Best Round for the application (Elk)


February 6, 2012, 10:54 AM
Ok guys and girls. I just decided that I am going to take the plunge and head west for my first elk. I have done a fair amount of research about what I should be practicing with, what load I should be working up, etc... The problem is, there are so many people with so many different opinions on the topic, I have no idea where to begin.

I decided to come here, you all have never led me astray and I know that there are true shooters here, where as you never know elsewhere.

This is what I have.

Remington 700 7mm Rem Mag - My grandfather's western hunting rifle, I inherited it and have yet to put a round down the barrel. A part of me wants to take this just out of sentimental reasons. I am just not sure its the proper tool for the job.

Sako 85 30-06 - I use this in Michigan for my deer hunting. It has never been anything but excellent. However, in Michigan you do not typically get a shot over 75 yards so it has not had a chance to stretch its legs.

Remington 700 270 - Another one from my grandfather, pretty sure it was his michigan rifle. But I would not hesitate from using it due to its excellent accuracy. I just would want to make sure it packs enough punch.

Alexander 6.5 Grendel - This is not really in the running, just because of the platform that it is on. However ballistically its similar to the 270. If I had confidence that it would do the job cleanly I would consider it.

Let me know what you think. I want a clean, humane kill. I worry about wounding animals therefore I want to make sure I am prepared. I know shot placement is #1. Thanks guys.

If you enjoyed reading about "Best Round for the application (Elk)" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
February 6, 2012, 10:58 AM
The 7mm Mag will get the job done in spades. Better ballistics than the 30-06 at longer rnage and you never know what shot you'll be presented with. Terminal ballistics kinda favor the 7mm as well since it will have a velocity advantage at every point along the scope of ranges and has better SD with similar bullet weights.

February 6, 2012, 11:01 AM
That is sort of the way I was leaning due to the trajectory of the 7mm and the range vs the 30-06. I just like to explore all my options. I also need to spend some range time with the 7mm to get used to it.

I plan on taking two rifles. You never know what can happen.

February 6, 2012, 11:05 AM
Of the rifles you mentioned I would advise either the 7 Mag or the 30-06. Both have been harvesting elk since they were first used by hunters. My personal rifle however would be a 405 WCF for long stuff and a 50-70 for up close.

Good hunting!

February 6, 2012, 11:33 AM
I'd go with the .30-06 or 7mm Mag...either is fine. .270 would do as well.

All of the info I have read on the 6.5 Grendel suggests it can't even touch the .270 ballistically. Seems to me like anything over 300 yards even on a White-tail would be pushing the 6.5 Grendel's limit except for well practiced marksmen.

6.5 Grendel with a 120 gr. bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2500fps
.270 Winchester with 130 gr. bullet at a muzzle velocity of 3000fps

The Grendel has already dropped below 1000 ft-lb at 300 yards and dropped over 30 inches

The .270 is retaining over 1000 ft-lb up to 500 yards

February 6, 2012, 11:57 AM
All will get the job done, but the 7mmMag does it better than any.

February 6, 2012, 01:08 PM
The 7 mag has the better ballistics. But if you shoot the 30-06 or 270 better that is the one I'd take. At the ranges where most shooting actually happens either will work equally well. At extended ranges the 7 mag offers better energy and flatter trajectory.

Lets put it this way. The 30-06 or 270 has what it takes to hit and kill elk at 500 yards if you have the shooting skills to do it and if your rifle is accurate enough.

The 7 mag will give you another 100-150 yards or so of effective range assuming you and the rifle are up to the task.

At 400 yards or less no elk will ever know the difference. Since you are used to the Sako and probably shoot it better, I'd be tempted to use it. The 30-06 will likely be lighter to carry up and down the mountains as well. If you shoot your grandfathers 7 mag and find you shoot it as well or better then use it if you want. Same with the 270

Recoil between the 7 mag and 30-06 is virtually the same so that shouldn't be a factor. The 270 will likely have sligtly less recoil.

The .270 is retaining over 1000 ft-lb up to 500 yards

A general guideline is for a cartridge to still have around 1500 ft lbs of energy for elk. A 270 loaded with good aerodynamic 150 gr bullets starting at 3000 fps will have over 1500 ft lbs at 500 yards. A 30-06 with good bullets starting at 2800 fps will as well. The 7 mag will have over 1700 at 500 yards and will not drp below 1500 until around 650 yards.

