View Full Version : Elk hunter needs advice on a black tail load

March 15, 2008, 02:45 PM
Hey folks, I have found an area about 90 minutes from my house that I have been scouting for the last 3 months that has a lot of deer sign, and I have seen some nice black tail bucks. As the title states, I'm an elk hunter, have been very successful the last few years in particular with it, but have only ever taken one deer, a muley in Idaho last year.

The area is a good 1.5 miles in, and few, if any hunters go that far in because it's all uphill, and during hunting season there are three locked forestry gates that even an ATV would have trouble getting around. It's a sweet spot, but you have to walk.

Here's my issue: I don't want to work up another load, buy bullets, etc. I will if I absolutely have to, but prefer to use a load that I currently have.

Rifle is a .308 Win.

Which load do you think would be best? Distances shouldn't be more than 150 yards, but would more than likely be between 40-75 yards.

trigger happy
March 15, 2008, 03:52 PM
I'd try that 165 grainer

March 15, 2008, 08:54 PM
I know it sounds cliche, but the load you are the most comfortable with. If the 180 is your elk load that you have supreme confidence in, stay with it, you will probably only fire one or two shots. But the 165gr load will definately take any deer you come across.

March 15, 2008, 10:02 PM
While I don't shoot the Nosler, I have used the 180gr Sierra BTSP for everything since the early '50s. It served me well in Nevada on big Muleys, in Oregon on Elk, in Alaska on everything except the 2 bears (220 Barnes solids, then) and has never disappointed me.

I like the 165 and such for varmits and short range target (<400 yards) but use the 180s when I get serious.

That said, the round with which you are the most comfortable and with which you WILL practice, is the right one.

Do NOT use the 110gr popgun bullet.


March 15, 2008, 10:20 PM
having come from Michigan using the 165gr (@2460fps) Sierra BTSP/BTHP on whitetails, I looking to for a ELk load in .308. (M70 & M88)
Are you reloading the 180's @ 2600??

March 16, 2008, 01:13 PM
What is your load? I can't imagine that your elk load wouldn't work just as well on a black tail. I wouldn't go with a 110 grain load with the .308, I don't know how well those bullets are made and why risk a bullet failure and a shallow wound. Lightest bullet I'd use for deer in a .308 is a 150 grain.

March 16, 2008, 03:57 PM

My elk load is a Barnes 180gr XLC. It's done a great job on elk, but I'm thinking it might be a bit too much bullet on a deer. Sure, it'll kill it, but my concern is it may just punch a neat little hole in and out, without expanding, or expanding enough for a humane kill. Barnes did not recommend using it on deer. I killed my Muley buck with it last year, but the only shot I had was a neck shot, and he was a lot bigger than the black tails I'll be hunting.

I just want to avoid and thru-and-thru shot, a deer that suffers and may not even be recovered. I ran into that in '06 with an elk that I shot, fell over, got up and ran off. Tracked her for 5 hours until dark. then 3 hours next morning.

March 16, 2008, 07:41 PM
My elk load is a Barnes 180gr XLC.
Good bullet but not needed in the .308 in my opinion. Tomas don't take this the wrong way but I think you could use a different bullet and save some money. If the XLC gives you the best accuracy in your .308 use it, but just about any 180 grain bullet will work on elk at .308 velocities.

I figure you will probably max out some where around 2700 fps with a 180 grain bullet and still be safe. At that speed even standard cup core bullets will hold together and kill an elk. If Remington or Winchester bulk bullets were grouping well that is what I'd use to hunt everything in the lower 48 in a .308 Win.

Now if you step down to a 165 grain bullet then I think the Barnes bullet would be a good choice along with some other premium bullets for elk and deer.

March 16, 2008, 10:00 PM
would you up velocity to 2600+????
I'm using the sierras' 165 @2460fps, should I use the Barnes type???

March 17, 2008, 07:57 AM
I'm using the sierras' 165 @2460fps, should I use the Barnes type???
That is a pretty sedate load and wouldn't be my first choice on elk, but should work just fine for deer. Again at those speeds no need for a premium bullet. I think the premium bullets should be considered any time you get the velocity above 2800 fps at the muzzle, and should be used any time you start going over 3000 fps. Especially if most of your shots don't go over 150 yards, as most bullets tend to fail inside of 200 yards. I should probably state as well that I do not own/shoot a .308, but am basing my opinion off of using the .30-06 as well as many other calibers.

BTW I finally voted for the 180 grain Nosler Solid Base for both deer and elk.

March 18, 2008, 01:10 PM
I voted for the Nosler Solid Base vs the Barnes. The varmit load is OUT. The controlled expansion of the Barnes will not open up enough at the ranges you state and will probably expend most of the energy in open space after it passes through the deer. The Nosler will work better IMHO but if it were me I'd drop down to the 150 grain. I know that you don't want to mess with another round work-up so go with the Nosler 180's. Just my thoughts.:)

March 18, 2008, 03:13 PM
165 is plenty of bullet, but the 180 would be fine IMO.

I used to use 150's for Mule deer and 180's for elk, but finally decided to split the difference with a premium 165 (Accubond) in a 30-06. Don't have to resight between seasons if I decide to rifle hunt elk, and not bow hunt them.

Course, this year will be the first year of my .460 SW, so all bets are off.