Hunting Washington Forum

Big Game Hunting => Elk Hunting => Topic started by: kselkhunter on October 08, 2019, 10:34:44 AM

Title: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: kselkhunter on October 08, 2019, 10:34:44 AM
My buddy had to cancel on me for this year's backcountry elk rifle hunt as he has taken a job in another state and has to move before the season.  I'm considering two rifles for this trip.  Snow is expected, and if not snow then heavy rain. 


The X-bolt has a Swarovski 5-25x52 scope with custom elevation turrets specific to each load.  I've practiced out to 600 yards with it, but probably stay inside 500 yards on elk.  The 35 Whelen has a Zeiss conquest 3x9-40 on it, and I'm comfortable to 400 yards with it, although prefer inside 300 yards.   Due to my travel schedule I don't have time to work up a new bullet load and get another custom turret made for the Swarovski.   Normally with my buddy along as another shooter we hunt within eyesight of each other, and I'd just take the X-bolt with the ABLRs in bad weather so I can have the weatherproof rifle, as he'd usually have a follow up shot if it were needed.   I've shot deer at 30 and 92 yards with that ABLR bullet, and it performed fine.  The stories of ABLRs not performing as well as expected on elk has me nervous and leaning towards taking the 35 Whelen, which in good weather I don't even hesitate to use as my primary elk rifle.  I've had an instance one year where I got some light rust at the tip of the barrel once (before I rebored it from 30-06 to 35 Whelen) that is a challenge when living in a heated tipi in the backcountry for a week keeping rust out of the barrel is a daily battle in heavy weather conditions.  When covering the tip of the barrel, condensation happens up at the tip.  My other elk rifle is a 356 Winchester intended for shorter ranges in thicker areas than where I'll be so I didn't include it in the poll.


I like the extra thump the 35 Whelen 250gr partitions put on an elk granted it will be shorter range.  I'm primarily a heart/lung broadside shooter but with the Whelen I'm more comfortable with a quartering to shot if I had to within reasonable range (those things really hammer an animal).  There are some longer shooting opportunities in that area where the 7mmRM ABLRs could help out, but not sure I'd take a quartering shot on a bull with it at longer ranges.   


I was set on taking the X-bolt so I didn't have to worry as much about fighting the water knowing I had a second shooter in case I did have an ABLR issue that I've read about.  But am leaning 35 Whelen now and just dealing with the rust risk as best I can.  Figured I'd have some fun and put the question to the forum.   Which rifle and bullet combo of these would you take on the solo backcountry snow trip?  


I'm still looking forward to the trip, even if solo.  Half my trips are solo anyway.  I built myself a ski pulk sled this year, and am going in up higher this year.  Hoping for enough snow to be able to snowshoe the sled with camp in it instead of on my backpack as usual.   Granted with the deadfalls over the trail from storms, I'm expecting a bit of an obstacle course.  Last time I rifle hunted this area I had a few extra feet of snow fall on duration of the trip, and it was a fun time.  Fresh elk tracks and beds in the snow every day but never connected on a bull that trip. 
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: Karl Blanchard on October 08, 2019, 10:48:30 AM
I'm not an expert but I've been part of a lot of notched tags. Like hundreds. In my experience, the VAST majority of bullet "failures" are just poor hits. I'd shoot elk with those ABLR without hesitation. With that said, I'd shoot the bergers :chuckle:
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: kselkhunter on October 08, 2019, 10:50:22 AM
I'm not an expert but I've been part of a lot of notched tags. Like hundreds. In my experience, the VAST majority of bullet "failures" are just poor hits. I'd shoot elk with those ABLR without hesitation. With that said, I'd shoot the bergers :chuckle:

Yeah I've never had an ABLR bullet problem on deer at any range.  But I haven't shot an elk with one yet.  Just read enough issues on the internet that it made me nervous.  Thanks for the feedback. 
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: Bob33 on October 08, 2019, 10:57:16 AM
If you expect shot distances to exceed 300 yards I would choose the 7mm. Otherwise I would take the one you would feel most confident in when pulling the trigger.
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: Karl Blanchard on October 08, 2019, 11:12:47 AM
I'm not an expert but I've been part of a lot of notched tags. Like hundreds. In my experience, the VAST majority of bullet "failures" are just poor hits. I'd shoot elk with those ABLR without hesitation. With that said, I'd shoot the bergers :chuckle:

Yeah I've never had an ABLR bullet problem on deer at any range.  But I haven't shot an elk with one yet.  Just read enough issues on the internet that it made me nervous.  Thanks for the feedback.
gonna have a lot more troubles with a poorly hit elk than a poorly hit deer so makes sense people claim more "failures" with elk. They were a remarkable performing bullet for me on elk as well as deer. Only reason I left them was they were a pain to load with.
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: coachcw on October 08, 2019, 01:35:03 PM
three letters VLD
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: CaNINE on October 08, 2019, 02:13:56 PM
three letters VLD

168 VLD into the boiler room = dead elk
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: theleo on October 08, 2019, 03:03:50 PM
Considering an ABLR failure is what VLD shooters consider perfect performance, I wouldn't worry about it. Maybe not the best for stem to stern penetration, but they'll be fine for reasonable shots.

If it's open country I'd the 7mm. In thicker timber country with distances likely under 300 yards, I'd take the 35 Whelen.
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: Crunchy on October 08, 2019, 03:08:42 PM
Ive killed 3-4 elk, a bear, and a few deer with VLDs.  All one shot kills.
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: b23 on October 08, 2019, 03:21:53 PM
I'd pick whichever one you shoot the best.
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: Widgeondeke on October 08, 2019, 04:06:01 PM
Just because it sound cooler to say. Use the 35 Whelan  :yike:


In all serious. Using the info you provided, go with the 7mm and the Berger bullets  :twocents:

Good luck.
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: Slaysthefish on October 09, 2019, 11:00:03 AM
7mm with the VLD all day long.  Never had an elk deer or moose take another step.  Popped a moose in the head at 220 yards that was quiet the mess for sure, complete pass threw.  I am sure it was just the copper jacket but still that is super thick bone and lots of meat to go threw.  My longest shot with the VLD on an elk was 551 yards dropped like its feet were pulled out from under him all with 168 VLD.
Title: Re: Which rifle would you choose for this elk trip?
Post by: 2MANY on October 09, 2019, 11:47:33 AM
Just sell them and buy a 300 Win Mag