.300 Wby. Mag Vs. .375 H&H: What's the Best Elk Cartridge?

best elk cartridge

.300 Weatherby Magnum

If I had to choose one species — and only one — to hunt the rest of my life, it would be elk. If I had to choose only one cartridge — heaven forbid — to hunt elk with, it would be the .300 Weatherby Magnum.


Why? Simple: It's the best for the job. Or at least, there are none better.


Now, that's a pretty strong statement, but I can support it. With handloads or genuine Weatherby ammo, it runs neck and neck with the .300 Ultra Mag, but burns less powder and produces less recoil.

Modernists scoff at the double radius shoulder, but it feeds more smoothly than today's fat, angular magnums. Many reloaders believe the double radius also minimizes brass flow and case stretch, resulting in longer case life.

Plus, it's got more panache than Sinatra.

Many current rifles chambered in .300 Ultra Mag, .300 WSM, and other short fats resist accepting more than two cartridges in the magazine — but the .300 Wby. fits three like sophisticated sardines and feeds them out just as slick.


Ballistically, the .300 Wby. need bow to none: 180-grain bullets exit the muzzle at 3,200 fps or more and carry over 4,000 ft.-lbs. of energy.

With aerodynamic projectiles, it's a legitimate extreme-range cartridge, and with tough bonded or monolithic bullets, it's authoritative, mighty authoritative, up close.

My personal favorite bullets for handloading the .300 Wby. are Swift's 180-grain Scirocco II and Nosler's 200-grain AccuBond, both of which offer admirably high B.C.s and tough, bonded-core construction.


The Scirocco II, which invariably shoots sub-inch groups from my rifle, shoots fast enough that it makes sense to sight-in at 250 yards. Drop at 300 yards is less than three inches, at 400 yards it's less than a foot, and at 500 yards the Scirocco II drops just a shade over 26 inches.

The .300 Wby. shoots flat and accurately, hits extremely hard,and has class. What more could one ask of an elk cartridge?

— Joseph von Benedikt

.375 H&H Ackley Improved

I'll admit the .300 Weatherby Magnum is a fine elk cartridge, but is it the best elk cartridge? Well, that depends€¦

I get it. Sleek .30-caliber bullets fly through the air like greased needles. If I was inclined to be a long-range hunter, the .300 Wby. would be a great choice. But I am not so inclined.

I had long-range hunting fantasies when I was about 18 — before I actually had much field experience. It didn't take me long to realize that the vast majority of animals could be closed to within a couple of football fields with a little effort.

I learned that for every cagey bull that went over the ridge at 500 yards, there were a half-dozen bulls running through the dark timber, presenting only bullet-destroying, close quartering-away shots.

Take that shot with a fast-stepping .30 and all you will have is a destroyed rear quarter and a long trailing job (that may not result in a recovered elk).

So what do I use?

My current favorite elk cartridge is a .375 H&H Ackley Improved. Sounds exotic, doesn't it? It isn't — but it is extremely versatile. Essentially, it is a .375 H&H with a straighter case and a 40-degree shoulder for increased powder capacity.

What's great about this chambering is that it will still digest factory .375 H&H as well as .375 Weatherby ammo. As for recoil, even out of my sub-six-pound MG Arms Ultra-Light, it is a mild push instead of a sharp crack like the .300 Wby., and it prints half-MOA groups all day long.

It pushes a 300-grain Nosler Partition between 2,650 and 2,750 fps and delivers 5,000 ft.-lbs. of energy. For the folks wanting flatter trajectories, it will push a 260-grain Nosler AccuBond with a B.C. of .473 over 2,800 fps.

It will penetrate deeper than a .300 Wby. with far less meat waste up close on tough quartering shots. It will drop only 16 inches at 400 yards when zeroed at 250 yards, making it an ideal gun for the timber as well as from ridge to ridge.

— Mike Schoby

best elk cartridge

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Kevin Steele sights in his CZ .557 carbine rifle that he plans to use on a Colorado elk hunt.

Hunting Coues Deer South of the Border

Hunting Coues Deer South of the Border

Former Delta Force Operator Kyle Lamb hikes the rugged desert mountains of northern Sonora in pursuit of the diminutive Coues species of whitetail.

Fare Game: Stuffed Elk Backstrap

Fare Game: Stuffed Elk Backstrap

Take your venison loin to a whole new level with this delicious reverse-seared stuffed elk backstrap. Smoking the backstrap on a Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill first, then finishing it on a blazing-hot skillet or flattop, creates a perfectly cooked, medium-rare steak with a crispy, seared exterior. The filling of diced mushrooms and creamy Boursin cheese adds a whole new level of amazing flavors to an otherwise classic smoked venison loin.

Is That a Grizzly Bear?

Is That a Grizzly Bear?

Kevin Steele and Jason Morton are above the Arctic Circle pursuing grizzly bears in Alaska and put a stalk on what they believe is a good one.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

These are our favorite new products of the year for the archery crowd. Bowhunting

Best New Bowhunting Gear for 2020

Petersen's Hunting Editors - May 21, 2020

These are our favorite new products of the year for the archery crowd.

We're deciphering new deer data for rut success. Whitetail

Daylight Deer Movement During the Rut

Jeff Johnston

We're deciphering new deer data for rut success.

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you. Conservation

Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd?

Jeff Johnston

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are created equal. Recipes

How to Properly Grill Venison Steak

Hank Shaw

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are...

See More Trending Articles

More Ammo

Strolling down the ammunition aisle at your local gun shop will reveal a multitude of different Ammo

History and Development of Hunting Bullets

Phil Massaro - August 14, 2018

Strolling down the ammunition aisle at your local gun shop will reveal a multitude of different

With new loads like Federal Premium's Heavyweight TSS in #9 shot, the right .410 shotgun can Ammo

Old School .410 Bore Shotgun Offers New Spring Turkey Hunting Options

PH Online Editors - February 21, 2018

With new loads like Federal Premium's Heavyweight TSS in #9 shot, the right .410 shotgun can

Sig's focus for the past 18 months has been developing hunting ammunition. Ammo

Review: Sig Sauer Elite Performance

Joe Arterburn - March 31, 2020

Sig's focus for the past 18 months has been developing hunting ammunition.

It was time to talk turkey when OSG senior digital editor Lynn Burkhead visited with Rafe Nielson of Winchester Ammo

New for 2018: Winchester SXP Long Beard 20-Gauge Turkey Shotgun

Lynn Burkhead - January 24, 2018

It was time to talk turkey when OSG senior digital editor Lynn Burkhead visited with Rafe...

See More Ammo

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now