Do some research, pick the best bullets for either caliber, practice and see which you shoot best and use that one.

February 6, 2012, 01:25 PM
Elk calibers vary wildy, some swear the 243 is all you need others swear that you need 338 win mag power to put them down cleanly, I am no expert on elk so I asked the best elk hunter (and gunsmith) I know we sides with the 300 win mag though the 7mm rem mag is not far behind. Now mind you he hunts WIDE open country 200-400 yard shots if you hunt heavly wooded land the 150gr 270, 180gr 308/30-06 should be plenty up close.
300WSM and 270 WSM are darn near interchangabel with the 300 Win mag and 7mm Rem mag if you are into the short mags.

February 6, 2012, 01:48 PM
This is all really good info. I like the fact that you guys are providing actual range data to back up your selections. I usually get...

"Use the 30-06"


"Because its what I use"

That doesn't help.

I am a good shot (Not trying to brag). I do a lot of long range shooting with various calibers and set ups. I am not new to reloading or anything like that. However, all of my long range stuff has been at targets and we all know that something with a pulse is far different than shooting a piece of paper. It sounds like most people are in agreement that the 7mm and the 30-06 are up to the task as well as the 270 as a close runner up. I have looked around and it seems like most people say that 180 gr minimum for the 30-06 and a 162 minimum for the 7mm is adequate for elk. Currently I shoot 168 out of my 30-06 and have a boat load of 150's for my 7mm. A few hours at the reloading press and a few hours at the range will tell the tale. Thank you guys. I am open to any other bits of wisdom you are willing to share!

February 6, 2012, 01:58 PM
Any of the calibers you mentioned will do just fine, but remember you still have to put it in the boiler room. An elk's vitals are a little smaller than a white tail deer so you need to be aware of where you're hitting.
That said, that will also define how far of a shot you want to take. Shots out to 400 yards are not uncommon, but can you hit something that far out with the first shot? Jack O'Connor used a .270 with 130 gr soft point. I won't shoot anything less that 150 grains.
So I guess you have to know your own limitations. Good Luck!

February 6, 2012, 01:59 PM
jmr40 ...A general guideline is for a cartridge to still have around 1500 ft lbs of energy for elk...

So a blackpowder charged 45-70 won't work beyond a few feet?

Resist Evil
February 6, 2012, 02:07 PM
I use 7mm Rem Mag for elk. I chose it because it shoots flat and hard at ranges at which I will take a shot. I have a simple mind and I like the fact that I don't have to be too concerned with hold over. I really like the Nosler Partition bullet at 160gr to get the job done. It has not yet failed to render pronghorn, deer, and elk into a food prep workstation. I'll probably use this round for hunting elk until somebody comes along with a cartridge that'll gut it and skin it at the same time.

February 6, 2012, 02:18 PM
I use a .338 win mag for elk. None have run off. In fact, most go about 2' vertically. Among your rifles, I would take the 7 mag. A lot of shots are very long across canyons during the rifle season. Get a laser range finder and learn how to use the reticle of your scope to make shots out to 400 or 500 yards. Practice at these ranges. Work up max loads with bullets tough enough for hunting and high ballistic coefficient.

With practice, you can get very accurate at long distance, but there is a lot more to it than punching paper at 100 yards. I will shoot to 400 yards but not if there is much wind.

One of my buddies got a Savage 7mag with a Huskemaw scope on it and shoots VLD loads calibrated to the scope. An amazing piece of equipment, but overkill for what I do. He hunts mule deer in the huge sage flats along the Nevada border.

February 6, 2012, 02:19 PM
jmr40 ...A general guideline is for a cartridge to still have around 1500 ft lbs of energy for elk...

So a blackpowder charged 45-70 won't work beyond a few feet?

Actually that round would be good for 1500 ft lbs to at least 100 yards.

Said it was a general guideline, not set in stone. Killing an elk or any other animal is quite easily done if you poke holes through the lungs. Ft lbs of energy is 1 way, but not the only way to help predict how well that will happen. With modern, high velocity rounds like we have been discussing 1500 ft lbs is probably enough energy to get a quality bullet enough penetration to do it's work.

