Hunting elk? Here are the 12 best cartridges

The bull elk is North Americas toughest hooved big-game animal. And “the worlds biggest” they get, the tougher they become. Mature bulls have heavy bones, dense muscle, and loadings of resilience from years of shrugging off battle wounds.

Killing a bull cleanly takes a good cartridge. Killing a big bull at a steep quartering slant takes a very good cartridge, topped with a tough, deep-penetrating bullet.

These 12 cartridges have just what it takes. The list starts with the welterweights and moves up to the heavy hitters.

Side Note: I ascertained the muzzle energy data by choosing the most useful elk bullet weight for each specific cartridge, and then plugging it into JBMballistics.com along with an average of common factory-ammo muzzle velocities with that bullet weight.

1. 6.5 Creedmoor

The Creed is no dragon slayer. Youll have to place your shoots carefully and select a deep-penetrating bullet. So why is it included? Its phenomenally accurate, moves aerodynamic missiles with high sectional densities at reasonable velocities that dont tear bullets to shreds on impact, recoils little, and has proven more capable than it has any right to be. Its the finest all-around cartridge available for youth, women and new shooters. But dont to continue efforts to punch a raking shoot through a bulls hip it doesnt have the juice for that.

Great 6.5 mm elk bullets: Hornady 143 -grain ELD-X; Nosler 140 -grain Partition; Swift 130 -grain Scirocco II; Barnes 127 -grain LRX. Bullet weight: 140 grs. Muzzle velocity: 2,750 fps Muzzle energy: 2,350 ft/ lbs Bullet weight: 150 grs. Muzzle velocity: 2,850 fps Muzzle energy: 2,705 ft/ lbs Bullet weight: 168 grs. Muzzle velocity: 2,850 fps Muzzle energy: 3,030 ft/ lbs Bullet weight: 175 grs. Muzzle velocity: 2,900 fps Muzzle energy: 3,267 ft/ lbs Bullet weight: 175 grs. Muzzle velocity: 3,150 fps Muzzle energy: 3,855 ft/ lbs Bullet weight: 180 grs. Muzzle velocity: 2,700 fps Muzzle energy: 2,913 ft/ lbs Bullet weight: 180 grs. Muzzle velocity: 3,000 fps Muzzle energy: 3,596 ft/ lbs Bullet weight: 180 grs. Muzzle velocity: 3,050 fps Muzzle energy: 3,717 ft/ lbs Bullet weight: 180 grs. Muzzle velocity: 3,150 fps Muzzle energy: 3,965 ft/ lbs Bullet weight: 200 grs. Muzzle velocity: 3,050 fps Muzzle energy: 4,130 ft/ lbs

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