Elk Cartridge: 6.5x55SE; 7mm-08; or 7mm Rem Mag


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Hammer-52
December 9, 2013, 09:12 PM
Okay, so next fall I'll do my first Elk hunt here in North Idaho. I'm told shots are 100-450 yards. I'm good with the SE and the 7mm-08 to 250-300. The 7mm Rem Mag is new to me (I'll take it out this week). I plan to practice every week and work to extend the ranges I can RELIABLY hit an 8in plate. I will NOT shot anything beyond a range I know I can hit.

So, the question is what caliber would folks suggest I use?

Thanks in advance.

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35Remfan
December 9, 2013, 09:20 PM
7mm08 should work just fine. Certainly you will gain distance with the 7mm Rem Mag but at the cost of recoil. Shoot it and if it is tolerable than go with the Mag.

I would personally take the rifle you already are familiar with. If that is the 7mm08 than that is what I would take.

You may gain another hundred yards if your a good enough shot but if your not than you really aren't gaining anything other than recoil and a heavier rifle.

twofifty
December 9, 2013, 09:36 PM
Okay, so next fall I'll do my first Elk hunt here in North Idaho. I'm told shots are 100-450 yards. I'm good with the SE and the 7mm-08 to 250-300. The 7mm Rem Mag is new to me (I'll take it out this week). I plan to practice every week and work to extend the ranges I can RELIABLY hit an 8in plate. I will NOT shot anything beyond a range I know I can hit.

So, the question is what caliber would folks suggest I use?

Thanks in advance.
liking your attitude: practice + ethics

Takem406
December 9, 2013, 09:40 PM
I'd use the 7 mag. In your title you say you have a 6.5x55. I'd go either of those before the 7-08.

MCgunner
December 9, 2013, 10:12 PM
Practice with that 7 mag. You'll like it. :D Only thing I don't like about mine is that it's a big, heavy rifle to carry in rough country. I'd rather be shooting it, though, on something like elk. All I've taken with mine is deer, one mulie across a New Mexico canyon and a few whitetail in the trans pecos of West Texas. I bought it thinkin' I'd get to go elk hunting when all I had was a .257 Roberts at the time. The elk hunt never happened, but the rifle and cartridge is impressive. Reports of its massive, inhumane recoil are greatly exaggerated. It ain't THAT bad even off the bench, not any worse than the .30-06 everyone on this board thinks is the cat's meow.

jmr40
December 10, 2013, 10:45 AM
At ranges out to about 300 yards I doubt any elk would know the difference as long as you use good premium bullets. The 7 mag won't kill em any deader at 300 or less, but will make hits and clean kills possible much farther away.

Do you reload and have access to a chronograph?

A 7 mag looks real good on paper, but often don't live up to published numbers. I've had a couple and recoil is just about the same as 30-06. If you can actually get the published speeds the better 7mm bullets shoot flat and offer good energy and performance at longer ranges.

I couldn't get performance any better than 30-06 from all of the factory loads in the 7 mag I owned. And I had to really push handloads to get advertised speeds. But if you can get a quality 160 gr bullet up to around 3000 fps you have an excellent long range elk gun with very tolerable recoil.

That load by the way has slightly less energy than a 180 gr 300 mag load at ranges under 400 yards. But after about 400 the more aereodynamic 160 gr 7mm bullet has both flatter trajectory and more energy than the 300's. And does it with less recoil.

Ankeny
December 10, 2013, 11:11 AM
I'm told shots are 100-450 yards. Without getting into the whole long range shooting ethics debate, 450 yards is a pretty good poke for a 6.5x55 or a 7mm-08 unless you have some spot on dope. I have shot elk with all three cartridges and a 7mm mag with a good 160-168 grain bullet scooting right along offers more in terms of preformance. The magnums are more forgiving as far as slight miscalculations for wind drift, uphil/downhill, and errors in yardage.

