257 Weatherby for Elk: Is this the Best Round for Elk Hunting?

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The first thing that comes to my mind with the mention of the 257 Weatherby magnum is speed and accuracy. Roy Weatherby is the inventor of this parent cartridge that is chambered to marry to a vast pool of rifles. 

All its attributes point the cartridge to maximum efficiency and effectiveness, unique to most of the magnums in close competition to it. Some of the outstanding features include a double-radius shoulder and large capacity cases that accommodate a wide range of bullets.

This set of rounds set a high bar for all cartridges that followed. With 120 grain bullets, your bullet moves at groundbreaking speeds of between 3300-3400 fps. Its velocity may vary with the barrel length of your rifle and the manufacturer of the rounds.

It is a flat trajectory cartridge, and when married with the correct premium bullets, its abilities will amaze you. I use these rounds for elk hunting, and they never disappoint. Most hunters underestimate their ability to take down the big game.  All one needs to keep into consideration is bullet selection and shot placement to your target.

Design and Specifications

Cartridge Casing

The 257 weatherby shares the same cases as the 7mm and .270 Weatherby. All these rounds are from the same manufacturer hence the similarity in their casings. This magnum round, however, is shortened and necked down from the average .375 H&H magnum casing. 

This modification increases its penetration and velocity retention capabilities. When it comes to elk hunting, it quickly penetrates its sturdy coating, causing considerable damage on your first shot.


When this cartridge was introduced to the hunting scene, slow-burning powders were not available in the market. However, technology and innovation gave birth to the slow-burning powders, leading to the shortening of these rounds.

The main aim of its shortening is to make it suitable for the use of modern these powders. Their previous casings were too massive and used up too much powdering content. The efficiency of the dust would also be compromised if the cartridges used were full length.

Twist Rate

For the maximum productivity of this cartridge, I suggest using a barrel with 1-10 inches twist rate. Weatherby, on the other hand, recommends a free-bore barrel of .378 in 9.6mm to utilize the ammo at its maximum capabilities.

If you are using Weatherby rifles, consider yourself on the safe side. Early guns manufactured by these manufacturers offered a 1-12 inch twist rate, this changed as their modern rifles offer 1-10 inch. This difference may slightly affect the velocity of your projectile if you are not too familiar with your gun.

Case Capacity

This capacity is in regards to the amount of pressure this cartridge can handle. The maximum pressure limit in this magnum round, as stated by Weatherby manufacturers, is 4,600 bars. However, CIP limits this number to 4,400 bars; this is to ensure the gun is safe to handle and no injuries are sustained during its use. This information protects both you and your rifle.


The design is unique in almost every way to other magnum rounds. It features a double-radius shoulder. It tends to curve to its neck gradually. A fillet radius is what CIP terms this transition from the body to the shoulder. It also brags of a brass belt that has no specific purpose in the piece, and it creates a better appeal to the cartridge.

Hand loading

When hand loading the 257 Weatherby magnum loads, use slow-burning powders and large magnum primers. Low-quality primers have a significant in the efficiency of your shots, chances of piercing through it depend on the weight of the bullet.

The bullet seating depth is also a significant player in determining the accuracy of your projectile. If you use the correct powder and primer on the right bullet, expect spectacular accuracy.

Testing the 257 Weatherby

Performance of These Rounds on Paper

This accurate flat-shooting round is most famous for its long-range performance. On paper, the manufacturers promise outstanding accuracy at very high velocities. The velocity that the projectile leaves the barrel with is enough to minimize the bullet drop rate. 

Its ballistic coefficients, however, limit these cartridge’s velocity maintenance. After 500 yards, the projectile begins losing considerable chunks of velocity. There is no need to hold over when aiming at targets at close range, provided you correctly set your rifle

When sighted in for 300yards, the bullet drops 21.9 inches at 500 yards. At this distance, it can retain at least 1826 joules of projectile energy. In comparison to other rounds, this is not that bad.

The cartridge also guarantees a 1.5 MOA accuracy; this is when paired with Weatherby rifles. Other brands of rifles may offer better or fewer groupings, and it is all upon you to pick the best combination for your hunting ventures. Whichever gun used, expect consistent performances from the 257 Weatherby rounds.

Performance on Elk Hunting

The 257 Weatherby has always been my go-to cartridge when elk hunting. Unlike most magnum rounds whose performance on paper greatly differs on the field, these rounds offer what they promise. Since an elk is a huge animal, I recommend using slightly heavy grains.

Armed with a 100-grain Barnes manufactured cartridge, I set out to the woods, hoping I would return with a worthy elk. My first target was at a close range of 50 yards. The first shot immediately incapacitated the elk. The bullet passed right through the elk’s neck, exiting the animal on the opposite side. 

The second target was at around 150 yards, from my observation, the bullet reached the animal at 2900 fps. The elk did not have much room to escape as the shot pierced through its internal organs. The bullet exited the animal on the opposite side.

None of my shots came into contact with bone structures. However, in previous hunts, this cartridge was able to penetrate the shoulder. The bullet, however, did not exit the wound, and the animal dropped after moving 20 yards.

Correct bullet placement is a necessity to ensure that your prey does not escape wounded. Elks have a massive body form, and it is tough to miss one even on long-range shots. Longer ranges are best suited by heavier grains that can resist the external forces acting on it, reaching the target at high velocities.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the 257 Weatherby Good for?

The use of these rounds is mostly famous for big game hunting. Its vast range of compatible bullets makes it suitable for small and medium-sized targets. I use these rounds mostly for an elk hunt, and they never disappoint.

It is a hunting cartridge, however recently, we observe it being introduced in target shooting competitions. Heavy grains, when married with these magnum rounds, give perfect accuracy for targets on long distances.

How Far Will the 257 Weatherby Shoot?

The distance effectiveness heavily relies on the bullet grains used and which rifle you use. Heavier bullets are best suited for long-range targets and vice versa. Let us take the 100 grain as an example; this bullet weight can take down animals weighing less than 180lbs at 375-400 yards very quickly.

For the larger game, I would advise you to go for heavier grains to reduce the drag effect available in the atmosphere.

How Much Does a 257 Weatherby Kick?

The 257 Weatherby is a lightweight magnum round, and this means that you will not feel that much recoil when handling it. The grain used affects every aspect of these rounds, including the kick felt. It is more shoulder-friendly, giving a light recoil of 13.5 ft. /lbs when using a 100-grain bullet. The recoil force increases with the bullet size.

Is 257 Weatherby Good for Elk Hunting?

Yes, the 257 Weatherby can take down an elk. However, this is only if you use the right bullet, and your shot placement is on target. The ballistic reports of this cartridge might say otherwise, however taking down an animal depends on a lot more than just the ballistic reports. I believe that there is a large number of hunters that can testify the efficiency of these magnum rounds on elk hunters.


The 257 Weatherby is a unique and powerful magnum round that will always leave you fully satisfied with its performance. If used for the intended purpose, the cartridges will give you consistent quality performances all through.

The performance of these rounds on the elk is exceptional. I do understand that there are superior cartridges that are specifically for elk hunting. However, if you are on a tight budget or feel the need to switch from your current selection, this is one of the best substitutes to go with.

Its overall design and light recoil combine both elegance and accuracy in these spectacular rounds. They are chambered in almost all major rifles, making it suitable to most hunters regardless of the rifle used. The only way to confirm if it is worth the hype is by rushing to the store and picking one for yourself.

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