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I am wondering how many pounds are needed to humanely and cleanly put down an elk. I saw on hornady's website that a 180 Grain SST in 30-06 puts out around 1500 ft/lbs at around 500 yards. With relatively good bullet placement, will this down an elk? or should it be closer? thanks you.
 

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How many does a arrow produce? Foot pounds doesn't mean much to me. Shot placement, penetration, and in the case of bullets, expansion are the three critical factors (in that order). Personally I would want to get inside of 400 yards to feel right about shooting an elk with a .30-06 180. Even if you are a crack shot, there are so many variables that could produce a wounded rather than cleanly killed animal at that range. Wind and the animal taking a step as you pull the trigger being two that come to mind.
 

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Those charts mean nothing. I have cleanly taken bison with loads that were well under the recommended 'foot-pounds' for elk.

Just more nonsense courtesy of Roy Weatherby, and parroted over the years by the ignorant, and repeated by the unknowing.....

Good luck with your hunting. A .30-06 with a good bullet, in the right hands and placed in the right spot, is well capable of taking an elk.
 

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First off, kinetic energy does not kill at all. It merely is a value that will indicate the potential damage the CARRIER of that value (the bullet in our case) will suffer when the velocity of the carrier is decreased by an external object. This damage will be determined by the sum of the total mass of the carrier of the KE, the material it is constructed of, the integrity of other support mechanisms (the thickness of the jacket, etc. That is the very reason why more weighty animals with thicker skins and thicker bones and thicker muscle and longer distances to the heart demand heavier bullets. More mass the KE has to damage.

A 150 gr Nosler Ballistic tip from a .300 RUM has the same KE at impact at 25 yards than a 300 gr similar bullet from a .375 H&H has at the same distance. Shooting a Cape buffalo ANYHERE on its body with the .300 RUM at that distance will cause the shooter's life to take a rather interesting turn. That high KE is the bullet's undoing and it will not even penetrate the skin completely before total disintegration, having been killed by its own KE.

Shooting the same make bullet from a .375H&H will cause distinctly better penetration due to the bigger mass of carrier material that KE has to work on before bullet upset (mushrooming) limits the penetration. Also in larger diameter bullets the thickness of the "thin" frontal support (the jacket) is more, so demanding even more work by the KE to damage it.

What Mike advises is correct. The impact velocity of the 30-06 and a heavy (not less than 180 gr. but prefferably 200 gr) aimed to reach the heart no matter at which angle the animal stands relative to the shooter will be the perfect balance between penetration (momentum and sectional density and bullet construction), and bullet mushroom (kinetic energy and bullet weight and bullet construction). If higher KE is achieved by higher bullet weight and not by higher impact velocity that always is a good thing because what really is improved is the higher sustainable momentum.

Happy hunting!
 
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Unless you are an outstanding shot (maybe), AT 500 YARDS, one doesn't usually have the ability to group 10". and cross winds make that estimate even larger.

Without the ability to precisely pick you POI, shot placement, more gun would be helpful.

Most hunters can't shoot anything heavier than the 180gr 'o6.

So the real bottom line is Few hunters should consider 500 yard shots!!! with any load '06
 

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Yes and no...

Unless you are an outstanding shot (maybe), AT 500 YARDS, one doesn't usually have the ability to group 10". and cross winds make that estimate even larger.

Without the ability to precisely pick you POI, shot placement, more gun would be helpful.

Most hunters can't shoot anything heavier than the 180gr 'o6.

So the real bottom line is Few hunters should consider 500 yard shots!!! with any load '06
Agreed that long shots are unnecessary - I have yet to see the elk I could not approach to under 200 yards in a good stalk. If you can not get closer than say 300 yards elk are not sufficiently abundant to hunt in your area.

Most hunters have no problem with 200-220 gr bullets in the 30-06; heck, many hunters regularly shoot 300 gr bullets in the .375 H&H, and many, many shoot 180gr in the .300 WM. Most people telling you that the latter is a bad kicker has not fired it.

Bad shot placement will NOT be offset by a larger calibre - in fact if a hunter can not accurately place his shot with a particular calibre every time then going for one that kicks even more is confused economy... That is exactly the reason why many hunters to Africa wound their game - particularly the dangerous stuff - but even non-stomping animals at close range get wounded by too large a calibre which has too much recoil and with which he had not practiced nearly enough.
 

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Mus +1.

I do disagree that "Most hunters have no problem with 200-220 gr bullets in the 30-06".

I spend a lot of time at the range, maybe 10% of hunters can handle that such recoil. I see people buying large caliber rifles and then loading it DOWN.

Two shooters this week had 325 WSM, loaded with 150 grain bullets and at a sub 8x57 velocity. If you look at sales, 338 w mags sell most with 200 grains and less.

