View Full Version : Elk Rifle

May 19, 2009, 04:04 PM
So i believe that when it comes to taking elk, the initial shot is the more lax part of the trip. The hard part for me is tracking, locating, and getting into position. But even still after all that hard work you never want your rifle to not have what it takes! :D
so I guess I'm asking...
what is your choice elk hunting rifle and why?
please include terrain issues... :D

May 19, 2009, 04:10 PM
Marlin 336 in 35 Rem because it is BAD JUJU for wapiti.

May 19, 2009, 04:14 PM
Remington 700XCR 7mag. Rolling oak brush with 100 to 400 yard shots.

May 19, 2009, 07:46 PM
Well, since I turned 50 the other day, my recipe is a 6lb 3oz Tikka chambered in 30/36 or 300wm. Lead coming out at 3k velocity. Mountainous terrain up to 12K elevation, dry or snow. 100 to 500 yds. 3x9 Burris glass on top.

May 19, 2009, 09:31 PM
Ruger M77 Mk II, .270 Winchester, SS / Laminate, 3-9x40mm scope.
The .270 Win is plenty capable of delivering the damage needed; given proper bullet selection. Add the ability for flat, long shots, and you're golden.

When the terrain gets tight, or nasty, I pull out my Russian SKS. 7.62x39mm may not be regarded as the best Elk cartridge, but it is ballistically superior to many .30-30 Winchester loads. Add the fact that it is a semi-auto carbine with elevation adjustable sights, and it works well for those that give it a chance.

Since the Elk hunt here usually includes pretty miserable weather... It really helps that both rifles are essentially 'all-weather'.

May 19, 2009, 10:14 PM
Hey Mr. W. Assassin, I lived in Grants Pass 30 years ago when I was just a little tyke, and my dad brought a few elk out of those hills with a 30/30. He also brought quite a few deer out of those hills with a .22, but different story, different time.

I think a 30-06 is the best elk cartridge out there, although I have been wanting a 338-06 for quite a while. If you like shooting a big magnum, then great. I don't think having 20" of bullet drop at 400 yards instead of 24" is worth the extra recoil, because as big and tough as elk are, a good 180gr bullet in the ribs will kill them just as quick whether there is 50gr of powder behind it or 80gr.

May 19, 2009, 11:04 PM
My Elk (and all other big game) rifle up to this point has been my Model 70 Super Grade in .270 Win. Two reasons: #1 Its what I had. #2 I have shot it enough to know exactly what I can do with that rifle, and to gain confidence in the cartridge itself. I have had my .270 for almost 20 years, and love the gun and cartridge, and would have no issues using it on any big game. That said, I did just pick up a .358 Winchester, primarily for elk hunting. The .358 gives up some in the trajectory and the bullet velocity, but still packs quite a punch, and is quite capable of 250-300 yard shots, which is about as long as the shots get in the areas I hunt. I wanted to expand the calibers in my collection a little, and I liked the punch the .358 delivers with 250 gr. bullets (and its a bit of an oddball, which appeals to me). I also considered the 35 Whelen, which would give alittle more velocity and range, but just liked the .358 Win a little better.

May 20, 2009, 06:32 AM
I have used 300 WBY, 30/06, and 280 Ackley Improved in the Montana mountains. They all work fine. Next Year I am going to take a 7MM Rem mag most likely.

I would suggest anything between a 270 with the heaviest premium bullets you can find and whatever is the biggest thing you can stand to shoot.

May 20, 2009, 06:55 AM
All the elk I've taken have been with either a .30-06 and .270 Win dark timber to open meadows 8000-14000 feet. Used 180 grain in the 06 and 150 grain in the .270. From 50-250 yards never had an elk take more than 10 steps. I've taken my .338-06 and .35 Whelen elk hunting but have never connected with elk with either rifles. Now I have a .375 Ruger to try.:D

May 20, 2009, 07:26 AM
270, 30-06, 7mm mag. 300 mag, 338 mag all will do fine. there are many others as well. just some hve more limitations than others. in the right terrain / range, you could use a 357 magnum, but it would require very short range well placed shot. i suppose that in a survival situation, you could use a 22lr if it was the only thing you had, and it was a true life or death situation. but anything that is underpowered is going to be like a bow and arrow. stick it and wait for it to bleed out. only a modern bow and arrow have a 22lr beat by a mile. my preferance would be one of the magnums (7mm, 300, 338, 8mm), a decent shot with one of these will ensure a good quick, clean kill. no tracking required. then, all you have to do is figure out how to get that monster back home!

