Paraphrasing my old Elk Guide opinion on rifles for Elk
I am lucky to have been able to hunt twice in Idaho with a quality outfit. During the 10 days of the hunt the discussion always gets going about what rifle cartridge we should be using to go after Elk. Both times it was about 1/2 of each group of hunters carrying their regular Deer rifles that they use in their home States. The other hunters had bought a new magnum that they also may now use for hunting Deer back home. At the end of each discussion there was agreement in a couple of areas.
1. The guys carrying magnums, 7mm, 300Win, 300WM, 338Win, 340WM have the option of taking any shot that might present itself over the hunt.
2. Those of us carrying our standard calibers 270, 308, 30-06 need to be aware of what range limitations we must consider.
3. On the first hunt a guy with a 7mm mag made a great shot at 450yards hitting an Elk. It was later finished off at closer range. I would not have attempted the shot he took. My personal limitations and those of my 30-06 rifle would have made me pass on the shot.
4. My outfitters liked to see Magnums, both lead guys loved the 338 Win mag. But only if the hunter had chosen to use heavy controller expansion bullets. Even with the other magnums they want heavy for caliber controlled exp bullets not standard construction ones.
5. My outfitters also were frustrated with the number of hunters that either can't shoot, or are scared of their rifles. More than once the outfitter said I would rather have the shooter bring less of a rifle if they can shoot it.
6. I did get a smaller 4x4 on my second trip, at around 150 yards the 30-06 with a 180gr Nosler Part did its part. Not a tough shot and not very far away. A magnum was not needed for the shot I took.