6.5 PRC fail on elk.


My brother went out opening day for elk in Idaho. I went out and scouted the week before and found some good sign and gave him directions on where I thought some nice bulls would be.

He went out with his Christensen Arms Ridgeline in 6.5 PRC and found a nice bull right where I said it would be. It was just over 400 yards away, and he had a good rest and said he put one right in the vitals. Bull went down.

Then bull got up and my brother tried to work the action to get another shot off but the action jammed and the bull wandered into the timber. It was raining hard and he lost the blood trail. Looked all night but couldn't find it. Then he got a call that night that a coworker tested positive for Covid, so he was ordered to quarantine at home for 14 days. His season is over, and a nice bull elk is wasted.

At 400 yards, the 6.5 PRC is still delivering 1800 ft lbs of energy so it should be entirely adequate for elk at that distance. My brother is just sick over the whole thing and now wants to go to the 300 PRC, which has 2700 ft lbs of energy at 400 yards.

I have no idea why the elk went down and then got up and got away. My brother is an amazing marksman and his rifle is capable of 1/2 MOA at 600 yards.

But it was a rainy and stormy day, so the round could have gone anywhere at that range. I'm no fan of shots over 250 yards on animals precisely because of incidents like this.

But it could have been any number of things and because the elk is now wolf food, we'll never know.


elk are very tough animals. VERY tough. only advice i have is ALWAYS load another round and be ready IMMEDIATELY.

man i know the feeling of making a good shot and then losin the animal. its happened 3 times to me in the 20 years ive been hunting. twice on deer and once on a bear. i hate the feeling of wounding an animal and being unable to find it. :(
That’s a tough one. What bullet was he using? Bullet construction, especially on a bigger boned animal is crucial. My biggest issue with many of the new 6.5 cartridges is the insistence on using bullets that are great target bullets or for use on light bodied animals. Its all the high-BC, low drag stuff. That’s why I typically will choose construction over BC, even if it results in a trajectory that’s not as flat long-range. My personal limit is about 400 yards and the difference in drop is negligible until you get beyond that.


His last elk was taken with a Tikka T3 in 300 WSM at 30 yards in timber. He basically point-shot it when it crashed through the trees next to him.


But, he got caught up in the Siren song of BC and the latest and greatest long-range calibers and spent $1200 on a fancy rifle with fancy bullets.

All of my animals have been taken either with Nosler Partitions or cheap Remington Cor-Loks.

I have been flirting with the ELD-X and Nosler Ballistic Tips, though in my latest loads.
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The 300PRC packs a wallop, should do better for hydrostatic shock, but, as said before, bull elk are ginormous tough animals. Sometimes 2-3 shots are needed. There’s no doubt that animal died a bad death and too bad it couldn’t be harvested. Weird that bolt action rifle jammed. Have the same rifle and unless I’m trying to load longer than factory ammo from the magazine, it’s never failed.
From what I see, the Christensen Arms rifles are M700 based. In my experience and other documented experiences have lead me to believe the M700 short action is too short for WSM/RCM based cases and creates steep angles for the cartridge to take in order to feed properly. Magazine timing is crucial with the short/fat cases and this style of action.
Here is what I think., and my opinion is worth nothing but here goes. I have harvested or guided many people to many elk harvests. Sure I have seen an elk go down hard from a .243 and a few other smaller guns. The last one that put it over the the line for me was a big bull that a buddy shot with his 7mm. It was a couple hundred yard shot, you heard the bullet whack and the bull dropped. When we got over there the bull was gone. I was pretty sure it hit the front shoulder and got some vitals as it the bull was slightly quartered. Never found the bull after 2 days of looking and I am pretty good at finding critters. I have seen the same with a 30-06 also. I shoot a .30 Nosler with 200GR Barns LRX ( Pendelton Ammunition). Both elk have never moved a step .One was at 373 yards, one at 250ish. I know longer shoot for vitals. I shot both these elk in the shoulder breaking both of them. They were DOA on the spot. While I know the 6.5 and others are capable of killing elk, but for me, its just threading the needle a little bit too much. Specifically when everything thinks they are a sniper. Elk are way tougher than people give them credit for. Even bigger cows (sometimes as big as a small bull) aren't in the mood to die. Not saying people shouldn't use a 7mm, 30-06 or one of my favorites the 300WM. My .28 Nosler put the smack down on a cow elk this year. Yes I agree that your better to shoot a gun you can shoot well if your recoil sensitive is better than one you are afraid of. Its just a major misconception that speed kills. It only a factor, its energy that kills things unless you can hit the heart or lungs every time. Mix energy with speed and its a bad day for whatever is on the receiving end.

Overkill for some, maybe. I can hold my own shooting but this old body is tired of tracking critters. For me its heavy bullets with lots of energy moving fast. Also the new shinny long range bullets are falling apart and not holding together on impact. I made a big mess of a cow a couple years ago with one.
A good friend shot an old, ugly bull a few years back. Scars all over his face (the bull, not the friend!) and body, plus a broken tine showed he was a fighter. When the bull was cut up they found an old bullet lodged above his hip. That likely would have dropped him, but obviously he got back up and kept going.

Yes, very tough critters. I'm kind of a front shoulder shooter, too. I try for the heart, but always seem to break the leg bone... The first elk I shot had no bone connection between the shoulder and lower part, but still used that leg to run about 20 yards before he dropped.
Elk (as well as all other creatures on the the planet), are individuals. I've seen a LOT of elk shot. Some extremely tough, while others are just the opposite. I've never lost an animal that didn't fly or swim. I consider myself to be be very, VERY lucky several times, and just stumbled onto it late the second day. My son and I spent nearly an entire day hunting/tracking down a coyote that he shot...just because it needed to be done. I told him that I could guarantee the ancestral native people of every land on this planet, didn't stick a homemade arrow, with bone or stone head on it into a critter that is going to be their substance, and expect it to drop in it's tracks. Tracking a wounded coyote through re-prod all day is good practice for anyone. Hunting doesn't just end after the bullet or arrow flies. I know that losing an animal does happen, and I hope it sucks for the hunter, so they might learn from the experience. As an ex logger, who stills spends a lot of time wandering around in the timber, I've found WAY too many animals that others have lost.


Simple as just not enough bullet for elk. My nephew had a similar experience with his .25-06 on elk, and he was only 75 yds. away when he shot a nice bull. He hit it twice, and each time it went down, but got back up and ran off. Fortunately his dad, my brother, was on the other side of the ridge and the bull elk came towards him. He dropped it with a 180 gr. .30-06 and the elk wasn't lost.
I have taken my .270 along as a backup to my .30-06, but thankfully never needed to use it. I just feel anything below a 180 gr. .30 caliber bullet is too little for elk.


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