An old school 45-70, muzzle loaders, arrows, and many other rounds still need to poke holes through the animals lungs to get the job done. But there is more than 1 way to accomplish this goal.

February 6, 2012, 07:43 PM
Tell us more about the rifles. Weights, scopes, stocks, etc

February 6, 2012, 07:51 PM
They'll all take elk, I say use the one you like best, and bring two of them just in case. The 7mag and the '06 pack more punch than the other two and elk are big, but that 270 will do the job if you want to use that.

February 6, 2012, 08:01 PM
anything from 270 wsm to 338 win mag should be fine. I like 7mm rem mag myself. This loaded with barnes x bullets in 150gr flavor should be great. Or some hornady gmx.

Resist Evil
February 6, 2012, 08:21 PM
Tell us more about the rifles. Weights, scopes, stocks, etc
My Win model 70, 7mm Rem Mag, stainless, synthetic, BOSS barrel weight/muzzle brake combo, Trijicon 3-9x 40mm scope, nylon sling with pad and three rounds on board weighs a solid nine pounds. I just weighed it on the bathroom scale, so I would expect some inexactitude. Now, I would love this package more iffin it weighed as much as my old Nylon 66 did with fourteen rounds on board.

February 6, 2012, 08:29 PM
7mm Rem Mag - Model 700 BDL or CDL, not sure which. pretty standard set up. Nikon Monarch, bedded, floated, etc... However the barrel does say "Stainless Steel" on it, which I found interesting because I don't think too many of those are blued stainless. 24" barrel. Wooden stock, somewhat hefty overall.

Sako 85 Hunter Stainless 30-06 - Pretty much off the shelf. It comes pretty well decked out so I didn't feel I needed to do much to it. Other than throw a Nikon Monarch on top of it. Wooden stock, fairly lightweight.

270 - Pretty much identical to the 7mm Mag.

February 6, 2012, 08:30 PM
Top choice for me would be the 7 Mag with some sturdy or very sturdy bullets in 150-175 grain range.

Second choice would be the -06 with sturdy bullets in the 150-180 grain range.

I also have recently aquired my grandfather's old Rem 700 in 7 Mag. I used it to take a smallish bull in 2010. Very rewarding.

February 6, 2012, 08:31 PM
You are going on your first Elk hunt & you own a Sako model 85 in 30-06 that you use for deer & are familiar with. You also inherited a Remington 7mm Magnum that you've never fired a shot through. I'd take the Sako that you have had more practice shooting. A Sako rifle chambered in 30-06 is both accurate & powerful enough to kill Elk so long as you can do your part in bullet placement.

February 6, 2012, 09:13 PM
we all know that something with a pulse is far different than shooting a piece of paper

Yes, but for a lot of us that's the only practice we can get. I will never shoot at a whitetail beyond 150 yards where I hunt. It's just the terrain.

If you have time to put a lot of rounds through your 7mm and you are comfortable with it then either the 7mm or the .30-06 would be good choices. I'd say go with whatever rifle you are most comfortable with. A 7mm might be better on paper, but realistically it won't put you at much of an advantage vs the .30-06.

February 6, 2012, 09:28 PM
If your 7 mag says "stainless" and has a blued finish it is somewhat rare. Some of the first 7 mags made came that way and they changed to blued steel later. I think that was 1st year production only. It would be BDL, since the CDL,s are a fairy recent stock design.

Honestly, unless you are capable of making the really long shots where the 7 mag would be an advantage I'd take the Sako. You're used to it, it is your everyday hunting gun and more than capable.

February 6, 2012, 09:57 PM
In the past 15 years, I guess Elk have grown Kevlar skin! I don't see any advantage whatsoever of the 7mm mag over the .30/06 at ranges 400 yards and below. With all these super duper magnums people "think" they can now go out and fire on live game at 800 yards and believe that the "magical" magnum will be able to do all the work for them. I've taken many Elk with the venerable old .30/06 with absolutely no problems whatsoever.

