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Old September 23, 2018, 11:36 PM   #1
JTReloader
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Which caliber for my girlfriend

I’ve always been a fan of the 308, using it for most of my hunting career. However, I’m 6’1” 175lbs and have been shooting my whole life so the big magnums don’t bother me. Now I’m faced with figuring out which caliber to get my girlfriend. I’ve always been a close range hunter but in the area we now live shots can easily be 1000 yards.
That said, I’m looking for a caliber for her, 5’4” 130lbs and a new shooter. I personally don’t want her shooting past 400 yds but would like a rifle suited well for 500 yds. But here’s the catch, she got scoped VERY bad by a 308 and is now pretty shy of it. She loves shooting my 22-250 out to 550 yds. So I would like something with less recoil. On another note I want a caliber that is soft recoiling in a lighter gun. Now if that’s not hard enough, I’m wanting a caliber comfortably suited for deer and up to elk. Elk however wol be 250 yds and under. As you can see I’m in a deep hole! After much searching online I decided to just ask the question here. I was thinking 6.5 creedmore then I came across the 7mm-08 and was settled! Until I learned that it kicks like a mule in light guns... in your suggestions please consider light recoil in a light gun, 6.5lbs w/o scope; suited for deer and up to elk, ranges out to 500 yds.

Thank you and yes I know I’m crazy and should just get her two guns but one well rounded gun for now that she’s comfortable shooting and driving tacks is best.
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Old September 24, 2018, 12:02 AM   #2
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You have laid out a very tall order. Something like 6.5x55 or 260 rem are going to get you the smallest bullets that would be reliable on elk....7-08 is nice too.

Perhaps you want to add a 1” recoil pad and/or a mercury recoil reducer in the stock, but that should be unnecessary in a light recoiling caliber.

Weight....you don’t want light weight, but perhaps a short barrel....something like Ruger’s Hawkeye RSI with its normal weight and 18.5” barrel might be nice.

Scope....A scope is nice. If you love her, get a Leupold their scopes have a reliable 4” of eye relief.

Another good route is an 18” AR in 260, 7-08, or 308. Gas guns recoil less and AR’s are very adaptable to frame size.
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Old September 24, 2018, 01:28 AM   #3
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...I was thinking 6.5 creedmore then I came across the 7mm-08 and was settled! Until I learned that it kicks like a mule in light guns...
Is there anything good for elk that won't kick hard in a light rifle?
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Old September 24, 2018, 01:29 AM   #4
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I tend to agree with anything in the 6.5X55/6.5 Creedmoor/.260 Remington field as well, but I've never killed an elk and I don't really know that any of those calibers would be my first choice for an animal that size.

Based on all the other requirements except elk, it would be really tempting to suggest .243 Win or even the newer 6mm Creedmoor, but again... kind of a small bullet size.

Maybe a 7mm-08 with a muzzle brake and a good recoil pad? You get the extra noise with the muzzle brake, but it would be a lot more comfortable to shoot. A silencer would be the best of both worlds if you're open to that.

Part of me wants to say to get her shooting on a lighter caliber rifle and move up to the elk rifle after she's a lot more comfortable. Shooting either a 7mm-08 or a .308 really doesn't have to be an unpleasant experience with the right technique, but the right technique requires you to not be afraid of the gun. More experience with a lighter caliber might promote this.
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Old September 24, 2018, 06:24 AM   #5
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Not much diff in recoil between 7mm08 and 308 from my experience. I have a 6.5 C but haven't shot it yet.
By going to a smaller caliber, you can maintain sectional density and bullet length in a lighter weight bullet somewhat lessening the recoil. There's no "free lunch" in bullet energy physics regardless of advertising hype. I have a shoulder injury that limits the amount of recoil I can tolerate so this year I'm going elk hunting with a 25/06 using 115 grain Noslers with complete confidence.
A muzzle brake trades noise for a slight recoil reduction--I tried that and found it was a poor trade.
A short, light rifle increases felt recoil-no question about that so making a compromise of a heavier rifle with a longer barrel is one of the best solutions to reducing felt recoil.
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Old September 24, 2018, 07:43 AM   #6
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First of all forget about what cartridge to get, cartridge matters very little in this case. The number one thing you can do to help your girlfriend is find a rifle that fits her frame. Obviously what fits you for comfortable shooting will not fit her. Getting a stock that fits her will reduce her felt recoil, and boost her confidence in her shooting.

