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May 21, 2008

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Elk Calibers

Outdoor Life publisher Eric Zinczenko just took delivery of a new long-range elk rifle, a beautiful custom Ed Brown Savanna chambered in .340 Weatherby. Hard to argue with his choice. It will certainly handle any elk that ever had the nerve to hang out on the other side of the canyon.

The last elk I took (with a gun) was with a rifle chambered in the anti-.340 Weatherby. I used a single-shot .260 Remington. I shot the bull once, at 264 yards, and it ran less than 50 yards before piling up. Those 6.5mm bullets are just wonderful hunting bullets.

Anarchangel also recently weighed in on what makes for a good elk cartridge.

—John Snow



I love the woods on the side of mountains. Give me my Remington Classic 700 in .350 Rem Mag, it knocks them flat right now.

Del in KS


I have the same gun. Bought it brand new while stationed in AK back in the 80's. With it made 1 shot bang flop kills on Moose, Grizzly, Blackbear and deer. It's all the gun you need for anything in North America. BTW mine wears a Leupold VXII 1.75-5X scope.

John Snow


I like your choice in rifle, but I really like your choice in scope. People are often surprised that my default big-game scope is a 1.5-6X -- but that power range is more than enough for nearly every hunting situation.

Mr. Ballistic

My Favorite Elk calibers are the 6.5mm's and the 35's. The 6.5 bullets penetrate as well or better than any other caliber. Gets the bullet where it needs to be. The 35's (358 win / 350 Rem) just seem to put game down like you turned off a switch. The .340's .338's and Ultra whatever's are all awesome for sure, but are more than needed for any elk under 300 yards.


I just purchased my first rifle, a Ruger M77R MKII in 6.5x55 Swede. My thinking was that this rifle should be suitable for just about any North American game. I still hear some claims that the Swede isn't up to Elk, but it's nice to get some support from folks like you. Seems most gun writers agree that the ol' Swede is up to the task (and the Swede is quite similar to the .260 Rem I believe). Certainly, the main gun writer at the other major hunting magazine is a big booster of the Swede, as is the prolific Chuck Hawks.

John Snow

The 6.5x55 Swede is an excellent choice for North American big game. Not only is it deadly on animals up to and including moose (it stacks them up like firewood in forests of Northern Europe every year) but it can also be handloaded to more potent levels should you desire.