A bullet question for the Elk Hunters

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by lightman, Jan 10, 2022 at 12:00 AM.

  1. lightman

    lightman Member

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    My youngest Son will be going on an Elk hunt this fall and will be taking my Sako 300 Winchester Magnum with a Leupold 3.5-10 scope. The Guide says shots from pretty close out to 400 yards are usual. What bullet would you'all recommend?

    I've never hunted Elk but I have good loads for this rifle using Sierra's 165 grain HPBT, Sierra's 180 grain flat base Pro Hunter and Berger's 190 grain VLD Hunting Bullet. I'm open to other suggestions if I can find any. Thanks in advance for the help.
     
  2. tominboise

    tominboise Member

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    A Nosler Partition would be a sound choice. As would any of the solid copper or other premium (bonded) bullet offerings. The bullets you list would probably work fine if placed correctly. If I was choosing among them, I would use the Sierra Pro Hunter.

    400 yards is a ways out there, regardless of what you see on TV, so it would help to practice on paper ahead of time and get some idea of the drop involved. Then write it on a piece of tape or something and put it on the stock.
     
  3. Aletheia

    Aletheia Member

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    If I think I need to get out my .300 Win, I want to use a good 200 grain bullet. Have a close look at the ballistic charts and you will find there is almost no advantage to lighter bullets that can't be compensated for by holding an inch or two higher at very long range, but the terminal performance of the 200 grain, especially on elk and moose sized animals, cannot be matched by lighter bullets. I have used Nosler Partitions for many years, and Accubonds lately, with no performance issues on game. I say it often: magnums are meant to shoot heavy for caliber bullets with trajectories that match the lighter bullets in smaller cases.
     
  4. old heeler

    old heeler Member

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    One of my 30-338 mag I use that Berger 185gr VLD and had good luck here in Co on bull tag. Myself I use that 190gr VLD and both are same except on weight. You could run Berger ballistic just change ALT to where son hunt see how close everything is
     
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  5. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    That one will work just fine. It's what I used to use in my own 300 Win Mag for mule deer and elk ("pretty close out to 400 yards"), and it's what I now use for mule deer and elk in my 308 Norma Mag - nearly identical ballistics to a 300 Win Mag.
    The truth is, I have not taken an elk with my 308 Norma Mag yet. But I'm sure the Sierra 165gr HPBT over 76.0grs of H4831 will work when I get the chance.
    Elk are not as big and tough as some people would have you believe. You put any reasonable bullet in one of their bread baskets, and he will go down. I get a kick out of some of these "What Cartridge or Bullet for Elk" threads. In one thread about 30 caliber cartridges, there are folks claiming you have to use a heavily constructed, 220gr bullet that would penetrate the "S" on Superman's chest, and then the next thread will be about using a 243 Win, or a 6.5 CM for elk hunting.
    I say this about it: Elmer Keith AND Jack O'Conner were both right.;)
     
  6. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I don't claim to be the most knowledgeable elk hunter, but I've been unsuccessful at it a couple of times. I chose 165 gr Accubonds in my 308. Those, or really any tougher than average bullet 165 gr and up would work I'd think. While not necessary, a good argument can be made for the 200 gr version if firing a 300 WM. Other than a bit more recoil there isn't really any disadvantage, and there might be some advantages on shots from odd angles. Not enough difference in trajectory to be an issue at 400 yards and the 200's carry a lot more speed and energy at longer ranges.

    IMO a 165-180 gr bullet is about as much as my 308 can handle. There are loads for 200 gr bullets, but you reach the point of diminishing returns at about 180 gr with 308. A 30-06 could handle 200's and they should be a great choice in a 300 WM. I had a 300 WSM for a time and the 200 gr Hormady ELD-X proved to be the most accurate.
     
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  7. lightman

    lightman Member

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    Thanks for the replys everyone!
     
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  8. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    I've only killed a couple elk, will be working on a 3rd in a couple years (buying PTs). I used Nosler partitions; 200 grain in an 8x68S and 225 grain in a .350RM. My 300WM has killed an elk in the hands of my FIL and it was loaded with Nosler 180 partitions. All 3 that I'm involved with were 1 shot kills.

    I'm beginning to gear up for a hunt in WY in 2023 and I'm planning on using my 300WM with 180ABs (190 AB LRs IF I can find them). The load will basically duplicate the 180 Partition load I had previously. I'll bring along the 350RM in case we end up doing the timber thing..it equals the 35W in a 7lb package.
     
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  9. illinoisburt

    illinoisburt Member

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    In my personal experience the old Winchester 180 grain super-x drops them dead, but that was years ago and bullets with pointed profiles have much better trajectory. That said, of the 3 listed I would stick with the 180 pro hunter. The Berger is very popular these days with the extreme long range crowd because it deforms and fragments at relatively low speeds way out yonder. There are plenty of reports of blow-ups under 100 yards when pushing magnum speeds. The opposite issue may exist with the HPBT. Sierra website specifically says it's made hard and needs 2500+ fps for reliable expansion so you may be chancing a needle-through past 300 yards. I really appreciate all the new bullets we have today but many of them are quite specialized compared to the older generation.
     
