just because you may not have killed an elk or know someone who has killed an elk with a handgun doesn,t indicate its not an effective choice in experienced hands
now theres some obvious differences required between use of a hand gun and a rifle, less range and proper bullet selection for a hand gun are mandatory
first Ive used a 445 dan wesson super mag that throws a 300 grain hard cast bullet at 1500 PLUS fps from a 10" barrel
the bullets don,t seem to expand a great deal but they do penetrate deeply.
Ive had freinds use a 260 grain hard cast bullet from a 8.3/8" 44 mag revolver.
both handguns and loads can shoot clear thru an elks chest from under 75-100 yards, sometimes the bullets exit sometimes they are located under the far side skin.
your definitely at a range disadvantage compared to using a 30/06 rifle with a scope, but a skilled handgun hunter can certainly kill elk within reasonable ranges with a 44 mag revolver with proper loads. concentrate on finding an accurate load and getting in the required FIELD practice not just shooting off a bench.
the Colorado hunting regulations, under legal hunting methods it states that a handgun load must produce a minimum energy of 550 ft-lbs at 50 yards to be legal for hunting.
think about this the archery guys would have a difficult time hitting an elk with a 100 ft lbs of energy an arrow kills by blood loss, a good revolver load can easily deliver 700-1200 ft lbs of energy and drive a bullet thru the vitals and in many cases exit even an elk.
you will need to practice until hitting a 4" target at 100 yards is reasonably easy and limit shots to about the range you can consistently do that, but a 44 caliber or larger caliber hand gun can be deadly in experienced hands, bullet placement and penetration has more to do with lethality than energy alonehttp://forum.grumpysperformance.com/viewtopic.php?f=91&t=1864http://www.handloads.com/loaddata/defaul...der&Source=http://www.handgunsmag.com/2010/09/24/ammunition_44mag_081005/http://www.midwayusa.com/product/506726/...utter-gas-check