Factory Loads for Elk Hunting

By Chuck Hawks


Listed below are North American Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain elk loads for most of the reasonably popular rifle calibers. Not every possible caliber is listed, of course, but if you shoot an unlisted caliber there will probably be a listed caliber that is similar. Use that as a guide. Reloaders will find that they can pretty much duplicate most of the loads listed below. Hunters in other parts of the world will find these loads satisfactory for their CXP3 class game, such as red stag, oryx and kudu, as well.

Not are all ammunition manufacturers products are listed. I have tried to include factory loads for each caliber that are effective, reasonably popular and widely distributed. In the most cases that means loads from Federal, Hornady, Remington, Weatherby and Winchester. For some calibers A-Square, Cor-Bon, Kynoch, Norma and Sellier & Bellot loads have also been listed. Not every brand and not every load is represented for every caliber. Bear in mind that just because a particular load is not included does not mean that it is no good.

In most calibers I have chosen at least a couple of loads from each of the major manufacturers in the bullet weight(s) I prefer. Some calibers, such as 7mm Remington Magnum, offer more choices than others (7mm WSM, for example). I tend to favor medium to heavy weight bullets of controlled expansion construction for elk hunting and this is reflected in the loads recommended below.

All of these recommendations are based on a solid hit in the heart/lung area. Many bullets that are perfectly adequate with proper bullet placement are inadequate with poor bullet placement. That is not a bullet problem, it is shooter error.

The gun writer Elmer Keith used to write a lot about "raking" shots on elk and such shots seemed to be the primary influence on his caliber and bullet choices. My position is that bullet placement is the primary factory in killing power. Raking shots should be avoided on any big game animal and particularly on large animals like elk. If you are not certain that you can drive your bullet directly into a vital spot, you should not shoot.

The representative elk cartridges in the list below start with .270 caliber cartridges and go up from there. I will repeat here a paragraph that I wrote for my article "Elk Cartridges":

"Choose a cartridge more powerful than a .338 Magnum and you are getting into the over-gunned area. A .375, .416, or .458 Magnum will certainly kill elk reliably, but they are simply not necessary. The weight of such guns, plus their outsized recoil, is a handicap to most hunters. In fact, everyone can shoot more accurately with a less powerful rifle."

Recommended reading for those interested in a more in-depth look at hunting bullets are my articles "Bullets for Big Game Hunting" and "The Killing Power of Big Game bullets." Both articles may be found on the Rifle Information page.

