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smallest elk caliber?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/10/2011 at 13:10
RifleDude View Drop Down
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Originally posted by Dyelynn Dyelynn wrote:

Originally posted by RifleDude RifleDude wrote:

Originally posted by Dyelynn Dyelynn wrote:

What would be the smallest caliber rifle you would feel comfortable with, to hunt elk at ranges up to and including 500 yards.
 
If all I had was a 7-08, I wouldn't cancel an elk hunting trip or pass up any shots at the biggest bull.  If I was limited to factory ammo only (which I wouldn't subject myself to, but I'll play along), I'd pick fodder capped off with a good controlled expansion 140, such as Federals loads with the 140 TSX, Trophy Bonded, or Partition... whichever shot best in my rifle.
 
In fact, there's nothing in the lower 48 that I'd be hesitant to aim a 7-08 at if forced to... assuming good shot placement and reasonable range, which should be the goal no matter what you're shooting.


ted, would you say the same about a 308, or are  you among the crowd that touts the 7-08 as an improvement over the original?
 
I'd have no hesitation to use a .308 on elk.  Basically, anything a .30-06 will do, a .308 will do almost as well until you get to bullets weighing over 180 gr.
 
I just like 7-08 better due to better BC at distance... and because it's cool.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/10/2011 at 13:28
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This is an interesting thread.

The 500 yard requirement limits the "minimum" choices, IMO.  I think the normal "minimum" calibers for elk are totally out of the picture with that outside range requirement.  These include .243 Win (not optimal at any range), and any of the .25s.  These calibers will kill elk reliably at modest ranges, and excellent marksmanship.

I think the .260 would be my minimum, given the OP's requirements.

7-08 is absolutely up to the task, and is one of the greatest all-around game cartridges available.

270 is no problem either.

280 and up are fine.

Like Ted said, the bullet is the key.  A tough bullet with good BC should be chosen.  I load my 7-08 with 140 grain Barnes TTSX, and would be absolutely confident in the bullet putting down the biggest bull with that load, even out to 500.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/10/2011 at 14:45
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I killed a cow elk at 305 yards with a 270 win using 150 grain nosler partitions and max load of RL 22.  Bullet didn't pass through, but did the job.  I probably wouldn't take a shot that was longer than that. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/10/2011 at 18:44
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I feel relatively certain that you could kill them with a .243 using a Barnes bullet or a Nosler Partition with good shot placement but it certainly would not be my first choice. Ive always been told that 30-06 is the minimum for anything that will likely kill you back given the opportunity and elk and moose do occasionally stomp someone which leaves me wanting .375 H&H but I'd have no problem using my 300 WSM or 300 WM. I know a guy here who shoots them every year with his  270 and he kills them all the time. Sometimes you just have to kill them with what you have, its been done for a long time with flint spears and stone tipped arrows.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/10/2011 at 21:39
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25-06
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/11/2011 at 06:50
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   +1   With a 115gr Nosler Partition at 3200fps.  Never tried it but wouldn't be afraid to.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/11/2011 at 07:15
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<.243 is all good. Shot placement is always the key to taking any game clean. Larger calibers buy you range and a bit of shooter-error, but not as much as most believe. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/13/2011 at 17:52
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first i'd like to address the "shot placement" statements. 
I guess I took it for granted that any hunter would be aiming for vitals, or (if so inclined and prepared for it) the head... with a reasonable expectation of hitting what you're aiming at.  a poorly placed shot, or a shot taken with ignorance or unfamiliarity of the rifle, scope or combination of them both is not at all what i had in mind here.

I think .243 and 25-06 are the smallest calibers i saw mentioned.  Question for those that mentioned these, what would your max range be on an elk given your "best bullet" with these rifles?

Honestly, i thought i'd get the .270win as the smallest viable (subjective) for elk, so i'm pretty surprised to see all the smaller calibers in here.

I guess my next question should be "what would your largest caliber be for small black-tail"... although i think with so many non-magnum options and stuff 30.06 and under, i don't really need it.

thanks for everyone's input :)
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/13/2011 at 18:16
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I have taken cow and bull elk with the equivalent of a 7-08 out to and just beyond your max distance you gave.
260 Rem would be another.
FWIW-I have a friend that has taken several bulls with the 6XC. 
Not my idea of an elk cartridge, but if you wreck the vitals, he is dying.