FWIW, my primary long range rifle is a 6.5-284 and my light rifle (for packing around) is a 7mm-08. But I am no longer interested in shooting mature bulls and I have no problem walking away from a less than ideal shot. The best option for a 350+ bull at 450 yards the 7mm mag leads the pack of the choices you listed.

Skyshot
December 11, 2013, 10:49 PM
If you can get a good 160 gr. bullet at least 2900 fps. you should be good to go with the 7mag. A 200yd. zero will put you at around -20. inches drop at 400 yards. Have a good range finder because you have another -20 inches of drop out to 500 yards. You want to make that first poke count! After you get the gun grouping, practice from hunting conditions prone and sitting. Good luck.

Hammer-52
December 12, 2013, 01:06 AM
Thanks for all the great feed back!

Was supposed to be at the range to check out the 7mm Rem Mag but instead had to wait around for the roof guy to check a leak. Next chance is Saturday. I've got Fusion 175gr and Hornady 154gr SST to try. We'll see how it goes.

GJgo
December 12, 2013, 11:22 PM
I've seen a number of elk taken by my hunting buddy with a 7mm-08 & 140gr TSX, however we both agree that somewhere around 250-300yds is about the longest poke that should be attempted.

Fusions & SSTs are both non-bonded deer bullets. Personally I'd want something tougher.

Don McDowell
December 13, 2013, 01:00 AM
Any of those cartridges will and do regularly take elk and do so cleanly, even with the boring century old technology of cup and core bullets..
Take the rifle YOU have the most self confidence in and experience with.

Ankeny
December 13, 2013, 10:16 AM
Take the rifle YOU have the most self confidence in and experience with. That's some good advice. Still, FWIW I would rather use a my old 7mm Mag than my 7mm-08 on a 350 class bull at 450 yards. Would a 7mm-08 or 6.5x55 kill that same bull at that yardage? Yup.

Don McDowell
December 13, 2013, 10:29 AM
Well looking at ballistic tables and having used the 7 mag, and the 7x57, when you get past 300 yds the difference starts to be inconsequential. Not to mention whether or not the trigger yanker has what it takes to dope the wind and account for the bullet drop well enough to put the bullet where it belongs in a hunting situation.
350 class bull? Only on tv, real world tells us 60% of elk hunters go home every year without filling their tag, most of those probably never had reason to take the safety off, and the ones that did fill their tag probably shot a cow, spike, raghorn or similar..
Not to mention that by the time most rifle seasons roll around the bulk of the "350" class bulls have lost so much body condition from their lack of feeding during the rut, that they may actually weigh less than a 3year old 5x...

interlock
December 13, 2013, 05:21 PM
i have killed a lot of lowland red deer stags (up to 35 stone) ... big animals with 7mm08 loaded with speer 145 gr hot cor rounds. A shot through the pocket will punch hard.
7mm has some good ballistic properties. Don't overlook it. 400 yards is rangey. but with good range judging and a ballistics table or strelok on your phone... not an issue.

interlock

(speaking from real world deer killing experience)

The_Armed_Therapist
December 13, 2013, 05:53 PM
If your 7mm mag shoots well, and you shoot it well, then you may as well use that one. I wouldn't feel out of my league with the 7mm-08, though. The 6.5 can obviously do the job, but with the -08, it's the lesser choice.

Ankeny
December 14, 2013, 12:18 PM
350 class bull I am talking about going as prepared as possible for the trophy of a lifetime. I have only shot 3 dozen or so elk, and on those occasions when I was still "trophy" hunting, I was glad to have the gear, knowledge, and skills to shoot some darned big bulls at extended yardage. Our season opens on October 9th and our mature bulls are still in good shape. I subscibe to the philosophy of using as much gun (within reason) as you can handle. Of course the worst of all worlds is for a hunter to be overgunned to the point of yank and flinch.

