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Long Distance Elk: .338 vs .300 RUM vs ?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Guns_and_Labs, Oct 11, 2004.

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  1. Guns_and_Labs

    Guns_and_Labs Member

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    While I've yet to be dissatisfied with my .35 Whelen Improved for elk within 200 yards, I've been contemplating building up a high accuracy (.5-.75 MOA), long distance (300-500 yards) cartridge.

    The .338 seems to be a "standard" elk cartridge, but I'm unclear on its accuracy potential. The .300 RUM has all the hallmarks of an accurate design, and good velocity, but still .30 caliber.

    Any relevant thoughts or experience would be welcome.
     
  2. Blue Line

    Blue Line Member

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    I wish I could add about the longer range virtues of the 338 but I took my elk @ 127yds last year with it. I like the heavy bullets for the the 338. I use the Win 250 mag safes and had a one shot kill. Lots of people complain it kills on both ends but I don't have any problems with the round. As you mention the 300 RUM I recently asked about the the new "7's" such as the 7WSM and 7 RUM and didn't get any input on those two rounds. I'd like to see if there are any readers that have shot any of these newer rounds and find out how they liked or disliked them.
     
  3. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    Guns,

    If you are looking for a true long range mud stomper the .338UM is the clear choice.

    There is no camparison between it and a .30 when it comes to down range energy and killing power. It is truely a long range killing machine.

    I've got a buddy who built one on a Model 70 long action. He's got it dopped to 1000 yards and is the type of guy who can use an instrument like this at range. I watched my buddy Pat kill a nice boar hog at 612 yards with it. Put that boar down wit authority too. The big .338's are in a league of thier own when it comes to long range game shooting.
     
  4. Matt G

    Matt G Moderator Emeritus

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    H&H, I've learned to respect your posts. You've seen a lot of things that I've only heard tell of.

    On account of that, I'll buy what you said, and say, "WOW!"

    To a lesser-known fellow of fewer experiences and the like, I'm afraid I'd have to smile and say,"You know, there's a whole lot more 600 yard shots talked about, then ever are made." ;)

    Then, too, I suspect you and your friends of a similar thinking to me, in that y'all will chance longer shots on hogs --which are really just tasty edible pests-- than deer or game animals.
     
  5. formerflyer

    formerflyer Member

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    Matt:

    I don't normally talk about that shot that H&H is talking about, for a couple of reasons. First of all, I'm not proud of shooting at those kinds of distances, but I'd just come down with a heart condition and couldn't hike hardly at all, and as you mentioned, hogs are just large and tasty varmints. Normally I'm only proud of the shots where I was able to sneak up close. To me, that's the measure of a hunter.

    Secondly, folks are either inclined to think you're a lying sack of monkey feces when you talk about shots like that (which is my usual reaction), or they believe you and want to believe they can do it too. Me, I don't think I'll ever take that kind of shot again in my life, and I don't want to encourage that kind of behavior in the field, 'cause most people won't ever do all the work it takes to properly take that shot. I certainly didn't, but I was able to borrow a setup from an absolute no-nonsense, for-real expert. Here's what it took:
    - - -Borrowed rifle, set up by one of the best gunsmiths in the industry, fully capable of shooting 1/4 MOA. I'd verified that my zero and his were identical. Not similar, not re-zeroed for me, but completely identical. Luckily it was, otherwise I wouldn't be able to use his bullet drop tables.
    - - -Top grade optics, zeroed military/sniper style at 100 yards, with FULLY REPEATABLE turrets that actually put the reticle where they say they will, and then come back every time you return them to zero. Do you know how nearly impossible it is to find a scope like that? Here's how you do it: Bring. Money.
    - - -Load properly put together, then fired under actual conditions at 50 yard increments from 100 to 1000 yards, scope set and zeroed at each distance, and adjustments doped out and written down. That's 19 times zeroing that thing in, each time taking around 5 shots. That's a lot of shooting with a heavy recoiling rifle, at distances most of us can't duplicate at our friendly neighborhood shooting range, and I know that the guy that set it up spent hundreds of hours getting it J U S T R I G H T.
    - - -A laser range finder, that I had practiced using for a couple of years. They are NOT fool proof, and at longer distances it is really easy to lase the wrong thing and miss your distance by 30-60 yards, which will result in a CLEAN MISS at that range.
    - - -A perfect rest from a high hilltop.
    - - -Oh, and 45 minutes after first sighting the hogs to dope out the bullet drop, settle into position, re-dope out the drop, check the wind, re-dope out the drop (did I mention they were browsing along, and not bedded down?). Waiting for the wind to match the doping was the worst part, and 20 minutes into the exercise I'd given up actually taking the shot and decided to keep working it just for fun and practice.