May 20, 2009, 09:46 AM
I've killed several with my 270, with generally good results. The only thing I'd change would be the ability to punch a hole clear through them which the 270 often doesn't do.

If I was getting a new rifle specifically for the job, it would probably be a 300 Win Mag. I'm not though, as we now do the bow thing. jd

May 20, 2009, 10:33 AM
Since my rifle needs to do it all, I hunt with an -06.

If I was getting a new rifle specifically for the job, it would probably be a 300 Win Mag. I'm not though, as we now do the bow thing

+1, although I would also look long and hard at the .338 Mag.

May 20, 2009, 10:36 AM
Browning A-bolt in 7mm Rem Mag, in big pine, heavy oak brush, and open meadows.

Why? Because that rifle is almost an extention of myself. I've been shooting it for about 20 years now, and when it booms, something falls down.


May 20, 2009, 01:33 PM
The .300WM works just fine!

May 20, 2009, 01:50 PM
CZ550 in .375 H&H Magnum. It's the only rifle I have.

May 20, 2009, 03:04 PM
The hard hitting BLR in .325WSM. Almost 4,000 FPE at the muzzle:eek: out of a rifle weighing less than 7lbs (sans scope). Mine has the pistol grip stock and is as handy a rifle as I've ever carried.:D

May 20, 2009, 06:38 PM
... a 270 with the heaviest premium bullets you can find ...

Not a good idea, unless you test the ammunition before hand. (As should be done anyway.)
Many companies are loading 160 grain bullets in .270 Winchester ammo now. However, the rate of twist in most .270 barrels is not fast enough to handle the longer projectiles. (especially 150+ grain Barnes bullets) So, the whole purpose of having a "great" projectile is nullified by the fact that the rifle is now less accurate than a potato cannon.

150 grain ammo in the .270 - try it first.
160 grain ammo in the .270 - try it, but plan to be disappointed.

A properly placed bullet is all that is needed. Premium construction helps.

May 20, 2009, 06:55 PM
Not a good idea, unless you test the ammunition before hand. (As should be done anyway.)
Many companies are loading 160 grain bullets in .270 Winchester ammo now. However, the rate of twist in most .270 barrels is not fast enough to handle the longer projectiles. (especially 150+ grain Barnes bullets) So, the whole purpose of having a "great" projectile is nullified by the fact that the rifle is now less accurate than a potato cannon.

Might be a problem if you were trying to push it 3200 FPS out of a 270 WBY Magnum or similar. There will be a difference between how a particular 270 Win rifle will shoot a 130 and a 160, but I wouldn't bet a whole lot on which one it will shoot the best.

May 20, 2009, 08:14 PM
.338-06 with 210 Noslers.

May 20, 2009, 09:02 PM
Remington 700 SPS 30-06 with 180 grain Winchester bonded cores.. lots of heavy wood cover here.

May 20, 2009, 10:37 PM
While there are many opinions I have to disagree with a few. I have limited experence, having been an elk guide for only 9 years. However I live in elk country and have either shot or seen shot over 100 elk. For me THE rifle and cartride is a pre 64 model 70 Winchester in 30-06. I have seen elk taken with such a varity of calibers and rifles that I came to the following conclusion. If you can shoot it well, use the Nosler partition bullet, in heavy for caliber weight, most anything will kill an elk IF you can place your bullet in the vital area EVERY shot. However if the question is what is the BEST rifle and cartrige combo, the above mentioned is the standard all others are judged by.

May 20, 2009, 10:50 PM
I use either my .270 or my .45-70, and they've both worked just fine. The poster above who said his dad always used a .30-30 on elk and a .22lr on deer was right on. Placement and hunting skill is more important than caliber.

Now if you're going to hunt just once or twice in your life, maybe a .300 Wby or .300 Win Mag or larger would be the ticket. On the other hand if you want a more versatile cartridge, anything from a .264 Mag on up will do fine, and you could use it for other game as well.

Just my opinion of course.

