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  • Elk Hunters

    I've been thinking/researching for quiet some time on this and just cannot make up my mind. I am looking to put together an elk gun. I've always lived in the midwest; and now Tennessee so some of my analysis may be incorrect as I've never hunted elk before.

    I am under the assumption that most shot opportunities will be under 300 yards; however part of me is fighting the notion that I need to be ready for a longer shot in both caliber and skill (range time).

    My goal is to keep the set up under 8lbs.

    I have narrowed it down to 3 calibers

    308 - Randy Newerg swears by this round for elk; with good ammo it looks like it has the needed knock down power based on my criteria above
    6.5 CM - Very mixed reviews on this round for elk; some people swear by it and others won't touch it. Again I believe this comes down to quality ammo/projectile. Very appealing when looking at wind drift.
    7 mm mag - Just can't go wrong with the 7mm, but this may end up pushing my weight goal and also reduce range time.

    I am not in a position to buy multiple guns right now. I am in the market to build a nice gun with these goals in mind.

    Thanks for any input on this!

  • #2
    Originally posted by lightsareout View Post

    I am under the assumption that most shot opportunities will be under 300 yards; however part of me is fighting the notion that I need to be ready for a longer shot in both caliber and skill (range time).
    That is a safe assumption, but depending on where you will be hunting, that could easily double, or perhaps triple.


    Originally posted by lightsareout View Post
    308 - Randy Newerg swears by this round for elk; with good ammo it looks like it has the needed knock down power based on my criteria above
    No idea who that is, but according to your listed criteria, he is right. A 308 is plenty of elk medicine if you plan on shooting 5-600 yards.
    Originally posted by lightsareout View Post
    6.5 CM - Very mixed reviews on this round for elk; some people swear by it and others won't touch it.
    Any of the SA 6.5's will work just fine on elk provided the next issue is addressed:
    Originally posted by lightsareout View Post
    Again I believe this comes down to quality ammo/projectile.
    Almost... shot placement far outweighs the type of ammo/projectile. Your skill and ability to put the shot in the right spot is far more important than the type of bullet. Your ability to practice and become proficient may also have much to do with your caliber choice.


    "The first shot, is worth all the rest " My Dad.
    Major League Chucker's 1,2 & 3
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy0SVo7PDuE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsbnnjvIJ8o
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPvbN0MT924
    Like DTA? Watch This:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EMHsIJLk3c

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    • #3
      Of those three keeping weight in mind I would go with the 6.5. I live in Colorado and prefer a.300 wsm but my friend took a bull this year with a 6.5 using 140 grain Bergers at 370 yards. One shot high shoulder. Coldbore is right on about shot placement. Good luck on the build.

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      • #4
        If you reload the 6.5 saum is pretty nasty but brass and dies aren't cheap. Saw a post somewhere that a guy was killing everything with it including some big bears. I also have a lightweight 7wsm that fits with what you are talking about. I wouldn't pick 7wsm now since brass is almost nonexistent but factory ammo is around. 300 wsm would make a great do all rifle in my opinion. Coldboremiracle knows how to lay out some elk so I would definitely listen to what he weighs in with. Both of these guys know more than me. Lately I only take rifles on long walks. Haven't had much luck finding animals I want to shoot the last few years.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by coldboremiracle View Post

          Almost... shot placement far outweighs the type of ammo/projectile. Your skill and ability to put the shot in the right spot is far more important than the type of bullet. Your ability to practice and become proficient may also have much to do with your caliber choice.

          well said, thank you

          Comment


          • #6
            Any of the listed calibers can do the job. For elk I lean towards 7mms and up.
            280 rem, 7mag, 308, 3006, 300 mag.
            Personally I would choose a 280 if I was going to reload and a 3006 if I wanted to shoot factory

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            • #7
              Especially 264WM ^

              "The first shot, is worth all the rest " My Dad.
              Major League Chucker's 1,2 & 3
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy0SVo7PDuE
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsbnnjvIJ8o
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPvbN0MT924
              Like DTA? Watch This:
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EMHsIJLk3c