  • .270 Winchester: Hornady 150 grain SP Interlock; Remington 140 grain Swift A-Frame, 150 grain Core-Lokt; Winchester 150 grain XP3.
  • .270 WSM: Winchester 150 grain XP3.
  • .270 Weatherby Magnum: Weatherby 150 grain Hornady SP Interlock, 150 grain Nosler Partition.
  • 7mm-08 Remington: Hornady 139 grain SP Interlock LM; Remington 140 grain Core-Lokt PSP.
  • 7x57 Mauser: Hornady 139 grain SST LM; Norma 156 grain Oryx; Sellier & Bellot 158 grain HPC.
  • 7x64 Brenneke: Norma 170 grain Plastic Point; Sellier & Bellot 158 grain SPC, 160 grain Barnes XLC, 173 grain SPCE.
  • 7x65R: Sellier & Bellot 158 grain HPC, 173 grain SPCE.
  • .284 Winchester: Winchester 150 grain Power Point.
  • .280 Remington: Hornady 139 grain SST LM; Norma 156 grain Oryx, 170 grain Vulkan; Remington 150 grain Core-Lokt PSP, 165 grain Core-Lokt SP.
  • 7mm Remington SAUM: Remington 150 grain Core-Lokt PSP, 160 grain Core-Lokt Ultra PSP.
  • 7mm WSM: Federal 160 grain Nosler Partition; Winchester 160 grain AccuBond CT, 160 grain XP3.
  • 7mm Remington Magnum: Federal 150 grain Sierra GameKing, 160 grain Trophy Bonded Tip, 160 grain Barnes Triple-Shock, 160 grain Nosler Partition, 160 grain Nosler AccuBond, 165 grain Sierra GameKing, 175 grain Trophy Bonded, 175 grain Soft Point; Hornady 154 grain InterBond, 154 grain SP Interlock, 162 grain BTSP Interock; Remington 150 grain Core-Lokt, 160 grain Core-Lokt Ultra, 160 grain Swift A-Frame, 175 grain Core-Lokt; Winchester 160 grain AccuBond CT, 160 grain XP3.
  • 7mm STW: Federal 160 grain Nosler AccuBond; Remington 140 grain Swift A-Frame.
  • 7mm Weatherby Magnum: Federal 160 grain Trophy Bonded Tip; Hornady 154 grain InterBond; Weatherby 150 grain Barnes-X, 154 grain Hornady SP Interlock, 160 grain Nosler Partition.
  • .30-30 Winchester: Cor-Bon 150 grain DPX, Remington 170 grain Core-Lokt SP.
  • .30-40 Krag: Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt PSP.
  • .300 Savage: Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt SP.
  • .308 Marlin Express: Hornady 160 grain LEVERevolution.
  • .30 T/C: Hornady 165 grain SST InterLock.
  • .308 Winchester: Federal 165 grain Barnes TSX, 180 grain Nosler Partition, 180 grain Barnes MRX; Hornady 165 grain BTSP LM, 165 grain BTSP InterLock; Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt PSP, 180 grain Core-Lokt Ultra PSP; Winchester 180 grain Silvertip.
  • .30-06 Springfield: A-Square 180 grain Dead tough; Federal 180 grain Nosler Partition, 180 grain Barnes MRX, 180 grain Barnes TSX, 180 grain Trophy Bonded Tip, 180 grain Nosler AccuBond; Hornady 165 grain InterBond LM; 180 grain SP Interlock, 180 grain BTSP Interlock LM; Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt Ultra PSP, 180 grain Swift A-Frame PSP, 180 grain Core-Lokt PSP; Winchester 180 grain E-Tip, 180 grain Silvertip, 180 grain AccuBond CT, 180 grain XP3.
  • .300 RCM: Hornady 165 grain SST, 180 grain SST.
  • .300 Remington SAUM: Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt Ultra.
  • .300 WSM: Federal 180 grain Nosler Partition, 180 grain Trophy Bonded Tip, 180 grain Nosler AccuBond, 180 grain Barnes TSX, 180 grain Barnes MRX, 180 grain Soft Point; Norma 180 grain Oryx; Remington 180 grain Swift Scirocco; Winchester 180 grain E-Tip, 180 grain XP3, 180 grain AccuBond CT, 180 grain Power Point.
  • .300 H&H Magnum: Federal 180 grain Nosler Partition, 180 grain Barnes TSX, 180 grain Trophy Bonded Tip; Kynoch 180 grain Soft Point.
  • .308 Norma Magnum: Norma 180 grain Swift A-Frame.
  • .300 Winchester Magnum: A-Square 180 grain Dead Tough; Federal 180 grain Nosler Partition, 180 grain Trophy Bonded Tip, 180 grain Nosler AccuBond, 180 grain Speer Hot-Cor; Hornady 180 grain SP Interlock, 180 grain SP Interlock HM; Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt Ultra PSP, 200 grain Swift A-Frame; Winchester 180 grain E-Tip, 180 grain Accu-Bond CT, 180 grain XP3, 180 grain Power Point.
