Elk Caliber comparison

Discussion in 'Northwest Hunting' started by Koda, Nov 24, 2016.

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  1. Koda

    Koda
    Oregon
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    Over the years Ive been cautioned by other hunters for using the 25-06 to hunt elk with as being "too light".

    So I just did a quick and very rough comparison of 3 different common calibers I would call elk calibers with factory ammunition from Hornandy and Federal websites. I compared velocity, energy and trajectory of the 25-06, with the 270, 7mm MAG, and 30-06. and found the numbers not all that different from each other....


    Some interesting numbers, roughly speaking...
    • the 7mm Mag had the flattest trajectory (no surprise...)
    • the 30-06 hit the hardest (ft/lbs) (I figured the 7mm would... being a "magnum" and all...)
    • the 30-06 had the worst trajectory, (by up to 8" over the second worst .270 (at 500 yds))
    • the 25-06 isn't much different than a 270
    • at 300 yds and under, all these calibers are within about 2" trajectory of each other and within about 300 ft/lbs of each other... *
    *comparing with only heavier 117/120 grain loads in the 25-06

    So I guess my question is, if all other things being equal (shot placement, distance) does any small difference in ballistics matter?
     
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  2. eldbillbo

    eldbillbo
    clackamas
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    This is just my opinion and others will beg to differ but you can kill just about anything with perfect shot placement provided it has the energy to get it the vital and damage it. That means going the distance then through hide and mussle and bone and have enough material left to damage the vital in a way that will drop it.

    Thing is elk are hard to find and the greatest prize of oregon and washington hunts. From what i have gathered in over many years of hunting and reading is that with an animal that size if you don't hit the vital you want the bigger most powerful bullet you can trow that even if you miss that vital by a little you will still damage it enough to bring it down and even in some cases just being able to to make a bigger wound on the vital will bring it down faster or at least give you a bigger blood trail.

    If you all you have and can afford or are able to shoot is a 25.06 don't let it stop you but if some day comes and you shot at a 1200 lb bull and you know you hit it and it ran and you loose or can't find a blood trail and you know you it was a pretty good shot you may regret that you were not hunting with something better suited for the size of game you are hunting. It really basic bigger bullet bigger wound. ( granted other factors come into play ) Not ever one when surprised with a shot at a big bull when filled with a rush of excitement is going to have the ability to hit that tiny 1 inch bullseye they do at the range sitting on a bench.

    And I don't thin a 7mm is all that good for elk its ok as its got the power but the bullet itself is small I know a guy who hit a running bull with 3 shots at close range with a 7mm and it kept running it took the 4 shot to drop it.

    This is just my 2 cents and even with inflation is still worth at least that.
     
  3. No_Regerts

    No_Regerts
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    Elk are tough critters and I prefer a cartridge that has what it takes to break bone. A 25-06 with the right bullet will take elk just fine, but why not have a 270 that is ballistically identical using heavier bullets? This has always been my argument for choosing a 270 over a 25-06. More bullet weight allows the bullet to shed more weight and continue to drive through.

    You can cherry pick loads between a 7mm RM and 30-06. For instance, a 175hr 7mm bullet starts at about 2800 from a standard load. I've seen 180gr loads in a 30-06 tarted up over 2900fps. On paper, this looks more better. A better comparison BC and SD wise is the 160gr 7mm bullet vs the 180gr 30 cal. I dont necessarily think the 7mm RM is a better elk cartridge up to 300 yards and it generally requires a longer barrel and has less capacity. This is picking nits since all cartridges mentioned, like you said, are within 2 inches at 300 yards with a 200 yard zero.

    So, in the end, shoot what you have with the right bullet. If you are starting from scratch, I generally recommend shooting as much gun as you are comfortable shooting starting at 270 with 30 cal magnums being my favorite. 338s are excellent elk cartridges as well.
     
  4. AndyinEverson

    AndyinEverson
    Everson, Wa.
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    If you are hunting , you owe it to the animal hunted to really know your rifle and your limitations when using it.
    This should be applied to any rifle , caliber or game.
    Use the rifle and caliber you shoot the best under the worst field conditions.
    And always stick to the range you can get a good hit with , do your best to not be tempted into a shot longer than what is a sure hit.
    ( Or as sure as we can be out in the field ... )

    Of the cartridges mentioned I prefer the .30-06.
    Not because I feel its better than any of the others , but because of those listed I have most experience with it over the others.

    But in all honesty I would use my Hawken in .54 caliber.
    It's the rifle I shoot the most. As in all the time.
    I have the most confidence in the rifle and my ability to hit with it.
    I do know that this rifle will limit my range and while I have hit targets regularly out to 200 yards , I would never take a hunting shot at that range.
    100 yards or less is my limit for hunting with this rifle.
    Andy
     
  5. eightyeight mag

    eightyeight mag
    sw wa
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    The day you pull the trigger on an elk with a light caliber and make the perfect shot, and the elk runs a 100 to 200 yards into the nastiest vine maple, tangled creek bottom, hell of a bowl , you will answer your own question.
    Yes they will be just as dead. You may be also after packing them out.
    Elk have a nasty habit of running into the worst places after being hit.