Personally, I like heavy bullets for cartridges, shot my elk last month with a 9.3x62 and a 286 bullet. that isn't a really heavy rifle cartridge, but few people will shot it at the range when offered!

Like you I question The average hunter shooting at elk over 250 yards. Long shoots at elk are often canyon to canyon; with impossible cross winds.
 

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Harry, my experience is mostly with hunters in the home country where the heavier, slower bullets are as a rule preferred. Also guiding in Colorado I have come to the conclusion that few hunters can shoot off-hand which means that may 99% of their practice is shooting at a bench and then the felt recoil to the cheek bone is more. There is no other factor that instills flinching as much shooting from a bench does.

Amazing that you say that in your experience fewer than 10% of hunters can handle the recoil of a 30-06 200gr. It seems that the old (only the US military as far as I know) doctrine at the range to advise novice shooters "to crowd the gun" has left its mark. One wonders why you see so many .300 WM around.

Where I come from the bench is really only to set and check the zero of the scope and from there on one practices off-hand at 80-100 yards at a typically 8" diameter target. If you can control your breathing and the rifle accurately off hand, then any shot from any field rest is easy.
 

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Years ago when I was younger I felt I had to use a .338 Mag with 250gr bullets to take elk. It worked & the .338 took elk with no problem. I have sense learned I don't need a .338 mag battering my shoulder & haven't fired it in years. What I have learned is that a a stout bullet like the Barnes 120gr TSX fired from my wife's 6.5x308 ( aka 260 Rem ) will & has taken many elk over the years with one shot & never an elk lost. Most don't realize that in Scandinavia the 6.5x55 takes more moose than any other cal. The .260 Rem/6.5x555 are almost identical in performance. A 270 with the Barnes 130gr TSX, a 7-08 & the 140gr TSX. or a 308/30-06 with the 150gr TSX will take any elk cleanly. The absolute important part is a tough bullet "PROPERLY" placed. You can shoot a rifle with abusive recoil & it will also work & you will also wind up with very painful arthritis in your shoulder joint when you get older. Your choice. I base this info on many years of hunting elk. Hope this has been helpful.
 

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Many years ago, probably as a swipe at Elmer Keith, Jack O' Connor said a profundity-- "There are no different degrees of 'dead'".
Shot placement is 99% of any big game bullet. Pick one.
 

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Elk are big and are tenacious,a poorly placed shot with one of our big Mags will not kill one as fast as a well placed shot with 270 Win. And a crippled Elk can go a long ways and many times are lost. The goal should be more on placement and getting as close as you can.
 

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How many does a arrow produce?
Exactly. Foot pounds energy is simply a comparison factor when evaluating different cartridges. On its own, it is almost meaningless in relation to killing power. A slow moving vehicle can collide with an elk and impart as much energy to the beast as a rifle bullet, without even causing it any serious injury. An arrow with less than 100 ft. lbs. shot through the same elk's rib cage will kill it pretty quickly.
 

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Those charts mean nothing. I have cleanly taken bison with loads that were well under the recommended 'foot-pounds' for elk.
The experience of many. My father used to help wildlife officers cull wood bison infected with brucellosis and TB in the southern Northwest Territories back in the '50's. Used a 30-06 with 220 gr. bullets, and never wanted for more gun.

This is around the time that Roy Weatherby and Elmer Keith were squaring off over high velocity vs. heavy bullets in the press. The claims of neither have stood the test of time.
 

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Only very recently, the last five to six years have I found the need to be able to shoot without a rest and standing. I very soon realised that my shotgun shooting skills came into play, both on static shots and running shots. I hope I don't sound pompous or big headed when I say that I consider myself an above average shot all round. A skill which I am sure is genetic because my grandfather was a superb shot with anything from slingshot to goose gun and one of few I have seen shoot a woodpigeon with an air rifle as it flushed from a hedgerow 20yrds infront. Having spent many hours back in the 60s, 70s and 80s clay shooting and bird shooting to this day my shotgun skills are pretty good and I have found made the transition to shooting a rifle offhand. To be a good shotgun shot, don't hesitate and the same with a rifle, don't hover, pick the spot and squeeze the trigger on instinct. Hover and you start scrolling uncontrollable figure of eights which get worse. Vacate the bench and spend more time shooting standing free hand. Supported shooting then is also enhanced.

