View Full Version : Caliber for Elk

March 11, 2007, 07:20 PM
Anyone have a recommendation for long range elk calibers?

Somthing that can be used for other game as well, like deer or hogs.

March 11, 2007, 07:58 PM
7mm Rem Mag or .300 Win Mag. Both have great long-range energy, flat-shooting, plenty of factory ammo choices and not "too much gun" for deer.

A properly loaded .270 or .30-06 has taken lots of elk but I would hesitate to call them "long-range" elk calibers, more like modest-range, careful shot-placement elk calibers.

March 11, 2007, 08:29 PM
For a long range elk caliber, I would say the 338 win mag, but it's a pretty big overkill for deer and dogs. So I would go with a 300 win mag or Weatherby mag. It would still work excellent for a long range elk caliber with the right bullet and while it is still an overkill for deer and hogs, it's not that bad. Before deer season, I bought a Browning A bolt in a 300 win mag for a trip to South Africa for plains game in July. I used it pretty much exclusively for deer season this year to get comfortable with it before going to Africa. I took 2 deer and a large hog this year with it. I shot a doe in the head and that was pretty messy, but the other deer and hog were shot behind the shoulder and it didn't do nearly as much damage as I thought it would. Probably less damage than my 270 or 308. Like the others said, you can use a 30-06, 308, 270 or something else in that category that would work great on elk, but I would be hesitant to say it would be reliable on a regular basis at long ranges IMO.

March 11, 2007, 08:51 PM
What is your idea of long range hunting? I've taken a few elk all the way out to 250 yards with a .270 with 150 grain bullets. While 250 yards isn't necessarily a long shot it might be outside the range of some hunters. Most of the elk I've ever taken have been inside 150 yards and most any legal centerfire cartridge will work on elk at that range.

If you are talking about hunting elk at ranges beyond 400 yards then you better know what you are doing. I've seen the 700 yard shots on bull elk in videos before, and thought man I could never pull off a shot like that. I don't want to pull off a shot like that anyway, I just like to be in closer when I squeeze the trigger.

If I get your signature line correct you, own a 7mm Rem Mag and this rifle will do exactly what you want it to do. I'd use 160 grain and up bullets for any elk hunting that you may do. You should be able to take any elk with good shot placement out to 400 yards without too much work.

Most of the guys I hunt with use the .30-06 and they consistently take their elk every year. Yes elk are big but they are not bullet proof, and I've never seen a magnum rifle put them down any faster than a .30-06 does. Dead is dead and very rarely have I seen a properly placed bullet fail to kill an animal with one shot.

March 11, 2007, 09:37 PM

March 11, 2007, 09:48 PM

You have gotten some good advice here follow it, make sure your capable of making the shot, make it well placed, don't try and reach to far and you will be fine.

If you wanted a big caliber tropper has it with the 338. I use a 30-06 and so far it has worked just fine on several elk. I don't take shots that I feel are to far or that I am not sure of good placement.

338 Winchester mag. with a 200 grain bullet has about the same trajectory as a 30-06 with 150 which is what I use. A well placed bullet will work better than a huge one not shot well everyday.

I didn't shoot at the largest elk I have ever seen in the wild because he was too far to make a good shot. I might have been able to hit him maybe not. Besides being in a hole I didn't want to try and get him out of there was a good chance I would wound him and never retrieve him. Any good hunter won't take a shot such as that. He was perhaps a animal of a lifetime but still sometimes you need to say "nope not today" and enjoy the fact that you even saw him.

Largest elk I have helped pack was killed with one correct hit with a 7MM-08 using a 140 grain bullet. I am not advising a 7mm-08 on elk but if hit thru the heart and lungs from a good side shot it works fine. That animal didn't go 50 feet from where he was shot.

March 11, 2007, 09:55 PM
30-06 and 7 mag are pretty close, just check the tables at 160-grain pill and 175 for 7 mag and 180 gr for the 30-06. You have a slight range advantage with a 7 mag.