I guess I would be more interested in what you do have, and what kind of field shooting skill you have with the guns you own?
E
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/13/2011 at 18:20
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if you adhere to 1500 ft pounds for elk
243 100 g 200 would be a stretch
I say a 308 with a barns mrx you could go 475

so depends on your range and where you hunt.

I would take a 243 to 200 and feel comfortable.
But I would use my 308.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/13/2011 at 20:41
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i would take an elk at 350-400yds with a good quality .257 diam bullet. the 25-06 doesnt lose much out there.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/13/2011 at 21:07
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Originally posted by 308 Sav 308 Sav wrote:

if you adhere to 1500 ft pounds for elk


I don't, and I'm not sure where they came up with the number.  It is the damaged tissue that kills the elk, not the energy.  Ask a bow-killed bull.


Originally posted by Dyelynn Dyelynn wrote:


I think .243 and 25-06 are the smallest calibers i saw mentioned.  Question for those that mentioned these, what would your max range be on an elk given your "best bullet" with these rifles?


I think I would feel OK with a Barnes out to 300 or so.  The 25-06 being better.  Of course, the Elkinator is a 300 RUM.Big Smile

Originally posted by Dyelynn Dyelynn wrote:


I guess my next question should be "what would your largest caliber be for small black-tail".


Fifty.Sharp Shooter


I really think great blacktail/elk combo cartridges would be 7-08, 270, 280, 30-06, and any 7 magnum or 30 magnum.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2011 at 09:37
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Originally posted by Bitterroot Bulls Bitterroot Bulls wrote:



I think I would feel OK with a Barnes out to 300 or so.  The 25-06 being better.  Of course, the Elkinator is a 300 RUM.Big Smile

I thought the 338wm was the elkinator :p

Originally posted by Bitterroot Bulls Bitterroot Bulls wrote:


Originally posted by Dyelynn Dyelynn wrote:


I guess my next question should be "what would your largest caliber be for small black-tail".


Fifty.Sharp Shooter

is that so you don't leave anything to clean?
Originally posted by Bitterroot Bulls Bitterroot Bulls wrote:



I really think great blacktail/elk combo cartridges would be 7-08, 270, 280, 30-06, and any 7 magnum or 30 magnum.

i've been eyballing the 7mm rem as my target caliber for a while, but figured it'd be a nice topic of discussion here :)
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2011 at 13:27
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Originally posted by Dyelynn Dyelynn wrote:


I thought the 338wm was the elkinator :p


There is only one Elkinator:

http://www.opticstalk.com/swarovski-z3-412x50-brh-reticle_topic27412.html


Originally posted by Dyelynn Dyelynn wrote:


i've been eyballing the 7mm rem as my target caliber for a while, but figured it'd be a nice topic of discussion here :)


A 7 Mag will do everything you want.  That is a great choice.  a 140 grain or 160 grain Accubond would be just about right.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2011 at 13:53
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Originally posted by Bitterroot Bulls Bitterroot Bulls wrote:

Originally posted by Dyelynn Dyelynn wrote:


I thought the 338wm was the elkinator :p


There is only one Elkinator:

http://www.opticstalk.com/swarovski-z3-412x50-brh-reticle_topic27412.html


Originally posted by Dyelynn Dyelynn wrote:


i've been eyballing the 7mm rem as my target caliber for a while, but figured it'd be a nice topic of discussion here :)


A 7 Mag will do everything you want.  That is a great choice.  a 140 grain or 160 grain Accubond would be just about right.


Absolutely, a 7mm rem mag is a great choice for blacktail and more!!

I think I mentioned using one to hunt blacktails in No. Cal for years now (in the past, so has my brother and a couple of cousins). My next rifle for deer hunting will probably be a 7mm-08 to compliment my 7mm.



Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2011 at 13:57
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I can't remember where, but I once read an answer to one of these questions that I really liked.  The fellow said something like this:  A small caliber shouldn't be used on questionable shots.  But then I wouldn't take a questionable shot with ANY caliber.

Archery requires close range and a good shot angle, but people still kill monster bulls with their bows every year.  I don't see why you can't get a good shot opportunity with a rifle.  "Texas heart shots" aren't something I'd be comfortable with regardless of what I might be shooting.  The way I've been told to shoot game is to aim for the far side front shoulder, and you're almost assured of getting both lungs.  Nothing will go very far with a hole through both lungs.  The measly two deer I've taken with such shots have dropped from a shotgun slug, and run 50 or so yards from a 46 lb. longbow.

