Caliber for elk

Thread starter #1
Just got invited on an elk hunt in Utah this year I use to shoot a 300 win but stepped down to 308 for white tails. I’m think need to get another 300 what’s yalls opion on a 308 for elk. Seems light to me


...just joking, seriously.
I'd go with a Magnum, but maybe not for just one hunt?
308 will kill one good!


Senior Member
I had that all planned out a few years ago and the 2 guys that were supposed go and split the bill bailed on me.

I had several options.
Was going to take a most beautiful Ruger 77MKII in .338 Win. Mag. with Walnut stock. That thing is beautiful. Then, as a back up, I was going to take the Mighty Big7 Rem. Mag. Blue, with camo synthetic stock.
Another Ruger. They are my favorite action, so I was covered either way.

I figured with all that money up front, might as well take two on the road.
It's a really long read but I will make it short.
Any center fire rifle is technically capable of taking an Elk. I would not go any lower than a .243 Winchester. Maybe that's just me.

I'd make sure to carry a back up rifle for reasons above. Then you need to figure out how far, how close or whatever you can hit the vitals with at a given (or expected) distance. Dead is dead.
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Senior Member
Sounds like a good reason for a new rifle to me!

.308 with careful ammo selection, and not pushing your shots too far, would work no doubt. I'd buy the .300 win mag, if I were you, and take the .308 as a backup rifle.

If I were me, I'd buy a .300 Weatherby Mag, and take my 30-06 as a backup. I just like the Weatherby calibers myself.:)
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sea trout

Senior Member
My bro killed his bull at 260 yards with 308
I killed mine at 400 with 30-06
Both drt.
Sounds like you want a 300 mag! If so heck yeah man that is awesome get it!
If not you're 308 is perfect. My bro used 180gr accubonds.
If you shoot an elk in the lungs with a 300 mag or 308 it's gonna die.
If you shoot and elk in the gut with 300 mag or 308 it's gonna run around the mountains awhile
Good luck man elk hunting is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!
I look at things kinda like this.... A .300 mag will shoot a 200gr Accubond at about the same velocity as an '06 or .308 shooting a 180gr Accubond.

Better long range overall performance. Better SD. Better BC. Better penetration. That makes the .300s all around better-er for larger game in my eyes. My personal preferences also lie with SMs and the more compact rifles they allow.

Just for the Heck of it, take a gander at the .325 WSM. Not exactly well known, but the numbers are rather impressive with 200gr loads. The Browning X-Bolt is an excellent platform for the .325 (Hells Canyon Speed). I own .325s in both the X-Bolt and BLR. Nice light rifles.

This is a little off topic but I’m going to throw it out there first. I would say that having a good rangefinder is more important than caliber. Judging range is almost impossible for an easterner in open country looking at an animal that is four times the size of the deer you are used to looking at. I have found it hard to tell if elk are 200 or 500 yards without ranging them.

After seeing how efficient muzzleloaders are at killing elk I have come to believe that bullet diameter is more important than velocity. they are big animals and a big wound channel is helpful. If I were going to build an elk rifle I would go with a .338. Even if it were a .338-06. Anywhere up from there would be better as long as you can shoot it well.


Staff member
Just FYI, my in-laws are western hunters and regularly kill elk, mule deer and antelope in a three state area. Their weapons are 30/06, 7mm-08 and .270. I would not spend money when owning a .308.


Senior Member
I've been researching a Barnes 120gr load for my 7m08 for an upcoming antelope hunt. I was surprised at how many folks use that very load for elk. Most all of them actually live out there and it seems they hunt with whatever they have on hand.


Senior Member
My main rifle is a .308 but I wouldn't use it for elk.
My elk rifle is a .300 Win. Mag. I like it so much I used it for everything for about 15 years. It kills hogs and deer just fine. But it shines at long range. My last elk a 5X5 was taken at 400 yards, just a chip shot for that rifle.
My backup elk rifle used to be my main elk rifle, a 7mm Rem. Magnum. I've killed elk with it also but after a November New Mexico migration hunt where it was either really long shots or nothing, I came home and bought the .300 win.
I've been out there several times and seen it and done it. My .308 will kill an elk but not at the distance the .300 shines. And with a marginal hit with the .308 I might lose that elk. With the .300 I have a much better chance of recovery.
But. This is a big BUT, if someone just can't shoot a 7 mag. or .300 mag. with real accuracy then a .308 that hits the heart is better than a .300 that hits nothing.