The 300 win mag allows you to have an extra fifty yards of shooting range over the 30-06 at the most conservative estimates. Some will credit both magnums with more distance

The 338 Win Mag has about the same trajectory as a 30-06 for given bullet weights. It is more a bigger rifle than a faster rifle and it will do the same as an 06 with more effect on difficult shots.

With today’s premium bullets, the 30-06 will do just about as good a job as the 338 did in the 1960s and the 300 will shoot Elk at more distance.

I shot my first dozen Elk with a 30-06 and since used a 300 win mag almost exclusively, but it has only a range advantage.

All these, 30-06, 300 mag 7 mag and 338 mags work well on Elk, even the 270 and 280 will take Elk well with heavy well-constructed bullets. The 308 win does a good job at shorter range

Fat White Boy
March 11, 2007, 10:11 PM
Taylorce- +1 on the .270.... I wouldn't go any smaller.

March 12, 2007, 01:10 AM
I meant hogs, not dogs. Oops

March 12, 2007, 11:04 AM
Another vote for the .300 Winchester Magnum!

March 12, 2007, 01:34 PM
+1 to what taylorce1 said.

March 12, 2007, 01:42 PM
Just to parrot what Taylor said, since you own a 7mm rem you are all set. Practice, practice, practice....

If you can consistently hit a paperplate in the field at longer ranges then you will be well prepared for a longer shot at an elk. Only you know your upper limit as far as getting consistent hits at longer ranges.

March 12, 2007, 01:51 PM
Man, maybe I'm just gettin lazy here, but I hunt with horses and pack mules, and I STILL wouldn't want to make a longer shot than probably 300 yards max. Anything over that is just too much work. It's pretty nice to pull off a 100 yard shot, dress out the elk, rope it to the mules and be gone. A 1 day hunt, and sleeping in my own bed that night, can't beat living where the Elk live boys......

March 12, 2007, 09:58 PM
Hey Jaxx, If you could just build a powerplant somewhere in the general area, I know me and another good ole boy would be happy to move there. We both work at a powerplant here and he is from Wyoming and longs to return.

You foot the bill to build one and put transition lines to sunny California and we will come run it.

March 12, 2007, 11:31 PM
DF, too bad you boys aint in the oil drilling business. They're hiring knownuthins off the street for 25 bucks an hour. I am happy being a general contractor, but 25 an hour is a darn good wage out here. I moved from California a while back, 25 here is like 40 there. The hunting AND the fishing is imeasurable here. I don't know anywhere else that in 1 week I could bag a 6x6 Bull Elk and catch a 9 pound rainbow trout. All within 1 1/2 hours of my front door. Those of you who have never been here, STAY AWAY PLEASE! LOL

March 12, 2007, 11:59 PM
I was looking at the '06 as a possibility but someone pointed out it isn't the best long range (my definition of long range for hunting would be 300 - 350 yards for me to be comfortable) and .338 is overkill for hogs.

So we narrow it down a little more: range up to 350 m in mountain country.

March 13, 2007, 12:11 AM
Weekwacker, have you ever tried to shoot things at 1000 feet? Thats under 350 yards. Get you a gallon milk jug and a 100 ft tape. Go out and measure 1000 feet and see if you can hit that jug with any regularity. A foot square target will work too but you can see if you hit the jug full of water.

Not off a bench there aren't gonna be any bench rests where your hunting, if your lucky you can use a big rock or stump a tree limb or trunk to steady against.. Not counting the fact that you will have probably been walking. take That jug out and shoot it off hand at 1000 feet.

It will give you a great perspective of how far that really is. If you don't hit a elk where it counts your in for a very long day at the very least.

Don't be one of those jerks that shoot at animals to far away, and the animal runs off and then they say " I musta miss em" I have seen that when there is a good chance a wounded animal is running. It is IMO one of the worst offenses I unfortunately have witnessed from unethical hunters

March 13, 2007, 02:42 AM
There may not be any bench rests but my shooting stix will be there. And I can make do with anything that's out there (planning on a bipod as well) And I never stated I would shoot anything AT 350. I would want somthing that could perform at 350 for elk when in reality it will be around 250-280 yards.

