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Single shot rifle for hunting elk?

10116 Views 37 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  Sandman1
In lines with other questions I've asked, just exploring options... would using a single shot rifle (T/C Encore Pro Hunter) be a bad idea for elk hunting (obviously using an appropriate chambering like .30-06, .35 Whelen, or .338 Win Mag)? Obviously, the main drawback is that follow up shots are slow. Is a bolt/pump/semi-auto practically required?
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If that's what you want to use, go for it! A good first shot is worth a dozen followups. Use that single shot correctly and enjoy that freezer full of elk meat.
My Input

A single shot rifle(or pistol for that matter) would be an excellent choice for elk.

The type of action would be down on the list, behind caliber used, and most importantly,shot placement.

Having used single shots for some years now,I have learned to shoot them fairly fast if needbe. My T/C's are easy enough to reload,but my Ruger #1H,to me,is even faster. If a single shot is anticipated,add to your practice schedule,not only marksmanship but reloadability also.

Definately consider a single shot would be my input.

Good Shootin' -----pruhdlr
No doubt a single shot would be suitable for elk hunting 90% of the time, but why forsake the ability of a quick follow up shot? The single shot is more than you need, untill it isnt.
No doubt a single shot would be suitable for elk hunting 90% of the time, but why forsake the ability of a quick follow up shot? The single shot is more than you need, untill it isnt.

I'd tend to agree. Unless you are simply tied to a single shot rifle ( i own several and use them frequently) I'd say use an action that lends itself to a quicker follow-up shot, if needed. I believe that someone going on the trip "of their lives" needs to put all the odds in their favor. I own several single shot rifles and hunt with them frequently, but if on a "special" trip, I'd make sure I was comfortable with the liability they gave(or NOT) me.
I own several single-shot actions in rimfire, center-fire and shotgun. I have never felt limited by any of them. I have taken follow-up shots on two or three occasions, but not once has the 2nd or 3rd shot mattered. Either I missed with all 3 or the first one would have done the job with no follow-up shots needed. The last time I shot and the animal didn't go down, or show any sign of being hit, I was honestly too stunned to even try a second the time it occurred to me, the deer took a few steps and fell over, dead. I treat all of my rifles as though they are single shots, in that I don't quickly cycle the action after I shoot, in anticipation of a 2nd shot. I shoot...and see what the results are. Usually I start digging through my pack for gutting gloves and never even put a new round in the chamber.

Perhaps if I had paid a lot of money to book an elk hunt, or even drew a tag and was doing it on my own, I would feel differently about having a fast follow-up shot. I don't think so, though. I am in the habit of shooting and expecting that to be the end of the matter, so it would take a change in my mindset to be prepared for a fast second shot.
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I wouldn't see it as a disadvantage. The last couple of times I can recall taking several quick shots, it just ended up being more work to clean more animals...... made that mistake with pigs, once! Learned a lesson.....

Wouldn't bother me to take a single-shot on an elk hunt. Have fun......
So more detail, just so you know where I'm coming from. I could use my .30-06. I feel confident with it. However, the other option would be to get a .35 Whelen barrel for my T/C and it would double for "primitive weapons" season in MS on private land. So... bolt .30-06 vs. single shot 35 Whelen ;)
Shane, if you're asking us (a bunch of gun nuts) if you should buy another barrel for your T/C, it doesn't matter know what we're gonna say!! :D

Personally, I love the versatility of the single-shots like the T/C, H&R and I might even buy one of the new CVA's, to see what it's all about. The idea of being able to get a barrel for just about anything ever made, or anything I can dream up, without sacrificing an existing rifle/barrel and at a slightly reduced cost, really appeals to me. And the single shot thing just isn't a factor, for the way I was taught to hunt.
Heh... well... yeah, there's always the "just get it" option... but I'm trying not to buy too much stuff to keep my wife happy :)
Like most things if you practice it will work. I've seen single shots/double shots fired and reloaded and fired again "fast." Just watch the SASS cowboys and their coach guns.
for those who think useing a single shot is just not the smart choice, i would say to them then, so we should stop useing a bow too for lack of a quick follow up shot?
take whatever legal firearm you wish, be proficient with it, and use it within it's and your capabilitys and i say that is hunting responcibly. good luck and put it in the boiler room!
How Many Of Ya'll

I have owned and hunted with bolt actions for some time now. I was sittin' here thinking about the above posts and came to a realization. While hunting big game,how many times in my life have I had the need to fire my bolt actions any faster than it would take me to reload one of my single shots ??

That I can think of....the answer is....NEVER. How about ya'll ?? -----pruhdlr
for those who think useing a single shot is just not the smart choice, i would say to them then, so we should stop useing a bow too for lack of a quick follow up shot?
That's an excellent point.
The only thing that one needs to do to make a single shot completely suitable for hunting elk is to decide that you won't take a shot at an elk unless you know you can make it a good one. It's that simple. It's that complex.

