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My wife has an elk hunt this October. We need to get her a new rifle chambered in an appropriate cartridge. Her shots will likely be inside of 200 yards but if the situation dictates, her maximum distance will be 250 yards. She is a little recoil sensitive but works hard to minimize her flinch. She is slight built and does not have the strength to hold a heavy rifle on target. She has no problem hunting, even cute and cuddly, but gets very upset if an animal does not expire quickly. Her 243 Win is absolutely not an option for Elk. She has shot 270 win, 308 Win and 338 WinMag but claims they have the same recoil, too much.

Cartridge to fit (most of) these parameters:
-max 20ftlb recoil
-min 270 cal, not just because this is the 6.8 community, it is the minimum caliber in some states we hunt
-min 140gr bullet
-2,700-ish MV, relatively flat shooting
-1200-ish ft-lb energy @ 250 yards
- commercially available cartridge, I've sworn off Wildcats and I'm desperately trying to resist that addiction

We would prefer this performance without a muzzle brake, for several reasons, but a dead elk is the priority.

This forum seems to debate more on fact then emotion, so, what hunting cartridge would you recommend that fits these parameters? Does this cartridge exist? Are we looking to hunt elk with a unicorn?
 

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I would suggest 7mm-08 or 260 Remington. Both have mild recoil and good terminal ballistics. What area did she get a tag for?
 

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Consider... the heavier the pill (for a given caliber), the heavier the felt recoil. Why are you locked into a minimum of 140gr? Try having her fire a .270 with a 120 gr. MKZ CBB hunting bullet. Have her try firing the same weapon with the CBB 105 gr. MKZ CBB hunting bullet.


At the range of shot you're talking... the 120 MKZ in a 16"-18" 6.8 SPC may not disappoint. More than one from these pages have killed elk, black bear, even one brown bear (Canada) with a 6.8. A well placed shot with a GOOD bullet is key.

Also consider... if the rifle is heavier (in a .270 for example), the heavier gun will absorb more of the felt recoil than a feather weight rifle. If she can manage the felt recoil with the heavier gun, m'be a little "assist" from a monopod, bipod, or tripod will help her with holding on target. One offering to look at are these...


I have a set of these, they are versatile, they CAN be used/carried without a lot of hassle. There are some good videos of them being used to help gain a perspective.

The PRIMOS Jim Shockey line isn't bad either... consider options and ways to help her cope with the challenges faced.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I would suggest 7mm-08 or 260 Remington. Both have mild recoil and good terminal ballistics. What area did she get a tag for?
7-08 is a caliber we're considering, but there isn't a lot of factory ammo options. My wife was drawn for 5B cow. It's got everything from Serengeti, big timber, deep canyons to thick cover. It's probably not the best unit but I know it fairly well. For health reasons, we only eat what we hunt and fish. She wasn't interested in a bull tag because of the brutal weather I had up there on my late season bull hunt two years ago.
 

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Consider... the heavier the pill (for a given caliber), the heavier the felt recoil. Why are you locked into a minimum of 140gr? Try having her fire a .270 with a 120 gr. MKZ CBB hunting bullet. Have her try firing the same weapon with the CBB 105 gr. MKZ CBB hunting bullet.


At the range of shot you're talking... the 120 MKZ in a 16"-18" 6.8 SPC may not disappoint. More than one from these pages have killed elk, black bear, even one brown bear (Canada) with a 6.8. A well placed shot with a GOOD bullet is key.

Also consider... if the rifle is heavier (in a .270 for example), the heavier gun will absorb more of the felt recoil than a feather weight rifle. If she can manage the felt recoil with the heavier gun, m'be a little "assist" from a monopod, bipod, or tripod will help her with holding on target. One offering to look at are these...


I have a set of these, they are versatile, they CAN be used/carried without a lot of hassle. There are some good videos of them being used to help gain a perspective.