Edit: I have already used a .30-30 and a 7 mm rem mag to take deer at over 220 yards. All it took was time at the range.

March 13, 2007, 06:21 AM
WW. The .270WSM has great long range potential. (check ballistics) As far as elk killing at 300+ yards this rifle has no problems at twice that distance.

You do have to find someone to shoot that far with accuracy.

March 13, 2007, 08:25 AM
I've never been elk hunting but from the posts I see the 300wsm sounds like it would be a pretty good choice. Thoughts?

March 13, 2007, 10:58 AM
For Elk hunting the 338WM is THE Elk cartridge. If you are looking for a combined Elk/Deer long-range cartridge the 300WM is pretty good. The 338WM is hard to beat for North American big-game while using a smaller cartridge for medium-sized game.

March 13, 2007, 11:03 AM

I agree. The 300 Win mag is a little over-kill for deer, but if you have to do it all, deer & elk, with one rifle the 300 WM is hard to beat.

March 13, 2007, 12:05 PM
I would want somthing that could perform at 350 for elk when in reality it will be around 250-280 yards.
I have already used a .30-30 and a 7 mm rem mag to take deer at over 220 yards. All it took was time at the range.

Again you have a 7mm Rem Mag, that is all you need to take an elk with at 300+ yards. You are already comfortable with that rilfe so that is the one I would use to hunt elk with. If you are just looking for a different rifle, I'd go with a non-magnum rifle that fills a gap between your .30-30 and 7mm Rem Mag.

FWIW the .30-06 with 180 grain bullet will have almost the same energy at 350 yards as your 7mm with 160 grains. So the .30-06 isn't lacking any power when it comes to killing elk. The .30-06 just takes a little longer to get there, but the elk won't know the difference.

I like the shooting sticks for hunting, if you are stalking they take less time to set up than bi-pods. If you are setting and waiting in a lane then bipods work just fine. My Stoney Point shooting sticks are much lighter than my Harris Bi-pods, and light has advantages when humping the hills for elk.

March 13, 2007, 02:07 PM
My dad owns the 7mm and the .30-30. This is going to be for me. (first rifle :D )

March 13, 2007, 03:29 PM
Do you hunt with your Dad? if so why not a 7Mag? Then if both guns are sighted in with the same ammo you can interchange if one guy runs short.
Just a idea for you, you may want something completely different.

My Father and I both have a Winchester 88 in 308. On occasion we will both have the same guns that are using the same ammo and we can even interchange clips, ( or am Suppose to say magazines).

March 13, 2007, 06:40 PM
I don't like the price tag on the 7 mm ammo. But then again my dad has a reloading die for it so...

BTW is there a difference between 7 mm STW and 7 mm rem mag? or is STW just a model.

March 13, 2007, 06:58 PM
STW is stends for Shooting Times Western and has more power than a 7 MM Remington Magnum. Go here ant take a look a several not so common calibers.
If price is a concern you not gonna like the STW for sure.
If your wanting that kinda power take a look at Remingtons new 7 MM Ultra Mag too. Check out the 300 ultra mag while your at this site.


March 13, 2007, 09:47 PM
yeah my dad has an STW. I thought they were pretty close. That thing is fun to shoot tho :D and it's li9ke around 60¢ a round for him to get reloads. I think it's that much. Might be closer to 20 or 30. I'll have to ask. And I'll have to change my sig. :rolleyes:

Northslope Nimrod
March 13, 2007, 10:04 PM
Long range: I say 338.
Best all around: 30-06 (I also really like the 35 Whelan...but its rare)
Close range: 45-70

I didn't include the 300 because the bullets are more than the '06, the kick is a lot more than the '06, but the gain isn't worth it IMO.

Jack O'Conner
March 17, 2007, 06:23 AM
I've killed many elk with my .308 carbine and plain 180 grain ammo. Most shots have been about 225 yards or closer. These bullets do not bounce OFF!