As far as the difference between a 7mm-08 and a 7mm RM being "inconsequential" past 300 yards, that's kind of subjective. Using the loads my brother uses in his 7mm-08 (140 Accubond) vs. the load he uses in his 7mm RM (168 VLD) there is "some" difference. Using a 200 yard zero, the 7mm-08 has 41.2 inches of drop, 15.3 inches of wind drift (10 mph) and 1347 ft lbs of energy. His 7mm RM has 40.4 inches of drop, 10.4 inches of wind drift, and 2140 ft lbs of energy. To me, 5 inches less wind drift and an additional 793 ft. lbs. is nice to have. In fact, the 7mm RM has the same energy at 950 yards as the 7mm-08 has at 500 yards. Is that inconsequential? Maybe so.

The 6.5 can obviously do the job, but with the -08, it's the lesser choice. Unless you reload for a modern rifle.

Vol46
December 14, 2013, 01:33 PM
7 mm Rem Mag

oneounceload
December 14, 2013, 01:58 PM
I have a 7msg, 7-08, and 6.5x55. For elk, I liked to use a 7mag with a Nosler 160 partition; was second best in accuracy behind a Sierra 160, but not by enough to matter on an elk-sized animal. My 7-08 likes 140 gr bullets better and my Swede 120s when it came to accuracy

Don McDowell
December 14, 2013, 10:49 PM
Ankeny best I can tell you is that in over 50 years of elk hunting, both as a hunter, and on looker and licensed professional hunter herder, the number of 350 class bulls I've seen hanging on the meat pole could be counted with one hand, and the most of those were shot with 243's and 257 Roberts.
If, and that's a big IF the intended yanker of the trigger can handle the recoil and muzzle blast from a magnum of any flavor then that's just great.
But for someone who is not as experienced with the flinchmaster, to leave behind a rifle he/she has a great deal of experience and confidence in for a " new rifle" maybe not such a hot idea.
Especially if one uses a bit of what history has shown us, in that a bullet with moderate velocity and sectional density running .250 or more will plow thru an elk at any and all sensible ranges.

witchhunter
December 15, 2013, 12:05 AM
I want the power of the Magnum for an elk sized animal. Not all shots are broadside double lung shots, like on the tv shows. Plus time of flight on a moving target. I'm with oneounceload. 7Mag, Nosler Partitions, shoot a lot and know your ballistics.

IdahoLT1
December 15, 2013, 03:47 AM
The Fusion and SSTs are good deer bullets but wouldn't be my choice for elk. You might not run into any issues using those bullets on a broadside shot but if the elk is quartering towards or away from you, it would be wise to have a heavy, bonded bullet to penetrate the shoulder and heavy bone to reach the vitals.

My votes on 7mm mag.

interlock
December 15, 2013, 10:01 AM
It is true, for sure, that not all shots are broadside from the manual shots. Discipline is important. If the shot is marginal don't take it. It is better to come home empty handed than wound an animal

Ankeny
December 15, 2013, 10:22 AM
But for someone who is not as experienced with the flinchmaster, to leave behind a rifle he/she has a great deal of experience and confidence in for a " new rifle" maybe not such a hot idea.
Especially if one uses a bit of what history has shown us, in that a bullet with moderate velocity and sectional density running .250 or more will plow thru an elk at any and all sensible ranges. I totally agree, depending on what the OP would consider a "sensible" distance. The OP has indicated a willingness to practice with his 7mm for a year to extend his range. For some hunters, with the right gear and the right skill set, under ideal conditions, 600 yards might be a reasonable distance. In that case, the magnum would be my choice. FWIW, I would take both rifles (need a back up anyway) and make the decision based upon terrain and comfort levels after I got there.