The PRIMOS Jim Shockey line isn't bad either... consider options and ways to help her cope with the challenges faced.
I'm probably going to open a can of worms on this... I do know lighter bullets give less recoil and higher muzzle velocity. However, I prefer heavier bullets for caliber. I want momentum for the penetration, I prefer exit wounds. I've chased too many dead animals to know i want good blood trails. My wife wants animal to drop in their tracks. She's OK with some kicking but is upset her when they struggle or run for longer than they should. If they do I need to find them quickly.

I'd really like her to handle a 270 win with 140gr, maybe 130s with a tough bullet, or a 308 with 168gr or heavier. She shot a friend's older Tikka T3 lite in 270 and hated it. She has shot my AR10, it's heavy, she didn't care for it. She's, also, shot my model 88 in 308, it was a bit much. Maybe a 300 Savage wouldn't be too much recoil?

I do hear you, Ratdog, I'd like to get her something a little heavier for the recoil absorption. She does have both the Primos mono and bipods. She didn't care for them at first but I've been working with her to get more comfortable using them. She did use the mono last month on her turkey hunt with success.

To help me break my expensive addiction to race guns and wildcats, I had to sell them all and get rid of my reloading equipment to avoid the temptation. I am now limited to factory ammo. I do buy from places like double tap, but as they become more mainstream they reduce their variety. I do have friends that will load for me but it has proven a little difficult to get them to load exactly what I want. As much as I love my 6.8spc i don't feel comfortable having my wife use it on elk. The 270 msr is sooo very tempting. A bolt gun with a 20-22" barrel would be near perfect?? I wouldn't have to buy much reloading equipment for this cartage, would I??
 

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It sounds like the only real options to meet all of your requirements and less recoil than a 270 is the 7-08 or 7x57mauser.





Of course a 270 also fits in your parameters quite nicely as well.

For reference here is a table of recoil based on various rounds and shows rifle weight as well.
 

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7mm-08 with a 120gr Barnes TTSX seems like it should fit the bill.

I am curious, though--what are your aversions to using a 270 with a muzzle brake? Perhaps we can help devise a workaround that would be cheaper than a new rifle...and the money saved can be used on ammo for practice. Learning to shoot well off of sticks was absolutely paramount to my success hunting in Africa, and I imagine the same will be true here.

Related: In my experience, if you're shooting off of sticks with a scope turned up higher than 6x, you're hindering your ability to hold steady.
 

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I'm one of the guys that have taken elk with 6.8mm SPC and CavityBack 105 MKZs. 200 yards was pass through and elk dropped in two steps with massive hemorrhaging. Bullet construction makes the difference. I'm a believer in monolithic bullets for weight retention and penetration. But you do not want to reload.

A .270 Tikka T3 Lite with 129 LRX is my primary elk rifle and I have taken elk out to 500 yards with no issue. Never wanted a heavier bullet and have always had exit wounds on pass through and 3-foot of penetration when an elk turn away at 500 yards. The Tikka is light so I do have a LimbSaver would be needed in your situation. It makes a significant difference.

Barnes 7mm-08 ammo would do fine with 120 TTSX. Tikka's are very accurate and easy to carry. I would still install the LimbSaver.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It sounds like the only real options to meet all of your requirements and less recoil than a 270 is the 7-08 or 7x57mauser.





Of course a 270 also fits in your parameters quite nicely as well.

For reference here is a table of recoil based on various rounds and shows rifle weight as well.
Thanks for the links SFS13! Even though there isn't a lot of diversity in factory for these 7mm rounds, I'm happy to see what is available are hunting rounds. I don't have a lot of firsthand experience with these 7mm rounds. I have a couple of friends with 7mm that hunt with mixed results. A hunting buddy that has the Mauser is a careful shooter, and rolls his own, has great success. The guy with 7-08 thinks just hitting a pie plate at 100yards is good. We end up tracking a lot of animal. My wife's shooting is somewhere in between.
 

