I presently don't own a .444 (just traded one off) but the .45-70 is not so very different and I have killed elk with it. Marshall and others have more expertise, but I think all factory loads for both calibers are limited to about 175 yards on elk, and that is with the basis that you have practiced at that range. Using hotter loads both calibers can take elk out to 275+ yards. Your main problem is trajectory. You have to practice, practice, practice at a variety of distances. The good kill shot trajectory at 250 yards is likely tp put you as much as 8 to 10 inches high should you get a 50 yard shot in timber.
I disagree with Sunday. He said it himself, you are limited by trajectory. Under hunting conditions, that can be a big "if". I would keep all shots under 150 yards, 200 with a hot load that you know intimately (a hot 45/70 (405) will hit 9" low at 200 yds with a 125 yd zero). I don't think 444s do as well as the 45/70 at longer ranges due to the short stubby bullets. But don't feel too bad, as an elk guide, I can only think of one of my kills over the last 4 years that was over 150 yds. With these rifles, go early and get 'em while they're talkin'. I pack my 45/70 until the second week in October, then I swap it for a scoped 30-06. Good luck.
Obviously, terrain has a lot to with your choice of rifles. If you know your shots are going to be in wooded areas, where range is easier to judge, the 444 would be my choice with 300 grain handloads. Even from a short barrel, an aggressive 300 grain .444 handload is still clocking 1700fps at the 100 yard mark, which is just about all that can be expected from a .44Mag carbine at the muzzle. I'd say the average shot should be able to put one in the vitals with a .444 from 50 to 200 yards, or a bit further, after becoming familiar with his 300 grain handload.
On the other hand, if one is shooting an elk in open country where the stalk becomes more treacherous and the difference between 200 yards and 300 yards becomes less obvious... I'd leave the .444 at home (unless you don't mind crawling on your belly with a range finder).
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