Most Easterners I've met show up with a new magnum rifle they've rarely fired. When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

I attended grade school in Powell. Grandad's ranch was off that road which leads to Garland.


March 17, 2007, 09:44 PM
I will probably catch some heck for this. I just bought a Tikka T3 Hunter in the new .338 Federal. Ballistics look pretty good. Time will tell.

March 17, 2007, 10:25 PM
That T3 is a very nice rifle. And the new .338 Federal is supposed to be a great round for deer and elk.

Nice choice!

March 17, 2007, 11:33 PM
Maybe someone will buy a 338 federal and can give us a range report on it. There was some discussion about if the true factory loading performance can be duplicated with handloads? Something about Federal using a blend of powders to achive the ballistics of the 338 federal.

el Divino
March 18, 2007, 01:06 PM
Do you want to buy a new rilfe? a 300 win mag will be the best pick and ammo isn't expensive comparing it to other 300's, now if your dad already owns a 7 STW and a 7mag you really don't need to worry

post #24 & #28

Tadpole Starr
March 20, 2007, 10:21 AM
I had an extra BBL for my Model 742, 30-06 so, I had it cut down to carbine length. It is so quick and handy, and will kill anything in our Colorado woods, with the 165 grain Hornady BTSP Interlock bullet. Most of our shots are 200 yards or less, and I wouldn't shoot any further than about 250 of 300 anyway.

It is important to be able to find amo easily in small towns or another hunting camp, and the 06 is the most popular. I love my .280 Remington in the Model 740, but ammo is too hard to find.

Jack O'Conner
March 22, 2007, 07:24 PM
So-called average bull elk is rarely heavier than 700 lbs. Many cows and young bulls weigh in about 550 - 600 lbs. These are not moose sized at all.
The myths & legends about armor-plating are always make me laugh out loud!

Just about any good rifle cartridge will get the job done. Shot placement to destroy both lungs is a good choice for longer shots. But the old timers I knew in the 1960's shot into the neck-to-shoulder joint with their 30-30's or 300 Savage lever rifles and folded elk right where they stood. No kidding!

Things have changed across the Western USA states. More 4-wheelers plus early archery seasons have caused elk to be warier and less easy to approach. Sensible elk cartridges like the .308 or 30-06 are tough to beat at distances out to about 225 yards or so. The new 308 Marlin cartridge and older 444 should not be ignored.

A hunter who is conviced that a magnum is best for elk should focus upon more shooting practise than the non-magnum hunter. Sadly, the opposite is often the norm.

Good hunting to you.

March 22, 2007, 10:14 PM
how about a mosin?

roy reali
March 23, 2007, 12:03 AM
A strong pellet gun with quality pellets should be considered.:D

March 23, 2007, 12:11 AM
I'm an old 338 and 340 man, but today, I use the 300 with good bullets for lond shots on Elk and the 30-06 for most hunting on Elk, as i did when I was very yound. It seems I ended up back shooting what my father liked.

March 23, 2007, 07:53 AM
HAHA, ya, I hear GAMO makes some bonded alloy pellets ment for hog hunting you may want to give a try.

Jack O'Conner
March 23, 2007, 08:27 PM
Discussions about what it takes to topple an elk will continue long after I'm dead and buried. But local small town stores across the North American Rocky Mts. will still sell stacks of 30-06 ammo. Some things won't change much.


Tadpole Starr
March 23, 2007, 11:22 PM
I used it for years, with a 175 grain bullet at 2900 fps. and a 120 grain at 3300 fps. They were both on at the same poi @ 100 and 300 yards. Good for hogs and elk. I use a .280 and 30-06 now. The .280 is a couple of hundred fps slower than the 7 mag. The 06 is a great all around gun for all North American game.

Freedom isn't free!

March 24, 2007, 12:09 PM
Discussions about what it takes to topple an elk will continue long after I'm dead and buried. But local small town stores across the North American Rocky Mts. will still sell stacks of 30-06 ammo. Some things won't change much.


Thats the best reply I've read yet on this subject.