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I know you said you'd prefer not using a muzzle break but a good one can reduce felt recoil by 50% . Yes they are loud as hell but you can use a powerful round and not have to deal with the recoil. In an 8 pound rifle 300 win mag has roughly double the recoil of a 308 depending on bullet weight. With a break reducing recoil by 50% on the 300 , they will be equal. I would think a 270 or 308 with heavy bullets and a good muzzle break would work good for you. Just make sure you have some hearing protection.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
7mm-08 with a 120gr Barnes TTSX seems like it should fit the bill.

I am curious, though--what are your aversions to using a 270 with a muzzle brake? Perhaps we can help devise a workaround that would be cheaper than a new rifle...and the money saved can be used on ammo for practice. Learning to shoot well off of sticks was absolutely paramount to my success hunting in Africa, and I imagine the same will be true here.

Related: In my experience, if you're shooting off of sticks with a scope turned up higher than 6x, you're hindering your ability to hold steady.
Thanks DethRokRyan, I do appreciate the functionality of a brake, the problem is, the very real issue with hearing loss. With my years of competitive shooting and working in construction, my tinnitus now screams so loud I am starting to have issues with hearing normal conversation. My wife was born with 85% hearing loss in one ear. Neither of us can afford any more. We try very hard to wear proper protection, however one slip up, like her turkey hunting last month, and we pay for it. I would really like her to handle the largest caliber possible without a brake, but meat in the freezer is the priority.

Plus, in full disclosure I am not really affected by recoil. I actually rather enjoy it. So it is hard for me to get my head around the fact people have issues with too much recoil. I think a 270 or 308 should be manageable without a brake. I know I shouldn't have this frame of mind. I'm working on it. I'm a man, I can change, if I have to.

We have a close group of friends and hunting buddies and their wives that have hunted Africa as well. They are big proponents of shooting sticks. I've been working with my wife to get her to use them. God bless her, she's not the most coordinated gal, but she's trying!

If we get her a bolt it'll be hers alone. I shoot left-hand, she shoots right-handed. Our budget is $800-1000 for just the rifle. We're greatful for any suggestions on brands of rifles as well.

I very much agree with you on keeping magnification as low as possible while hunting.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I know you said you'd prefer not using a muzzle break but a good one can reduce felt recoil by 50% . Yes they are loud as hell but you can use a powerful round and not have to deal with the recoil. In an 8 pound rifle 300 win mag has roughly double the recoil of a 308 depending on bullet weight. With a break reducing recoil by 50% on the 300 , they will be equal. I would think a 270 or 308 with heavy bullets and a good muzzle break would work good for you. Just make sure you have some hearing protection.
Thanks dfleury. I do understand a brake can significantly reduce recoil. I'm also thinking that if we're going to put a brake on a 270 or 308 why not make the jump to something like a 300 Win Mag to really get some power?
 

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"Why not make the jump to something like a 300 Win Mag?"

Because you don't need that much power to hunt elk!

You cannot afford to place a firearm in her hands that has any risk of causing her to flinch. My big strong elk hunting partner thought he needed a 300 Win Mag to do right with elk. He has developed a flinch so bad he can't hit and elk even inside 100 yards (seriously) and has yet to recover after he put the 300 WMag in the back of the safe 2 years ago. Shot placement and bullet selection are more important than caliber. Your talking 250 yards max which a 6.8mm can do the job with the right bullet. My elk guides carry 22-250s and do neck shots.

You mention noise is an issue. When I hunt without my suppressor, I use my active noise cancelling head-sets. It sounds like you both need a pair so you can talk and communication while hunting without issue. My first elk hunt was with a partner who put on ear plugs and ear muffs as we went to shoot our cows out of a herd at the same time. He didn't hear what I was saying and we shot the same cow.

BTW, where are you hunting elk? I hunt in NM and have only had a shot situation inside 250 yards. Most have been 400 to 550 yards in the open country we hunt in. It's not hard to hit the vitals on a stationary broadside elk at 300+ yards (with light winds) if you know range and how to hold over (and practice). Add a good range-finder to your equipment list. Estimating range doesn't promote success.

