Best caliber/bullet weight for elk/bears under 400 yards

jjohnsonElknewbie

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Before anybody replies, please follow these criteria:

-No belted magnums
-Commercially popular (reloading not required)
-Must taper (no .45-70 or other straight walls)
-Must deliver min. 1,500lb ft. of energy out to 400 yards

Looking forward to the discussion and learning about some options.
 

Laramie

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The first response was the caliber that best fits your criteria - 30-06. I prefer 165 grain or 180 grain bonded bullets. There are several factory loaded options. Nosler Accubonds are likely your most readily available.

If you want a bit less recoil, the .308 loaded with 150 grain or 165 grain will also produce over 1500lbs at 400 yards. The 30-06 actually is still producing over that at 500.
 
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jjohnsonElknewbie

jjohnsonElknewbie

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The first response was the caliber that best fits your criteria - 30-06. I prefer 165 grain or 180 grain bonded bullets. There are several factory loaded options. Nosler Accubonds are likely your most readily available.

If you want a bit less recoil, the .308 loaded with 150 grain or 165 grain will also produce over 1500lbs at 400 yards. The 30-06 actually is still producing over that at 500.
I shoot a .308 and it delivers 1" groups at 100 with 175 Federal TA. I'm happy with it, but always looking for something comparable/better. My brother shoots an 06 and it does everything the .308 does a little better albeit with more recoil. The 400 yard limit is my personal constraint for hunting range given my eyesight, budget for optics, and overall philosophy around getting as close as possible.

My main objectives in starting this thread are to see what popular options do as well or outperform my .308 and:
-Don't kick like a mule
-Don't cost a fortune (more than $65 per box)
-Can "normally" be found at a farm supply store, Walmart, or mom/pop outdoor store

I'm familiar with the 06 family of cartridges (.25, .270, .30) but know very little about what's lies in between. Im not sure there is anything that is going to stand out and absolutely kick the .308's butt inside these criteria, but I'm hoping somebody on here has a compelling cartridge worth investigating.
 

Laramie

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I shoot a .308 and it delivers 1" groups at 100 with 175 Federal TA. I'm happy with it, but always looking for something comparable/better. My brother shoots an 06 and it does everything the .308 does a little better albeit with more recoil. The 400 yard limit is my personal constraint for hunting range given my eyesight, budget for optics, and overall philosophy around getting as close as possible.

My main objectives in starting this thread are to see what popular options do as well or outperform my .308 and:
-Don't kick like a mule
-Don't cost a fortune (more than $65 per box)
-Can "normally" be found at a farm supply store, Walmart, or mom/pop outdoor store

I'm familiar with the 06 family of cartridges (.25, .270, .30) but know very little about what's lies in between. Im not sure there is anything that is going to stand out and absolutely kick the .308's butt inside these criteria, but I'm hoping somebody on here has a compelling cartridge worth investigating.
Don't fix it if it isn't broke....

However, in the fun of research, take a look at the 7mm-08. With the right loads, it will meet your criteria and have even less recoil than your .308 (2-3lbs less).

Here is a link to some information you may find useful- https://www.chuckhawks.com/recoil_table.htm

In general, you can't change the laws of physics. To generate as much energy as you want out to 400, you will need to look at creative ways to lower felt recoil. I personally feel a suppressor is the best option available right now for a hunter with the coin to do it.
 
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jjohnsonElknewbie

jjohnsonElknewbie

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Don't fix it if it isn't broke....

However, in the fun of research, take a look at the 7mm-08. With the right loads, it will meet your criteria and have even less recoil than your .308 (2-3lbs less).

Here is a link to some information you may find useful- https://www.chuckhawks.com/recoil_table.htm

In general, you can't change the laws of physics. To generate as much energy as you want out to 400, you will need to look at creative ways to lower felt recoil. I personally feel a suppressor is the best option available right now for a hunter with the coin to do it.
Thank you for linking this chart. I think the .338 Federal is an interesting round. If it can drive a 200 grain round as fast as a 180 grain .308, with only a couple extra pounds of recoil, that may be a good option. I will take a closer look at this one. I also liked the .280 AI numbers. However, I fear both may fail some of the criteria.

*EDIT/UPDATE: The .338 does not outperform the 175 grain .308.

The .280 AI on the other hand with a 155 gr Federal TA shoots flatter with far better retained energy even beyond 500 yards. At $72/20 it is on the expensive side, but definitely would be an improvement ballistically. It also has the same or slightly less recoil than the .308.
 
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chutinlead

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Funny you should mention it today. A YouTube channel I like just started a big comparison of elk cartridges. Looks at minimum expansion velocity, 1500ft-lbs, and Hornady's HIT formula.

 

AaronMColeman

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It's so funny how we chase cartridges....and we all come back to the 30-06. I think a 165g good hunting bullet is all anyone needs out to 500y on pretty much anything. I prefer a 30-06 to a .308 because of heavier bullets...but then again I really only shoot 165g across the board so I don't know what I'm saying.

Just shoot a .308 or 30-06 and don't waste time on sexier rounds.

Of course I have really liked 300WSM as a do it all round too with just a little more oomph than a 30-06, but I also fee like it's unnecessary oomph. Like driving a ferrari on the freeway...yeah it can go 180mph but do you really need all that power to cruise at 3mph in LA traffic?
 

PNWGATOR

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The .223 with a 77TMK is my choice for the best killing performance on big game inside of 400 yds. It checks all of the boxes that matter.
 

Crowmangler

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Have you compared them shooting with a muzzle brake or suppressed?
It's amazing how much they will reduce recoil.
If you do shoot with a brake be sure to have some hearing protection readily available
 
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