  • .300 Weatherby Magnum: A-Square 180 grain Dead Tough; Federal 180 grain Nosler Partition, 180 grain Trophy Bonded Tip, 180 grain Barnes TSX; Hornady 180 grain SP Interlock; Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt PSP; Weatherby 180 grain Hornady SP Interlock, 180 grain Barnes-X, 180 grain Nosler Partition.
  • .300 Remington Ultra Mag: Federal 180 grain Trophy Bonded, 180 grain Barnes TSX, 200 grain Nosler Partition; Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt Ultra.
  • .30-378 Weatherby Magnum: Weatherby 180 grain Barnes-X, 200 grain Nosler Partition.
  • 7.62x54 Russian: Sellier & Bellot 180 grain Soft Point.
  • .303 British: Kynoch 215 grain Soft Nose; Remington 180 grain Core-Lokt SP; Winchester 180 grain Power Point.
  • .32 Winchester Special: Hornady 165 grain FTX; Remington 170 grain Core-Lokt SP.
  • 8x57JS Mauser: Hornady 195 grain SP; Norma 196 grain Oryx; Remington 170 grain Core-Lokt SP; Sellier & Bellot 196 grain HPC, 196 grain SPCE, 200 grain Barnes XLC.
  • 8x64S: Sellier & Bellot 196 grain HPC, 196 grain SPCE.
  • 8mm Remington Magnum: Remington 200 grain Swift A-Frame PSP.
  • .338 Marlin Express: Hornady 200 grain LEVERevolution.
  • .338 Federal: Federal 185 grain Barnex TSX, 200 grain Fusion, 210 grain Nosler Partition.
  • .338-06 A-Square: A-Square 250 grain SP boat-tail; Weatherby 210 grain Nosler Partition.
  • .338 RCM: Hornady 225 grain SST.
  • .338 Winchester Magnum: Federal 210 Nosler Partition, 225 grain Trophy Bonded, 225 grain Barnes TSX, 225 grain Nosler AccuBond, 250 grain Nosler Partition; Hornady 225 grain SP Interlock HM; Remington 225 grain Swift A-Frame, 225 grain Core-Lokt PSP, 225 grain Core-Lokt Ultra PSP; Winchester 200 grain Power Point, 225 grain AccuBond CT.
  • .338 Remington Ultra Mag: Federal 210 grain Nosler Partition, 225 grain Nosler Accubond; Remington 250 grain Core-Lokt PSP, 250 grain Swift A-Frame PSP.
  • .340 Weatherby Magnum: A-Square 250 grain SP boattail; Weatherby 225 grain grain Barnes-X, 250 grain Hornady SP Interlock, 250 grain Nosler Partition.
  • .348 Winchester: Winchester 200 grain Silvertip.
  • .35 Remington: Hornady 200 grain FTX; Remington 200 grain Core-Lokt SP.
  • .35 Winchester: Kynoch 250 grain Soft Nose.
  • .358 Winchester: Winchester 200 grain Silvertip.
  • .35 Whelen: Federal 225 grain Trophy Bonded; Remington 200 grain Core-Lokt, 250 grain PSP.
  • .350 Remington Magnum: Remington 200 grain Core-Lokt PSP.
  • .358 Norma Magnum: A-Square 250 grain Dead Tough; Norma 250 grain Swift A-Frame.
  • 9.3x62: A-Square 286 grain Dead Tough; Norma 285 grain Swift A-Frame, 285 grain Alaska; Sellier & Bellot 285 grain Soft Point, 250 grain Barnes XLC.
  • 9.3x74R: A-Square 286 grain Dead Tough; Hornady 286 grain SP Interlock; Norma 285 grain Oryx, 285 grain Alaska; Sellier & Bellot 285 grain Soft Point.
  • 9.5mm M-S: Kynoch 270 grain Soft Nose.
  • .375 H&H Magnum: Federal 260 grain Nosler AccuBond, 270 grain Soft Point; Remington 270 grain Soft Point.
  • .375 Ruger: Hornady 270 grain SP-RP InterLock.
  • .376 Steyr: Hornady 225 grain SP-RP InterLock.
  • .405 Winchester: Hornady 300 grain SP Interlock, 300 grain FP Interlock; Kynoch 300 grain Soft Nose; Winchester 300 grain Flat Point.
  • .444 Marlin: Cor-Bon 280 grain Bonded-Core; Hornady 265 grain FP Interlock LM, 265 grain LEVERevolution.
  • .450 Marlin: Hornady 325 grain FTX, 350 grain FP Interlock.
  • .45-70 Government: Cor-Bon 350 grain Bonded-Core; Hornady 325 grain LEVERevolution; Remington 405 grain Soft Point; Winchester 300 grain Partition Gold.



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Copyright 2004, 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.


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