bits of wisdom, related to rifle and caliber, and rifle choice, gained over 5 plus decades


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
back in the later 1960s I was introduced by a group of "old geezers"(at least in my eyes, at the time, ) to big game hunting,
and I was mentored in the skills and requirements of out of state hunting.
(most years several of us made 1-2 week long hunting trips to hunt elk and mule deer)
for the next 40 years or so I looked forward to hunting season, almost every year,
as a big part of recreation and vacation time,
I spend a considerable amount of time and cash learning how to reload,
shoot and hunt effectively.(these guys really believed getting into under 100 yards,
before shooting was a big advantage, so we hunted dense timber most years.
now I enjoyed myself and having had a decent job and a little spare cash available most years,
I bought, tested and enjoyed collecting, and trading a large selection of rifles
,tested various calibers, and got to be a better than average shot,
(certainly not competitive in bench rest type shooting)
in fact most of these guys (my mentors) felt taking a shot at over 250 yards,
just showed you lack of hunting skill. and if you could not hit a coke can, sized target
shooting off hand , at 100 yards or sitting with a sling,
hit a coke can sized target at 150-200 yards at least 1/2 the time,
they felt you needed much more practice
but at least ,I was eventually able to shoot noticeably better than
(your average hunter, I frequently shot against in friendly competition, at local ranges)
which mostly consisted in shooting beer cans or similar size targets, shooting off hand, at 100-200 yards,
usually betting a couple bucks on each shot that connected, and eventually,
using the skills gained on hunts, observing the results we got on game,
comparing the lethality.
on various hunting trips, and doing inspections on the game we shot, as we dressed the animals out.
many of my friends also hunted, most had a favorite rifle or two, but most guys I hunt with ,
just stuck to using the rifles they owned, few people, I hunted with changed weapons.
(I sure could have saved a ton of cash if I knew then, what I know now)
one guy has a 30/06 remington pump, he always used a 180-220 grain bullet, hes used that for 5 decades,
and he was not alone, several of the old geezers swore that slide action 30/06 was the "BEST COMBO AVAILABLE"
one has used a BROWNING BLR in caliber 358 win, hes always used a speer 250 grain bullet,,

he used that rifle almost exclusively for elk for 25 plus years.
and one guy has a browning BAR in caliber 280 rem.(hes always used a 150-162 grain bullet)
this guy with a browning bar, constantly kept up a good humored / joking harassment over my choice of a magnum rifle.
these guys saved a ton of cash sticking to a rifle they owned that work for them.
I started out with a 30/06 and having tried about a dozen or more calibers I found,
the weatherby 340 mag and the sako in 375 H&H
(usually with a 250-300 grain bullet) gave me more success, one shot kills, thus consistent results and confidence,
than almost anything else I used.
personally I want to see a noticeable reaction on bullet impact,
and ideally I want the game animal I hit to drop in a few yards of bullet impact,
it took me a few years before I learned that where you place the bullet has a huge effect on the reaction you generally get,
keep in mind a hit can be 100% lethal but not be instantly fatal or incapacitating,
lower chest heart/lung shots are 100% lethal but rarely instantly fatal


please don,t mis-understand, having a rifle that potentially has extra reach is a plus...
its just not a factor that you'll need to use very often,
in the areas I hunted for decades


450 marlin


35 Whelan
this may sound a bit odd, but the 358 BLR and Remington pump action, 35 Whelan
are both highly respected and sought after by the group of guys I hunt with,
as they are reasonably light, accurate, powerful and have proven very effective, loaded with 225-250 grain bullets, when I started hunting the Remington 760 pump in 30/06 was considered the ideal elk rifle by my mentors, now the similar 7600 in 35 Whelan is much sought after as is the browning BLR in 358 and 450 marlin


375 H&H

some guys I hunted with, used a 257 roberts, or 6.5mm swedish mauser,
both rifles I originally considered a bit marginal, and still do!

but if your careful they can be used successfully under limited ranges, if you shoot well consistently
both rifles killed elk and mule deer on different trips and different years,
now I knew both calibers had a long and successful history
But I was rather impressed that the smaller calibers worked as well as they did.
(but they are just not ideal from the results I've seen)

now looking back I can't remember anyone having any trouble killing deer or elk regardless of the rifle or caliber used,
NOW I certainly am not suggesting that all the rifles performed equally well or were nearly as effective or rapidly lethal,
but if your only criteria was did a well placed shot result in a dead deer or elk,
and you were not especially concerned if a few well hit animals made in 40-60 yards, before succumbing,
to the resulting lethal internal damage the bullet had done, and a few dropped immediately on bullet impact,
then yeah they all worked.
yes a 257 roberts, with a 100 grain bullet or a 6.5mm Swedish Mauser loaded with a 140 grain bullet was 100 percent lethal on every elk ,
or mule deer, that were shot correctly , and at fairly short ranges,
with weapons many guys considered marginal, even in skilled hands.
(if you don't place a shot in the vitals you can't blame the rifle for not doing its job.
Now personally, I'm convinced the 338-458 caliber rifles are a bit more effective, or rapidly lethal,
if you understand the cartridge limitations in trajectory, you can't ignore physics,
a larger bullet hitting harder does do more damage,
while that may not be more lethal, its generally going to be more rapidly effective. if placed correctly.
as I've stated, its not the cartridge as much as,
the skill and knowledge of the guy using it, and his understanding of its limitations and the games anatomy.
but damn near anything you might choose, to use, will work, if used correctly, in skilled hand works, if the guy using it,
has the skills to hit where he wanted it to, and he understands the cartridge and his limitations on making the shot'
and I darn sure suggest you select a bullet with a 240-280 sectional density and ideally between 2400fps to 3000 fps muzzle velocity.
or put a bit differently, I wasted a great deal of time and cash , testing dozens of rifles and cartridges,
and should have just stuck with using my weatherby 340 mag and the sako in 375 H&H.
but those were not the only effective options, they were just what I found suited my hunting style best.
and yeah I have used a BLR in 450 marlin with a 405 bullet in heavy cover for the last two decades, fully aware its limited in range.
and almost invariably grab my weatherby 340 mag and the sako in 375 H&H. as my primary rifle choice.
selecting your bullets sectional density and keeping it above about .250, in rifles,
has noticeable advantages on elk size game,
as it tends to result in an increase in consistent depth of penetration


