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Old October 2, 2012, 09:56 AM   #1
TheDutchman19
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Your caliber of choice for elk

What is your choice of bullet for elk. I need to purchase a gun for elk, but I have no experience with larger game. I would love some input on the pros and cons of the different calibers. 308 has been my favorite up till now. I think that its on the light side. Any thoughts?
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Old October 2, 2012, 10:11 AM   #2
kraigwy
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Your 308 will be fine for elk, just use a good quality 180 grn bullet.

I use a 270 Win my self.

Its your favorite, meaning the chances are you shoot it fairly well, which gives you a leg up on those flinching away with one of those super duty shoulder busting magnums.
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Old October 2, 2012, 10:37 AM   #3
ZeroJunk
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I don't see the downside to shooting something more powerful unless the recoil bothers you. You are the only one who knows that.

The chances of you losing an elk because the 308 was too small is pretty slim.

Although I think a 300 magnum might be better on a long quartering shot or whatever I still use a 280 and just don't take a long quartering away shot.

I got tired of heavy recoil a while back.
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Old October 2, 2012, 10:44 AM   #4
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308 will work fine, as posted above I would use the heavier bullets.

I personally shoot a .338 win mag, 250 grain nosler partition bullets, recoil is only an issue if you crawl up on it shooting from a bench. Before the .338 I hunted elk with a 30-06 w/180 grain bullets.
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Old October 2, 2012, 10:51 AM   #5
TheDutchman19
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I like the idea of sticking with 308, only because I'm familiar with it. I do load my own ammo and like the idea of not learn a new round. Not to mention I don't need to spend more money.

Any suggestions as to the max distance I should consider with the 308? I know ultimately it is my ability to compensate, but at what distance should I thrust its effectiveness?
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Old October 2, 2012, 11:20 AM   #6
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I have a 300 win mag for larger game. It kicks like a mule when shooting at paper but it's been my experience that when shooting at game you don't notice, you're too caught up in the moment. You may feel it about an hour after though.
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Old October 2, 2012, 11:28 AM   #7
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I like 7MM-08 or 7MM Mauser for Elk. I know they are pretty similar ballistically.
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Old October 2, 2012, 12:02 PM   #8
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i use a 30-06 using 168grain ttsx; your .308 is going to treat you fine.
Good luck
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Old October 2, 2012, 12:37 PM   #9
iraiam
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Quote:
Any suggestions as to the max distance I should consider with the 308? I know ultimately it is my ability to compensate, but at what distance should I thrust its effectiveness?
Where are you going to hunt elk? I live and hunt elk in Colorado, due to the terrain, it is very rare that I get an opportunity to shoot an elk farther than 100-150 yards away (I have 3 cows and 2 bulls under my belt), elk do not have a curious bone in their bodies.

but to answer your question; take a 168 grain bullet at 2600 fps muzzle velocity, if it were me, I would sight in for a 300 yard zero, this would put the bullet trajectory at:

100 yards +5.4"
200 yards +6.3"
300 yards 0.0
400 yards -14.7"
500 yards -39.5"

An average elk measures about 24" from the bottom of the brisket to the top of the back, this would give you a good scope picture with minimal holdover/under all the way out to 400 yards. All is needed is a decent range estimation and shoot accordingly. As always shot placement is important with any caliber, particularly at longer ranges.

I sight all of my big game hunting rifles in similar to this, (based on ballistics and optical sights)
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Last edited by iraiam; October 2, 2012 at 01:19 PM.
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Old October 2, 2012, 01:30 PM   #10
chewie146
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I've killed 1 elk with a .308, 1 with a.270, and 5 with a .30-06. I don't think you'll have a problem with any good bullet.
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Old October 2, 2012, 01:44 PM   #11
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How far away do you plan on shooting? Keep your shots to 400 yards or less and a 270 or 308 will do the job. A 30-06 might stretch the effective range to 500 yards, one of the 300 or 7mm mags are good for 600 and the 338 Lapua is a 700 yard elk killer.

I'm not good enough to shoot farther than about 400, so I'd be perfectly content with a 308, 270 or 30-06. Unless you have the skills to shoot at longer range the bigger guns are a waste, they don't kill any deader at closer range.
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Old October 2, 2012, 01:47 PM   #12
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I've been hunting elk with my .308 for 38 years and none have gotten away yet. Plan to fire two quick shots into the chest organs for fast kill. My farthest shot was approx 225 yards or so.

I like the performance of FEDERAL 180 grain Fusion ammo but have also had good luck with 150 grain Premium ammo by Winchester. Elk are not armor-plated at all but they don't always react to a good chest strike like smaller animals. So practise firing two quick but accurate shots to prepare for your hunt.