              Comment


              • #8
                I wouldnít be scared to use a 7mm08 with a quality 140 grain bullet either. That rifle would work great for deer in TN also.
                mayb3 even use the 120 TTSX

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                • #9
                  I have used my 6.5 creed for the last two years problem is i havnt shot an elk as i have found finding them is way more of an issue than shooting them. Unless you are on private land or have the public stuff figured out. When the opportunity does come i have no doubt the gun will do its job i just hope i dont blow it as i will be so excited it will like shooting a unicorn

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                  • #10
                    I'll throw my .02 in here. I've shot exactly 1 elk in my life, and it was last Friday. I had an Arizona late bull tag and anguished for months over which rifle to take (7mm RM, 300 Win Mag, 308, or 6.5 Creedmoor). I shot all of them extensively at long range, the 7mm and 300 well past 1000 yds, so I was comfortable with long range shots. I think I changed my mind on a daily basis. Along with that, bullet selection was a tough one for me. Should I shoot a Berger or an Accubond, a TTSX or ELDX............... On and on and on.

                    I finally decided to hunt with my 7mm RM shooting 180 Berger Hybrids. It's a custom R700 that is fairly heavy, but it's extremely accurate and I felt most comfortable with it "if" i was presented a long shot. After hiking about 10 miles over ridges and through canyons, and seeing only rabbits, we decided to sit over a water tank the last 2 hours of shooting light. A little before sunset, 3 bulls came in at 130 yds. I shot one of them in the crease just behind the shoulder. He was standing perfectly broadside. 180 grain Berger Hybrid going 2940 out of the muzzle. Vertically the shot was perfectly centered. When the bullet hit, the bull hunched his back and stood there a second. The other two bulls ran about 30 yards and stopped. The bull I shot followed and stopped with the other two. Then he got wobbly and fell over. He was laying on the ground with his head still upright, looking right at me. I sat there for a couple seconds and put another one through his neck just below his chin to finish him off. The entire episode lasted less than 10 seconds.

                    When we field dressed him, the entrance wound in the hide was very hard to see, but on the inside of the rib cage (entrance side), it was enormous. Probably about the size of a baseball. Heart and lungs were completely shredded. I did not see an exit wound or really any damage to the other side of the rib cage. I'm pretty sure I could have hit anywhere within a 6" radius of that impact point and had the same result. Heart and lungs destroyed and a dead elk.

                    Now I realize that I made the entire rifle/caliber/bullet selection WAY to complicated. I have no doubt a 6.5 CM, 308, or virtually any other cartridge in that same class will kill an elk just as dead and a 7MM, 300, or 338. Yes, the magnums will extend your range a bit, but they are also more expensive to shoot, have less barrel life, are less pleasant to shoot, and can be more difficult to shoot as accurately (especially in a lightweight hunting rifle).

                    The next time I get drawn for an elk tag, I'm taking either a 6.5 CM or a 308. It will be a light weight rifle that is easy to pack and carry. It will be one that I like to shoot a lot and have practice with a ton.

                    I had been practicing a lot off a tripod before the hunt, so I took it and my rifle was setup on the tripod, pointed in the general direction that I thought the elk would come in from. Luckily, that's exactly where they came to. From there, since I had practiced so much with that rifle and tripod, there was no thinking. My only regret was lugging that 13.5 pound rifle 10 miles through the hills/canyons. But I did learn a valuable lesson that at least in that particular area, a shot over 500 yards would be extremely rare, and a rifle that can be carried comfortably all day, and one that I have confidence in being able to hit what I'm aiming at out to around 500 yards is the most important criteria for me.

                    If I had shot that elk with a 6.5 and 140 Hybrid/Elite Hunter/Accubond or 308 with 165 accubond/Berger/etc, the result would have been the same. Maybe the entrance wound would be different. Maybe the bullet would have exited. Either way, the heart and lungs would be toast and the elk would be dead.