Another hunting partner I have takes his wife on big game hunts. He emphasis how critical it is to make sure everything is right for her including setting up for the shot so she is comfortable and successful. They shoot off sticks (tripod) and she practices with a .223 that is identical to her hunting gun. If it's important to you that she have a successful hunt, this may be the path to success for you. Use a LimbSaver on a light-weight, easy to carry 6.5 Creedmore or 7mm-08 and she won't even realize she made the shot. You don't need a heavy bullet with the Barnes or GMX.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I'm one of the guys that have taken elk with 6.8mm SPC and CavityBack 105 MKZs. 200 yards was pass through and elk dropped in two steps with massive hemorrhaging. Bullet construction makes the difference. I'm a believer in monolithic bullets for weight retention and penetration. But you do not want to reload.

A .270 Tikka T3 Lite with 129 LRX is my primary elk rifle and I have taken elk out to 500 yards with no issue. Never wanted a heavier bullet and have always had exit wounds on pass through and 3-foot of penetration when an elk turn away at 500 yards. The Tikka is light so I do have a LimbSaver would be needed in your situation. It makes a significant difference.

Barnes 7mm-08 ammo would do fine with 120 TTSX. Tikka's are very accurate and easy to carry. I would still install the LimbSaver.
Thanks Xman. I'm a huge fan of you collection of data, I reference it often. Thanks for the hard work! I had some bad experiences with the all copper back when they first started to appear. Your research has convincing me to take a second look. It's not that I don't want to reload, I just don't have the time, money and space for it now. I can easily get carried away with reloading. I do have friends and family that have reloaded for me and recently forum members offered to help depending on what caliber we end up with.

My cousin has a Tikka T3 in 30-06 and the newer T3x light in 308. He says the T3x has remarkably milder recoil. I haven't shot the T3x yet. Do you have the wood or composite stock on your Tikka?

I'd like to experiment with any, new to me, bullet or load combinations on my own hunts or big Texas hogs before I have my wife use them. I am not knocking anyone else's choice or positive hunting experience. In my hunting experience, if there is anything that can go wrong, it will happen when I'm on that hunt. I have not come up with the performance minimums arbitrarily. I prefer a well constructed bullet with momentum and diameter as metrics for performance. I've had the best luck with faster, heavier bullets.

I've had dead whitetail run 110 yards and crawl under a brush pile. A non-beating heart doesn't pump much blood out of one .30" hole. A 357mag only make it halfway through a shield on an exceptionally large hog. I've had 30-30 bullets, twice, deflect off the neck vertebrae of an 250lb whitetail. More than once have 308 win copper punch nice little holes through the lungs of deer. I had a copper. 223 bullet fail to expand and pass through the gap in the "fins" of the vertebra of a hog. I would have considered it a fluke til the same thing happened with a buddy on a deer. My last elk went 160 yards after being hit with a 200 grain 338 Winmag. Took out both lungs and the top of the heart, only hit two ribs but did not even make it to the hide. Only the last 40 yards had any blood. My wife broke both shoulders on a bobcat with her 243 only to have it yowl and flip for several minutes in thick Texas brush before I could find and dispatch it. That experience still upsets her and almost made her stop hunting for good.

Don't get me wrong, I've had my share of great result too. Every 6.8 I've shot at hogs (l have lost count), deer, goats and bobcat have only needed one. I'm up to 27 shots for 39 hogs with a 308 win. I want to have the added insurance for a successful hunt.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
"Why not make the jump to something like a 300 Win Mag?"

Because you don't need that much power to hunt elk!

You cannot afford to place a firearm in her hands that has any risk of causing her to flinch. My big strong elk hunting partner thought he needed a 300 Win Mag to do right with elk. He has developed a flinch so bad he can't hit and elk even inside 100 yards (seriously) and has yet to recover after he put the 300 WMag in the back of the safe 2 years ago. Shot placement and bullet selection are more important than caliber. Your talking 250 yards max which a 6.8mm can do the job with the right bullet. My elk guides carry 22-250s and do neck shots.

