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Smallest caliber for elk?

Old 12-06-2006, 08:12 AM
Nontypical Buck
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Default Smallest caliber for elk?

Sort ofa weird question here, but what would you recommend for a light recoil rifle that can handle an elk? Any range restrictions allowed.

My wife, who I have been elk hunting to Idaho once with archery and we are going again in 2007, has started firearms hunting. She is somewhat recoil sensitive. I plan on buying her a rifle for NH deer hunting. The other night she tossed out that if she doesn't get an archery elk in 2007 she would consider going with rifles.

Considering she is recoil sensitive and practice time would be important, getting a big kicker would be a bad idea. I was considering a .243 for local deer which my research tells me is enough with either a 95 or 100 gr bullet these should handle local deer nicely. However this is probably on the light side for elk.

I have little experience in this area. I shoot a .30-06 but feel this might be a bit tough on the kick for her. So.....

what, on the lighter end of recoil, will handle an elk? Remember this is 99% a NH deer rifle with the chance to go elk hunting 1-2 times maybe. Is therea single gun that fits the bill on both ends?

Bob H in NH is offline  
Old 12-06-2006, 09:07 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Missouri
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Default RE: Smallest caliber for elk?

260 rem. Light kicker and the S.D. of the 140 gr. bullets are phenominal.
7mm-08 would be another terrific choice.

Either one would have a range limitation of approximately 200 yards give or take. JMHO
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Old 12-06-2006, 09:29 AM
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Default RE: Smallest caliber for elk?

I say the 7mm-08.
I'm sure the .260 would be great, but the question is ammo availability.
You get one heck of alot more chances of getting 7mm-08 than .260.

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Old 12-06-2006, 09:34 AM
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Default RE: Smallest caliber for elk?

If you're handloading, or using "premium" factory rounds, I thinka 6.5x55 Swede would be a good choice. Ammo may not be avalible in every mom & pop shop, but shouldn't be too hard if you look.
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Old 12-06-2006, 09:56 AM
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Default RE: Smallest caliber for elk?

I'm not a big fan of auto loaders but this is a time when they fit the bill.
My wife who is also recoil sensitive along with my sister both shoot Rem 7400 one in 270 win and the other in 280 rem, both have good recoil pads.Both of these guns have harvested elk under 200 yds and have worked well on deer.For a novice rifle hunter these would be a good choice for deer and the every once in a while elk.
The 7400 is not the greatest auto loader,the BAR or the Beneli R1 are top of the choice.
The recoil on both the 280 and 270 is so minimal the target bearly leaves the scope,with these rifles.
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Old 12-06-2006, 11:32 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Helena MT USA
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Default RE: Smallest caliber for elk?

why not just put a muzzle break on a bigger rifle?
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Old 12-06-2006, 11:48 AM
Typical Buck
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Default RE: Smallest caliber for elk?

The .260 Rem and the 7mm-08 Rem are both outstanding choices. With the right bullets, each will work to 250 yards or so.

Andmake sure you don't get an "ultralight" rifle. Both of these cartridges will put up a bit of a fuss in a 6 lb. rifle.
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Old 12-06-2006, 12:41 PM
Nontypical Buck
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Default RE: Smallest caliber for elk?

I've got a muzzlebreak and a limbsaver pad on my .270win and it kicks about as much as my 223.
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Old 12-06-2006, 01:25 PM
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Location: Cheyoming
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Default RE: Smallest caliber for elk?

If you can get her within 100 - 150 yards, you can't go wrong with the tried and true 30-30WIN. A 170 gr bullet hasthe recoilenergy of just 11 foot pounds! Add a gel type recoil pad and BAM! Dead animal.
That is less recoil than the .308, 7mm-08, and others mentioned.
As an example, a 30-06 8lb. rifle shooting a 180 gr bullet has a recoil of 17.6 foot pounds. Interesting stuff @
There are scopes available for the Model 94's also.

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Old 12-06-2006, 02:13 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Default RE: Smallest caliber for elk?

I really didnt think that my .270 win kicked all that much, i now have a .270 WSM and really really light rifle and i can really tell the difference, Ive never really heard much about muzzlebreaks but from the sounds of that u shoud probalby look into them
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