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The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
got an e-mail relating to this post, asking about what I would select , if I was looking for a fairly moderately priced rifle ,
specifically to be used for elk hunting if I was starting over now.
like I posted above I would have zero issues using almost any deer rifle from a 270 win, up to a 338 mag,

and Id certainly consider a 35 whelen , 358 win, or a 30/06, or even a 308, win,
if keeping ammo cost and reloading component cost and availability reasonable.
I certainly have a good personal selection, and the 340 wby & 375 H&H are well proven favorites.

but both are expensive to shoot, heavy to carry and have more recoil than many people care to deal with.
keep in mind the area you hunt, its terrain has a great deal to do with the proper selection,
in most of the areas I hunted for decades a 45/70 or a 450 marlin are just fine as shots over 150 yards are almost un-heard of,
your certainly well armed with a MARLIN/RUGER 45/70 or a BROWNING BLR in 358 win or 30/06, or 450 marlin,
especially if you concentrate your hunts like I did for decades in thick timber and narrow canyons.
elk are not stupid, once the shooting starts and they hear cars driving logging roads they tend to relocate to remote areas and thick timber, they don't willingly trot or graze out across open meadows very often.
but ID certainly prefer having at least 1500 ft lbs of energy available out at that 150-200 yard range,
and a minimum of 150 grains of bullet weight in my hands.
Like I stated I watched an old geezer I hunted with, several years use a 257 Roberts to kill several elk on past hunts,
but he was smart enough to wait for a broadside/ heart/lung shut at under 200 yards,
before he would consider shooting. its not power, but your ability to place that bullet precisely that counts!
that being stated, it never hurts to carry a rifle that has the ability to punch through a good deal of muscle & bone
so that rifle should use decent quality bullets, and have a bit of extra range and punch if you have the option.










The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
a Tikka T3 is a nice rifle, I own a 375 H&H SAKO, and a older tikka in 308 win,
while the 300 mags. Weatherby, Remington ultra mag, Winchester mag, ETC all work well,
in fact the 300 mags are a rather popular choice among many guys who hunt open areas.
shoot flat and hit hard, they all require the better quality of projectiles be used or the bullets occasionally shred on impact,
I've made the mistake of using standard non-premium bullets, designed for cartridges like the 30/06,
in my 300 mags, the result is GLITTER on impact,
, which is going to result in instant kills but a great deal of bloodshot meat,
from the results Ive seen other people get and my own results.
and all of the 300 mags are rather hard on barrels, I own a 300 Weatherby and a 300 win mag,
they are impressive performers you won't go wrong with any of them,
provided you use premium 165-200 grain bullets while you may get decades of use out of a 300 mag,
its barrel life will be significantly shorter than you generally get from something like a 35 whelan , 308 win,45/70 or 375 H&H
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solid fixture here in the forum
I know there will always be a better gun in most situations short range hard impact to long range flat shooting but I think for 1 gun to cover all bases and probably the deciding factor on this choice is you can find 300 Win Mag ammo almost anywhere in normal times


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
I'm sure you'll be pleased once you find a load that works well in your rifle.
in mine (300 win and 300 wby)the 200 grain speer gives good accuracy but its
a bit soft and opens on impact rapidly so I only use it on mule deer,
preferring heart/lung shots where it works very well.
the nosler 180 grain and speer grand slams are marginally less accurate
giving about 1.2"-1.5" groups where the speer 200 grain will give a 1" 100 yard bench rested 3 shot group most days
h4831 or imr 7828 is commonly used in most loads
obviously what handloads works best in my rifle may not work exactly the same in yours

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solid fixture here in the forum
I do believe I have some Speer 200 gr bullets that I haven't loaded yet but the 2 powders you mention I know I don't have I have used a lot of reloader powders I think I might have most of them R-7, R10X , R 15, R16, R17, R19, R22, R26, R26 and R23 are some that I have as for rifle other powders I use IMR 4064, IMR4350, IMR4895, IMR4320, and IMR 4198 in Hodgdon I found some leverloution I wanted to try for my 45/70 but can't find any loads so it will be used for other levers I use H335, H4895, 4831, h380, varget titegroup and benchmark I also have a couple Win rifle powders and accurate too and I discovered I do have H4831 so I will put a few together and see where Im at but I may have already taken your advice on them and need to check my log books I may have loaded them up but never shot them as the last year was a bad shooting year
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solid fixture here in the forum
I have an off the wall reloading question I have at least 20 reloading manuals and every book that I've ever found on reloading I have new Speer, Sierra, Hodgdon, Lyman, Lee all new 1-2 years and any older books I can find off of Flea bay or anywhere else the question is do you have a go to manual you use more than others