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                    • #11
                      I've killed 50+ elk in my hunting career, using just about every round under the sun. Choose the rifle you shoot the best, practice with it often, know where and when to shoot and rest will take care of itself...FWIW, my crew killed four elk this past fall with my GAP 6 Creedmoor, all one shot kills from 215-480 meters.
                      The thing to do is try. Failure is of no importance; Giving up however is another matter.
                      NRA Life Member (1992) B&C Club Life Member (2006) http://montanagunslings.com/

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                      • #12
                        I mostly hunt bulls with archery gear, but fill the freezers with cow elk every year.
                        Bull from the fall of 2017...
                        The thing to do is try. Failure is of no importance; Giving up however is another matter.
                        NRA Life Member (1992) B&C Club Life Member (2006) http://montanagunslings.com/

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                        • #13
                          Part of the "Motley Crew", with a few for the freezer. These were taken from 480 meters with a 6.5 SAUM,(George)and my 6 Creed, shared.....
                          The thing to do is try. Failure is of no importance; Giving up however is another matter.
                          NRA Life Member (1992) B&C Club Life Member (2006) http://montanagunslings.com/

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                          • #14
                            Lots of great content here. Good posts.

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                            • #15
                              Lots of conversations and opinions on the web about elk rifles and bullets. I am blessed to have killed 40+ elk through the years. I hunt in some barren country that isn't typical forest type hunting. Distances can be long and one has to be willing to turn down a lot of shots. Of course shot placement is king, but if a person hunts with OTM bullets and some of the "marginal" calibers, they must be willing to wait for that perfect shot under good conditions. I don't know a lot of folks who will watch a 380 point bull lumber off while waiting for a perfect broad side shot.

                              A few years ago I asked one of our local game wardens if the change in regulations to allow 224 caliber center fire (essentially 223 and up with 60 grain minimum) for deer and antelope had caused any problems. His reply was, "Not as much as people who think a 6.5 Creedmoor is a 600 yard elk rifle". I have shot thousands of rounds through my 6.5 Creedmoor, but I wouldn't use it on elk unless it was the only option available.

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                              • #16
                                Those same people probably should not be shooting a 300 rum at 600 yards.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by kurt View Post
                                  Those same people probably should not be shooting a 300 rum at 600 yards.
                                  ^ Correct
                                  "The first shot, is worth all the rest " My Dad.
                                  Major League Chucker's 1,2 & 3
                                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy0SVo7PDuE
                                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsbnnjvIJ8o
                                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPvbN0MT924
                                  Like DTA? Watch This:
                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EMHsIJLk3c

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I have 2 buddies that live out west and have hunted elk for many years. One shoots a 7mm mag and the other shoots a 30-06. Neither one of them can place a shot on an animal with any certainty at any distance and they feel 300 yards is an impossible shot. They roll their eyes at my jp lrp-07 6.5 creedmoor. They are offended by AR platforms, and are more irritated when I get one shot kills on elk and deer out to 600 yards. Some people are unwilling to accept that many calibers/rifles are capable of doing the job. As was stated above, the ability to put the shot in the right spot for a clean kill, knowing you and your rifles abilities and limitations, waiting for a realistic opportunity are key. Some people are just stubborn. They do things the way they have always known them to be done. I think 6.5 is a better choice than 308 or 7mm08 because they wind is always blowing out west and the 6.5 bullets are less effected by wind and shoot flatter trajectories. Also the heavier recoil of a 7mm mag can make follow up shots harder, introduce flinch, limit range practice time, and kick like a mule in a lightweight configuration. The tikka ultra light is a 6lb rifle, is offered in all the calibers you listed, and can be purchased from sportsmans warehouse for 750$ or less. The 7mm08 is often listed for less for some reason, but would be a capable option as well. I picked up the 6.5 creedmoor and it has shot under moa out to 600 yards with 120 amax, prime and norma 130, and has grouped best with 123 amax so far. Testing 143eldx next time out.

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                                    • #19
                                      Elk are tough critters and it seems like every one reacts slightly differently after they are shot. I've seen elk just stand there seemingly unaffected when shot with a .338 Lapua, and I've seen them absolutely pancake after being shot with a .243. Obviously, massive amounts of variables involved in most scenarios. I think the larger calibers do afford one a little more leeway on a less than ideal shot placement, but I would still go with whatever caliber you feel most confident shooting. Elk are tough, but I have yet to see one get away when a bullet is placed through BOTH lungs.

