Though it's not an extremely popular elk cartridge, there's not a darn reason why you can't go elk hunting with the 280 AI. Here's why.
Also known as the .280 Ackley Improved or the .280 Remington Ackley Improved, the .280 AI is basically a .280 Remington case (itself a .30-06 Springfield case necked down to 7mm/.284") that's been blown out to increase the powder capacity. As you'll see, it makes a great elk hunting cartridge that's more powerful than the 6.5 Creedmoor and nearly as hard hitting as the 7mm Remington Magnum.
These particular hunters were using a .280 AI loaded with 168 grain Berger bullets on a recent elk hunt. They managed to find a dandy of a 6x6 bull elk who seemed to be more interested in finding a receptive cow than anything else.
Unfortunately for the elk, it stood still for just a little too long and presented a quartering shot for these hunters at a range of about 325 yards.
Watch the video to see how the .280 Ackley Improved performed.
As you can see, it's not necessary to use a .338 Lapua for elk hunting. Good shot placement and good bullets with a wide variety of cartridges will do the job on elk, and that's exactly what happened here.
In this particular case, his shot hit a little high and impacted right on the spine, thus dropping the elk in his tracks. Now you can see that sort of "magical" performance from virtually any big centerfire rifle cartridge that hits an animal in the central nervous system. So, while the results were indeed impressive, let's not overstate the capabilities of the .280 Ackley Improved Cartridge here.
It's still a darn capable cartridge that's up to the task of quickly and ethically taking down a big bull elk though.
The .280 Ackley Improved was standardized by Nosler with SAAMI rather recently, but it's already gaining a reputation as a sought-after, flat-shooting and hard hitting cartridge almost on par with the 7mm Remington Magnum, but without quite as much recoil. So, if you consider the 7mm Remington Magnum to be appropriate for a particular hunting situation, then the .280 Ackley Improved will probably fit the bill as well.