere, and if you do become a handloader: this caliber won't break the bank, with lots of choices for components to tailor a load to whatever game you're pursuing and very easy to load down for range practice.
    With all this said, several others have stated here that you won't go wrong with a 30-06, and I certainly have to agree for all the same reasons given above. While neither the 270 nor the '06 is as trendy as some of the "new and exciting" options, consider that both come with track records which speak for themselves. Calibers don't survive through 3-4 generations of hunters unless they work!
     
  14. Rick Richard

    Rick Richard Well-Known Member

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    image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg
    The one in the avatar wa shot a couple of years ago with a 7LRM. The attached pic is the one this year with the 6.5
    image.jpeg