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  10. BreechFace

    BreechFace Member

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    300 Win Mag, if I were choosing a load for elk it would probably be the 200gr Nosler Partition.
     
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  11. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    I'd recommend 180 Partitions.

    I've read the recommendations for the 165 HPBT Gameking with some interest. I've used them for hunting deer and bear in PA for more than 50 years (I did gravitate to 165 Interlocks for a period in the middle of that span). They are effective in my experience and I've shot more game with those than anything else, but I never considered them to be something I'd use for elk. In fact, I started downloading them to 308/300 Savage velocities to keep from destroying so much meat. I did check the Sierra site, and they described it as "slightly harder than the spitzer boattail" which I never thought of as very stoutly constructed. I'd be afraid they would act like a grenade at 300 WM velocities.

    Plus the .363 BC is pretty anemic for those who consider such things.
     
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  12. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    They haven't in my experience.;)
     
  13. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    I generally use the factory 220 gr RNSP for elk in .30-06 and have experienced excellent performance. I also use the 225 gr Fusion in .338 Win Mag due to cost reasonableness in the pre-stupid era, but have not taken one with that load yet.
     
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  14. Kingcreek

    Kingcreek Member

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    I had a sierra 165 game king fail at 300WM velocities inside 100 yards and switched to 180gr partition. The accubonds should also perform well.
     
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  15. Larry in wyoming

    Larry in wyoming Member

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    I use 180gr Nosler etips in my 300 winmag. Elk just die when shot properly with them. I load the 165 acubond in my 308. Tough enough for elk, fragile enough for antelope.

    DONT OVER THINK IT!
     
  16. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    Guided hunt…so this ain’t an economy deal and probably spending several thousand dollars or more on this trip…would suck to come home empty handed.

    That said, agree that any decent 165gr or heavier hunting round will do the job, from a custom hand load to old school Remington Core-Locks.

    I’d suggest you figure out an accurate load for your gun first! Something you can do at least 1.5” at 100, and shoot it enough to to know where it’s hitting at 200, 300, and 400 yard.

    Then, get off the shooting table and shoot it from prone, from seated on the ground with shooting sticks, using a backpack for a rest, etc. chances are there won’t be any benches nearby for when you need to make a 350 yard shot uphill across a coulee.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2022 at 12:11 AM
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  17. lightman

    lightman Member

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    All of that is good advice, and I Thank You.

    The rifle is not a tack driver but shoots consistent 1 inch 5 shot groups. And it pretty well holds 1 MOA out to the distances that I have shot it at. I have shot the 3 bullets that I listed quite a bit and they all shoot well. The Berger is slightly more accurate but its the one I have the least experience with. We will be spending some time at the range shooting from 100 yards out to 400 off of the bench and from some improvised positions. I just didn't want a bullet failure to spoil a hunt after a good stalk and a good shot.

    Thanks again for the reply.
     
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  18. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    Sounds like the rifle is definitely up to the task. Lay in a good supply of bullets and have your son shoot the gun as much as it takes for him to be successful.

    And here is a thought I heard from Tom Gresham on a recent “Gun Talk” podcast…make a second load that kicks significantly less to help get more trigger time. Tom is a big proponent of using low recoiling loads made with Hodgdon Trail Boss:

    E8F20205-75C8-42F6-AC6B-6A31B31FA6EC.png

    Obviously, this load will have a very different POI, but that’s okay. I wouldn’t buy “top shelf” bullets, just decent FMJ or the like would work fine.

    IMO, benefit of shooting light loads through a hunting rifle include more trigger time without the flinching induced recoil.

    Best wishes on a safe and successful hunt.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2022 at 11:55 AM
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  19. Mr. Hill

    Mr. Hill Member

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    I made the mistake of thinking accuracy was more important than robust penetration on my first elk hunt. Don’t make the same mistake. Select a bonded bullet that’s specifically rated for elk sized big game (deer rated isn’t good enough). You’re better off with a reasonably accurate tough bonded bullet that’ll stay together and fully penetrate the elk. Don’t learn the hard way like I did.
     
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  20. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    I think that 180 grains would be the "sweet spot" in .30 caliber.

    The shooter should NOT take any 400 yard shots until he puts a paper plate up at 400 yards, and consistently hits the plate at least ten times.
     
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  21. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    My comments regarding accuracy did not exclude nor were they mutually exclusive of choosing a proper bullet. My comments regarding full metal jacket’s were for training and ranged work only. I hope that was clear.

    But accuracy is critical, every bit as important as the right bullet. You shoot an elk in a hind quarter and don’t hit a pelvic bone Or any other critical component that would bring them down, that elk will likely be gone and never found.
     
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