View Full Version : Best Elk caliber

03-30-2013, 05:34 PM
Hey fellas. Am hunting Colorado in October for elk. Is a .308 too small?

Opinions greatly appreciated.



Line Stretcher
03-30-2013, 06:04 PM
Hey fellas. Am hunting Colorado in October for elk. Is a .308 too small?

Opinions greatly appreciated.



It's definitely not too small and is one of the popular Elk calibers. Last year I needed to replace my hand me down 30-06. I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions and in the end I went with a .270. Three rounds at the range and one in my Elk last season. I don't think I made the wrong choice.

03-30-2013, 06:40 PM
To me the most important thing is having something you feel comfortable with. I think the .308 is a great rifle for most anything in the lower 48. youjust have to take the time to pick your shot but really you should be doing that with any gun. My uncle always hunted with a 25-06. Probably not the best choice for elk but he always picked his shots and never had a problem with it. The .270 was always Jack O'Connor's favorite rifle.

I have not hunted elk for about 10 years but my favorite rifle is Remmington 700 .338. It is not really the fastest gun out there but still packs a nice punch when it gets there. I also have a 7mm Rem Mag that I carry quite a bit. It is probably a better all around gun for most big game.

Reel Fun
03-30-2013, 06:54 PM
I would stay at about 100 yrds with a 308. Sure it will kill further but elk are tough. If I were buying a new elk gun I would not buy a 308 but it will get the job done! I would get a 300 rem mag but if you hunt deer with the same rifle then a 308 would be better for both. The 300 win mag is easy to load and everybody has factory ammo. The Browning BAR 300 mag is easy on the shoulder or a bolt gun with a brake is also as easy to shoot as any 308. At 100 yrds any deer caliber will work with a good shot but at 200 yds and a marginal hit you will want that extra punch. The 308 and the 300 win mag shoot the same bullet diameter (.308) but you can shoot heavier bullets flatter with the 300 mag. Kinda look at it this way.....the 7 mm mag is a magnum 270 (actually .284) and the 300 mag is a 308 magnum. I also think the 30-06 is a better round for elk than the 308...just my opinion.RF

04-03-2013, 09:19 AM
Load that .308 with a quality, controlled expansion bullet like a Barnes TTSX 150gr or 165gr and go shoot an elk.

D. Lloyd
04-03-2013, 09:32 AM
300 rem mag. We hunt moose and bear up at the lodge I work at in Ak and for a great versatile gun 300 mag is the way to go. Behind that 30.06. All are great calibers but those are in my opinion best gun to buy for anything from deer-elk moose or grizz.

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04-03-2013, 11:31 AM
For me a lot would depend on just how often you were going to go hunting and if you were going to use it for other game too. If I were just going to shoot elk and other big game would look heavy at the .300 Win Mag but if I were going to hunt deer here too I think it may be a little over kill.

I used to know a guide in Alaska and the caliber he hated to see was the .300 Win Mag. Not because it was not a great gun but often times the guys that brought it up were not used to shooting it and greatly overestimated just how good it was. We all like to think we are tough but if you shoot a gun that beats the hell out of you everytime you pull the trigger, you tend to get some really bad habits. You also usually won't spend enough time at the range to get really good with it.

As Reel Fun pointed out the Browning BAR is a great gun for taming recoil but for me it just a little too heavy. I have a muzzle brake on my .338 700 Remington and I love it. I have a 25-06 in the 700 too and the .338 does not kick anymore than it. The only real downside is the brake makes the gun unbelievely loud. On the range I shoot with both foam plugs and ear muffs. Because I like to shoot and used to experiment with reloads a lot would not own a magnum without a muzzle brake.

04-03-2013, 12:22 PM
Personally I think the .308 is a great deer cartridge but lacks the punch downrange for an animal the size of a horse if your shot is off. My son will be taking his old Rem 721 .300 H&H Mag this year, old cartridge but still one of the best for elk size game.

04-03-2013, 12:55 PM
I will stay out if the caliber commentary, but I do want to emphasize shot placement. A .308 should do fine even at long range if you put it in the right spot. Figure out what load groups best in your gun. Zero it for the most likely yardage you will be asked to shoot at. Then figure out where that shot will go at different ranges. Limit yourself to distances you know for a fact you can hit the vital area at reliably. If you group well at 200 yds but not at 300, don't take a 300 yd shot.

I personally never take a shot past 200 yds. That's just what I limit myself to. Everyone else is different.

04-03-2013, 01:15 PM
It's all about shot placement. You can have a .338 Win Mag and it wouldn't kill an elk. An .308 round is good for elk, bear, moose, you name it.

