.28 Nosler for Elk Hunting: Is It the Ultimate Elk Cartridge

VD November 11 2021

Looking for a cartridge that can help you take down large-bodied games like Elks, wild hogs, deer, and more? Look no more because .28 Nosler for Elk is the ultimate cartridge. It's the perfect middle ground that offers everything you need in one package.

In this article, we will explain everything about .28 Nosler in this article and tell you all its pros and cons. Without further ado, let's get started!

Can a .28 Nosler Effectively Take Large-Bodied Game Like Elk?

When discussing whether a cartridge can take large-bodied down or not, foot-pound energy is the main factor (it is good or worst way is another matter).

The traditional way of thinking is that if a cartridge has 1500 foot-pound energy from the point you shoot, it can efficiently take down an elk. If we go by this convention, then.28 Nosler is the big boss among other cartridges because it has massive foot-pound energy of 3188 at 100 yards and can even maintain a 1500 foot-pound energy at 747 yards. This principle makes .28 Nosler the ideal cartridge for long-range elk hunting.

In the hunters' world.28 Nosler is generally the best long-range round for elk hunting with a flat-trajector firing style.

Nosler, an American bullet manufacturing company, even labels .28 Nosler as Elk's cartridge. It is also known as The New Herd Bull among hunters.

In an experiment, we hunted two wildebeest. The cartridge took the first wildebeest down immediately, whereas the second resisted for more or less 5 seconds before falling. We used an ELD-X bullet that did not come out of the beast and damaged the vital organs. This is an excellent result which shows it can take down heavy animals easily.

Do not consider it bad that the bullet didn't come out of the other side. It's because ELD-X does not have much penetrative power and is engineered to expand at longer distances.

There might be a problem with .28 Nosler if you plan on firing factory loads instead of reloading yourself. The 2 significant loads you will find in your local stores are Nosler's 175-grain Trophy Hunter load and 162-grain ELD-X. You may find a few other options available if you go online, like Nosler's 160-grain Trophy grade rounds. It has a very good penetrating power which is a bit unconventional as Nosler's most designs are focused on long-range expansion, so this is especially great for elk hunting.

There's a reason .28 Nosler is the best long-range cartridge for elk hunting.

You must have the knowledge of knowing how traditional cartridge design works. This is because .28 Nosler was not designed to expand which makes it ideal for penetration.

When using a conventional bullet, it's necessary to consider its speed and weight because these two features help determine ballistic performance. A slow-moving heavy bullet is good at plunging deep into objects while fast light bullets are best suited for expansion upon impact with an object.

Nosler uses the ELD-M (ELD Match) series that has specially engineered sections in the nose cavity that ensures faster acceleration leading up to better ballistic performance than other types of cartridges.

The reasons behind designing .28 Nosler for elk hunting were described earlier; now let us talk about the technology used to create .28 Nosler.

In simple terms, the term "Nosler" refers to a single bullet from the company that makes long-range hunting bullets. In this case, it's a cartridge made by cutting off the tail of .30-06 Springfield's design and wrapping it up in a .284 caliber bullet combined with modern technology.

The internal architecture of .28 Nosler makes Nosler an exclusive product line because it separates cartridges from other types according to their popular use instead of conventional scientific categorization. This is possible thanks to Nosler's Flex Tip Technology (FTT) which prevents polymer tipped projectiles from being jammed into the rifling as well as allowing them to expand upon impact without initiating full fragmentation at low velocities.

In the case of .28 Nosler, it has a ballistic coefficient of about 1.8 which is higher than others by a large margin, so you can expect a flatter shooting cartridge with an effective range of around 700 yards.

Pros of .28 Nosler

  • .28 Nosler supports a tremendous flat-shooting which means there is no or very less bullet drop within its point-blank range.
  • The bullet is not affected by wind drift (wind drift resistant).
  • It has huge reserves of energy even at a very long distance/range.
  • It offers very high accuracy, to the point that it is known as inherently accurate. But the accuracy is mostly dependent on the shooter and varies from one another.
  • It's very easy to control and is perfect for all types of shooters, whether they're right-handed or left-handed.
  • .28 Nosler doesn't need an expensive rifle since it can be used on any kind of bolt-action rifle.
  • Appropriate for long-distance shooting thanks to its flat trajectory (low drag coefficient).
  • It's more effective on small game like deer, antelope, and coyotes than other cartridges in the same league.

Cons of .28 Nosler

  • One downside to .28 Nosler is its expensive factory loads.
  • There is not much variety in the factory loads, so not many options to choose from.
  • Its higher recoil is another major disadvantage.
  • Higher power comes with a price which is the short barrel life.
  • .28 Nosler is not ideal for beginners.

The price of .28 Nosler depends on the amount purchased which varies depending on the conditions of each dealer. Normally, a new rifle costs around $3000 while used rifles are sold at around half that value. Reloading tools are also available online, but these are often purchased in-person to get quality products at reasonable prices.

Other factors to consider when using .28 Nosler

  • It's necessary to take note of your rifle's internal action length because it can affect performance and accuracy if there are extra cartridges of longer length. However, most actions require minimal modifications up to 0.060". The required modifications usually involve crowning the muzzle and fire-lapping the barrel.

30 Nosler or .28 Nosler?

This question has been heavily considered for long-range shooting because the former is more versatile with greater speed and energy which means any rifle can shoot it. But both cartridges don't belong to the same category since they have different bullet weights and ballistic coefficients, not forgetting the difference in muzzle energies. For example, 6mmRem shoots 6mm bullets at around 2900fps while.308 Win shoots 7.62mm bullets at around 2600fps respectively.


The ultimate elk cartridge does exist, but it's up to you who decides whether to invest in one or not since this highly depends on your budget and overall preferences/needs. With that said, hunting elk requires a large amount of energy and stopping power due to their thick hair, tough leather, and sturdy bones.

On the other hand, it's recommended to use a more powerful cartridge such as .300 Winchester Magnum or .30-06 Springfield which is quite popular for hunting elk. On the contrary, smaller calibers such as 6mmRem (Bolt) or 6.5 Creedmoor (Bolt action rifle) are also great choices because they're easier to shoot accurately at extended ranges compared to cartridges like 300 Win Mag and .30-06 Sprg. If you prefer bolt guns over repeaters and want something lighter without giving up too much performance (e.g: flat trajectory, manageable recoil), consider using a .270 Win or 7mm-08 Rem.