I would probably take the .338 WM I inherited if I were rifle hunting elk, but I wouldn't feel uncomfortable going after wapiti with my .243 and a Barnes TSX or Nosler Partition if that were the only rifle I owned and it were legal in the area being hunted.  I've shot a couple of those little .243 TSX's into a dirt bank, and the hole they drill is pretty impressive.  They hold together and penetrate in that particular media better than 225 grain Accubonds from my .338 WM.

Oh, and I know for a fact that from about 15 yards, my lowly 51 lb. recurve can put a 445 grain arrow clear through an elk's shoulder blade and bury several inches into a stump behind the bone.  Any well-constructed rifle bullet should do the same if need be. 

A friend living in Oregon using a longbow has taken at least one elk per year for at least the last 12 years I've known him, and several more elk long ago with a 30-06 and 150 Rem core-loks.  This includes a few decent 5x5's on his wall.  He tells me they're a lot easier to take down than people make them out to be.  His theory is that most people aren't really very good shots in the field and/or shoot at spooked animals...


To be clear, I've never shot an elk and am only speaking on my own observations and what I would be comfortable with.  I'm no expert.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2011 at 14:12
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I have killed a bunch of elk with my .243, every one my dad or I have ever shot at  with the 243s we killed.  But my 7mm Mag always does it better.  The hole is bigger, wound channel is bigger, blood trail is bigger. 

Got a 300 WSM to try this year, I am sure it will do just as good.  Big Grin
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2011 at 18:39
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Awesome.  Care to share which bullet you used with the .243 and how many elk were taken with it?  I'd be interested to know anything you'd like to share from your experiences.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/15/2011 at 00:37
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My father in law has killed god only knows how many elk using a 308 win & 300 savage for, last 40 + years & a few with different types of bows. As for what bullets he uses no clue but he been shooting 150gr power shocks for the 308 for last few years.

Edited by hunterwingler - June/15/2011 at 00:38
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/15/2011 at 09:56
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We have killed 10 to 12 elk with 243s, I am not sure exactly how many.  In Utah we just get to hunt spikes for general season, so granted they are not as big as a large bull by no means.

Mostly we just used Remington Corelockts factory ammo 100 grain, this was before I started reloading in 04.  I am not into fancy bullets, personally I think they are a waste of money.  I have never had a deer or elk get away because of bullet design.  If I hit them in the vitals they die, period.

My dad killed one 2 years ago with a 100 grain Hornady spire point.  I have killed 1 with 95 grain Hornady SST and an 85 grain Barns. 

With the 7mm, same thing.  Remington Corelocks 175 grain, they will put a softball sized wound channel clear though an elk.  I have used 160 grain Hornady sprire points, as well at 160 grain SSTs.  They all die if I hit them in the vitals. 

There are guys local here who make fun of my dad because he always uses his .243.  They believe you have to have at least a 338 to hunt elk.  The one guy shoots a 338/378 weatherby Loco.  But when dad gets the opportunity for a shot, he always gets his elk. 

A couple years ago, I was using my 45-70 and made a bad shot and just wounded an elk.  We tracked him all day long til dark.  We went back the next day and found him again.  Dad finished him off with the .243, 1 shot.  I still have not heard the end of that one, shot him with my giant 45 cal with 325 grain bullet and he gets away.  My dad pops with with a 100 grain 243 and down he goes.  Bucky

I am not promoting the 243 is the best choice, but it'll work just fine with a good shooter.  I personally use a larger gun either a 7mm or 45-70.    But used the 243 for several years and never had a problem killing a spike bull.  The last one my dad shot with his .243, (I ranged it after the fact) was at 240 yards. 


Edited by supertool73 - June/15/2011 at 09:59
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/26/2011 at 18:08
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A properly placed shot with just about any caliber will take an elk.  It is better to shoot a gun you can handle (weight, recoil and such) is far better and more accurate than shooting a gun that you are scared of and flinch.  

i have watched elk taken with 243s and on up, and i believe any of them are fine.  That being said, I prefer the 300 WM myself just because I like shooting a heavier bullet at ranges like you are talking about and still have it shoot flat.  There are a lot of variable, but I never have any doubts my 300 will do the job. 
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