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Rifle recommendations for an Elk hunt...

6818 Views 79 Replies 60 Participants Last post by  sourdough44
OK, I figure that I'll ask this on a few different forums and take the nuggets of info I get and throw them in the mix with my thoughts on what I'll need...

I got a sniff of the chance to go on an Elk hunt next year; I'm going to outfit one of my Dr's for his trip, and he said that one of the party is talking about backing out, freeing up a slot for me. First things first, he's looking at getting a .270 for the trip. I think thats a little on the small side, and recommended the .30-06 as the smallest I'd go. Am I accurate in that recommendation? What are ya'lls thoughts on best cartridge for elk under 200yds? Initially, I thought that a .300WSM was the way to go, but the more I've read says that the venerable '06 should be fine, throwing 165gr deep penetrating rounds (partitions or the like) or larger. Of course, if 165gr is enough, what about some stout .308Win loads? I like the shorter action stuff...

Next, I'm thinking that this will be a great opportunity to build a Mauser-based piece for myself, especially if its going to be an '06. Could I do a Mauser in a short mag? Can the actions stand the extra pressure that those stubby little cartridges produce? If they can, how about feeding those fireplugs from the Mauser magazine? Tons of questions...

Anyway, heres my plan (based on an '06 chambering)...Large ring Mauser (we've got an Argentine Mauser at work that has been butchered and is an '06, IIRC), 20" Wilson barrel (makes it a little handier, and there isn't alot of oomph lost in the 2", is there?), laminate stock from Boyd's (with a Hogue pillar bedded as an alternative), and a decent aftermarket trigger with side safety. I'll replace the bolt shroud with a commercial piece to clean it up a little, and I've got to figure out an iron sighting system that will work for me. I really like one I've seen that was done on a Rem 700 that looks like an AR rear, but don't know the best way to make that work; need to do a little more research on that one.

Also, I'm not sure on the optic; do I want a scout system (I have a Savage Scout with a Leupold Scout Scope in .308 and LOVE it), or something more conventional like a low-power Leupold or Trijicon 'dangerous game' type setup? Thoughts?

Thanks!
Byrdman
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I prefer the versatility of the 30-06, but own both .270's and 30-06's and have taken Elk with both. They are both more than adequate. I would recommend a 180 grain loading if you pick the 06. Good Luck
 

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Always love it when you post pics of that '95 OJ!
Thanks - I love it and love showing it off - it draws lots of attention at the range also and makes lots of new friends.

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In the wise words of Elmer Keith, use at least a .338 cal. for humane kills.
 

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For years I made elk hunting trips to NW Colorado with a group of buddies. We always stopped a sporting/hardware store in Rifle, Co to buy licenses and supplies. One year I asked a store clerk about what calibers they used for elk hunting. His reply was something like "Well, out of state hunters all carry mag calibers but all of us locals use .270's or 30-06's. He described our group pretty well since we were all carrying mag 7mm, .300's & .338's. Every elk killed in our hunts could have been easily taken with a standard non-mag caliber. I've sold most of my mags, if I ever go back it will be a 30-06 with some type of 180 gr.
 

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The beauty of the 30-06 is that you can use it for general purpose after the elk hunt with easy ammo availability. Sure, a 338 mag would probably be better for the elk hunt but it would be an expensive to shoot rifle later and a painful kicker.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I've about settled on the Mauser based '06 for me; been doing a ton of research (stuck at home with kidney stones) and think that would be a great path to take. I'm something of an amateur gunsmith, and I work with two VERY good 'smiths that have taken me under their wings, as it were; I'm in a position to learn a LOT and build myself a great piece (if I can finance the project...thats a whole other situation...).

As for the Doctor, I'm going to see him Wednesday and get a feel for what he's looking for. I'm thinking an X-bolt SS Stalker in .300WSM w/ a nice Nikon Monarch will be right up his alley, but I'm not sure. Time will tell!

Thanks, and keep the input coming!
Byrdman
 

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Shot placement is far more important than having "magnum" behind the caliber. I know an old man in CO that hunts elk with a .257 Roberts. He's damn good at it too.
Yep, I know a FEW old timers who hunt with a .25-06 and .243 for elk.

In the wise words of Elmer Keith, use at least a .338 cal. for humane kills.
Bunkum. Know how to shoot fro humane kills. I'd bet dollars to donuts that more elk survive half-ass shots from fools with big guns than from hunters who know what they are doing with "underpowered" rounds.

For years I made elk hunting trips to NW Colorado with a group of buddies. We always stopped a sporting/hardware store in Rifle, Co to buy licenses and supplies. One year I asked a store clerk about what calibers they used for elk hunting. His reply was something like "Well, out of state hunters all carry mag calibers but all of us locals use .270's or 30-06's. He described our group pretty well since we were all carrying mag 7mm, .300's & .338's. Every elk killed in our hunts could have been easily taken with a standard non-mag caliber. I've sold most of my mags, if I ever go back it will be a 30-06 with some type of 180 gr.
Still true but even younger locals are dragged into sooper dooper magnums lately.

