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Old June 28, 2010, 02:58 PM   #1
arthurrh
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Elk Cartridge choices

I was lucky enough to draw an antlerless elk tag in California. I have a couple of guns I'm considering. Buying a new caliber is not an option, so don't bother. I'm certain all my choices will "work" but would like to hear from real experienced elk hunters.

Note - a further constraint in this area is that I must use lead-free bullets. This may affect some of your opinions.

Choices I have are:
7mm-08 (BLR)
270 Win (Bolt)
7mm Weatherby (Bolt)
300 RUM (Bolt)

Currently the Weatherby and the 300 don't have scopes on them, or appropriate lead-free loads, so getting them going will cost more time and money than the others. I've been using the Nosler e-tip and Barnes TSX in 130 grains in the 270 for hogs with excellent results.

I know this is likely to start all kinds of flame, but hopefully we'll get something useful out of it.
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Old June 28, 2010, 03:14 PM   #2
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Depending on bullet selection They will all work. Deside how much walking your going to do and or take the one you shoot best
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Old June 28, 2010, 03:26 PM   #3
.300 Weatherby Mag
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I would use the Weatherby or the Ultra Mag... I don't believe in the .270 as an elk round, but my friends provide evidence to the contrary every year.. I trust an 30-06 with quality 180 grain bullet as my personal min. for game of that size... No cartridge wars please, just my opinion...
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Old June 28, 2010, 03:56 PM   #4
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Which rifle do you shoot best? Take that one.
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Old June 28, 2010, 04:32 PM   #5
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Say what?

Quote:
use lead-free bullets
Really? What type of bullets are you planing to use? Is there a bullet design without lead that expands?

I'd say you need to use the most powerful you listed in this case. 300 RUM (Bolt)
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Old June 28, 2010, 04:53 PM   #6
arthurrh
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unleaded

Yup - in a large piece of California we're required to use lead-free bullets. On big game this pretty much means the Nosler E-tip or the Barnes tripleshock. I've used both with success on wild hogs here.

One other item I forgot above - this is a Tule elk tag, and cows in this area average about 350 lbs.
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Old June 28, 2010, 04:55 PM   #7
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I would take the 7 WBY and the latest incarnation of the Barnes X.
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Old June 28, 2010, 05:31 PM   #8
jmr40
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You will find the lead free bullets such as the Barnes bullets will work BETTER on elk size animals than conventional bullets. Of the choices you listed I'd take the 270. The magnums are overkill. I would have no problems with a 7-08 on elk with good bullets, but just like a bolt rifle better.
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Old June 28, 2010, 06:14 PM   #9
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I've killed 4 cow elk with a .270 and one with a .30-06. Punch any elk through both lungs and you don't have a problem. KISS first choice .270 Win secon 7mm-08 Rem and don't worry about the rest.
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Old June 28, 2010, 08:55 PM   #10
crghss
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Just out of curiosity is there reason behind the lead free bullets? Like not wanting to pollute the environment or something?
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Old June 28, 2010, 09:24 PM   #11
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Lead free bullets are California law to protect the environment supposedly.

Take the 7-08 or the .270. This is a Cow Elk we're talking about so I don't even want to hear that they aren't Elk cartridges.
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Old June 28, 2010, 10:01 PM   #12
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My GO-TO Elk rifle is a Model 70 Featherweight in 270 Win. It works. Eazy carry in the mountains and mild recoil.
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Old June 28, 2010, 10:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Which rifle do you shoot best? Take that one.
What he said.

Any of the listed cartridges will work just fine, so take the one you are most comfortable and accurate with.

Personally, I have used a .270 Winchester with 140 grain bullets so far when hunting Elk, and have not felt under gunned yet (although, I did buy a .358 Winchester for Elk in the future......mostly just 'cause I wanted one).
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Old June 28, 2010, 11:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
......mostly just 'cause I wanted one
Isnt that the reason we all buy the guns we do, or, its my reason anyway.
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Old June 28, 2010, 11:53 PM   #15
.300 Weatherby Mag
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Quote:
Just out of curiosity is there reason behind the lead free bullets? Like not wanting to pollute the environment or something?
State of CA reasoning (not mine):

They want to keep California Condors from ingesting lead fragments from the gut piles of animals shot by lead bullets...

The problem with all this is that to legally shoot a ground squirrel, I need to use a copper bullet or other non-toxic projectile.. Which is nuts!!!

