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While shooting with my son last Sat. he asked me, "Is the 30-30 good for elk?"  He was thinking about his new Marlin 30-30 and PA's new elk season.  With great confidence, I told him, "No it's just asking too much for a 30-30 to do."  

The problem is my answer is not sitting all that well.  I know that with a typical 150 to 170 gr jacketed bullet, the 30-30 is not up to the job.  Then I thought about what Marshall's bullets do in my 44's and 444.  I remembered Marshall's coments about the energy needed to give good expansion.  I wonder.

If Marshall's 170gr LMN 30 cal bullet is launched at around 2,300 fps and has a BHN or 22+, then why would it not do a fine job on elk at 100 yards or less?  Does anyone have any practical knowledge as to if this is possible or still asking too much for that grand old cartridge?  Comments please.


God bless......................  Bill M
 

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Bill,
A friend of mine in Salmon, ID hunts elk with a 30-30, 170gr factory loads, he stays within 100yrds & puts the bullet behind the shoulder, doesn't have a problem. Also I have my grandfather's Savage 1899 .303 Sav (a 30-30 class cartridge)which he used for elk in both Washington & Idaho many years ago, he used 180gr & 190gr factory loads. Hope this helps.
 

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Bill,
I hate to say, but I think at least part of the equation depends on the elk! On the same weekend I saw an elk drop instantly with one shot from a .243 Winchester, another hunter paced off 200 steps from where he'd shot his bull with a .338 Win Mag to where it dropped. My elk hunting experience is limited but I do know these things. You may hunt for days and your only sight of an elk may be a tan patch of fur through the trees. Also, your shots are rarely the perfect broadside scenario. I believe that pound for pound an elk is one of the toughest animals alive and if they are not hit really hard they sometimes just don't go down. A .30-30 certainly will kill an elk, but just isn't the best tool for the job. You will have to be absolutely precise with bullet placement ( which should be paramount with any firearm no matter the caliber) and you will have to be willing to pass on shots that could be made with a more suitable rifle. Now after all this .30-30 bashing do you know what I'll deer hunt with this year? That's right, my Marlin 336 in .30-30 caliber. It's all I've ever needed for deer. But when it's time to chase elk in Colorado I'll pack my Remington M700 Mountain rifle in .35 Whelen (rebarreled it myself, what a gun) loaded with 250 grain bullets. I don't care what anyone says, within 200 yards it hits as hard as any .300 or .338!
                                            Good Luck,
                                                  Dave
 

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Bill,

Glad to see there are just two guys interested in our upcoming elk hunt. :wink:

Seriously though, this question is one I've thought about in a number of cases. In my opinion I think there are two distinct classes of hunters that can use just as different weapons. Let me explain.

Jerry V mentioned a friend's successful use of the .30-30 against elk. I'd wager this fellow is sort of a backwoods type, always hunting a certain area. He knows the lay of the land and its game inside out. He likely lives where or very near where he hunts, so getting out repeatedly isn't a problem. If he doesn't get a clean shot today, then there is always tommorrow or next week. For a fellow like that who is a steady shot and knows the limits of the cartridge, then the .30-30 will probably do fine.

But then there is us- you, your son, and I. And who knows how many others like us. If we're lucky enough to draw one of those 30 tags, we won't have a lot of time to hunt. I believe it's only a two-day season, correct? Added to that we probably won't be locals who know where the elk are, nor will we have enough time to do some serious scouting for a week or more to get a good feel of the situation. So we're at a pretty big disadvantage right from day one. The only thing that can somewhat even those odds is our weaponry. We might need to take a shot at any range, at any angle as alluded to by Dave Saye. So that's why I'd say a definite no to a "visiting sportsman" like your son using a .30-30. The "local native hunter" could do it, but time is a great enemy for us.

So in my own case, if fortunate enough to draw a tag, I'll likely bring my 444P and another longer-range rifle as well. This may be a good excuse for the .338-06 I've wanted for a long time. But depending on the lay of the land, the amount of woods, etc. will determine which goes out with me in the morning.
 

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Excellent posts gentlemen!

I too have two friends who have hunted all their lives with .30-30 model 94's, and stacked up lots of Elk steaks over the years.  My grandfather once told me to "Beware of the man with only one gun!"  How true!  These gentlemen are well seasoned black-timber hunters who rarely take anything but either heart/lung shots or head shots on elk at ranges usually under 75 yards.   Nope, neither of them have ever lost an elk, but they are veteran trackers and pass up shots every year that could confidently be taken with other firearms.

I'm not about to advocate taking a .30-30 into the woods after elk... but it will do the job.  However it will do the job in the hands of a skilled, cool, hunter, not rushing his shot, limiting his range and who is absolutely cold confident in his marksmanship.   The .30-30 is not a tool for the novice to chase elk around with!

Your answer to your son was right on the button.  For his purposes, that .30-30 is not an elk rifle...not now, give him 20 years hunting them and maybe!

I've even seen an elk put down without so much as a quiver from a .32-20 WCF!  I surely wouldn't have chosen that for an elk cartridge, but it was the tool of opportunity in this situation, and the large herd cow was only about 22 yards away, feeding.  A shot at the base of the ear harvested her as cleanly as any elk ever put into a freezer... but I surely wouldn't go elk hunting with a .32-20!

Here, I beleive that especially a young hunter, arm him with a gun that will allow a reasonable margin of error, and the greatest practical advantage of having success in the field.  This is a delicate balance however of giving enough power for this margin of error, yet not overwhelming the young hunter with recoil and rifle weight.

A good thread!

God Bless,

Marshall
 

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One more thing that deserves mentioning is the difference in toughness between elk bulls and cows. I have come to the conclusion (from years of hunting them) that a cow elk is only a little tougher to drop than a muley buck.

A bull elk is in another league altogether.

I would (carefully) use a 30-30 on cows at 100 yards but to go after bulls I bring out the big boomers. (.338, .348 and .45-70 being my favorite elk rifles)
 
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