Best 30-06 round for Elk?


Northslope Nimrod
August 17, 2004, 05:15 PM
I don't care on the price but I do want to get SOME benefits for paying more. I prefer 180 grain. Here are my questions.

What is the best round in 30-06 for taking elk at close distances (30 yards to 250 yards)? (obviously need good expansion but not too fast) Why?

What is the best round in 30-06 for taking elk at long distances (400 to 500 yards)? Why?

Also, what technique should I use in making long distance shots? (mil dots, elevated turrets on the scope) Right now I just guess and hold it over. I don't really want to buy a range finder.

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Art Eatman
August 17, 2004, 05:31 PM
All I know about elk shooting is from reading, but the 180-grain idea seems to be the wise thing. Elk have heavier bones and thicker hides than deer, plus there is just more meat between the hide and the heart/lungs. So, the greater penetration is a Good Thing. And they don't always pose real purty, sideways to you.

Sighting in for 2" high at 100 yards means dead on at 200 and 6" low at 300, as near as makes no nevermind. Then, about two feet low at 400 and four feet low at 500.

For all practical purposes, around 300 yards oughta be the limit for elk with the '06, unless you're really, really married up to your rifle and its characteristics. Beyond 300 you're gonna start losing performance as to expansion, for one thing--which to me means more precision is needed in aiming. Precision, then, is a function of knowing the range fairly close.

If I know in advance that I might need to take a shot beyond 300, I'm gonna go with a laser rig. Most likely it'll take less time and be more reliable than twiddling with the knobs on a scope. Twiddling knobs if your hands are cold and in gloves strikes me as a Significant Problem. :)

And that's about all I know about elks and oughtsixes...

:), Art

August 17, 2004, 06:07 PM
Most of the premium bullets are pretty good. I like the Barnes X bullet.

"Right now I just guess and hold it over. I don't really want to buy a range finder."

Please, do the elk a favor and buy a rangefinder and practice a lot, or pass up those shots over 300 yards or so.


Harve Curry
August 17, 2004, 06:22 PM
180gr and the Barnes X bullet. It holds together. I haven't seen other ones work, they are probably good as well.

August 17, 2004, 09:16 PM
What is the best round in 30-06 for taking elk at close distances (30 yards to 250 yards)? (obviously need good expansion but not too fast) Why?


Here goes..
One of the very best bullets for short or long rnge Elk hunting is the 180gr BarnesX It expands rapidly but does not over expand then it penetrates like a diamond tipped drill. I use them quite often. great bullets.

What is the best round in 30-06 for taking elk at long distances (400 to 500 yards)? Why?

See the above. the barnes has some of the best Ballistic coeficients in the business they are a very flighty, flat shooting long range bullet. However 400yards is WAYYY tio far to be popping away at elk. Especially with a .30/06.

See below.

Also, what technique should I use in making long distance shots? (mil dots, elevated turrets on the scope) Right now I just guess and hold it over. I don't really want to buy a range finder.

Long range shots can be and are made on elk, however... The one thing that any long range shooter needs is precise ranging. If you are shooting at a target and you guess it to be 425 yards but you miss guessed it by a mere 50 yards you are going to miss the whole target. the further the target the the more crittical exact range estimation becomes because the bullet starts to drop at expoential rate at longer ranges.

Everyone is alwayas talking about that "500 yard" cross canyon shot. But I'm here to tell that hundreds of elk are wounded and or missed due to these reckless "hunters" taking these 400yard+ hail Mary shots. Unless you've got your stuff wired extremely tight you're really just pissin in the wind at this kind of range.

A very respected rifleman once said in regards to shots at game "If you can't get within 300yards of your prey. There's notting wrong with your rifle it's your hunting skills that need some attention".

Now having said that I'm guilty of the occasional cross canyon express but If Idon't know the range..The exact range (read range finder) I won't take the shot.

Harve Curry
August 17, 2004, 10:09 PM
H&H is right. Don't take a long shot like 400 yards on elk and not be sure where your bullet is hitting exactly. Gettin sketchy with 30-06:
If your 180gr bullet has a muzzle velocity of 2600fps, at 300 yards it'll be about 2100fps, at 400 yards about 1900fps. At that velocity and accuracy error factor the odds are wounded elk. Then ask your self if you can hit inside a soccer ball everytime at 400 yards, thats about the size of the kill area on elk.
Range finders have come down a bunch in price and have gotten better in quality as well.