04-04-2013, 01:33 PM
I have used my 7MM Rem Mag for three hunts and have been pleased with the results, I also used a 30-06 round last year with good results. More importantly what sort of terain and what type of shot can you expect on your hunt, if you elect to try a 7MM try 160 grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw or Barnes Triple Shocks. A 175 grain bullet was too heavy to get good velocity at a longer distance. A good .30-06 180 grain load is better than a 7mm Rem Mag 175 grain (of course this is only my opinion). I prefer the 7MM if I am going to have a shot which requires some distance, out to 350 Yards. Anything around 200 yards I just loved the way the 30-06 performed last year, one step and down she went. As many have already stated, shot placement is key and what ever round suits the type shot expected is what I would select.
Enjoy your hunt and please post how it goes....

04-10-2013, 07:42 PM
300 win. mag,...been around long enough that you'll find shells in any mom and pops stores in the west. It will get the job done,..enough power to make the cross canyon shot,and with 180's it will hit with authority.Like everybody says shot placement is key, you could kill a elk with a 22 under perfect conditions,..but those are few and far between out in the woods.Just my $.02.

04-14-2013, 09:04 PM
I am using a ruger #1 in 338 winmag. And I love it. lightweight ,and it puts them down in a hurry. I would not recomend anything under 30 cal 180 grain. Use enough gun ,those animals are big.

04-14-2013, 09:23 PM
Gentleman I appreciate all of your inputs and information. I am still in the research part of this hunt. Have till fall to purchase and get familiar which rifle I go with. Only rifle I fire consistently is an M-4 for work. I've considered building an AR-10 for the familiarity of it.

Any thoughts on this?

04-15-2013, 10:16 AM
Gentleman I appreciate all of your inputs and information. I am still in the research part of this hunt. Have till fall to purchase and get familiar which rifle I go with. Only rifle I fire consistently is an M-4 for work. I've considered building an AR-10 for the familiarity of it.

Any thoughts on this?

If it is something you feel really comfortable with I would say it would be ok. That being said it is not the way I would go. For the money you are going to have in that rifle you could have a very nice gun set up much better for elk hunting. Now if you are looking for a good reason to buy an AR-10 it would probably work just fine. I have a Colt Sporter Hbar that has killed many coyotes and countless rabbits. It is a lot of fun to shoot but I don’t bring it out much anymore.
I am not that familiar with the AR-10 but one problem I have with it is barrel length. The .308 is already on the small side and if you go with a 20” or less barrel you are giving up even more energy. If you reload there are sometimes ways around that with faster powders. Also I know it is prejudice but I have never been a fan of “military” style rifles for big game hunting. I know times are a changing and they are now more common. They are certainly no more capable than say a Browning BAR or Remington 750. I guess I am just getting older but it is not something I would carry. Also when you go out of state and step out of your truck with California plates and an AR-10 comments are going to be made.
Now if I were going to build an AR for elk hunting I would go with the .338 Federal. Then again you would have to reload to make sure you always had ammo but would have very capable short to medium range gun for elk. The downside is you would lose access to the cheap ammo.

Line Stretcher
04-15-2013, 04:20 PM
I have to agree with S_S. I looked at some of the most expensive and least expensibe rifles out there and I talked to what seems like hundreds of folks. The general concesous was that if you're hunting in the brush and need a gun for personal protection in the wild, the AR 10 will shoot a dozen rounds in a reasonably tight group and the barell won't get hot. That would be a good thing if you were attacked by a pack of wolves.

If you're with a group of hunters on a hunt, you're not going to impress anyone by how many shots you can take at animal. In fact the one shot kill is the most desirable. Not only for the animal but around the campfire that night.

I bought the Remmington Model 7 .270. I had a Remmington model 7 30-06 which is basically the same as the .308. The .270 is definitely a longer shooter and shoots a tight group at 200 yards. Like I mentioned before, I shot 4 rounds all season. 3 were at the range and 1 was at my Elk which was about 200 yards out. I didn't get a deer last seaon, I was headed out but the fishing was too darn good.

05-12-2013, 01:28 PM
Elk can absorb an incredible amount of damage and barely take a misstep. That being said I love my .300 Wetherby. I have dropped elk with it out to 600 yards. Have yet to have one leave. I have loaned it out to a bunch of friends, and they haven't had problems either. The thing has killed a ton of elk.

That being said a bad shot is a bad shot.

Reel Fun
05-14-2013, 08:19 PM
Either 7mm or the 300 win mag are highly recommended with a slight nod going to the 300 mag for the ability to shoot heavier loads. The 270 or 30-06 will work fine out to 200yrds with good shot placement. Like others have said these animals are tough and will take a good hit and run 300yrds or more! Get a good scope! It is really important! RF