Discussion in 'Competition Forum (All Calibers)' started by Northridge, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. Northridge


    Jun 4, 2014
    I'm asked often what caliber or cartridge is big enough for elk? this time of year the question comes up even more but there is know "Correct" answer or cartridge aside from using a cartridge with in its practical means. I base my response off 30 years of hunting elk experience taking many elk with as small as .243 Winchester and as large as .35 caliber and every caliber in between literally. My hunting party has taken hundreds of elk over the last 4 decades and have tried every reasonable variation of bullets, velocity ranges etc. to come to a conclusion as to what is best in real time killing power and what is truly needed? the only common denominator is bullets, and shot placement period. as for the smoker cartridge there is not one period. if you have a old .270 in the closet great research proper hunting bullets load them and place shot where it belongs and bam!! you have a dead elk down. short of knowing your equipment and finding something to kill the rest really dose not matter its a ford chevy thing. If you equate killing power to dropping a animal in its tracks know matter the canon you better incorporate High shoulder shots etc. to achieve the affect but me personally do not consider that the place to shoot a animal as there is less fudge when crummy shot is placed. shooting a animal in the marsh mellow as we call it or lungs as others may call it animal may jog a few yards after the hit but are defiantly dead you just haven't shocked the nervous system and that is completely ok dead is dead. it does not require the latest greatest newfangled boom! boom! smoke stick to get the job done well. know your rifle and its ability and use quality bullets designed to kill even if the BC may not completely be up to snuff. spend more time hunting and less time chasing ghosts and goblins..

    Shawn Williams
    jdh47, Jet, painter and 3 others like this.
  2. kzin


    Sep 14, 2017
    I have no idea but I only shoot paper.
    You may want to move this to another sub-forum?
  3. 4xforfun

    4xforfun Gold $$ Contributor

    Apr 25, 2010
    Like the varmenting and hunting form.
  4. wapiti25


    Jan 17, 2010
    I use a 7mm Rem Mag
  5. grovey

    grovey Silver $$ Contributor

    Dec 29, 2012
  6. Albany Mountain

    Albany Mountain Gold $$ Contributor

    Feb 18, 2012
    I would say 150 grain hunting bullets fired at 2700-2800 velocity would be minimum to 400 yards.
  7. JRS


    Mar 3, 2008
    A 125 grain STOS broadhead works just fine.
    Northridge likes this.
  8. mikecr


    Nov 26, 2004
    The greatest power in hunting is accuracy.
    So the first question should be 'is it accurate enough'.

    Given sufficient accuracy, then what terminal ballistics suit the cause?
    I know that 50gr FB BR bullets work really well to drop white tail deer at ~500yds -with brain shots.
    Works just the same with deer as it does with groundhogs.
    So what does it really take to reach a vital in an elk?
    Northridge likes this.
  9. Albany Mountain

    Albany Mountain Gold $$ Contributor

    Feb 18, 2012
    Please give some respect to the animal these thread is referencing about. Popping headshots with a small pill at 500 yards on deer is not a killing combination for boiler room hits on elk at 500 yards.
    boltfluter and Northridge like this.
  10. watercam

    watercam Gold $$ Contributor

    Mar 28, 2008
    Having tried the 325 WSM, 7mm Rem. mag., 300 Weatherby mag. I am perfectly fine with a .30-06 out to just under 400 yds.. Barnes TSX 168s have done the job without fuss or additional shots.
    Jet and Northridge like this.
  11. Rsadams


    Sep 5, 2015
    Altho there's now so many calibers offered for almost any purpose I think the answer to any hunting is shot placement at reasonable ranges.. longer ranges means you need more power.. were I hunt the animals are small and a 300 yard shot is way long. Most of the time 75 to 150 is the normal and the deer are around 100 pounds.. So any caliber will do with in reason... I use 6mm Remington and they drop DRT...

    Now if you hunt were 300 yards + is the normal then things change add in large animals and your gonna need more power. But as the op says he has killed elk with .243. I have seen 100 pound white tails run off after a bad shot placement with a 30.06 to never be found.. Shot placement is the real key , at extended range of course you will need more to get that bullet there with the proper amount of energy... But your shot placement is still the most important thing...
    Northridge likes this.
  12. onelastshot

    onelastshot Gold $$ Contributor

    May 6, 2012
    Shoot whatever you shoot accurately.
    ebb, mikecr and Northridge like this.
  13. LCJM


    Jun 5, 2012
    Regardless of the ballistics, training for cold bore accuracy and precision essential for big game hunting at any accountable range is time consuming and much harder said than done. I shoot very big magnums, some would say too big for any type of hunting. A phrase comes to mind when I shoot them…..they speak with authority. They speak with authority to my wallet. They speak with authority with the extra weight carried around in the mountains. They speak with authority in muzzle blast, painstakingly harsh bark to unprotected ears even yards away, and surprisingly subtle but quick snap in recoil. And they speak with authority when the first and only needed bullet strikes ribs or a 10” gong. Authority can come in different forms. A winning touchdown with two seconds left in a game when a field goal would do the same. An exclamation point at the end of a sentence although a period completes as well. Or giving position out of kindness to others while being last waiting to board a plane. There is figuratively no advantage with the outcome.