Placing any of todays hunting bullets in the vitals (heart / lungs) is a priority and there are very few if any which will not kill cleanly if that is done. Exceptions as musgrave says are very heavy build animals where a well built heavy bullet is required to punch through and reach those vitals. From what I have seen of North American elk they are very similar in size to the Carpathian red deer across eastern Europe. Most of their bodily weight is in the haunches, backstraps and shoulders, the rib area on the rear edge of the shoulders is relatively thin and a good hunting bullet through there will see a very dead elk/red deer. Slovenian Government regulations denote a 6.5/257 bullet as minimum for the reds out there and one red hind we shot on the last trip took four of us to get it on the carrier. It was almost twice the size of our Scottish reds. A 30-06 150 grain factory bullet ..South African I believe ... put that down and out at 200yrds, it ran 40yrds before rearing up and falling over backwards pumped dry.
 

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I am wondering how many pounds are needed to humanely and cleanly put down an elk. I saw on hornady's website that a 180 Grain SST in 30-06 puts out around 1500 ft/lbs at around 500 yards. With relatively good bullet placement, will this down an elk? or should it be closer? thanks you.
I disagree with some commentators about energy...

The energy of the bullet does two things:

  1. flatten the soft-nosed bullet on impact, and
  2. push/break everything that gets in its way until it stops.

To be most effective on heavy game, a bullet needs to expand on imppct or very soon thereafter or it's just being like FMJ. There are some armoured game where FMJ is appropriate but all big game I know about are shot with high velocity bottle-necked rounds that need to expand to do enough damage for a quick kill. A tiny hole may not even kill and it usually won't kill quickly unless it's to CNS. Large bore is another matter entirely. Muzzle-loaders of large bore don't need to expand much to cause a huge wound channel. .30-'06 does.

Most expanding bullets are made of lead because it's a soft metal and the force of impact will deform it and do more damage as it passes through game. The ability to expand depends on velocity of impact because the force of impact varies roughly as the square of the velocity. If the bullet doesn't expand soon it may never expand in the animal, because it slows down as it does damage to the animal.

So, the energy that's critical here is not the tiny amount required to flatten lead (Ever used a hammer to whack a lead bullet? How many ft-lb does that take? It's a few inch-pounds...), but the energy needed to push the expanded bullet through the animal. Through the ribs is much less than through a shoulder, by a good factor. 1500 ft-lb is enough to push an expanded bullet through an elk doing grievous bodily injury as intended. For deer, about 900 ft-lb will do but in both cases, more is a bit better because there could be bush in the way or less than optimal placement. Bad things happen. However, the folks who figure 3000 ft-lb is better are just wasting energy as much of that will be dumped in forest/land on the other side after passing through.

More critical than energy at impact is velocity. Every soft-nosed bullet has some minimum velocity required to mushroom on impact. That's related to it's energy but weakly. A heavy bullet and a light bullet both need at least 1600 ft/s velocity to have much chance of mushrooming with a copper jacket. Not all jackets are created equal. Pure lead will mushroom down to 1100 ft/s or a bit less. A Sierra Match King will not mushroom in an 8 inch poplar fired from a 7mm Rem Mag from 70 yards away. That jacket is too tough. Sierra used to give useful ranges for its bullets starting at around 100 yards all the way to 600 yards for various muzzle-velocities. The jackets were too fragile at higher velocities but were useful at long ranges down to ~1800 ft/s or so. That was OK, because we could use two or more weights of bullets for hunting, heavy RN for close in and something pointed and BT for the longer ranges. If you are going to take a long shot you need to be sure of accuracy, placement, expansion and energy. That's a tall order.
 

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Let's put it this way. Humans are as tough as any animal on earth to kill and twice a simple BB from an air gun has killed kids. Five Ft/lbs or so?
 

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I disagree with some commentators about energy...



More critical than energy at impact is velocity. That's related to it's energy but weakly.
You disagree with other posters because you don't understand your own statements. If energy is a calculated value of the product of mass and velocity, then how is velocity 'weakly' related to energy? It's a direct mathematical relationship. A given energy value is ENTIRELY dependent on the velocity value, holding the mass of the moving body constant. A bullet manufacturer could provide effective velocity or energy brackets for a given bullet, and either would provide exactly the same information.

Once again, we are subject to your ridiculous 'round nose - short range, pointed nose - long range' theory.

Thanks for the info on Sierra Match Kings and eight inch poplars, though. I was losing sleep over it, as I hadn't had time to perform that experiment with my own 7mm. :rolleyes:
 

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To be most effective on heavy game, a bullet needs to expand on imppct or very soon thereafter or it's just being like FMJ.



If the bullet doesn't expand soon it may never expand in the animal, because it slows down as it does damage to the animal.
That flies in the face of all the research and development by bullet makers to create controlled expansion bullets.

How can a bullet do two opposing things at the same time - it's either expanding and slowing down from increased resistance, or it's not expanding and not shedding velocity nearly as rapidly. They are mutually exclusive events. :confused:
 
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