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What's the smallest caliber one should use for elk?

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Camping' started by onemilmhz, Nov 5, 2003.

  1. onemilmhz

    onemilmhz Ten Ninety Five

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    I have several hunting rifles I use for whitetail. A .243 Win, 7mm-08 and now a 30-30. I haven't taken a deer with the 30-30 as I just got it a few weeks ago but we all know it is certainly capable. The others have served me well. I am planning to hunt elk in Montana at some point in the near future and don't feel I have the right gun for this yet. The .243 is definitely out. There are some who feel it is underpowered for deer although I disagree based on my experience with it. The 30-30 could take one at the right distance but I want a little more rifle than that. That leaves my 7mm-08. My father-in-law says its plenty of gun. I love the ballistics and know the 7mm bullet would perform well but is it powerful enough to use effectively on elk? I would like to aquire a "larger" caliber hunting rifle soon anyway, say a .308, .270 or 7mm Mag. The new WSM's have sparked my interest as well. So what do you think? Is it time to step up a bit or is the 7mm-08 enough?
     
  2. Alchemy

    Alchemy Senior Member

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    I'm sorry that I have deviated somewhat from your post. But those
    who question the 243' as being an inadequate deer rifle are full
    of B"s

    you might get alot of blood shot from the 243 in a deer. But
    it's a fine flat shoting deer gun

    I'll post later on my elk gun calibers! I'm still frothing from
    the mouth about the 243 & deer!
     

  3. TScottW99

    TScottW99 NRA Life Member

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    I'm getting off topic too ;Q

    I think most people who have used the .243 and then bad mouthed it for deer use did so because of bad bullet selection. I have known several people who used to light of a bullet then tried to blame the caliber... I always tell them to use 100+ grain bullets. Granted there are some good -100 grain bullets also. Sorry havn't hunted elk yet ;f
     
  4. onemilmhz

    onemilmhz Ten Ninety Five

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    Both of you have good points and neither of them off topic at all. Obviously .243 is too light a load for elk and when under powered or not topped off with enough lead the same for deer. However, the load my f-i-l and I worked up for deer hunting works extremely well. I wish I could remember the specs off hand. I have them on paper somewhere but it's been a few seasons since we did the workup. I'll look it up and post it later. I'm getting low anyway so time to reload! Suffice to say I've taken several deer with it the last few seasons without so much as a 50 yard track afterwards. I guess with any suitable caliber I should be able to do the same for elk.
     
  5. turq

    turq

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    Just a thought; Your guide in Mont. brings you out to the edge of a clearing, laying under a fir tree he points out a nice bull at 350 yrds.
    Do you have the cal.(power)?
    Can you make the shot?
    Will the bullet hit 3" of bone AND be able to break a rib into the heart/lung?

    Questions to consider when you frame the minimum cal... my.02
     
  6. scubie02

    scubie02

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    The 243 isn't too light for deer--but as others have said bullet selection can make a big difference. I personally use 85 gr Sierra BTHP's, but some prefer others. That load generally becomes a favorite of anyone who uses it.

    A 243 WILL kill an elk--I've known of it being done--but I wouldn't personally use it. Similarly the 30-30 WILL kill an elk, but I suppose your range will be a bit limited, though in my experience its got plenty of range considereing the average person's shooting abilities. People say a 30-30 isn't flat shooting, yet think of a 22 hornet, which has a pretty much identical trajectory, as being relatively flat shooting cartridge. Most people can't hit anything much further than 100 yds anyway.

    This leaves your 7-08, and I'd say that that is suitable for elk. I'd take either my 7-08 or 270 for elk and think it sufficient. Thats not to say something else might not be even BETTER, but they will do the job. The 270 was a favorite caliber of several well known hunters who took many elk with them.
     
  7. mpol777

    mpol777 Feral Member

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    With a lot of the modern cartridges out there, I think the line of what it takes to kill an animal has moved up the power scale. The 6.5x55 Swede, for example, has been used for everything up to moose. Not just by a few people, but all over Europe. If you look back at the hunters of 100 years ago and what they were shooting, they were all "under-gunned" compared to today's standards. Some of those hunters were under-gunned when it came to dangerous game, but not for other game.

    I read the accounts of a hunter, can't remember his name, and his travels through Alaska. His guide was an Eskimo for the northernmost part of his adventure. That Eskimo had killed everything from walrus to polar bear with a .222 Remington for years.

    What Turq said about the 350 yard sot on an elk is true, mostly. If you take the .243 with you, you just don't take that shot. I think that the "need" of most hunters to be able to make those shots is a product of the fact that most us can't hunt everyday, like we would like too. The guys back in the day had the time and knew they would get another shot. On a guided hunt someone may have 5 days.

    I look at going in "under-gunned" kind of like bow or handgun hunting. You are placing a limitation on yourself to add to the challege of the hunt. As long as you are confident that you can ethically and respectfully take the animal in question with a given gun, it's enough gun.

    I think it's all about why you're out there. Hunting for meat, hunting for trophy, or hunting for the hunt.
     
  8. tjpet

    tjpet

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    Your 7mm/08 is plenty of gun under general hunting conditions. No good guide is going to encourage 350 yard shots. He should be able to put you within 200 yards of an animal. If he can't, pass on the shot.

    Don't buy on to the hype about all the "new" mags. There have always been plenty of 500+ yard guns - just a lack of 500+ yard shooters.

    FWIW, I've got friends who hunt elk with 22/250's and .243's. They're meat hunters and head shoot only. Light calibers by my standard but these guys pick and choose their shots carefully and always get elk. Of course, they have the whole season to get the shot they want.
     