W. C. Quantrill
May 21, 2009, 01:21 AM
One gun, one load, all game. M700 .30-06 with 165gr Hornady BTSP's, loaded with with H4350SC powder which is an ADI powder. As soon as I am out of this powder, I will be going to Varget as it is usable in all my rifles, lower pressure and maintains velocity. 2850 to 2900 fps.

James R. Burke
May 29, 2009, 07:32 PM
Most mentioned very good calibers. Mine would be a 30-06 with a heavy Nostler partition, just because I have one. But no matter what you are using or shooting, I believe in shot placement. It is key. A good sportsperson will pass on a shot that they are unable to get good shot placement. That is a very hard thing to do, but it is the right thing.

May 29, 2009, 08:16 PM
That .35 Remington is definitely hard to beat on Elk. (providing they are not too far away). I love the Marlin 336 in .30-30 and .35 Remington for all game that I hunt. However, if it is long distance, it is a Blaser R93 in .280 for me.

May 29, 2009, 08:36 PM
If you want to reach out and touch them then it's a 300 Weatherby Magnum.
If I was only going to shoot Elk that's what I would get.
If I was only going to shoot deer a 270.
If I was going to shoot all large game with one caliber a 30-06, but I wouldn't put up much of a fuss if you choose .308 or 7mm.

May 29, 2009, 08:55 PM
I've got two, both with a .30-06 Winchester M 70, one with a 150gr Hornady, the other with a 180gr Corelokt.
But I've come to a point where I don't think the caliber is as important as the hunter.

May 29, 2009, 09:07 PM
I agree.

Jack O'Conner
June 3, 2009, 08:03 AM


I grew up in Park County, Wyoming on my Grandad's cattle ranch. He and his friends hunted elk with a variety old older rifles that fired moderate velocity but heavy bullets. 300 Savage was easily the most popular rifle among his group. For those unfamiliar with the 300 Savage, it is slightly less powerful at 175 yards than either .308 or 30-06.

I killed my first 3 elk with Grandad's Winchester 30-30 and none got away.

My favorite elk cartridge is .308 in a short carbine. But 30-06 is easily the most popular among my friends that hunt elk. You can't go wrong with a good 30-06 and 180 gr ammo. Nosler Partition and the modern bonded bullets have good reputations.

My best advise is to practice shooting twice at a 8 inch target about 200 yards or so. Two quick shots into the chest organs will topple the elk quickly. Far too many new elk hunters fire once and watch the animal bound away where tracking/recovery can be difficult.

My sister-in-law has taken many elk with her 7mm-08. My wife has taken 7 elk with her 6.5mm Swede. My son toppled 3 bulls with his Marlin in 35 Remington. My eldest daughter killed one large cow elk with her husband's 270. In summary, accurate shooting with modern Premium bullets within reasonable shooting distances will get the job done. Shoot twice!

1) Top photo was taken at Elk Mt., South Dakota near the Wyoming line. My cousin has a grazing lease on a large parcel of private land. 2) The second photo was taken after a long stalk just before opener of archery season. The bull did not notice me until a breeze carried my human scent to him.

Good hunting to you.

June 3, 2009, 11:20 AM
Anything from a 6.5 Swede up will work fine but I would go .338 WM.

June 4, 2009, 01:14 PM
Browning A-Bolt SS .300 Win Mag (no BOSS), Leupold Vari-X III 2.5 x 8, Nosler 180 gr Partition Protected Point over a near max charge of IMR 4350.

Although I had intended to get a 7mm Rem Mag, I was talked in to buying the .300.

The synthetic stock and stainless steel minimize my concern about damage from rain, snow, ice, rocks, trees, etc.

The rifle is very accurate at longer (for me) ranges. When I do my part, the rifle will produce MOA or better groups at 100, 200 and 300 yards from a bench with my hunting load. This was a wonderful surprise - I had feared difficulty in getting the accuracy I wanted because I am small and the recoil was intimidating when I first shot the rifle. Although I shot my largest elk at only 25 yards, I also took a 130 lb black bear at 400+ yards on the same hunt. The hunt was fully outfitted in the Bob Marshall Wilderness - high, rugged country. I've used the same rifle on all of my elk hunts and all but one have been in fairly similar rugged mountains.

Today, I would probably prefer a shorter barrel, lighter weight .30-06 for the same hunting.