Don McDowell
December 15, 2013, 02:47 PM
When I see the direction some of these elk rifle threads take, I always get a chuckle and remember back a ways.
There were 2 hunters in camp both had 6x6 bulls on the meat pole, each had used 3 shots. Shooter #1 used a 270 with 150 gr Winchester super x factory loads and was a veteran of many an elk hunt. Shooter #2 was fresh in from California on his first elk hunt and was fully equipped with a 300 Wby and nosler partitions. Shooter #2 went on and on about how much better his rifle worked for elk and so forth. Finally after a while Shooter #1 pointed at the quarters hanging there, and asked "so which one of these elk do you think is the deadest" and walked off. Shooter 2 got a blank stare on his face and walked back to the cook tent , that was the last we heard about how much better the 300 was than a 270 on that trip.

Ankeny
December 15, 2013, 04:12 PM
Don:

Before I started hunting elk in the wide open country, I never even considered a magnum rifle. My goodness, the numbers of elk that my dad, my brothers, and myself killed with .270s and 30-06's. Back in the 1970's we did consider the .257 Roberts marginal, but with the bullets available today even the .250 Savage and .257 Roberts will dispatch an elk cleanly at what you call "sensible distances" with a decent hit.

When I became fortunate enough to be able to shoot a bull and an additional cow within an hour from my house, I used a 30-06 for years. Then I started extending the ranges out of necessity due to terrain. I have taken many elk beyond 400 yards. That's when I stepped it up a notch. I went to a 30-338 until I got tired of the recoil, then I dropped back to a 7mm Rem. Mag.

When I shot the barrel out of the 7mm Mag (trying for the 1000 yard club on p-dogs) I stepped back to a 6.5x55 Swede in a Sako rifle shooting 140 grain Accubonds. The cartridge worked fine out to the longest shot I took, 300-350 yards. I then went to a long range set up on a factory rifle (Savage) in 6.5-284 just for fun. The rifle has a 24 inch barrel (what was Savage thinking) and I can only get the same velocities as I got out of the 6.5x55. In both guns I use Lapua brass and load them plenty warm. I have shot several elk between 350 and 450 yards with the 6.5-284. The rifle works well and so would a modern rifle in 6.5x55 using hand loads.

The rifle I now use for the majority of my hunting, unless I am pushing the distance, is a 7mm-08 with 120 grain Barnes TTSX bullets. I have only shot a handful of cows with that rifle, out to around 300 yards, and all have been complete pass throughs in the boiler room. Dead as a wedge. I think any thing in the lines of a 25-06, .260 Rem, 6.5x55, 7x57, .270, 7mm-08, .280, etc. is enough rifle for elk hunting, if the hunter is willing to only take a decent shot at sensible distances. Truth be known, many elk hunters really are over gunned for the job...but there is no such thing as too dead.

Still, I do recommend a larger caliber for those hunters who want to shoot at extended distances. As a guide, I know that it is darned hard to get a client to pass on that trophy of a lifetime if he tknows he can make the shot. It's also hard to get a client to pass on a quartering shot if they feel the critter is going to get away. Yeah, I know a bad hit on an elk is a bad hit whether it's with a .250 Savage or a .375 H&H. I just feel like if a person is competent with a magnum rifle, they might as well stack the odds in their favor. For the most part, I think we are probably pretty much on the same page.

Don McDowell
December 15, 2013, 08:53 PM
If a person is going to shoot past the mpr of most centerfire hunting rounds a range finder is an absolute must. It's amazing how many 450 yd shots are quite a bit closer to 300, and not many folks really realize just how small an elk really looks at near half mile, aka the 800 yd shot.

Ankeny
December 16, 2013, 10:42 AM
Not only is a rangefinder a must, an accurate, reliable way to correct for elevation is required, whether it be dialing the turret or a well doped reticle. I shoot so much and steel and so many varmints at long range that I tend to under estimate the distance on elk.

chas08
December 18, 2013, 12:30 AM
300 or less the 08 is all you'll need! At 450 the 7mm Mag. would be the better choice rifle wise. I 'd go with the one that I'm most familiar with and is lighter to carry and just try to get closer. I own both calibers in a Rem.700 platform. The 08 is my favorite of the two, and it's a lot lighter to carry!

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