I went through a lot of issues with my daughter who was afraid of recoil. She's been shooting a .300 Savage since she was 11, there isn't much difference between it and the .308 Win. She has started shooting a 7 lbs Howa Alpine .308 this year at 15. Every dollar I've spent making a rifle fit my daughter has been money well spent.

Another thing that will help her is a scope with at least 3" of eye relief and a forgiving eye box. This will help her not to creep up on the stock and keep her from being hit by the scope again. I really like Burris and Leupold 3-9X40 scopes for these reasons, and it keeps it pretty simple.

Also another huge factor to reducing recoil is proper bullet selection. using a bullet like the 130 grain TTSX or 125 grain Nosler BT/Accubond will greatly reduce the recoil in a .308. Same with a 7-08 or 6.5 Creedmoor dropping down into the 120 grain range with those two will reduce recoil. With bonded and mono metal bullets these lighter bullets perform just as well if not better than the heavier standard cup and core bullets.
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Old September 24, 2018, 09:00 AM   #7
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Another thing that will help her is a scope with at least 3" of eye relief and a forgiving eye box. This will help her not to creep up on the stock and keep her from being hit by the scope again. I really like Burris and Leupold 3-9X40 scopes for these reasons, and it keeps it pretty simple.
Nikon makes their slug hunter scopes with 5" of eye relief. I haven't found anyone else on the market yet with that much eye relief. Mine is reasonably clear and rugged, though at 15 ounces, you can find lighter 3-9x40 scopes out there.
http://www.nikonsportoptics.com/en/n...Tabs-TechSpecs
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Old September 24, 2018, 10:30 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by dakota.potts
I tend to agree with anything in the 6.5X55/6.5 Creedmoor/.260 Remington field as well, but I've never killed an elk and I don't really know that any of those calibers would be my first choice for an animal that size.
Swedes have been killing Reindeer and Moose with 6.5x55 for over a century.

I would suggest one of those, or the 7mm-08 with a good recoil pad, and use one of these when at the range. In the field she probably won't even feel the shot.

on edit: Another option, based on your user name is to handload down a bit. See Hodgdon's light recoil loads with H4895

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Old September 24, 2018, 10:39 AM   #9
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Lots of good advice above. However there is one tip that I might suggest you focus on, that is very helpful for such a new and small shooter, and that is an AR rifle. In a 6.5 creedmoor you can fire bullet of up to 160 grains and for general purposes of hunting the 140s work wonderfully, as long as they are focused on holding together. For large game stay away from bullets that come apart no mater how accurate they are. Nothing spoils a hunt and made a worse impression on a new hunter then a long tracking job and lost or spoiled game.

But back to the ARs. In the AR styles of rifles made for the 308 length shells, you have accuracy on the same level as a bolt action, fully adjustable stock length, the ability to install a superb trigger (if the gun doesn't already come with one) and power that lets you do the job from foxes to moose. And the super cool thing about ARs is that should you ever want to step up in power, it's easy. Swap out a 6.5 Creedmoor upper for a 338 Federal upper and you have a bear/moose gun, just that fast.
The down side to the 308 size ARs is that most of them are quite heavy, but the industry is fixing that now too. There are some made today that are only 6 to 8 Oz heavier then the AR15s and can be had in weights under 8 pounds. Add a small set of risers and a compact scope and the weight is no more then a standard bolt action hunting rifle.
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Old September 24, 2018, 11:59 AM   #10
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"...got scoped VERY bad by a 308..." Assuming that means she got whacked on the eye brow, it means the rifle stock was too short for her or the scope was mounted incorrectly. It has nothing to do with the chambering though. A .22 Hornet will do the same thing if the scope is too close.
"...I want..." What you want is irrelevant. It's what she wants that matters. The "up to Elk" part is the key. And it's absolutely not a "lighter gun". Take her shopping.
I'd be thinking .25, .26 or .27 calibre in a semi-auto if recoil is an issue. Decide on a budget for the rifle first.
"....243 Win..." Too small for Elk and a new shooter. Despite lots of 'em being killed with one.
"...recoil between 7mm-08 and 308..." Slightly more recoil out of like weight rifles with the .308. A 150 at 2750 FPS out of a 7.5 pound 7mm-08 runs 13.9 ft-lbs. Vs the 15.8 ft-lbs of a 150 at 2800 FPS out of a 7.5 pound .308. Mind you, a 7.5 pound rifle is a lightweight rifle.
"...shots can easily be 1000 yards..." No hunting shots at that distance. There is no hunting cartridge that has sufficient energy at 1,000 yards. Even if you could place the shot in the vitals. Said vitals on an elk being about 15" in diameter. A whitetail's is about 10". If the thing is sideways. 10" is 1 MOA at 1,000 yards.
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Old September 24, 2018, 02:15 PM   #11
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got scoped VERY bad by a 308..." Assuming that means she got whacked on the eye brow, it means the rifle stock was too short for her or the scope was mounted incorrectly. It has nothing to do with the chambering though. A .22 Hornet will do the same thing if the scope is too close.
That would be incorrect and really not the issue anyway.