    25 minutes later, the wind settled down at the muzzle, midpoint and target all at the same time, the biggest hog was in the clear, and broadside, and I'd just lased the bush he was nibbling on. "O, 47, I repeat, O, 47." Hey, that's me. B I N G O ! ! ! ! BLAMMO! One hog, DRT. Both shoulders broken, heart-lung shot right where I visualized the bullet flying.

    I don't know any other caliber that I'd have the same confidence in, though, and H&H and others are right. The .338 RUM is THE long range death-stick, when properly set up and used with the right amount of patience and self-control. Me, I don't have that kind of patience or self control, but there's nothing worse than missing critters when one's "friends" are standing nearby to heckle and score the shot. By the time I got through farting around, H&H had taken out some TP he carries for "those situations", and had written down my score, Olympic style: 6.7. 6.5. 6.7. And, of course, a 4.1 from the French judge.

    Oh, and I proved him correct, 20 seconds later, when I got greedy and settled on the second biggest hog in the group, telling myself that I'd got it all figured out and could just shift over to another one and deck him too. Well, he was about 30 yards closer (I later figured out), and the wind had picked up JUST A HAIR, resulting in a clean miss. Pride goeth before the fall.
     
  6. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    Matt,

    Former Flyer said it better than I ever could. You don't just "take" a shot like that. You have to set up for it. And there are very few among us who have the equipment ,training and patience to make a shot like that with any confidence what-so-ever.

    And yes the pig thing as well they are a varmint not a game animal. We Don't take pop shots like that at "real" game animals.

    But there are a very few select people who can pull it off.

    Another frind of mine recentley bought a .338UM and has been braging how he's now "set up to take shots out to 7-800yards". He has a stock Rem 700 with a Nikon Buck master 4-16 scope stock. No adjustable turets on a less than premuim scope and a 1 MOA gun. He has no range finder, he has never dopped the rifle, he has no training at long range shooting, he thinks he can use the estimate and hold over technique, He can't reliable hit a 12" steel plate at 500 yards at the range.

    Yet in his mind he's all set up to take an elk at 700 yards. To which I say BULL SHUCKS. These guys really make me mad especially when they won't listen to a voice of experience. (Not my own but guys like Pat who know how to do all this gee wizz long range stuff.)

    The hunting experience should be about getting as close as you can then getting 10 yards closer. What in the heck is it about these guys who want to shoot elk at over a 1/2 mile. That is not the measrue of a hunter. That takes all the excitement the adrenaline out of the hunt. It's just shooting. And unless you've done the things that Flyer talked about you are going to make a fool of yourself and wound an elk.

    PS

    Hope you marked that spot out there at over 1/2 mile across that canyon so that you can start looking for blood. NOT LIKLEY that you'll ever find the spot.

    With all that being said. If are willing to take the time and training and set up the tool. the .338UM or a .338/.378 or a .340WM is the platform to begin with.


    This same buddy who I spoke of just last night asked me why I like to shoot a .308Win on deer. He actually said " I know your ok to 4-500 yards but what if you see a B&C buck further out than that."

    To which I repied. The reason you don't see me miss very often is I don't take 4-500 yard shots and I certainly don't take shots further than that.

    If you can't get closer than 300 yards the problem is not with your rifle, it's your hunting skills that need to have a looking at.....


    This is not meant to trash on Guns and labs. I am just trying to introduce some of the realities of long range shooting and some of the misconceptions involved.
     
  7. Guns_and_Labs

    Guns_and_Labs Member

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    No problem, I agree with your views, mostly.

    I will say, though, that I come across 300-400 yard shots quite a bit, with no cover. We have a lot of open valleys out in California, where I hunt blacktail. Sometimes I can get within 70 yards undetected, sometimes it isn't possible. So, I have a 6.5x55 Improved set up for 50-500 yards with either Nosler BT's or Hornady SST's, and put about 40-100 rounds a month down ranges of up to 600 yards at a local hunters benchrest match. I haven't had to take a shot longer than 309 yards (laser ranged)...hope I don't have to...but I can if need be.

    I'd like the same flexibility when hunting elk in the fields of eastern Oregon or Montana. So far, I've been able to get to within 150 yards by crawling through irrigation ditches, but there aren't always ditches in the right places, and private property lines limit my stalking choices. So, about 50% of the time I can't get closer than 300-400 yards (that's about where their visual safety zone kicks in).

    I just don't trust the knockdown of the .30-06 at 300-500 yards, and the .35 Whelen Improved isn't accurate enough (and it's too pretty to rebuild). I have a 7.21 (Lazzeroni) Firebird that I've spent some time with at the Sacramento 1000 yard range, but then, I'm not sure if 140 grain Prohunter will do the job at 300-500 yards on an elk. Lazzeroni has the new Lazerhead, sort of a coated Triple Shock, I guess, that might do the trick...maybe.

