Probably one of the most debated topics among hardcore big game hunting enthusiasts is the best gun, caliber and bullet setup for taking down big bull elk. The Eastmans’ staff and I scoured the industry and came up with what I believe are the best half dozen elk rifle setups. These rifles fit the bill as true elk gravediggers. This is a grouping that completes the spectrum for any budget and performance requirement. Keep in mind, these setups are all different and could easily be mixed and matched to suit your personal needs and expectations.
These guns and loads are based on what we would personally choose, optics are up to you! Here is how we came up with the tough decisions that created the lineup…
Rifles | We wanted to select a good spectrum of rifles that would suit every budget. Whether you have $800 to spend or $8,000, there is a semi-custom or a production gun in here that will probably fit your budget. There are some very good guns available on the market today, but when you have to boil it down to only a half dozen, the decisions get very difficult.
Caliber | The .30 caliber is considered the best all-around caliber for elk but there are other excellent choices as well. The big 7’s edge out the 30’s in B.C. and sectional density but if you want the absolute best elk caliber look to the .338. However, the .30 caliber and its variations have probably crushed more elk bone, creased more elk lungs and blown out more elk hearts over the past 20 years than all the other calibers combined. Oh, and yes, we did include the 6.5 as well, not the Creedmoor though.
Bullet | We chose a pretty wide array of easy to find and readily available elk bullets for the group. We also went with the heaviest loads that are readily available for the cartridges chosen in order to maximize performance on tough old bulls. Thanks to ammunition manufacturers such as Hornady and Federal Premium, and a lot of others, today’s factory ammunition is better than ever and leaves little wanting.
Optics | We left those up to you but feel you cannot go wrong with models from any of the top brands.