Go with the 6.5 CM. Its a soft shooter.

6.5 x 55 has killed mooose in Sandahovia forever. Its good to 1000 yards if you ever want to take it out that far and 500 is well within the wheelhouse.

Choices are unlimited - you can go low cost ala Savage and Cabella or Dicks for some decent prices or Ruger American etc. The good Savage prices are on Heavy Barrel variants, 12FV is kind of long and probably heavy, there is another one 24 inch and more tactical.

The regular hunting rifles are fine as is their Axis line (as much as I don't like the name) - bolt are pretty smooth. I like the Acu trigger models but not a have to for hunting only.
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Old September 24, 2018, 03:02 PM   #12
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Some decent answers, but i'm probably gonna suggest a different route.
Kimber Hunter in 257 Roberts.
Light rifle, light recoil, 500 yards no problem, good for varmints through elk.
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Old September 24, 2018, 04:57 PM   #13
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Well if the OP is a hand loader then I would think something along the lines of the original 7x57. Recoil is mild in current US factory ammo when you can find it. Why not look at the 7-08 loaded down to the milder 7x57 level, at least until she can get used to the rifle? Going the other way, the 7x57 can be loaded to duplicate or slightly surpass the 7-08 which it irrelevant to the topic.
The point is the 7x57 had an excellent reputation for accuracy, mild recoil and in killed some pretty big animals very dead. A 150 gr. Nosler Partition or Accubond in the 2500 to 2600 FPS range would quite nicely on elk to 250 yards.
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Old September 24, 2018, 05:49 PM   #14
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There is no free lunch with cartridges. Serious elk cartridges are going to have some recoil unless the rifle is heavy. When I say serious elk cartridges, I mean cartridges that can reliably kill elk when quartering away at ethical hunting ranges.

If one is willing to pass on shots at less than ideal angles and limit the range somewhat, a 140gr bullet from a deer rifle round can be used successfully.
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Old September 24, 2018, 06:29 PM   #15
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I can't ad to that, 6.5x55 sounds like the one !!!
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Old September 24, 2018, 06:32 PM   #16
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257 Roberts.
Potent enough in any woods!
Easy on the shoulder. (near nothing recoil)
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Old September 24, 2018, 07:23 PM   #17
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Stock fit, as Taylorce said, if proper, can reduce perceived recoil. Next is a top of the line recoil pad.

My Rem 700 Ti in 7mm08, fully dressed, is 6.5 pounds. But Rem put an excellent pad on it and it's not painful when on the bench rest.
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Old September 25, 2018, 08:08 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBarn
There is no free lunch with cartridges. Serious elk cartridges are going to have some recoil unless the rifle is heavy. When I say serious elk cartridges, I mean cartridges that can reliably kill elk when quartering away at ethical hunting ranges.

If one is willing to pass on shots at less than ideal angles and limit the range somewhat, a 140gr bullet from a deer rifle round can be used successfully.
What's a serious elk cartridge? Around here I see a lot of .270, .308, .30-06, 7mm RM and .300 Win Mag rifles for elk. The funny thing is a 140 grain 6.5mm bullet will out penetrate a 180 grain .308 bullet of the same type on average as long as it's the same style of bullet and impact speeds are similar. You'll need a 150 grain .277 caliber bullet and 160 7mm bullet to get the same results against a 180 grain .308 bullet. The reason is these smaller diameter bullets have a higher sectional density (SD) vs. the larger diameter bullets.

SD is still a good indicator to how well a traditional cup and core or bonded core bullet will penetrate, it doesn't work so well as a penetration indicator with mono metal bullets such as Barnes TTSX/TSX, Noser E-Tip, or Hornady GMX. The mono metal bullets tend to retain 98% of bullet weight or better and as a result they penetrate better than other bullet types. That's why with mono metal bullets it is often recommended to drop bullet weight to increase velocity and expansion, because they'll penetrate just as well as their heavier counterparts.