August 17, 2004, 11:27 PM
I've never hunted elk, but I've killed black bear and deer w/180 gr Nosler Partitions using a .30-06. My dad has used that bullet on whitetail and mule deer, elk, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, black and brown bear (incl. both Kodiak and AK coastal browns) and pronghorn, in .either .270, .300 Win Mag or .375 H&H, depending upon the species in question.

We like Partitions. It is the oldest kid on the block, tho.

August 18, 2004, 09:00 AM
Pretty hard to beat Nosler Partitions and 400 yards is a long, LONG ways with any rifle.


Art Eatman
August 18, 2004, 05:14 PM
A story on myself, about this long distance stuff. This was, I dunno, maybe thirty years or so ago. Old Pet was then a younger pet. 26" barrel, 150-grain Sierra SPBTs at around 3,000 ft/sec. Leupold 3x9.

I spotted a buck and a doe having a serious discussion about what bucks and does do. Well, he was serious, anyway. I figured they were out about 400 yards or so, across a small valley. Maybe 100 feet of relief from top to bottom...

So, I held what I thought was about four feet above the heart, and allowed maybe two feet left for windage. The buck was broadside, facing to my left.

I let fly. And let fly. And let fly. Nada. Zilch. Fourth shot, he picked up his left hind foot and sniffed. "Duh?" I asks myself. I let fly. And again. I kept getting more and more elevation, but that didn't bother Mr. Buck. Eight shots, total, and he didn't even seem to think the gnats were bad.

The doe left him, and he turned and came a bit downhill toward me. After a bit he stopped, facing me, and posed quite prettily with his head up. I laid the crosshairs just above his horns; shot, and he collapsed.

I'd center-punched him low in the chest, right through the lower part of his heart.

So, I'm guessing this fandango started out around 550 yards or so, and ended somewhere around 450 at most or maybe 400. The toe-sniff? A bullet had somehow dropped in between the toes of that hoof. Just a graze. But it was a bullet drop of about six feet below the horizontal crosshair, and a wind drift of maybe five feet.

Call it a learning experience: Don't get stoopid. :D


August 19, 2004, 01:58 PM
I settled on a 180 Nosler Partition for large game in my .30/06. It's accounted for deer, impala, zebra, kudu, etc., and its performance has always been very satisfying. If you can place your shot properly - let me repeat, with emphasis - if you can place your shot properly - I have no doubt it will down an elk at 500 yards.

At longer ranges, it's not so much terminal performance that costs game, its substandard shot placement. Or bad judgement in taking the shot; there's a world of difference between a broadside heart/lung shot and a shot at the south end of a northbound critter.

As for the Barnes X - I've heard good things about terminal performance, but they just don't shoot well in my rifle. (3" - 4" groups at 100 yards!)

August 20, 2004, 10:40 AM
I use the Federal High Energy loads with the 180 grain Nosler Partition for moose, brown bears, and large caribou. Everything from average sized caribou, sheep, black bear, sitka blacktails and down get zapped with a Federal standard velocity 150 grain pill( I think Federal uses Speer Grand Slams in this load now). Keeps the sight settings simple. ;)

August 20, 2004, 04:09 PM
I have shot exactly one elk with a .30-06.
I would estimate the range to have been under 100 yards (75?).
I shot it with a 180 grain Nosler Partition once broadside through the chest and a seond time through the spine as it was trying to climb a hill (I didn't want to see it suffer - it was trying to climb but it's legs were answering the helm). Both shots went clear through with nice expansion.

A story about long shots. I was elk hunting in Colorado with a rifle. I met another guy who had hunted that area for many years who was bow hunting and volunteered to show me his faviorite old rifle spots. We were sitting on a hillside and you could probably see for 50 miles. He pointed out a spot where he had shot at several elk that he missed several years earlier. This year he had a rangefinder and found that he had been trying to shoot at something over 800 YARDS !!!!. He had estimated the range at closer to 400 yards.
Moral to the story: this guy was an experienced hunter. I would say he was very experienced. On that particular day, he estimated the range and was off by over 100%. I have my own theory on this. He came from back east, the south east and probably wasn't used to the wide open country of the west.
Another story: I grew up in Ohio. I was stationed at Ft. Bliss Tx. I had never been in a place where you could see for many, many miles before. I was firing a 40 mm gun in the desert. I decided that it would be cool to fire a round into a mountain side off in the distance. I fired the round and it didn't make it half way to the mountainside. My range estimation was probably off by 20 miles.