    I like them to drop on the spot or within a few yards of where they were hit.
    My 300 wsm handloads with 180 gr accubonds have worked well for me.

    As always shot placement is key. Use the caliber that you think you can make the best shot with.
     
  6. Mistman

    Mistman
    Mist, Or
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    I, like a lot of other folks on here have hunted elk in Oregon a long time. Very few long time Oregon elk hunters will even consider a sub 30 cal for elk. I've heard plenty of stories and have seen elk killed w/smaller calibers, heck even a .22lr will kill an elk.

    1st thing to consider is the size of the animal, elk are big, and can get real big. Paper will say anything you want to believe but unless you've chased elk in Oregon for years and years and have seen countless elk taken with all all legal and sometimes not so legal means you really should consider the opinions of experience over paper. IMO the largest caliber you can comfortably (or not) shoot and carry will NOT be too large for elk. One hit from a large caliber bullet will do far less damage than multiple hits from a smaller caliber bullet. Once an elk is hit it will move and cover more ground than you can believe. I've spent far too many days chasing a waning blood trail and have seen the looks of utter disbelief on the faces of hunters who couldn't recover an elk, even from a 'good' blood trail. Many times a hard hit bull won't even leave a blood trail. I've recovered elk that have gone 100 yds w/no blood trail at all, even w/a large caliber.

    When an elk hide is saturated w/water, as is usually the case in Nov in the NW, it will nearly double in weight (at least it feels like it). All that water will play heck on a light bullet, penetration will be greatly reduced.

    The bottom line for me is elk are a hard to hunt extremely worthy NW trophy, bigger bulls can be massive. The average in Oregon is 7 years between harvests (by the numbers), some people will kill a bull yearly some will never kill an elk in years of trying. People owe it to themselves and the animals to be 'properly' armed, not marginally armed. I've been involved in caliber arguments enough times I simply walk away anymore, believe what you want but unless you can back up your argument with years of experience it's nothing but paper talking. Like I said before, elk can be killed with pretty much any firearm given the right conditions. I want it to go down pretty much where I shoot it if I can, the effort it takes to get to elk sometimes is hard enough without having to track an animal for miles.

    I started hunting elk in Oregon almost 40 years ago w/a .308 as it was what I had. That lasted 2 years then went to a 300 Win mag for about 25 years, I now shoot a 338 RUM. I could go on and on but I've figured out what works for me, I've killed lots of elk, elk are one of the reasons I live where I do, I also know a lot of elk hunters.

    I will say there is nothing more disturbing to me than coming across someone elk hunting who is totally unprepared for an elk hunt, be it gear or guns. I take elk hunting too seriously to see other people being cavalier about it. Shooting too small of a caliber is something that will rile me up good. I'm sorry to say you're 25-06 is doing both yourself and the elk a disservice and should be rethought with the goal of actually killing and elk in mind. If you're going to wait for that perfect opportunity where that gun will work every time to put and elk down you might as well stop elk hunting right now.

    Like I mentioned, I've figured out what works for me. I won't do a caliber war with anyone regarding elk, shoot what you want. If you want to be respected in the NW Roosevelt elk hunting community you better know what you're doing and bring the right tools to the woods. I'm really a pretty laid back guy but have a completely different attitude about elk hunting and elk hunters.

    This all pertains to Roosevelt elk, if we're talking Rocky Mt I don't have a leg to stand on. They're smaller, inhabit more open spaces and I've never hunted them.
     
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  7. JRuby

    JRuby
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    I just got back from a four day cow hunt. I never saw one but put a lot of miles on my legs and back. I personally don't want a mediocre cartridge. I used a 30-06 loaded with 180gr partitions loaded near the top. When the time comes to pull the trigger you should not be questioning if you have enough gun. Odds are you won't have the perfect shot so plan for it.
     
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  8. tkdguy

    tkdguy
    Portland, Oregon
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    I had shot two elk in my short hunting career with 30 06 and 338 Win Mag. The first with 30 06 was first shot at 200 yards and required a second at 100 yards to put the elk down. No perfect shot placement. The 338 elk was at 90 yards and took 4 rounds for him to topple over. The first round may have broken the shoulder and he could not move or was in shock. Obviously, neither of these were a 1 shot kill.
     
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  9. orygun

    orygun
    West Linn
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    While I wouldn't likely use the .25-06 for elk, I have friends that have. No complaints from them.
    Me? I like 30 cal and usually hunt with a 30-06. Of the 4 cartridges listed, it would be my choice.
    My 2nd choice would likely be the 300 Win Mag or something like that.
     