    When speaking with some of those that shoot big hunting cartridges, one word astonishingly comes up, insurance. Insurance for when the vitals are missed and relying on enough authority to finish a job never intended. Why does authority properly used, managed, and placed need insurance? Authority abused or mismanaged, intentional or not, can cause more damage than originally intended? It is abuse that should be insured, not the authority. Consider a finish hammer to a nail on a fine piece of wood. A 10 ounce hammer is sufficient for the job. But a 20 ounce finish hammer drives the nail with authority. All well said and intended until the hammer strikes a missed mark. The 10 ounce hammer may deflect off the nail or completely miss and strike the wood leaving a blot yet the wood survives to repairs. The 20 ounce hammer may do the same yet striking the wood with such misplaced authority leaving the wood with damage that is unrecoverable and unrepairable. Proper use and positioning of authority, no matter the “bigness”, is what matters most.

    Lastly, the competition forum is fitting for this topic. The past few years has seen hunting turning more into a competition on many fronts. Intentional or not, a philosophy of unlimited convertible sighters while long range hunting is still being spread right out my back door!

    Thanks Shawn for posting,


    “I shall make every effort, intentional and unintentional, to hunt without blemish.” Intentional actions and unintentional outcomes shape the blade of the double edged intent sword, forged by a hammer of character and sharpened with the stone of wit.

    LCJM hunting code of conduct
    txdan, Northridge, mgunderson and 3 others like this.
  14. JLT

    JLT Gold $$ Contributor

    Feb 21, 2014
    Outstanding post and beautifully written.
  15. BenPerfected

    BenPerfected Gold $$ Contributor

    Nov 24, 2009
    ....my smallest group:D
  16. ebb


    Oct 31, 2010
    I understand speaking with authority, my elk rifle (I've only killed one) is a 338 win mag. It is certainly enough cartridge to kill elk with. The outfitter I hunted with has killed many, many elk over the years he was a cowboy and the many more he guided hunters. He uses a 30-30. He hunts them at a range with the 30-30 that it works. The range that some shooters kill elk at these days was unheard of when I hunted them. Elk have a vital area the size of a beach ball. When I was sure I was going to hunt, my partner and I shot 2 times a week for months. 1 or 2 shots to confirm zero from a bench then as many shots as you can stand offhand at 2 liter coke bottles. Then as that was perfected snap shots at 2 liter coke bottles. When we got to the mesa we were ready. I am sure a 270 or 30-06 would have been just as lethal. I chose a federal premium load with a lighter bullet so I could have the speed to make a range error less crucial. I think that a 243 is too small but some one that shows up with a rifle that they haven't shoot enough to learn or isn't sighted in is just as irresponsible. Yea a guy or gal that has put in there time can pull it off with a small cartridge but why not use enough gun and have the skills and time invested to do it right. I got the rifle for helping a friend on a job all day Saturday and Sunday. If I had to pick a cartridge now it would be a 300 wsm. But I would still put in many hours shooting the gun till it was second nature to me to hit with it. The one thing I didn't do back then was practice with moving targets. My friend had his wife go down range and roll drywall bucket lids across the road and he shot them as they rolled and bounced across the road. I told him my wife would never go for that, he said mine wouldn't either till I parked my brand new power stroke down there and let her sit behind it to throw the lids. Northridge go prepared with what ever caliber rifle you think you need, put in the time to learn the rifle, and what you can do with it and what you can't. GOOD LUCK and BE SAFE!!!! I wish I were going with you!
  17. dakor


    Dec 28, 2010
    I will say this anything 25cal on up will do just fine on Elk at most hunting ranges. A friend of mine has a 6.5-06.that has taken 10 bull elk and 6 of those scored over 300. That rifle has also taken several cow elk as well all were with a 140 Sierra. His 6.5-284 has killed two big bulls one was at 485 yards and the other was at 590 yards using a 140 Amax.
    JRS and Northridge like this.

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