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Old October 2, 2012, 02:00 PM   #13
ligonierbill
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I agree your .308 is fine. Now, if you must have a new elk rifle (good a reason as any for a new rifle) I did most of my western hunting with a 7mm Rem Mag. Accounted for 2 elk: one at 400, one at 20. Both dropped dead. I like the 7 Mag. Living in eastern Idaho at the time, the most common caliber carried (anecdotal, not a survey) was the .300 Win Mag. Given that I just had to have one, I now carry a .338 Win Mag in honor of my elk hero out there. They all kick, but I think they're tolerable. Since you have a .308, if you reload and want something with a little more reach of the same bore, get the .300 Win Mag. Really, though, most elk are shot at <250 yards, and it doesn't make much difference at that range.
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Old October 2, 2012, 03:47 PM   #14
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Quote:
308 has been my favorite up till now. I think that its on the light side.
My suggestion. Call or email a Guide Service located in the area you intend to hunt and ask what they would prefer their clients/hunters to bring along for there Elk hunts? (caliber/s) Than you know exactly what caliber is the preferred weapon of choice by a professional elk hunter. After all spending that kind of money TheDutchman19 on a rifle & scope. You want to be prepared for whatever comes your way when it comes to Elk.
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Old October 2, 2012, 04:45 PM   #15
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I think lot depends if your hunting with friends you could find out what caliber their using or is it a guided hunt,private land vs hunting public land etc.
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Old October 2, 2012, 06:31 PM   #16
TheDutchman19
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We will be hunting in Utah. He said to expect 250-500 yards. He shoots a 300 Win Mag and absolutely loves it. His last cow was just over 500 yards. I have not shot anything past 200 yards, so its all new territory for me. Before this post I thought no way would the 308 work, but it sounds like in the right terrain it would be fine,but where we are going I might need to pass on elk that are far out.
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Old October 2, 2012, 06:45 PM   #17
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.300 Win Mag.
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Old October 2, 2012, 07:05 PM   #18
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDutchman19
We will be hunting in Utah. He said to expect 250-500 yards. He shoots a 300 Win Mag and absolutely loves it. His last cow was just over 500 yards. I have not shot anything past 200 yards, so its all new territory for me. Before this post I thought no way would the 308 work, but it sounds like in the right terrain it would be fine,but where we are going I might need to pass on elk that are far out.
Doesn't matter what you use if you've never shot anything past 200 yards. 200 yards is your limit. Unless you're using an M1 Abrams battle tank, there's no making up for ability with caliber or power.

.308 is plenty if you make a good shot at 200 yards. 50BMG won't help at 500 if you don't.
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Old October 2, 2012, 07:26 PM   #19
ZeroJunk
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What kind of group can you shoot at 200 yards ? Do you have a rangefinder ?
Do you chronograph your loads ? Do you understand the effect of wind and can you read it ? Actually the wind is what will probably get you.

If a man can shoot a 2 inch group at 200 yards he doesn't have to practice at 400 yards to make that shot. There are plenty of programs that will tell you where you will be at longer ranges accurately enough for elk size game.
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Old October 2, 2012, 07:33 PM   #20
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My own choice is a .338-06. I push 210 Noslers to 2800 in a 22" barrel. Can't tell the difference in recoil to an '06 with 180s, and you'll have around 5
feet of penetration available.
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Old October 2, 2012, 07:48 PM   #21
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeroJunk
If a man can shoot a 2 inch group at 200 yards he doesn't have to practice at 400 yards to make that shot. There are plenty of programs that will tell you where you will be at longer ranges accurately enough for elk size game.
I completely disagree. 400 yards is MUCH harder than "2x 200 yards".

I can make shots all day every day on woodchucks at 200 yards. Easy. I'm angry if I miss at that distance. I can almost shoot them in the eye at 200. At 400 yards I'm lucky to hit the whole animal, never have actually.

Under "ideal", unchanging conditions, bipod, sandbag, no stress, no rush, my groups double in MOA between 200 and 400.

Going from "I can shoot 2" at 200 yards at the range, with sandbag and a shooting table under cover, with no pressure and no rush." to shooting at an animal at 400 yards that might leave at any second, using a tree branch for a rest, judging wind across a valley, with my heart pounding...

No, I consider that poor judgement, at best.
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Old October 2, 2012, 07:54 PM   #22
couillon
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I own a 300 wby mag for such things, but I am going to say stay with the 308. Because your familiar with it, you already know it's capabilities and limitations, and I assume you shoot well with it.
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Old October 2, 2012, 08:26 PM   #23
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A 308 is fine for elk. If you like the gun, there really isn't any reason to change.

As far as the range goes, any thing beyond 300 yards is going to be tough. I
practice at 100 but working out to 275 yards is doable if you know your ballastic table. Beyond that though, you really need to get some trigger time in at that range.
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Old October 2, 2012, 08:32 PM   #24
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Quote:
We will be hunting in Utah.
I live in Utah. 300 and under is more realistic from my experience. Normally when you can take a 500 yard shot the opportunity to move in closer isn't unrealistic. Some people can hit them out further so they do that instead of taking the time and energy of sneaking up closer.
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Old October 2, 2012, 08:36 PM   #25
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The 308 will be fine for Elk but be sure to choose a good bullet and practice out to the longest range that you expect to be shooting. My son took a fine bull with one shot with a 308/180 NP.

Personally I use a 45/70 for big game. I am very fond of the round, cast my own boolits for it, and my LA rifle is mighty nice in the timber being as compact as it is.
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