Here is a link to better understanding sectional density. So don't discount those 140 grain bullets out of your deer rifle, they might have you better suited to kill elk than you think. Things to remember when elk hunting. Elk aren't bullet proof or armor plated and shot placement kills elk far better than bullet size and powder burned. Just make sure you use the appropriate bullet for the game hunted.
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Old September 25, 2018, 10:27 AM   #19
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There is no free lunch with cartridges. Serious elk cartridges are going to have some recoil unless the rifle is heavy. When I say serious elk cartridges, I mean cartridges that can reliably kill elk when quartering away at ethical hunting ranges.

If one is willing to pass on shots at less than ideal angles and limit the range somewhat, a 140gr bullet from a deer rifle round can be used successfully.
A lot of people hunt deer with a 30-06. My step dads father killed 7 or 8 grizzly bear with that caliber.

If it can take a moose (6.5) then its doing to take an Elk.

I think there has been a great deal of over gunned in the US.

Granted sometimes its a matter of you have one gun, my dad did.

But the myth thing you need a 338/375 to kill an elk at 400 yards? Hmmm.

Its the bullet and the velocity that dictates how effective its going to be.
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Old September 25, 2018, 11:35 AM   #20
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Taylor is correct.

A lot of folks believe the things they read in magazines and yet have little experience in actually killing a lot of elk. I have about 1/2 a century of elk hunting behind me. I can assure you that a 6.5 Swede with a proper bullet of 140 to 160 grains will out penetrate a 300 Weatherby Magnum with a 150 or 165 grain bullet with a thin jacket. That's not a theory either, I have seen it with my own eyes several times.
The older factory Weatherby ammo was loaded with Hornady bullets and were driven too fast to hold together. In Idaho, hunting and guiding in the Selway Wilderness I saw about 15 elk shot with various 300 magnums and also the 7MM Remington mag with "wrong bullets" and penetration was usually far less then I would like. But the old Swede with the Hornady 160 and the Norma 156 grain bullets would shoot clear through them. So would a 45-70 with a hard cast bullet, and so would a 30-06 with a 220 grain.

When I read things like this:
"If one is willing to pass on shots at less than ideal angles and limit the range somewhat, a 140gr bullet from a deer rifle round can be used successfully."

I usually wonder how many elk the write has killed or seen killed.

I do not say I am the worlds greatest authority on shooting elk, but I do have way over 200 of them in my "pool for knowledge" to draw from.
I started hunting them at about 18, and was guiding for them when I was 25. I am now in my 60s. Most years I have seen about 5 killed (including those I killed myself) and some years that total was as high as 16. So I can't give an exact count, but if I were to say the average is 7 a year, times, lets say, 35 years just to be fare, that comes to 245 of them.

That copied and pasted statement above has a basis in truth, but the "140 grain", or the "deer rifle" parts are misled.

Should a hunter limit his range? Yes, absolutely. That's what hunting is about. It's not just about shooting.

Should you know your angles?
Yes, absolutely. You should not shoot at angles that a bullet can't go clear through the elk.
But both those concepts have little to do with bullet weight or the shape of the case. It applies to every caliber. The degree to which each applies has more to do with your skill level then you hardware.

A 140 grain bullet?
Now we open a huge bag of worms.
What bullet?
What diameter?
What velocity at impact?
Impacting what animal?
Impacting that animal at what angle?

You see, the issue becomes complex beyond the ability to control or even predict the variables. But the way the above statement is written, it can be misleading.
A 140 grain 270 Winchester with a Barnes X bullet will out penetrate any 300 magnum with any weight Burger bullet at any range. And that also is not a theory. It's a fact. I am guessing the same would be true of a 6.5 Swede firing a 140 grain Barnes X too. So we need to compare apples to apples. If we allow for the use of 180 and heavier Barnes X, Partition, or Bonded bullet in the 300 mag, now we see an entirely different set of facts, and the 300 steps out in front.

But going back and re-reading the statement:

"If one is willing to pass on shots at less than ideal angles and limit the range somewhat, a 140gr bullet from a deer rifle round can be used successfully."

We are left with an impression that you need something huge and powerful to be acquitted armed for any eventuality, leaving the fact that it's far more about hunting then it is about shooting.

Deer rifle?
What's that .......... as opposed to an elk rifle?

Is a 223 a good deer rifle? With a perfect bullet, yes it is. If the 223 is the deer rifle referred to in the statement, I would agree.