Any argument that one must have more shots available because you may be forced to take a bad shot due to the fact that you paid a lot of money to hunt, or time constraints mean a bad shot is your only one, is just bad hunting ethics. If your only shot is a bad one, it should not be taken. Spraying bullets is not good hunting practice. So a single shot is just fine in that sense.

My problem is that I can, apparently, really f*** it up. Twice in 45 years of hunting I have really screwed up the first good shot and the second one from my repeating bolt action saved the situation. I can't remember a time when I just plain missed the first one and then made the second (or third), but I want to be able to fix my stupid blunders as fast as possible. Many times I have needed a "finisher" (sometimes intentionally, actually) and I like not even having to look at the gun to get the next round ready.

So I don't use single shots for hunting anything.
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I hunt deer with a single-shot rifle(G2), and a revolver. Depends on the whim of the day...I practice and practise to make sure my first shot is as close to perfect as possible. Bullet selection and knowing your firearm is paramount. If it is a hunt you could pass on a shot and wait for another day, well, that's hunting, not killing. If it is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, bullet selection...trajectory..sighting in...marksmanship...detail in reloading...all come in to play. First shot is always the best. never hunted Elk, so I'm not the one to speculate on calibers. However, best accuracy and the ability to take shots at different angles(broadside, quartering) and ranges would seem very important. LOT'S of bullets available for the .338mag. And the Encore is a great platform.
that is a good point as i too have never had the need for a quick follow up shot. regardless of the type of rifle i'm using i do my best to make the first shot the only shot! my last 6 deer have been taken with an encore pistol and never once was the outcome of the shot in question, i took the time to practice my reloading with my wrist cartridge carrier and snap caps and memorized the trajectory of the load.
the singleshot is truly no handicap!!!
+1 "I took the time to practice..." That is the bottom line. Otherwise no hunting with bow, single-shot, or muzzel loaders. Practice makes "perfect" or at least "good enough.".
I don't know...I used to use a single shot in my younger days of whitetail hunting, but I've been using a repeater for an awful lot of years now. There's no way I'd go back to single shot. It's great to say "put it where it counts", but where it counts to you and where it counts to the deer aren't always the same thing. Now, I don't know if the deer in my immediate area are just super deer, or what...but seems about every second year somebody in our hunting party nearly loses a deer that "was dead". I'm talking about tracking these thing through willow so thick you can't even "paddle" through them, because they just press you in place like a featherboard holds your workpiece against the router table. I've quite literally tracked deer for fellow hunters (and yes, even occasionally myself) that have had two broken shoulders, hamburger for a heart, and dollar sized chunks of lung all across a nearly 3 mile trail. This was courtesy of a .30-06 at just under 100 yards. Now, granted a second shot may not have changed a thing. After all, these deer should have been dead with the first one...but they don't seem to mind. Maybe a guy would have gut shot the thing the second time, as it was running away, but maybe that gut shot would have flopped it so that it wouldn't have the strength to get back up again?

Two years ago I shot a whitetail buck four time. I thought I had somehow missed the first 3 times, though I started shooting at only about 120 yards away. For the first shot he was facing me head on. When I squeezed, he changed direction and kept running (right to left). I got lined up and squeezed again. Again, no indication of being hit, but he turned again and ran left to right (towards the bush). I shot a third time, and he once again showed no indication of being hit, but turned and headed away from me for a few brief seconds, then turned and head right to left one more time. This last shot was at about 60-65 yards, with my .270 WSM with 130 gr. Ballistic Silvertips. By this time I was madder 'n heck, and I just could not believe what was happening. And, of course, I was starting to shake. My last shot was at about 130 yards when he turned broadside to jump the fenceline I was sitting on. I squeezed, he tried for the fence, but didn't really clear it. He just sort of belly flopped the wires, and guts went flying about 7 yards. Then he did a nice flip and lay completely still. When I skinned him out, I'll be darned if every single shot didn't expand into lung or heart (with the exception of the gut shot, of course). Luckily, the only meat I lost was a few ounces of backstrap, but there were virtually no organs left intact in that critter.

Seeing those kinds of things, I just feel I owe it to the creatures I hunt to always have at least one follow up shot. Nothing against those that use single shots, of course...but it isn't for me!
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I'd be willing to bet that the percentage of kills requiring a 2nd shot is lower than the number of guys on this forum who hunt with a single-shot rifle and have never worried about it. Great point on the bow-hunting observation, Jim. I have frequently gone bow-hunting with only 2 arrows in my quiver...and the 2nd one was there to keep things from rattling around when I was drawing back the one on the string! :)

No offense intended Marsms, but I am wondering if you don't need to be a bit more patient before tracking or taking additional shots on your deer? That last one you described wasn't going anywhere and all that shooting probably built up his adrenaline so he could do such amazing feats. The first one, well...I've tracked some deer that were hit pretty good, but deer that have, "two broken shoulders, hamburger for a heart, and dollar sized chunks of lung all across a nearly 3 mile trail" is something I would have to see to believe. Again, no offense intended.
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