newbie question


October 8, 2003, 06:13 PM
Looking to purchase my first rifle for elk hunting. I need all the help I can get which makes me lean towards a .300 win mag or .338. Too much gun? Maybe. But can you list the calibers from lowest to highest - I think that puts the .338 at the highest end. As far as distance and knock down power are concerned.


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October 8, 2003, 06:37 PM
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "I need all the help I can get which makes me lean towards a .300 win mag or .338" But please keep in mind that no caliber is going to make up for lousy shooting.

Badger Arms
October 8, 2003, 07:14 PM
If you are new to big rifles, the 300 might be a bit much for you to handle. You are likely to develop a flinch which will cause you to be inaccurate anyhow. The 270 Winchester is an accurate, flat shooting gun that I recommend for anybody starting out with such small game. :D Seriously, the 338 is a wonderful round but it's overkill for elk.

October 8, 2003, 07:24 PM
Ive killed seven elk, I hunt with a .338 win. I use 250 grn nosler partitions. A .338 IS NOT too much gun for an elk. Elk are extreamly tuff critters. There is no excuse for bad shooting, but a good powerful rifle cartrige is esential. Elk are not caribou.:)

Johnny Guest
October 8, 2003, 07:36 PM
Elder Son and I made two trips to Colorado for elk - - My choice was .338 and his was .300 WinMag.

Lest I "take on airs," I hasten to add that neither of us got an elk on either trip . . . . But we both like to visit with other hunters and shooters, in the field, in camp, and in the cafes. There are a LOT of hunters who take elk every year with .30-06 and .308 rifles with 165 to 180 gr loads. I know two Texans who use .270s with 150 gr. loads, and they don't complain of a lack of power, but they are both good hunters and good rifle shots.

I'd be willing to bet that a lot of elk fall to .30-30s in the hands of the locals, as well. I think the main thing is knowing the rifle and load, and choosing the shot critically. The hunter who travel far and at great expense to hunt, and has only a few days to fill his tag - - - Well, he might be forgiven for taking a shot under less-than-ideal conditions. The added confidence of the bigger .338 bullet, or the additional 75 to 100 yards range of the .30 magnum might be helpful to him, where the local might figure he'll have a better shot next week . . . .

jl98800 , no offense intended - - You style yourself a newbie - - Dunno if this means to large game hunting or to rifle shooting, or what. If it means rifle shooting, you might want to start out with a little less cartridge initially. Depending on the particular rifle chosen, both .300 and .338 WinMag can be a bit vigorous in the recoil department. Different shooters have different tolerances.

One suggestion for a newcomer to heavy rifles: Go to the gun club or a public shooting range and hang out a couple of weekends. If you can strike up a conversation with guys shooting some sizeable rifles, see if they have a few minutes to spare. Explain your interest and goal, and offer to pay for ammo to try a few rounds with various rifles. You may learn a LOT in just a few hours, and twenty bucks worth of ammo may save you a lot of expense in the long run.

An animal at the edge of the woods can be a little difficult to see clearly at 200 yards. It is not at all like a black bulls eye on white paper on the range. A good rifle with a good scope has far more intrinsic accuracy and energy than most hunters can ever properly use in the field. Being half out of breath, aiming at a walking elk from an unsteady position - - This is a far different proposition from being well rested and comfortable, shooting from sandbags on a solid bench rest. I personally feel that, as a responsible sportsman, I have no right to take a shot at a game animal if not certain of placing my bullet within about five inches of where I want it to hit. (A ten-inch circle at 200 years isn't all that large. ;)

In answer to that part of your question - - -
Always stipulating a familiar rifle with good scope, properly sighted in, under ideal conditions - -
.338 WinMag, 210 to 225 gr. bullets, out to 250 yards
.30-caliber magnum, your choice, 180 gr. bullets - - to 300 yards
.30-06, 165 gr. (some like 180, I know) - - 225 yards
.308, 165 gr. - - 200
.270, 150 gr. - - 200
.30-30, 150 - - 125; with 170 gr., to 100. If using iron sights, keep to WELL under 100 yards.