    But I also have a Ruger .338 WinMag that I picked up cheap, in order to rebuild it someday. And an action that could be used for the RUM's. Hence my question.
     
  8. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    Yeah, add me in to H&H's camp.

    I'm good enough with my old pet '06 that I had a center hit and a near-center hit at 500 yards, the first time I tried it out after setting up the range. I was zeroed at 200, and it was all Kentucky holdover and windage.

    Thing is, I don't have a lot of respect for a steel plate. Elks and Bambis? Different story. If I'm gonna play Ma Bell, I'm gonna set up for it--and do a LOT of practice.

    :), Art
     
  9. usp_fan

    usp_fan Member

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    Buddy bought a Ruger m77 in .338 win. mag. It was a very economical and very basic rifle.

    It shoots sub .5 MOA groups with the 250's. I don't know why or that every rifle like it will, but this one is a shooter.

    I've considered getting one myself, but I'm worried if it doesn't shoot as well, I'll always be jelous.

    -usp_fan
     
  10. SteveS

    SteveS Member

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    I don't mean to hijack this thread, but this is some excellent information and I need to ask a question. Are the various .300 mags not a good choice for elk, or is it just that the .338's are significantly better choices? My buddies and I just came back from a Newfoundland moose/caribou hunt and we are looking into planning a hunt for some time in the next two years. We'd like to try elk, so I am trying to get as much info as possible from people that have done it. Thanks, in advance.
     
  11. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Elmer Keith swore by the .338 bore for long range anything, including antelope and sheep. He did lots of long range experimenting with 338 Win, 340 Weatherby 338/378 Weatherby and a 338/9.3x74R wildcat. I trust Elmer Keith to tell the truth, unlike many scribes I could name.
     
  12. formerflyer

    formerflyer Member

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    Steve S:

    The various .300's are great choices for Elk hunting. Here's the dirty little secret that the firearm and ammo manufacturers don't like us to talk about: Keep your distances reasonable (250 to maybe 300 yards MAXIMUM for the average shooter) and use good bullets appropriate for the game hunted, and you can use anything from your grandfather's .270 or 300 Savage, up to the most modern boomer-zappers.

    My elk rifle for the past 15 years has been a .308 Winchester loaded with 180 gr bullets. Ever since the High Energy Federals came out, that's been my load of choice. 180 gr. Nosler Partition at a chronographed 2700+, and it will do everything I need it to. Has taken game up to 700 lbs or so (most recently on the trip to the Zambezi that H&H wrote about a few months ago).

    If you want to play the ultra-long range game (anything beyond about 350 yards, in my opinion) on elk size animals, then certainly invest in one of the premium .338's. They'll carry substantially more killing power a lot further downrange than the .300's. My first exposure to them was in a 338 Lapua from Accuracy International that Gunsite had for testing and training in the 90's, and that thing would really perform. If your intended game is smaller (nothing larger than deer, or perhaps things that are bi-pedal), then the 7mm class will also work well. My first in-depth attempts to work long range happened behind a custom .270 WBY that Chuck Taylor was working with and setting up as an "ultimate sniper rifle". I think he wrote some articles about it for one of the gun magazines, and that thing really shot flat, true and hard without too much recoil.

    I recently upgraded my elk rifle for something with a little more oomph, not that there had been any failures with the .308. After this trip to Africa, though, I wanted a secondary rifle that would be intelligent if I had to use it against dangerous game. So I've upgraded to the .376 Steyr, and am becoming very fond of it. Not a thunder-zapper, but a solid performer for most anything I will use a rifle for. (270 gr @2500, ballistic arc very similar to my .308).

    Just my two cents worth. Pick something you can use well, load it with good bullets (premiums if you're going to be pushing the velocity envelope and shooting at Elk), practice at the distances you intend to use in the field, don't kid yourself about you or your equipment's ability to play Gunny Hathcock, and have a ball. Then write us back here and don't forget to include pictures.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2004
  13. haynhogdogger

    haynhogdogger Member

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    Guns and Labs

    I have several rifles in both calibers and used them both in africa this year they both performed very well on plains game out to 450 yds. I like the 338 though and Im having another one built and I believe as H&H and others said the 338 RUM would be my choice. And as Pat said in his last post I believe the key is to get a caliber you can shoot well with, good bullets, and PRACTICE,PRACTICE,PRACTICE to me nothing makes up for practice to put your bullets where they count. if at all possible if you are planning to shoot long distance PRACTICE shooting at this range(s) also practice as if you would shoot in the field its one thing shooting off a bench and shooting in field positions. Good luck with your project!!!

    Hey Big, I loved reading about Elmer Keith and had a couple of 338-378 KT's built because of it and took 4 Bull Elk with it and it performed flawlessly Elmer would be proud.