Last edited by .300 Weatherby Mag; June 29, 2010 at 01:27 AM.
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Old June 29, 2010, 12:43 AM   #16
FrankenMauser
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Quote:
I've been using the Nosler e-tip and Barnes TSX in 130 grains in the 270 for hogs with excellent results.
All of the cartridges you listed will work. And... if you've been using the .270 with known-good loads, use them. It saves time, helps with familiarity, and will do just fine.



As for the Condors.... we've had very detailed discussions about the topic in other places here on TFL. It pretty much comes down to air and water pollution. Lead bullets have never been successfully linked to the Condor "poisoning", and it has been proven impossible to ingest enough lead from bullets to reach the levels the Condors are/were at. (The form of lead present in projectiles is not the type of lead the body absorbs. It just passes through the body.) For more the past threads, a search of the forums should turn up some results (The Hunt, General Discussion, and The Art of the Rifle - I believe).
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Old June 29, 2010, 06:25 AM   #17
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My sister-in-law hunted elk with BLR in 257 Roberts for a few years. It did the job when she shot straight. But one bull was not hit through the chest with first two bullets and the animal covered a lot of ground before two more shots downed it. After that, my brother bought her a BLR in 7mm-08.

Her 7mm-08 is loaded with 140 grain Trophy Bear Claw or Nosler Partition bullets. This combo has put much meat into the freezer!

Are you hunting at Grizzley Island?

Good hunting to you.

Jack
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Old June 29, 2010, 10:37 AM   #18
arthurrh
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I'm leaning more heavily toward the 270 at this point. I did some comparisons of ballistics and the difference between that and the 7mm isn't enough to really care about - I've heard that elk are notoriously bad at math anyway.

My tag is for La Panza.
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Old June 29, 2010, 10:51 AM   #19
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.270 and 150gr. bullets.
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Old June 29, 2010, 11:07 AM   #20
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The solid copper bullets are making almost everything we think of in bullet selection obsolete. They are expensive, and not really needed in most cases. For deer hunting with most standard calibers they are simply not needed, unless required by law.

What they have done is take cartridges that might be a little on the light side for larger game and made them more than acceptable. Since they are lighter than lead they will be longer for the same bullet weight. Since they are solid there is no jacket to separate from the core.

The trick is to go down in bullet weight and push them really fast. You get a flat shooting hollowpoint bullet that expands well and still penetrates much farther than conventional bullets of the same weight.

For example a 130 grain solid copper Barnes bullet can be loaded to almost 3200fps in a 30-06. They shoot as flat as a 300 win mag with 180 grain bullets and will equal them in penetration. But without the recoil.
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Old June 29, 2010, 02:31 PM   #21
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Any of those cartridges will kill an elk, especially a Tule elk. Ammo is commercially available loaded with Barnes X bullets. Personally, I would carry the 7-08 or the 270.
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Old June 29, 2010, 02:51 PM   #22
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I have killed with the 270 as have many of my friends. It is more than enough for elk when the round is put where it needs to be. I lean toward the 270 more than the 7mm08, but only due to my experience with the 270 and my love for bolt actions. The other two are also fine but dont sound like they are ready to go.
Location is important whether you are shooting a .222 or a 460 Weatherby.

GAR
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Old June 30, 2010, 04:15 PM   #23
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I really like the .270 for elk. That is an extremely popular cartridge here even for big bulls. I have a .270 WSM that works really well, mainly because I shoot it very well. However, I might just choose the 7-08 in your case simply because I have 2 BLRs and really like carrying them.
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Old June 30, 2010, 05:49 PM   #24
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7mm-08 is the new 30-06.... ideal for most big game, adequate for all. Elk would fall in the "Ideal" category.
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Old June 30, 2010, 06:52 PM   #25
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Since you have no experience in shooting the 7mm Weatherby or 300 Ultra Mag, now is not the time to try to cram in some experience with them. It is much better for you to use a rifle that you are already familiar with, so I would recommend sticking with the .270 There really is little need at all to hunt with magnum caliber rifles in California. Ammo for both of those magnum calibers is rather hard to find in general. Finding a non-toxic load for them would be even way harder yet.

I would recommend Winchester's new 130 gr E-Tip load in .270 Winchester. It shoots very flat, and even delivers over 1,700 ft lbs at 300 yards. And it penetrates very well indeed. It should do just fine on Elk, if you do a decent job of placing your shot.

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