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Thread: Cast Boolit Performance Profile for Elk

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy curioushooter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Southern Indiana

    Cast Boolit Performance Profile for Elk

    I am trying to find some sort of consensus on what is an adequate minimal cast boolit performance profile for Elk under 200 yards.

    I am open to caliber, but I would assume that .308 would be a practical minimum.

    This said, it's probably best to put together combinations in different calibers.

    30-'06 or 30-40 Krag launching a 220 grain cast boolit with a flat nose arriving at around 1600-2000 FPS would seem like a good start to me.

    Other calibers to consider would be .358, .375, .430, .458...

    I have zero experience with Elk. And it seems that people have wildly differing opinions in the copper jacket world. Even contradictory opinions. Cast boolits are a different matter, and even more confusing. It seem some folks think Elk are just bigger deer, and need a little more oomph, while others seem to think they are just smaller Buffalo, and need to be thumped hard. Anatomically and behaviorally they are more Deer-like than Buffalo like, so I tend to side with the former attitude, but again I have zero experience.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master brewer12345's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Denver Metro Area
    The challenge with elk is usually getting within 200 yards of them during hunting season. I have gone with partitions in 3006 because shots are often 300 yards and longer.
    "If you see me running something has gone poorly, and you should probably run too." - any beekeeper

  3. #3
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Elk can be very tenacious to life, especially when they have spooked. Otherwise they are not that hard to kill. I have used many different calibers over the years in both rifles and handguns. With cast boolits I would stick with 35 and above, with a large meplat, and heavy for calibers boolits. I've taken elk with a 44 mag, 45 Colt, 35 Remington, and 45-70 with cast boolits. Just make the first shot count, and keep shooting until there down. And I mean really down.

    Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Quilcene, Washington
    For perspective, I hunted elk with a muzzleloader using sabots with 429 pistol CBs for many years. The boolits I cast are 265 gr SWC plain base at an estimated MV of about 1600 fps. The last elk I got was an enormous Roosevelt elk cow (the lead cow of the herd) that gave me 290# of frozen wrapped meat from my butcher (live weight would have been close to 600#). The shot was 50 yards. The last image I had of her before smoke filled the view was of her completely off the ground with hooves pointed skyward = DRT. At close range, a big slow boolit is the way to go. Because of my observations, I have loaded my .444 Marlin to the same velocities with a similar boolit but with a gas check, of course. As a tidbit of advice, unless you are worried about another hunter tagging your animal (it happens), don't just run up on your semi-down elk cheering thinking the elk will stay down then giving it an adrenaline rush. Wait a couple minutes at least so you don't have to chase it for miles. I have seen a small spike bull absorb half a dozen hits by more than one rifle because the first shooter didn't take his time. Your choice of a 30 cal with a 220 gr boolit having a flat at those velocities will work just fine (probably as good or better than a jacketed at a higher velocity) if you are careful and patient.
    Last edited by quilbilly; 12-05-2018 at 08:50 PM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub 244ack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    North East BC Canada
    I prefer a 44 or 45 cal for elk. Rutted up bull elk can be tough to put down. A 444 marlin with a 300 grain wfn or a 45/70 with a 400-450 grain always gets the job done. Good insurance when in bear country also

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
    dk17hmr's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    I have zero experience hunting elk with cast bullets, all the elk I kill are with jacketed or copper bullets, current favorite open ground elk rifle is a 338 lapua and in the timber I like my 280 Remington.

    That said if I were to purposefully hunt elk with a cast bullet I'd start with a 35 and go up. If I were using anything smaller than .40 caliber I'd make a soft nose bullet.

    I don't like tracking wounded elk if not mortally hit they will travel miles, if it's a shot that is fatal they will find the deepest darkest nastiest place to crash and die. Hit them hard and hit them often. If they are still on their feet after the first hit keep shooting until they arent, they are out of sight, or your out of bullets.
    .................................................. ........................................
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    Taxidermists are cheaper than surgeons....keep shooting


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  7. #7
    Boolit Master
    elk hunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Central Oregon
    I've taken a fair number of elk and seen many more taken over the past sixty or so years of hunting them. My experience with cast bullets on elk has been limited to a handful taken with a 50 caliber muzzle loader using conicals and a large charge of 2 FF black, it works well at open sight, black powder ranges. Based on my experience I would not consider a 30 caliber cast bullet truly adequate for elk under any but perfect conditions and wielded by a very cool shooter. I went from a 30-06 to a 45-70 to a 375 H&H for elk and can say that, for me, the 375 was the best at anchoring them decisively. Elk are not impossibly hard to kill but a marginal hit from any caliber can make recovery difficult, that said a marginal hit from a larger caliber is more likely to result in more damage and a cleaner kill. All the animals we hunt deserve our respect and a quick, clean death.

    Just my $0.02 for what it's worth.
    Last edited by elk hunter; 12-06-2018 at 09:51 AM.

  8. #8
    Moderator Emeritus / Trusted loob groove dealer

    waksupi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Somers, Montana, a quaint little drinking village,with a severe hunting and fishing problem.
    I agree with others, .35+. I've killed several elk with cast in the .358 Win. Hit them right, they die. In my area, it's close in jungle work for the most part, and I don't think I have ever shot an elk at over 100 yards.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!

  9. #9
    Boolit Bub
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    John Day, Oregon
    My suggestion:
    358 Win, 35 Whelen with heavy slugs.
    444 Marlin - 250 or 300 grn saeco @ about 2K to 2.1K (killed several elk with this load and always complete pass through in shoulder/broadside hits)
    45/70 with a wide nosed heavy boolit (right now experimenting with a 405 grain HB @ 1550fps) dropped my spike like a hot potato last year.
    Personally wouldn't do 30 cal unless I had a a definite broadside shot - that's just me though.
    I have friends that run a 190grain 8mm out of their 8x57's and have great success on elk (Rocky Mtn).

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check