Above based on relative "power," ease of hitting with the given trajectory, and some very subjective factors. An expert rifleman with a lot of experience with the rifle/load, well familiar with the territory - - He can stretch the above somewhat.

Very best of luck to you.

Badger Arms
October 8, 2003, 07:43 PM
From the initial post, I'm worried that John might be falling into the trap many fall into when hunting. If you are a poor shot, new, or lacking of proper stalking skills, just get a bigger fancier gun that shoots laser beams and keeps time. Nothing can make up for proper practice, sound stalking skills, and shot placement. Getting a 338 will almost ensure a flinch if John doesn't have experience with heavy recoil. A one MOA gun with a laser range-finder and $1,800 scope will still miss if the shooter is afraid of the 'punk-slap' he'll get when the striker falls.

If you want to anchor the animal, I'd suggest you get a 375 H&H. It shoots as flat as a 30-06 and hits HARD without as much reliance on bullet performance. It's also easier on the shoulder than the 338. If he doesn't want the recoil, 270 ammo is cheaper, it kicks MUCH less, he's more likely to shoot better with it, and he won't be selling it back to the dealer after three shots. Don't get me wrong, I like the 338 and it's a good caliber. But how many elk a year are taken with the likes of the 243, 308, and 270 Winchester? That extra margin of 'slapping-the-crap-out-of-the-animal' isn't going to kill it any deader. At best, you might have to follow a blood trail a little farther with the 270 but you'll end up with less damaged meat. Underestimating the recoil of a 338 has made me more money than any other factor I'm aware of. People buy these things thinking they are going to be able to shoot as well as you or I and then find out that they are WAY out of their league.

Your comment on the Caribou reminds me of Texas deer. It's a matter of prespective. Deer down there are TINY. A friend of mine was sure that you had to have a 30-06 to take the deer. Heck, they're only like 20 pounds dressed anyhow and half of that's blood-shot when you use Patton's caliber! ;)

October 8, 2003, 07:54 PM
I have tracked WAAAAAAAy too many elk shot with .270's 30'06's and 7mm mag's, waaay to far to agree with you. It's about wound channel and sectional density. I have killed 2 of my seven with a .270, it worked great, I placed the shot properly and the bullets (130 grn sierra btl. sptzr) literally exploded inside the chest cavity. I found bullet fragments swimming in pieces of heart/lung. I WAS LUCKY. A bit too far up or forward, and I would have hit bone, the bullet at 130 grains does not have enough mass to punch through heavy bone and retain enough weight to hit vitle organs and drop the critter. I sugest a .30 cal min, and a .300 is at about the right velocity. I am speaking from a lifetime experiance, I hunt or guide every year. This is a question about elk. When I have been in Ak, I didnt see any; and I heard you dont have them Badger! Maybe I'm wrong. When he ask's about moose, take me to school.:D

October 8, 2003, 07:59 PM
PS if recoils a problem, get it mag-na-ported, or a good kdf brake. Don't even shoot it first, if your that worried about recoil, just send it off. USE ENOUGH GUN. Jack O'connor was a great guy, but a .270 is NOT an elk rifle.;)

Badger Arms
October 8, 2003, 08:20 PM
Okay. I'll agree to disagree on this one. He could always split the difference and go for the 300 Mag! Having not taken an Elk, I do not have the first-hand experience. It does seem, however, that we have differing philosophies about choosing a caliber and that doesn't mean that I am wrong nor does it mean you are wrong either. The only Elk trip I planned (but wasn't able to go on) was to have been a 300 Mag excursion.

October 9, 2003, 05:46 PM
Badger,You get yourself drawn down here, and I'll take you to the elk:D Now if you'd just take me to the Moose, I'd be one happy Dag;)

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