The Worst Caliber For Hunting Elk
I realize I might ruffle a few feathers with this email, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Some cartridges have reputations for “punching above their weight.” They tend to be more effective at killing various species of game than you might think, by looking at their ballistics on paper.
For instance, the 6.5×55, 7×57, and 9.3x62mm Mauser cartridges have all developed that sort of a reputation over the years. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true and other cartridges sometimes don’t seem to perform as well as they should either. That’s where the subject of today’s email comes in.
|Land diameter||6.50 mm (0.256 in)|
|Neck diameter||7.60 mm (0.299 in)|
|Bullet diameter||6.71 mm (0.264 in)|
Unlike those Mauser cartridges I just mentioned, this cartridge looks great on paper, but sometimes failed to live up to expectations. This was especially true after it was first introduced.
The Mauser Cartridge Popular With Elk Hunters
The new high velocity cartridge was incredibly popular after it first hit the market many years ago. Due to a combination of impressive ballistics and good marketing, the cartridge was adopted by thousands of elk hunters. Then reports of poor performance on elk started trickling out.
Many of those elk were undoubtedly wounded and lost due to poor shot placement. Was the Mauser cartridge right for elk? However, more credible reports of wounded and lost elk that were hit extremely well started to surface though. The big ammunition and bullet manufacturers eventually diagnosed the problem with the cartridge and fixed it. As it turned out, the new cartridge was initially loaded with bullets that weren’t quite tough enough. The could not withstand the stresses involved with higher impact velocities on big and tough creatures like elk.
In those cases, the bullets would expand too rapidly and sometimes completely come apart when striking an elk. When that happened, bullet penetration was terrible. Sometimes the bullet would not reach the vitals after hitting bone or a heavily muscled shoulder.
The result was some horrific flesh wounds that were often not immediately fatal to the elk. That problem has been fixed. The cartridge that was originally tagged as an elk “wounder” is now one of the most popular elk cartridge. It has become one of the most effective elk hunting cartridges in use in North America.
So what cartridge have I been talking about? The 7mm Remington Magnum. Like I said, it’s now an extremely capable elk cartridge. It’s still not perfect though. Indeed, it does still have a somewhat checkered reputation in certain circles and hunters continue to wound and lose elk with it each year due to poor bullet selection.
In fact, a friend of mine did some unscientific polling of the Mauser cartridge with elk guides in Colorado a few years ago to see what cartridge they’ve seen clients have the most trouble with on elk.
Once again, the 7mm Remington Magnum.
So, does that mean the 7mm Rem Mag is garbage and you shouldn’t hunt elk with it?
There’s not a darn thing wrong with using the 7mm Rem Mag on an elk hunt. It’s always important to use appropriate ammunition for the job at hand, but this is a more vital consideration with some cartridges.
Be Diligent In Your Bullet Selection For Elk
Well, the 7mm Rem Mag is one of those cartridges when it comes to elk. Hunters who are not diligent with their bullet selection can run into BIG problems on their elk hunt, even with perfect shot placement. Don’t be one of those hunters.
Savvy hunters who use appropriate ammunition are very unlikely to have problems with it though and it’s one of the most effective elk cartridges if the hunter knows what they’re doing and is using high quality ammo.
Fortunately for you, the Hunting Guns 101 training contains a very thorough overview of internal, external, and terminal ballistics. Among other things, this training will also help you understand what really happens after your bullet impacts and how it kills the animal in question. Those modules also explain in more detail why some of those older 7mm Remington Magnum loads were performing so poorly on elk. More importantly. You will learn how to avoid those same issues today. You will learn the importance of using bullets that are ideally suited to the task.
As ethical hunters, our primary when shooting big game animal afield should be to deliver a humane kill. If you complete this training and apply the principles I teach, you’ll be well on your way towards accomplishing that goal regardless of whether you plan on hunting elk with a 7mm Rem Mag or something else.
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