10 of The Best Cartridges for Bringing Down Elk
When it comes to hunting, elk are as intimidating of a target as any animal. An average, mature bull elk can weigh around 700 lbs. They are thick, massive, and dense creatures, and because of their size, they cannot be taken down easily. That’s why with an elk hunt, perhaps more than any other hunt, the equipment you use matters.
An elk hunt is an arduous, difficult journey, and when the opportunity for a shot does arrive, you want to make sure that you have the right tools to get the job done. Read on to learn more about the best caliber for elk that you can use to successfully take down an elk this year!
How to Choose an Elk Hunting Cartridge
The cartridge that you choose could be the difference between a crippled and lost animal and a filled tag and stocked freezer. When it comes to an elk hunt, here are the two main things you want out of your cartridge:
Power. Elk are strong animals with thick hides and dense bones. You need a cartridge that can cut through all of this and deliver a successful kill.
Distance. Not only are elk tough creatures, but they are smart as well. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get very close to an elk without spooking them. More often than not, you’ll be taking a shot from well over 50 yards away, meaning that you need a cartridge that can provide your bullet with accuracy from a distance.
Why It’s Important to Pick the Right Elk Cartridge
Elk are powerful creatures. You could have the most lethal aim in the world, but if your cartridge isn’t powerful enough, you could still be unsuccessful on your elk hunt. An elk has a tough and thick hide, meaning that you’re going to need something powerful to ensure that you are piercing the vital organs and getting a clean kill.
Think of a good cartridge as insurance for your elk hunt. Chances are high that your elk hunt will not go entirely perfectly. You probably won’t get the perfect shot opportunity — either the angle, distance, or obstacles will be working against you. Because of that, you’ll want a cartridge that can give you the best chance of success and make up for any problems you may face.
Our List of the Top 10 Elk Hunting Cartridges
Our list of the best elk cartridges is based on cartridges that can combine distance and power to give you an effective and efficient shot in a wide variety of circumstances. With these cartridges in your chamber, you can rest assured that you’ll have the firepower necessary to take down an elk when the moment arrives.
7mm Remington Magnum
Ever since the 7mm Remington Magnum first hit the shelves in the 1960s, hunters have loved it due to its high velocity, flat-shooting capabilities. For a while, it did catch a bit of a reputation that it was not a powerful enough cartridge to kill an elk, but those rumors have since been put to bed easily. If you use the right quality of bullet (think 160-175gr), you’ll have no problem putting an elk down.
The .300 Weatherby cartridge is a popular choice amongst all big game hunters, and for good reason — it’s able to shoot a 180gr bullet into a target at 3,100fps. This powerful cartridge has been known to take down everything from whitetail deer to exotic game in Africa, meaning that it’s more than capable of taking down a strong bull elk.
Since its release in the early 20th century, the .30-06 has done nothing but help hunters rack up successful kills when hunting big game. If you’re within a reasonable range, this cartridge can get the job done while also providing significantly less recoil than the other elk cartridges on the market. All in all, it’s a dependable elk cartridge that you can rely on in almost any situation.
If you’re looking to take a shot from a long distance, then the .35 Whelen may be what you’re looking for. This cartridge is incredibly reliable with anything up to 300 yards away, and it hits as hard as any other cartridge on the market, making it one of the best long-range elk cartridges available. You can rest assured that with this cartridge, you’ll be getting a good, lethal shot from a distance.
.300 Winchester Magnum
Do you want something with a little bit of horsepower behind it? That’s exactly what’s provided with the .300 Winchester Magnum. This cartridge definitely packs more recoil than others on this list, but that extra power is going straight into the elk you’re hunting. It can carry a heavier bullet, shoot faster than most cartridges and pack a massive punch. Overall, this may be the most popular cartridge amongst serious elk hunters.
.338 Winchester Magnum
If the .330 Winchester Magnum doesn’t satisfy your thirst for a hard-hitting bullet, then the .338 Winchester Magnum will definitely do the trick. This cartridge shoots .338” diameter bullets, which has about 20% more frontal surface area than the .300 Winchester Magnum. This extra surface area provides a larger entry point and a stronger punch, and if you can hit an elk in the right spot, it will be incredibly effective. It’s also a reliable cartridge in the face of any danger you may face on your hunt, including bear attacks.
Although many would think of the .375 H&H as a cartridge for dangerous game, it works wonders on an elk hunt as well. It’s accurate from a distance, powerful enough to take down an animal stronger than an elk, and can be easily relied upon in any sort of elk hunting scenario.
A 6.5 PRC doesn’t pack as much pure power as the other cartridges on this list, but they are dense enough to do some damage and get the job done. What they lack in power, they more than make up for in accuracy. It will take good shot placement, steady aim, and a patient outlook, but if you can get the right shot, these cartridges are lethal to an elk of any size.
Versatility is the name of the game with the .375 Ruger. It can fit in a variety of rifles, and it can take down everything from elk to moose to bears. As it exits the rifle at 2,900 fps with 4,668 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, you can guarantee that your target will feel the power of this cartridge.
300 Remington Ultra Mag
The .300 Remington Ultra Mag shoots a bullet that hits hard and shoots flat — what more could you want from it? You’re getting a cartridge that packs power and delivers the shot in a straight, accurate line, making it an incredibly popular choice for hunters who don’t want to leave anything to chance.
Want to Improve Your Odds of Dropping a Bull? Try Hunting Suppressed
Once you’ve got the cartridge selected, the next step is to get the rest of your loadout in shape for your hunt — and that’s where Silencer Central can help you out. A quality silencer can help increase your chances on any hunt, elk included. Shop our selection of silencers today and reach out to our team to ask any other questions you have about cartridges, ammunition, elk hunts, and more!Get Started