I've about settled on the Mauser based '06 for me; been doing a ton of research (stuck at home with kidney stones) and think that would be a great path to take. I'm something of an amateur gunsmith, and I work with two VERY good 'smiths that have taken me under their wings, as it were; I'm in a position to learn a LOT and build myself a great piece (if I can finance the project...thats a whole other situation...).

As for the Doctor, I'm going to see him Wednesday and get a feel for what he's looking for. I'm thinking an X-bolt SS Stalker in .300WSM w/ a nice Nikon Monarch will be right up his alley, but I'm not sure. Time will tell!

Thanks, and keep the input coming!
Byrdman
I think you have a great plan, love the Mauser.
 

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The oddball/wildcat cartridges out on the market are some great rounds for taking done bigger animals. I was taught from a young age to buy firearms chambered in a "Bob's General Store" caliber. Meaning, in bum shmuck nowhere, will the general store carry .300WSM, .300RUM, or other less common calibers. I know for a fact that small stores in small town Colorado carry common calibers such as .308Win, .270Win, 30-06, and 300WinMag.

My personnal favorite for large game in mountains is .338WinMag and .375H&H.

Shot placement is key!

KILLERtj
 

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I know that most folks are commited to using either Remington or Winchester bolt guns. However, I have a Browning A Bolt Stalker in 30-06 that I hope to use for elk hunting next year.
 

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I could be wrong but I suspect 30-06 shooters are more inclined to practice - our range gets crowded just before hunting season with hunters "sighting in" their rifles - from bench rest - when regular practice from stances used for shooting would be more to the point.

The other thing mentioned is the widespread availability of 30-06 ammo way out in the boonies - not to mention at better prices.
 

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.300 mag at least for the wide open western states.

I've seen elk "taken" by other hunters with .270s. It wasn't pretty. 6 shots (includes a partial reload), and then they finally broke it's shoulder to get her down (that's right, it was a cow, and not a bull). More akin to a mafia shootout, IMHO. Some folks might say he was a bad marksman, and I'd agree, but then again, elk hunting is arduous, to say the least. You rarely get the perfect shot.

I use a .338 Win mag with 250 gr Nosler partitions. When it hits, it's an immediate knockdown. I know from experience that the combination is sufficient to humanely take the animal.

Sorry, I think people who use smaller calibers when they don't have to are A-holes who don't deserve to hunt.

As to calibers, choose a magnum, as the 30.06 with a 180 gr bullet just doesn't have the gas for a hard hit at 400 yds, unless you're shooting downhill. Magnums will put it on target with a flat trajectory and push a bullet through a crosswind or rain. Plus, it's usually pretty cold on an elk hunt, which depletes your bullet's velocity out the barrel.
 

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I use 270, 308, and 45/70.....

I once knew someone who was an excellent elk hunter. For the ten years, or so, that I knew him, he harvested an elk every year. He used a 25/06.

hog
 

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I could be wrong but I suspect 30-06 shooters are more inclined to practice - our range gets crowded just before hunting season with hunters "sighting in" their rifles - from bench rest - when regular practice from stances used for shooting would be more to the point.

The other thing mentioned is the widespread availability of 30-06 ammo way out in the boonies - not to mention at better prices.
I agree completely.

.300 mag at least for the wide open western states.

I've seen elk "taken" by other hunters with .270s. It wasn't pretty. 6 shots (includes a partial reload), and then they finally broke it's shoulder to get her down (that's right, it was a cow, and not a bull). More akin to a mafia shootout, IMHO. Some folks might say he was a bad marksman, and I'd agree, but then again, elk hunting is arduous, to say the least. You rarely get the perfect shot.

I use a .338 Win mag with 250 gr Nosler partitions. When it hits, it's an immediate knockdown. I know from experience that the combination is sufficient to humanely take the animal.

Sorry, I think people who use smaller calibers when they don't have to are A-holes who don't deserve to hunt.

As to calibers, choose a magnum, as the 30.06 with a 180 gr bullet just doesn't have the gas for a hard hit at 400 yds, unless you're shooting downhill. Magnums will put it on target with a flat trajectory and push a bullet through a crosswind or rain. Plus, it's usually pretty cold on an elk hunt, which depletes your bullet's velocity out the barrel.
Most folks (especially those not used to shooting in the mountains) have no business taking a 400 yd shot anyway. And I think that people who choose a amgnum RATHER than actually learn to shoot are a-holes too. I have personally seen a dumbass shoot the lower jaw off an Elk with a .300WSM both because he though a neck shot was best and that any "solid shot" with his bigass gun would drop the animal.

At least in this western state the shots are on average much less than that anyway.

In general what I see at the range is the larger the caliber the crappier the shooter. Not trying to put you down but from what I see the guys who are local hunters shooting smaller calibers know what they are doing.

I use 270, 308, and 45/70.....

I once knew someone who was an excellent elk hunter. For the ten years, or so, that I knew him, he harvested an elk every year. He used a 25/06.

hog
again; seen several .243 and .25-06 seasoned hunters around here.
 
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