  10. v0lcom13sn0w

    v0lcom13sn0w
    45th Parallel
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    for elk i prefer to use 100gr montecs on the end of my goldtip xt hunter arrows:rolleyes:
     
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  11. BaggerRyder

    BaggerRyder
    The Couv
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    Elk are big tough animals that can take some damage before going down. And when they are hit, if they aren't hit in an area that will anchor them quickly, they will run into the thickest area they can get to.
    Anchoring an elk usually requires a front shoulder shot, destroying both shoulders, blowing bone and shrapnel into the lungs, and braking the spine. That takes a heavy and hard hitting round. I don't think the 25.06 is going to do that. It will kill them with a heart or lung shot, but you may have a lot of tracking to do after that shot and that doesn't always present itself in the elk woods.
    I would leave the 25.06 for thinner skinned critters, and use something harder hitting, that can destroy bone and disrupt the central nervous system of an elk.
    Thick skin, big hard bone, heavy muscle, and a strong desire to live are what elk are made of. Your caliber and bullet choice should be designed to eliminate those 4 attributes.
     
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  12. wcdubois

    wcdubois
    Oregon Coast
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    This information is close to useless as there is no supporting data. What weight bullet, what powder and charge? There is no way to do any real comparison with the information provided.

    All my elk have been taken with a 30-06 200gr bullet to the head. All have gone straight to the ground, right next to their brains. I did take a cow a few years back with a .357 Mag from a Ruger Blackhawk. Also a shot to the head resulting in missing brains.

    This is the kind of argument you read about in the magazines, mostly because they have to have something to write about or they can't sell magazines.

    Edit to add: I don't like shoulder shots because I like elk meat to eat, not all bloody and bruised.
     
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  13. mikeybuck

    mikeybuck
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    I love shoulder shots. I use a .458 slug, bust out both shoulders and eat right up to the bullet hole.
    Some meat loss is better than no meat at all.

    What little time I have spent with a 25-06, I have notice very weak bullet construction. Not something I would ever think about using for elk.
     
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  14. jbett98

    jbett98
    NW Oregon
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    I know that the hunting video is sorta off topic, but watch how fast that bull elk drops after a perfectly placed arrow hits him in the chest.
    I'm also jealous of the father, as my daughter likes to fish but not hunt.

     
  15. Koda

    Koda
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    no surprise most here favor a larger caliber, but kinda surprised that no one so far is supporting the 25-06... I've met a few over the years that swear by it for elk. I guess I will fill that role here as a 25-06 fanboy, I just didn't see enough difference in the ballistics... yeah its on the lighter end of the scale but really that window is small is what Im seeing with the major calibers I compared. With most shots just under 100 yds its a non-issue, (including bone crushing...) but even out to 300 yards all those rounds are comparable. When I looked at data out to 4 and 500 yds the window did open up a bit more but that was depending on the load I was looking it... not that 500 yd shots are all that practical. (In that comparison the 30-06 hit the hardest but wasnt necessarily the fastest)

    so what Im seeing is, given the same quality bullet, I dont see how an extra .050" in diameter is enough to worry about.
     
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  16. Koda

    Koda
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    actually I did provide supporting data, I mentioned I used the Hornandy and Federal website to compare velocity, energy and trajectory and I also did mention I stayed away from the lighter grains in the 25-06. I had time on my hands last night and spent about an hour looking at the data just for fun and posted here just for fun, but since I'm not scientific enough to compile the data into a chart for presentation and have no interest in taking the time I'm speaking practical here and know all of use are familiar enough with these calibers to agree that the rough comparison I mentioned is practical enough. I looked at common loads Ive often found on the shelves one such as the Federal Fusion 120g 25-06 (F2506FS1), Federal 30-06 (P3006F), Hornandy 7mm (80591), Hornandy 270 (8058) are some of the ones I looked at.

    as an example, all other things being equal if we go way out to 500yds and compare the Federal 117g Sierra Gameking bullet (P2506C) with the Federal 180g Nosler Partition (P3006F) we get: Velocity 1975/1837, Energy 1014/1348, Trajectory -40/-48.7 (both 200yd zero).

    the 25-06 is just a little bit faster and the 30-06 is a little bit more energy. Does that really make the 25-06 a poor choice between those two options?
     
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  17. Koda

    Koda
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    here is a photo of a 25-06 117g Federal Sierra Gameking bullet I recovered from a 4pt rosevelt bull I took just a few years ago. One shot kill right thru the neck left a perfect hole in the spine and completely blew the rest of the spine apart in that area I found the bullet on the opposite side bulging the hide out. It expanded perfectly to .500" diameter.

    Selection_001_20161124_11:09:08.jpg
     
  18. mikeybuck

    mikeybuck
    Clark county
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    Looks good. The ones I've seen completely failed on deer.
     
  19. eightyeight mag

    eightyeight mag
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    It is a poor choice when comparing a 117 gr bullet to a 180 gr bullet.
    Much better penetration with 180.
    Those number really only matter when you are shooting at paper targets
     
  20. No_Regerts

    No_Regerts
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    Did the deer live through it?
     
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