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Old July 19, 2016, 09:52 AM   #1
Join Date: October 9, 2012
Location: SW Louisiana
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Which rifle for elk?

I have many years of experience at deer & antelope hunting in several states east & west of the Mississippi but have never gone after elk. I am planning an elk hunt in Colorado where the shots could be 300 yards or so. I hope our more experienced elk hunters can help me make up my mind.
For whitetails I usually use a T/C Encore Pro Hunter in 35 Whelen or a model 70 7X57. For antelope or long range whitetail in a bean field or pipeline ROW, I typically use a model 70 with a 4-12X scope in 264 win mag.
I am comfortable with any of these rifles and they are very accurate with my reloads.
I also have the option of borrowing a 300 win mag which has been offered but I'm not real comfortable with other peoples rifles.
Given these choices, what would you do?
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Old July 19, 2016, 10:37 AM   #2
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My uncle has used his 264 WM to take more elk than I can remember. I started reloading for him some years ago and we've tried standard cup and core Sierra and Hornady's, and as of late we tried some Barnes LRX's. All of them killed the elk just as dead as the other, but all were also good lung shots. The SD of a 140 grain 6.5mm is such that I believe the use of "premium" bullets somewhat of a waste of money.

If I were given your choices I would use the 264 and take the 7X57 as a backup rifle. I shot a 300 WM for years and killed my share of elk with it but the recoil finally started bothering me so I moved down to a 7WSM.
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Old July 20, 2016, 12:03 AM   #3
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I second the 264WM, but go with premium bullets for elk.
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Old July 20, 2016, 01:20 AM   #4
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264 or 35 Whelen will be good. Take whichever you enjoy shooting most.
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Old July 20, 2016, 02:27 AM   #5
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Nimrod2, My experience filling bull elk tag here in Co is mostly with 7mm and 30 cal rifles. I don't know any locals using 264 mag.

One of my odd rifles is 35 WhelenAI and I use 225gr AB for elk. I would use 7x57 with good 160gr or 175 gr bullet and back up be 35 Whelen.
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Old July 20, 2016, 07:18 AM   #6
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When I lived in CO, I used a 7mm mag.

I hope you have been doing a lot of cardio/stadium stairs, etc. to get in shape. When you come from sea level to those mountains, you WILL notice.
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Old July 20, 2016, 08:07 AM   #7
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Any of the rifles listed will kill elk. The Whelen would be my last pick. Between the other 2 it would come down to which I shot best and was willing to lug around at 7000-9000' above sea level for 10 miles a day in rugged terrain. I'd most likely take the 7X57 as my 1st choice.
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Old July 20, 2016, 08:33 AM   #8
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I usually use a T/C Encore Pro Hunter in 35 Whelen or a model 70 7X57................... model 70 with a 4-12X scope in 264 win mag.
Any one of those rifles would be just fine for elk. No need for the magnum.

(unless you just want to buy another gun, that's a whole different story)
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Old July 20, 2016, 02:06 PM   #9
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30.06 will do the job
Man that likes guns old Navy.
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Old July 20, 2016, 02:56 PM   #10
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Yeah,---- All those are "elk rifles".
Just use a bullet that holds together and you will be fine with any of them.
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Old July 21, 2016, 02:33 PM   #11
Paul B.
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I dunno how hot a load your Encore will handle but my go to elk rifle is a custom Mauser chambered to the Whelen. All I will say is the 225 gr. Barnes TSX hammers elk like nobody's business. I load the bullet to 2710 FPS with Re15. I've shot four elk with that rifle at ranges from 150 yards to 350 yards. Two were bang flop DRT. One of those was one of the most spectacular shots I've ever seen as the elk was running off thoroughly spooked. At impact it just stopped like it'd hit a brick wall and dropped DRT. I've been hunting since 1949
and never saw a top like that. I hunt a late season cull hunt in New Mexico and the elk are very spooky. Two were running as well as the first and both hit just a bit too far back. At the hit they were almost paralyzed unable to go any farther. A second shot finished it. The long shot was the only one that wasn't running or even walking. Guess it couldn't quite figure out what I was.
I was planning on another hunt this year and using my 7x57 with a 150 gr. Nobler Partition loaded to 2700 FPS. Unfortunately my wife had a stroke so I cancelled the hunt. Yes, I'd have brought the .35 along as a back up.
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Old July 21, 2016, 07:27 PM   #12
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Any will do. The Winchester is easier to take a second shot with though.
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Old July 21, 2016, 08:02 PM   #13
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Which one do you shoot the best?
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Old July 21, 2016, 09:35 PM   #14
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When I go below 30 cals the model 70 264 Wm is the best all around performer. Recoil is pretty mild and I call it my at&t rifle. It will reach out and touch them.
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Old July 21, 2016, 10:08 PM   #15
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The order I'd rank them in is 1st 7X57, 2nd .264 Win, and last would be the Whelen. The Whelen doesn't get ranked higher because it's a single shot. Elk hunting is different than hunting whitetail from a blind, so take the rifle that you shoot well that allows for faster follow up shots.
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Old July 22, 2016, 06:06 AM   #16
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I think the 264 is not as popular because it got the reputation as a barrel burner, probably because it is. Plus, bullets were not as good back in the day. I think with modern design bullets it will work fine. And, it will be somewhat more forgiving if you miscalculate the range. But, I guess everybody uses range finders now days.
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Old July 22, 2016, 10:59 AM   #17
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Thank you.

Some of the hunters I have spoken to recommended the 300 WM as a minimum and I can appreciate that sentiment. You never know what angle of impact may be needed.
I have the 264 WM sighted in with 130 gr Nosler Accubonds right now and they have done a very good job on mule deer, whitetail, and antelope out to 350 yards.
In the past, I have had problems with bullets breaking up prematurely. That problem was solved by using Nosler Partitions or Accubonds. I know there are other good choices out there but I tend to stick with what works for me.
Now I'll see about working up a good load for elk.
Many thanks for the input.
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Old July 22, 2016, 11:43 AM   #18
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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You have a 264 handy your good to go for elk. Years ago the 264 was the gun for Elk hunting. Especially a Model 70 264.
Many fellows still believe yet today the 264 carry's the on-going reputation of a early 1960's barrel burner. Not at all. Today's 264 barrel steel is so much better than its predecessors and a whole lot less prone to chamber throat erosion the 264 cartridge was noted for. Leave those other deer rifles home. 264 is all you'll need for quick humane dispatching of any size Elk.
"Do not follow where the path leads, rather go where there is no path and leave a trail for others to follow."
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