View Full Version : Rifle For Elk

December 23, 2005, 02:31 AM
I might be going on an elk hunt in Colorado next year, any thoughts on the right rifle caliber? I've read some who say a 30-06 will suffice, and others who say if you get a once-in-a-lifetime shot you'll want a big magnum round. I'll probably get a savage no matter what as that's what I've had the most experience with.

December 23, 2005, 02:35 AM
For elk, .270 Win is generally considered to be the minimum ethical caliber. From there, it goes up to pretty much whatever you want.

December 23, 2005, 02:37 AM
What about WSM or WSSM calibers?

December 23, 2005, 02:54 AM
They'll be fine, as long as you're not thinking below .270 WSM. After all, they're just slightly beefed up versions of existing cartridges (powerwise).

Long Path
December 23, 2005, 06:20 AM
Short answer: Sure an '06 should be fine.

Longer answer:
I've shot a few deer with the .30-06, and several more deer with a lesser caliber. For deer, the .30-06 has a lot of what Art Eatman calls "bang-flop". It's very satisfying to hit a deer, hear the hit, and see it go down like a light switch was thrown, and that (minus sometimes hearing the hit) is what has happened every time I've shot a deer with a .30-'06. But then again, I've had similar reactions to deer that I've shot with .257 Roberts loads. The .30-'06, then, is simply more than the minimum rifle that is needed (note: I did not say "too much gun").

So what is the '06 optimal for? Well, an elk is a (much) larger species of deer. Put an '06 bullet through an elk's lungs or heart or into its spine, and you get similar results. I submit that the .30-'06 is absolutely adequate for elk. When I called Sierra Tech Support asking about best loads for the 165g GameKing for elk, they assured me that .30-'06 velocities (2700-2800fps) were great for elk, but advised me not to use that bullet at .300 WinMag velocities (3000-3200fps), due to the possibility of over-expansion at the higher velocities. But Sierra absolutely endorsed their 165g bullet as an elk bullet out of the .30-'06.

Jack O'Conner
December 23, 2005, 08:13 AM
Your 30-06 will be fine, easily the most popular hunting cartridge in my home state of Wyoming. Many non-residents go home without firing a single shot during elk season. Takes much gear and a pack mule/horse to get way back where the herds are hardly hunted.

You should consider hiring a hunting guide.

There are many game ranches that offer elk and red stag hunts for far less than a fully outfitted Rocky Mt packtrip. Some offer late season cow elk hunts for less than $1,000. Good meat and fun for affordable price.

dale taylor
December 23, 2005, 08:42 AM
Depends on bullet placement. I have uncle who took 3 elk every year with 35 Remington Auto. [email protected]

December 23, 2005, 10:02 AM
After using different calibers (3006,280,270,308,338,7mm),for 30 years hunting Elk,my last 6 elk have been taken with the 300 win mag. Excellent trajectory,knock down at extended ranges,bullet and factory load availability options. I have settled on this caliber and recommend it to anyone who asks.


December 23, 2005, 10:20 AM
Just one thing .300 win mag or .338 ultra mag there is a possibility of long shots and on the .270 the drop is more at longer distances anything inside of 300 it is perfect but anything outside I believe it would fall much quicker due to altitude but that is my guess :D :D :D

Art Eatman
December 23, 2005, 11:14 AM
The higher up you are, the thinner the air, so the flatter the trajectory. I doubt it's enough to worry about unless you're talking Way Over Yonder, though.

:), Art

December 23, 2005, 11:17 PM
ok I knew it had something to do with it but I was not shure thanks Art:D :D :D

December 24, 2005, 08:12 PM
Caliber choice depends on what you already have and what else you hope to hunt with the same rifle. If you have a 30-06, I'd go with that. The 300 Win Mag is hard to beat, but it has more recoil than the -06. I wouldn't think in terms of any shot over 300 yds. That is a long shot.

As was said, 270 is considered the minimum elk caliber. The caliber choices then are between 270 and 338 for the most part. If you intend to hunt grizzly bear or any large bear with the same rifle, I would lean on the heavy side. If not, the 30-06 is good.

December 25, 2005, 08:49 PM
Living in Colorado, I see plenty of guys (including buddies of mine) lugging plenty of big bore rifles into the woods.

Funny thing is, they all practice year round and shoot deer and antelope with their .270's and 30-06's, then when elk season rolls around they grab their.338 or 7 MM's. They don't know how the gun shoots, and they don't have time behind the trigger.

Anything .270 andup will kill an elk DEAD. If you own a .270, 30-06,or some other applicable rifle that you use frequently and are comfortable with, take the money that you would have spent and buy a plane ticket, get out here, and SCOUT. That will do you more good than 1 inch less drop at 400 yards. :cool:

In my opinion, you're better off with a slightly lighter caliber that you KNOW inside and out versus some magnum cannon that you don't have the experience with.

(edit: Notice that I live in Colorado and big game hunt,and my .270 is my go to gun!)

December 25, 2005, 08:57 PM
30-06 with a quality 180 grain bullet would be perfect. i use 165 grain bullets on deer (box actually has a picture of an elk on it, lol, remington accutip boattails) just because i always want to error on the side of caution, but i think those would certainly be plenty to knock over an elk as well. absolutely devastated the heart of the deer i shot this year, it went down so fast by the time i got my scope back on i thought i'd missed because it was in the brush already. i definitely wouldn't spend the money on a new magnum rifle, you'll do great with the one you trust now.