You mention noise is an issue. When I hunt without my suppressor, I use my active noise cancelling head-sets. It sounds like you both need a pair so you can talk and communication while hunting without issue. My first elk hunt was with a partner who put on ear plugs and ear muffs as we went to shoot our cows out of a herd at the same time. He didn't hear what I was saying and we shot the same cow.

BTW, where are you hunting elk? I hunt in NM and have only had a shot situation inside 250 yards. Most have been 400 to 550 yards in the open country we hunt in. It's not hard to hit the vitals on a stationary broadside elk at 300+ yards (with light winds) if you know range and how to hold over (and practice). Add a good range-finder to your equipment list. Estimating range doesn't promote success.

Another hunting partner I have takes his wife on big game hunts. He emphasis how critical it is to make sure everything is right for her including setting up for the shot so she is comfortable and successful. They shoot off sticks (tripod) and she practices with a .223 that is identical to her hunting gun. If it's important to you that she have a successful hunt, this may be the path to success for you. Use a LimbSaver on a light-weight, easy to carry 6.5 Creedmore or 7mm-08 and she won't even realize she made the shot. You don't need a heavy bullet with the Barnes or GMX.
I know my wife doesn't need that much power for elk, I just want that much power! LOL that's why we're looking for something easier to manage. We do work on her shooting in a variety of calibers. The last time out for practice, she did very well. Actually the best way I found to keep her concentrated and from flinching, is to remind her if she does she will wound the animal.

I hear ya on the big guy that can't handle recoil well! One of our Texas hog hunting crew is an ex-sheriff, he make me look small and I'm 6'2" 250 lbs. He got talked into shooting my 338 Winmag. On his second shot he forgot to load a round and almost fell over backwards yanking the trigger! I almost peed my pants! He says his 30-30 has more recoil than he wants.

We both have noise cancelling muffs and as you point out, they do allow for quite conversation on a hunt. One problem with them is their overall dB reduction is low. With a muzzle brake we would have to use earplugs and the muffs to avoid hearing damage. On her turkey hunt last month, in the excitement we forgot/didn't have time, to put on the muffs before the shot. My head is still ringing. One of the reasons for me getting done with competitive shooting is hearing loss with just electronic ear muffs. I've noticed the most hearing damage after a 10-day CQ training course. Instructors do not like when you cannot hear them, so I did not wear ear plugs under the muffs. I'm very sorry I did not do that. If I could find some lower-rated plugs I would love to wear them with the muffs.

My wife was drawn for the October cow hunt in unit 5B Arizona. It is southeast of Flagstaff. It offers a very wide range from wide open grasslands, deep Canyons, steep hillsides and heavy Timber. On her last deer hunt she would not take a shot on a deer just under 280 yards. She did not feel comfortable and I wasn't going to press her. I am fairly confident I can get her within 200-250 yards of an elk for a shot if we stay out of the wide-open areas.

I do like your suggestion of matching rifles. Who doesn't need because reason to buy more guns!
 

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My Tikka T3 Lite is composite stock which is much more rigid than some of the "composite" stocks found on low-end Remingtons, Rugers, etc. I started out shooting 110 TTSX .270 Win at 3450 fps and needed the LimbSaver to shoot off the bench. 129 LRX and 130 GMX have done well on elk though I'm now shooting just the LRX. Both the LRX, TTSX, and GMX have good factor loads in the calibers you are talking about.

Elk are more than double the size of deer. I think 12x is more magnification than I need at 400 yards for an elk but just right for a small TX deer at 200.

Get a rifle you don't need a muzzle brake for. I wear my electronic ear muffs from the start of my hunt when its cold weather.

Oh, I'm not surprised by your comments on copper bullets in .223. Too many 16" barrels out there and 1:9 twist. Some monolithic bullets will not expand much past 100 yards launched from that configuration. 1:7 twist really "wake's up" and increases expansion with monolithic bullets in .223. Right now I've set-up a 224 Valkyrie for my night rig using 55gr E-Tips at 3400 fps. It is vaporizing coyotes but I do plan to use it on hogs next time I intercept them. Neck shots on the big ones and should have more hits when they scatter with less recoil and lead.
 
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