Take the rifle you are most familiar and confident with. Get within a reasonable range or let it walk. Sure, practice with the 7mm Mag and get reasonably comfortable with it but take it along for a backup rifle as that is ALWAYS a good idea when out of state hunting.

February 8, 2012, 10:25 AM
the .270, 7mm and 30-06 will be fine. The elk is a big animal... but not armoured. it is a bit bigger than a lowland red deer. try for a heavier bullet delivered into the right area. the thing with the heavier bullet is that it has a higher sectional density which will enable it punch hard and deep. Dont chase the super velocity with lighter bullets. Your bullet choice is important. Many will recomend ballistic tip type rounds, not me. i would suggest a partition, a hot cor or an interlock. solid performers

February 8, 2012, 10:46 AM
If you don't handload, Federal loads a 7 mag in their premium line, or did some years back, I guess they still do, with a 160 Nosler Partition. This would be my factory load of choice for an elk hunt. My Savage 110 puts 'em into 1 MOA, danged good shootin' rifle. I don't own, nor do I need no stinkin' 06. :D Hell, my .308 shoots nearly as hard as any 06 and I could make Flintknapper's argument that I can kill anything with my .308 that I could with an ought six. If I'm going elk hunting, though, I'll tend to my 7 mag because I have it, it's powerful, and I shoot it well. I've taken a number of whitetail and mulie out in West Texas and New Mexico with it, never took it elk hunting, but if I ever do get to go, it'll be my rifle of choice. Would the .308 work? Sure, I'm sure it would.

February 8, 2012, 10:28 PM
Between the 7 Mag, the '06 & the 270, assuming they all shoot well with a heavy for caliber premium bullet I'd take whichever one is lightest. Trust me, you have this base covered & it's time to start thinking about the plethora of other things you'll need to put together to make the hunt a success. I'd also take whatever scope you have that's the best in low light & mount it on the chosen rifle.

February 9, 2012, 06:26 PM
Thank you guys for all the info. I will be taking the 30-06 and the 7mm. I have plenty of time to spend at the range and the reloading bench to prepare. Which ever I feel most comfortable will be my go to rifle.

Right now I am testing a 180 gr barnes tsx in 30 cal and a 160 gr partition and barnes tsx in 7mm.

That was interesting to read about the stainless in the 700. I will have to look deeper into this.

February 9, 2012, 07:04 PM
That is either painted or some sort of protective finish. I can see bubbly looking stuff on the barrel finish in that picture.

February 9, 2012, 08:54 PM
It has a pretty healthy coating of RIG on it because its been in storage for a looooong time. It really looks like its blued to me, but stamped stainless. Not sure if thats even possible.

February 9, 2012, 10:30 PM
Oh OK. Wipe that stuff off and take another pic. I'd like to see the actual finish on it and may be able to tell from it what type of finish it actually is.

February 9, 2012, 10:50 PM
The 30 cal 180gr TSX is my elk-in-the-freezer bullet. Make sure to load it .050" off the lands. To be honest if I was starting over I might use the 165 TSX instead.

February 9, 2012, 11:30 PM
GJgo, Loading .050, or any other measurement, off the lands is one of the most barrel specific things there is in reloading. I have several rifles of the same cartridge and most all of them are different. Some like them loaded right on the lands while others like them a good bit back. There are way to many variables to it than to say .050 off the lands will be perfect for every .30cal.

February 10, 2012, 10:02 PM
Freedom fighter, it has nothing to do with the 30 cal diameter or with anyone's gun. It has to do with the TSX. You start .050" off with them & go from there, but it's usually good to go IME. If you load them too close to the lands you'll probably have a bad experience with them, trying to warn the guy against that.
Do I seat TSX bullets .030 inch to .070 inch from the lands, starting at .050 inch off the lands, as recommended with other X-style bullets?
Yes. All-copper TSX Bullets typically give better accuracy when seated off the lands and grooves (the rifling in the barrel).

February 12, 2012, 12:27 PM
Get within a reasonable range or let it walk. I agree. I no longer do much shooting at extended ranges. I now limit myself to around 600 yards unless I need to reduce the distance due to a light for species caliber.

February 16, 2012, 01:11 AM
I'd take the one I shoot best, and the next best for backup.

If you enjoyed reading about "Best Round for the application (Elk)" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!