If you are going to be taking long shots, you need two things. A very accurate distance to the target and knowlege of your precise sight settings for that range. And this doesn't even get into wind. 99.9% of hunters arn't up to it.

Smoke Rizen
August 21, 2004, 01:54 AM
Alot of good info. above. I'm partial to Noslers,but the Barnes has a great reputation.As for the long shots,400 is not the longest shot ever made,but keep in mind that Elk are tough.You can make a good hit on one and have him just walk on over the hill to lay down.You have to walk over and inspect the area where you took the shot, so you might as well walk closer before you take the shot. A friend of mine shot a bull at 375 yrds. two years ago. He was certain he had missed but I heard the hit so we walked up the hill to look. There was no blood and I was about ready to give up on my belief that I heard an impact when he spotted the elk,pilled up about 200yrds. farther up the hill in some buck brush. The bullet had entered behind the shoulder,alittle high,but a killing shot. Because of the distance the bullet had lost enough velosity that it didn't pass through and only made a small entry hole. There was no blood trail, and the elk had to walk that far before he bled out. So do the elk a favor,if you take a long shot make sure you missed. S. R.

August 22, 2004, 10:37 AM
I too use the Federal Premium High Energy rounds, but instead of the NP the are loaded with 180gr Trophy Bonded Rounds.

August 22, 2004, 02:51 PM
Federal 165 gr premiums. I understand these days they are loaded with Nosler partitions instead of the Sierra Game king, but this is VERY good ammo. The 165 has better long range power and accuracy, thanks to the boat tail design. I hand load my hunting loads, but off teh shelf Federal is top notch.

The only 'wonder bullet' I'd recommend is the Barnes 180 gr X bullet.

I'd pick an old fashioned Remington "CoreLokt" over a ballistic tip or Bronze point when it comes to big game.

I've killed an antelope at something liek 425 yards with that 165 gr load... but wow was that a LONG way off.

Distance shooting requires practice at shooting and estimating range.

August 22, 2004, 03:38 PM
Distance shooting requires practice at shooting and estimating range.

Dr Rob

I don't estimate any more I push the laser button...:)

My longest ever shot on any game animal was an bull elk at 443 lasered yards one calm fall afternoon. I hit him quatering away in the last rib and the bullet exited out the point of the off shoulder. (.375H&H 285gr grand slam). I knew I hit him because he ducked and kicked at the shot. But even with all that horse power he ran over the lip of a small depression and out of sight before he came crashing/sliding down the hill he standing on.

I do not recomend a 400 + yard shot on elk but if you just have to try it (As we all do at some point in our hunting careers)you need the skills and equipment to make it happen. I don't feel comfortable shooting at bull elk at over 300 yards with an 06. But that's just my thing it can and is done all the time.

My idea of a really cool shot on elk is one in the thick timber at about 10 yards. That's how I generally hunt them. To me there is no greater thrill in elk hunting than sneaking them in the thick stuff. The smell, the proximity, hearing them breaking limbs just ahead of you, having a cow answer your call at close range or catching that statue still bull amongst the blow downs. NOW that is exciting elk hunting!!:cool:

I'm getting the shivers just thinking about it. Only 2 more months to go!!!

August 26, 2004, 11:03 PM
Federal Premium 180gr Nosler Partitions have always done their part if I do mine- have never taken a shot over 250yds. Almost all of my shots with a 30-06 have been less than 200yds. Stalking is a skill that would give many more advantages and pleasure than a 500 +yd impersonal kill- OMO. I agree with H&H, deep timber hunting for elk with my guide gun is truly a fine hunt, far exceeds any other hunts in my experience. I started seriously hunting deep timber 2 yrs ago.:D

August 27, 2004, 07:32 AM
For close range theres nothing wrong with a 220 gr soft point bullet. I would not shoot at an elk at 400 yards with an 06.

August 27, 2004, 09:51 AM
Remington Core-lokt 180 grain. Shot just at 100 yards and didn't travel far.

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