    Hey Pat was at joes the other day picking up some bullets and powder and he mentioned speaking to you about the Buff that H&H spoke about he was all excited about it and talked with us about our Safari earlier this year and I told him he should try it and he cracked up laughing. Hes a good man, Hope to see you around sometime take care. Damn good shot on that hog I might add...Happy Huntin'
     
  14. Ankeny

    Ankeny Member

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    I haven't posted here in a long time, but I'll toss in my two cents worth simply because this is the first sensible discussion on long range shooting that I have seen in a long time.

    Long range rifle shooting is an underappreciated art. I have been listening to liars and braggers in sporting goods stores and shooting ranges for three decades and it gets old. What most hunters never seem to get into touch with is thier own effective range. By effective range, what is the maximum distance that you can reasonably expect a clean one shot kill into the vitals under field conditions? Unless you are geared up and one awesome rifle shooter, that distance is a lot less than most hunters care to admit.

    If the average person told me they swatted a hawg at 600 and change, I would wrinkle my nose and roll my eyes. I actually believe the posters above because they know what it takes to make the shot and I don't doubt for a second the shot was as described. Hitting a hog at 600 is really a piece of cake if you can eliminate all of the variables and if you can hold the required wobble zone and exercise precise fire control. For instance, a friend of mine shot his elk two years ago at 912 yards. He did it as a once in a life time experience to satisfy a personal goal. He used his McMillan .50 BMG light bench rifle with a Niteforce scope, blah, blah, and he is a very accomplished 1000 yard .50 shooter. It took him over an hour from set up until he torched the round off. He even measured the relative humidity with a weather kit and the elevation. He is obsessed.

    As for the .300 magnums, yeah they are great elk rifles with properly constructed bullets. I have taken a dozen or more mature bulls with my .30-338 and 180 grainers at 3150 fps. I can't imagine needing anything more if the shooter does his part. FWIW, the longest shot I have ever made on an elk was just a week ago tomorrow and it was under 600. I have only shot 4-5 elk at over 400 yards. I am not geared up properly to make those long shots. I would need a better range finder, a different scope (target turrets), a wind meter, etc. When you start talking 600 yards plus, guessing the hold over and Kentucky windage just won't cut it.
     
  15. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    Besides all the other issues, a major problem with long shots on game is that bullets take time to reach the target and game sometimes moves unexpectedly.

    I suspect that the longest second in the world is the one between the time the trigger breaks just as your 900 yard elk takes a step and the time the bullet takes to get to him. I guess being lucky at that point is if he moves enough for a clean miss.

    Even a real screamer of a hunting cartridge will take over half a second to get 600 yards downrange. That's more than enough time to allow whatever you're shooting at to move and turn a perfect shot into a gut shot.

    I can see shooting at a hog or other varmint that far away, but no matter how good you are, unless you can guarantee that the animal won't move, I don't think it's a good idea to shoot at game animals past a few hundred yards.
     
  16. Ankeny

    Ankeny Member

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    I couldn't agree more. Then again, I have done a lot of stupid things.
     
  17. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    Ankeny,

    I didn't mean my post as an indictment of anyone on the thread. It's not possible to know all the circumstances in which shots were taken and therefore impossible to make a judgement.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2004
  18. Ankeny

    Ankeny Member

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    John:

    I am not offended in the least. I am in absolute agreement with you. And I am serious about still making bad decisions. I vowed 20 years ago to never ever take another shot at a running animal. I broke that promise this year and blew a hind leg off of an elk. I had to finish it off at a range way too distant. First I shot at a running critter, then I shot way too far. Yeah, I recovered the animal, but like I said, I still do some stupid things, lol.
     
  19. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    Actually that's something I hadn't thought of--I believe that taking a long shot at an obviously wounded animal is one of the few times you're always justified. Especially if the alternative is the possibility of having them escape.
     
  20. ClarkEMyers

    ClarkEMyers Member

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    .338 - bigger than .340 WBY

    I've never done it and don't expect to - I hunt with a Steyr Scout in .308 and the pseudo-Scout dragoon in .376. When I just can't resist a stunt I'll harvest an elk grazing under the deck with a .22 Magnum in a derringer - that's my temptation but only cause the horns that animal drops in the driveway are BIG.

    The only such case where I know the shooter and don't exactly approve but can't condemn was a custom rifle with a custom cartridge related to the .338-.378 but with a sharp shoulder for a cheaper reamer. The shooter did it from an established rest on property where he had previously fired repeatedly on paper set-up in the impact area so he knew what he'd done on paper more or less where the animal later stood - nothing estimated or carried over or drop tables but right there from right here the sight picture is what it is.

    Even if so inclined I'd remember Clay Harvey's tale of one of the greats making a bloody mess of his face taking long shots with a hard kicker from a field position and settle for a big .30 myself with a muzzle brake and maybe stretch it to 450 - or a 7mm STW and not stretch it all that far at all.
     
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