But how about a 25-06? With a 120 grain Barnes.
Or a 6.5 CM? With a 140 grain partition.
Or a 308? with a 165 grain Accubond
Or a 270? with a 140 grain GMX
Or a 7-08? with a 160 grain Partition.
Are these deer rifles, but not elk rifles?
If you think they are "only deer guns" you have not seen any elk shot with them.


As someone with hundreds of elk kills in his "pool of knowledge" I can assure you that all of those in that column are perfectly OK for elk.

How about the 7MM Mag?
and the 300 mags?
Here is a fact to chew over.
in all my years of guiding I have seen more bad bullets come apart and leave horrid tracking jobs from the 300s and the 7MM Mag than from all the others combined. Deer, elk, bears and Antelope.

And I know why too.
Because many (if not most) people who own a 300 or a 7 Mag don't mate them with the right bullets. They are very fast, and as such they are VERY unforgiving of bullets that have thin jackets. But use a good bullet in a 7MM Mag or any 300 and they are like lightning bolts in how well the kill. The 300s and the 7 Mags are outstanding tools for a hunter, IF they use a good bullet.

So my opinion is based in what I have seen and done myself, not in magazine articles I have read.

I do not categorically disagree with the statement by BBarn, but I think it's far too narrow in it's scope. He's partly right, but doesn't cover the details at all, and could leave a wrong overall impression.
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Old September 25, 2018, 12:28 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by JTReloader
I was thinking 6.5 creedmore then I came across the 7mm-08 and was settled! Until I learned that it kicks like a mule in light guns...
I think that statement is inaccurate. In fact, I think the 7-08 is the perfect answer. I have a Tikka T3x in 7mm-08 that weighs 7.4 lbs with a scope and sling. My 11yr old son shoots it with only slight complaint... but he shoots it repeatedly so it can't be too bad... and this is a boy who has literally "scoped" himself with a pellet gun and a .22LR.

I personally despise recoil. I do all my deer hunting with either a .243AI or a 7mm-08 Pro Hunter handgun and bought the T3x specifically for elk. I won't hunt with high-recoil guns. If an animal requires it (and very few really do), I'd rather not hunt that animal than use a high-recoil rifle.

Barnes TTSX or Hornady GMX bullets in 7mm-08 would be near perfect.

My #1 suggestion though is to let her pick. She'd be better off shooting a .243 (yes, they can and do kill elk) she loves that a 7-08 she hates.
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Old September 25, 2018, 12:35 PM   #22
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Wyosmith-
What is your opinion of the 200 grain Sierra Game King for elk, fired from a .300 Win Mag? Is it satisfactory, or would you rather use a Partition or one of the other bullets you listed in your post?
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Old September 25, 2018, 01:00 PM   #23
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No one has mentioned the Howa Mini action, so I will.

The Mini action is offered in 3 chamberings: 223, 6.5Grendel, and 7.62x39.

The 223 is the only one I have fired, but the 6.5 Grendel seems like it could be suitable.

From what I have read the Grendal is considered quite useful as a hunting round. The claims of excellent accuracy in this rifle seem credible. The metric designation is 6.5x39mm.

No one suggested it so I thought I would.
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Old September 25, 2018, 01:29 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the possum
Wyosmith-
What is your opinion of the 200 grain Sierra Game King for elk, fired from a .300 Win Mag? Is it satisfactory, or would you rather use a Partition or one of the other bullets you listed in your post?
I'm not Wyosmith, but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express a time or two.

I would not have any issues using that bullet, but realize that the Sierra isn't as tough as some other bullets. You'll probably have a core and jacket separation, but that bullet has mass and it won't be impacting at blistering speeds. However, with all that said it'll surely kill an elk as long as you do your part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by handlerer2
From what I have read the Grendal is considered quite useful as a hunting round. The claims of excellent accuracy in this rifle seem credible. The metric designation is 6.5x39mm.
The problem is the "up to elk" that the OP is looking at for his girlfriend hunting. 6.5 Grendel is a great round but not one I'd readily suggest for elk hunting. The biggest problem is the case overall length. The magazines that the Grendel is usually restricted to doesn't allow for the best bullets (usually a max of 120 grains) for hunting elk. It's a great cartridge for deer in an AR or Howa/CZ mini action, and while it can surely kill an elk it's far from ideal.
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Old September 25, 2018, 01:38 PM   #25
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My comments were intended to be applied in the context of the OP. If someone can't handle the recoil of a .308 class cartridge in a hunting rifle and wants to use something significantly less powerful, they should consider the limitations of a lesser cartridge.
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