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                                      • #20
                                        35 elk on my tags, present when about another 150 ish have been shot. The caliber that has lost more elk than any other of those almost 200 elk was the 7mm Rem Mag, some with what appeared to be perfect shots. Elk are tougher than people think and that big target I think lulls people into poor shots. Placement is certainly important, but bullet construction is as well. I have seen 7mm Mag pencil right through Elk at close ranges and some pencil right through at long ranges with well placed hits. 7mm Mags seem to be to work best from 200 to 300. My boys have tags this year, one is shooting a .30-06 and the other likely a 6.5CM. Both shot their first elk with .308s, one at 350 yards. I am a fan of heavier and larger diameter bullets for elk because they can cover a LOT of ground even wounded. Heavier and large diameter bullets give you a wider effective window for that shot that is not perfect...and it will happen. I use a .338-06 and I am an absolute fan of it. It is highly unlikely to see Deer and smaller game go any further than 50 yards or so...not true with elk. I have tracked center chest hit elk well over 5 miles (with easy to follow blood trails) and all of those were 7mm or less.

                                        Most of my elk have been between 100 and 200. A few inside 100 (10mm 1911 at 80, .41 Mag on one closer) and several from 300 to 505.

                                        If I was only choosing between the three the OP listed, probably would go with .308. A bump up to something a little faster or with a bigger bullet extends the range, the ability to take a less than perfect shot and the choice of bullets. If buying new, .30-06, .280, 300Mag or some flavor or a 33 or 35 caliber would be worth considering for elk IMHO.

                                        Oh, BTW, with scope and sling, my .338-06 Weatherby is under 7 pounds, a joy to carry.
                                        www.CarbonArms.us

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                                        • #21
                                          Elk are big, tough animals often living in tougher country. I would not go with the minimum that can get it done. This year I watched a guy put four 7mmMag rounds through a herd bull at under 200 yards to put him down. Took perhaps 30 seconds and he was at risk of getting places where recovery would have been much more difficult than it already was. The herd moved away from him, and I anchored a satellite bull with my 338 Edge from 715 yards. I've also used a 300WM a bit closer than that and taken 3 shots to put the animal down. These are all chest shots above.

                                          I see no reason to go under 30 caliber on elk. You want them down and if they are not you want two holes and a blood trail. Limited to 300 yards a lot of guys use 270s with good success. I have heard a lot more horror stories from 6.5s than any other caliber, even from experienced shooters who know what they are doing. They are confident in their shot placement abilities so go with 6.5-284 or similar they are confident with and lose animals.

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                                          • #22
                                            Originally posted by psinclair View Post
                                            Part of the "Motley Crew", with a few for the freezer. These were taken from 480 meters with a 6.5 SAUM,(George)and my 6 Creed, shared.....
                                            Pat what's your 6 creed load ?

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                                            • #23
                                              My vote is you can kill it if your wearing a Stormy Kromer.
                                              Anything else is for pussies.

                                              Comment


                                              • #24
                                                Originally posted by kurt View Post
                                                Those same people probably should not be shooting a 300 rum at 600 yards.
                                                I agree. If someone pushes a 6.5 beyond its limits, they would probably do the same with a howitzer.

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                                                • #25
                                                  Originally posted by Ankeny View Post
                                                  I agree. If someone pushes a 6.5 beyond its limits, they would probably do the same with a howitzer.
                                                  The comment was about people pushing their limits, not that of a 6.5. People who cant hit targets at X distance should not be hunting at that distance, whether its a 6.5 or 338.P
                                                  "The first shot, is worth all the rest " My Dad.
                                                  Major League Chucker's 1,2 & 3
                                                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy0SVo7PDuE
                                                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsbnnjvIJ8o
                                                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPvbN0MT924
                                                  Like DTA? Watch This:
                                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EMHsIJLk3c

                                                  Comment

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