  9. paynter2

    paynter2 It ain't over Millennium Member

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    Roger that! I used the same bullit for years. I had an open field stand and killed many bucks off of it. I once shot three bucks without getting a chance to reload. I was using the same bullit but in a 6mm Rem.

    Whop! And down they went.

    I now just use 100gr Rem PPs. Seems to work just fine.

    I would not be afraid to shoot a moose or elk with the 6mm and 100 gr loads. But, if I were going elk or moose hunting, I'd take my Sako Finnbear in .308. Just more medicine for more animal.
     
  10. mattyk6

    mattyk6

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    I have no knowledge of the 7mm-08, so I can't say whether it is enough or not.

    But I just wanted to add my mom uses a 308 and my dad and I use a 30-06 for elk.

    M
     
  11. turq

    turq

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    I personally know of a hunter who killed an 8x9 and in the jaw bone was a 22-250 bullet.
    mpol777 has it; Can you-WILL you refuse a shot?
    Bucks do NOT equate with Bulls!!!
    30-06 will work with the right bullet..02
     
  12. DAVEKO

    DAVEKO Deceased Millennium Member

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    7mm-08, Bullet weights can be had in a good range from 120,139,140,145,150,160,162,175,195 etc...Some Diff. weights are found in swift A frame, Hornady sst/and lite mag, Barnes x, Grand Slam, Balistic tips, etc...


    Great ammo - 140 grain balistic tip, 139 Hornady lite mag, 145 Grand Slam. If you like the heavier stuff 160/175 barnes x, 160/175 grand slam.

    Local stores or gun shops carry Federal, Hornady etc... check out http://www.cpcartridge.com Conley Precision

    Good energy, distance, and trajectory.
    140 grain nosler balistic tip at 2860 fps (muzzle) zeroed for 200 with 1.6" high at 100 has a -7.21" drop at 300 yards and -41.8 at 500 yards. At 500 yards it's still clocking 2016 fps and 1265 fpe. Conely Prec. makes a 140 grain Nosler balistic tip that starts at 2900fps. Hornadys lite mag 139 grainer starts at 3000fps. Federals standard 140 grain balistic tip starts at 2800fps, Rem. at 2860fps...
     
  13. Garweh

    Garweh CLM

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    Read any reputable hunting magazine. Most will agree that the 270 is on the LIGHT side for elk. The 308 and 30-06 are adequate with the right bullet (fail-safe, partition) in the right weight (200 grains). Many guides recommend nothing smaller than the 300 WinMag and some actually prefer the 338. The 300 WSM is a great caliber with ballistics similar to the 300 WinMag, accurate, and not much recoil. You can kill almost ANY animal with ANY caliber under the right circumstances. Since most hunters are interested in quick, humane kills and recovered animals, stay away from the light stuff and ask the guide(s) for recommendations. My brother shot an 8 by 8 out in Wyoming, 700 pounds plus with a 300 RUM last month. Three solid hits to put the elk down! He was using Remington core-lokt bullets (bad choice, bad performance). So choice of bullet is as important as caliber, you need something that will penetrate and then expand. Good Luck!!!
     
  14. Quake Guy

    Quake Guy Superior Member

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    Inside of 100 yards, the .30-30 will outdo the .243 & 7mm-08.

    .280 or 7mm caliber bore is the minimum for Elk. All these guys that brag about shooting large animals with small calibers guns never tell you about the wounded animal that got away and they couldn't find.
     
  15. turq

    turq

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    Or the bull that went 80 yrds. and was put down and tagged by another hunter.
     
  16. G22 Kid

    G22 Kid

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    My dad had a friend who only had one rifle. The 25-06. He hunted a lot of deer with it, but later, he killed a LOT of elk with it! He used 120 grain bullets and was a great shot. My dad said he never missed his elk out of the 5 times he went hunting with him.

    If I was going to buy a rifle specifically for elk, I would get a Browning BAR in .338 winmag. My 30-06 just the job just fine with 165 Fed hi energ(nickel plated stuff) but If I was going on the hunt of a life time, and after a big bull, I would go bigger! Everyone in my family has used the 30-06 on elk, but not big bulls, so if I were going for a trophy, I would go with a BAR in .338 and PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.

    But, if I were cow hunting, or just looking for a smaller bull, the 30-06 or .270 is plenty in my mind.
     
  17. DENO

    DENO Guest

    I just got back from Silverton Colorado and got my first Elk (in fact my first anything). 12,000ft up, last day of that hunting period just before daylight. Carried my brother-in-law's 338 and left my 30-06 in camp. Took a nice 4-pt bull at 281 yards (according to my GPS)and I haven't shot a rifle in 15 years!

    My brother-in-law still doesn't believe it. Took 3 shots though even with that big 338. Lung shot first and the beast still didn't drop..took 1 more thru the heart. (Missed once).
     
  18. onemilmhz

    onemilmhz Ten Ninety Five

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    Case - RP .243
    Bullet - Hornaday 100 gr BT
    Powder - 41 gr of IMR 4831
    Primer - CCI 200

    This round works extremely well on whitetails. I've only recovered one bullet, despite never having had an exit wound using it, and it expanded nicely. Don't know where the others went! We worked up the round for accuracy, about 1" at 100 yrds, but performance was a bonus. I'm confident enough in my abilities that at a fair distance I could make a lethal head shot on an elk, but not having many opportunities to hunt them I don't want to chance it!
     
  19. turq

    turq

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    DENO, Good job. I bet it was tough going from Alexandria to 12k feet.
    I'd be sick for a couple days.
    Nice shootin'.
     
  20. Sixgun_Symphony

    Sixgun_Symphony NRA4EVR

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