June 4, 2009, 08:56 PM
Daaanng, those are some big 'ole bullets.

I've only been hunting elk for 7 years, but have killed 4 in those years (and one bear) with my .308 Weatherby Vanguard.

It's very accurate, Uncle Sam saw fit to train me to shoot (USMC 0311, then 8541 scout sniper) and it's all I have ever needed.


June 8, 2009, 09:17 AM
Take a look at Remingtons .300 ultra mag. Comes in different power levels and there are many different choices. I own a 700 CDL in 300 ultra and love it.

June 8, 2009, 09:47 AM
I have Weatherby Mark V in 30-06. Very accurate, not too heavy. plenty of gun for the job. I wouldn't change a thing.

June 8, 2009, 03:02 PM
i finally gave up the chance at a bull in South Dakota this year and applied for the cow tag...which of course i got!

not sure if i will carry the 300 H&H or the 375 H&H....tough choice for me as both will do the job...the 300 is my old faithful and the 375 is new and has yet to put meat in the pot...hmmm decisions decisions.

JACK OCONNER: were practically neighbors! so when you hear those loud cracks this October...one of them will be mine!

June 19, 2009, 10:59 PM
Jesus Christ, How many times does this have to be answered, 30-06 in what ever model or make you what it to be , or to make sure it,s down or done a 300 win mag in any model or make , if you can,t get it done with that ,then please stay at home ,watch the hunting shows on tv ,and let the real hunters take elk.

phil mcwilliam
June 20, 2009, 10:03 AM
Sako 308 levergun topped with Leupold 3-9x40 for all terrain & distances to 350 yards.

June 20, 2009, 12:08 PM
.243, .300WM, .338WM, .45-70Gov't have all worked fine for me. The .243 BLR has seen the most action.


June 20, 2009, 01:41 PM
Why we discuss these things...it often brings different perspectives and different ideas into the realm. 30-06 and 300 Win Magnums are time tested and proven rounds that have taken their fair share of animals over the years, but they're not the only rounds, and other people have reasons for choosing other rounds.
If you read through, you'll find some advocates of the 35Rem, the .270Win, and the 45/70. One of the other calibers that has taken quite a few elk that hasn't been mentioned yet...the .300 Savage. Keep in mind, out to about 250yds its a deadly shot, with, I'm sure, many old timers still carrying Savage model 99's chambered in this round. [and for anyone whom misses this caliber, Savage does have a production rifle chambered in 300 Savage.] Its a great round, near 30-06 performance and comparable to the .308 when handloaded.

Major Dave (retired)
June 21, 2009, 11:48 PM
Killed one with 7mm Mauser (7x57), 150 gr, @ 40 yards.

Will go after another with .270 WSM, 150 gr. Allows greater distances than 7x57.

James R. Burke
June 22, 2009, 03:58 PM
I never Elk hunted. But I would use the 30-06 for a few reason. The biggest is because I have one and know it like the back of my hand. You can buy about anykind of bullet style, and grain you want. Also if you reload the combinations are endless. Good Luck!

June 24, 2009, 08:30 AM
Tikka 30-06 or Browning Abolt 30-06. If exclusively stalking timber, then my Marlin 444 guide gun.

June 24, 2009, 08:19 PM
It ain't sexy and it ain't rare. It's a Rem. 700 ADL synthetic in 30-06.

Not a lot of Elk here in SC but I used to hunt Roosevelt Elk in the coast range of OR and the terrain was anything from dense temperate rain forest to clear-cuts and balds where you can see for miles.

June 25, 2009, 06:26 AM
Personlly I like the Weatherby 30-378 for all my long distance shot's. That is also why I like the caliper, it was developed for long range bench rest shooting and does a fine job at long distance if needed. At the same time it's just as good at shorter ranges so it covers both worlds very well.

Mike Irwin
June 25, 2009, 09:33 AM
I figure if I'm ever going on an elk hunt I'll take that as being the perfect opportunity to buy either a Remington 700 in .338 Winchester or a Remington 722 in .300 H&H Magnum...


Because I've always wanted them... ;)

June 28, 2009, 02:52 PM
I live out in Utah and like the 7mm Rem Mag. Several of my friends who take Elk every year swear by the .270. In the end, it doesn't really matter what you shoot, as long as you can shoot it.