.338 Federal on Plains Game

seattlesetters

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The .338 Federal will throw a 250 grain Nosler Partition or Swift A-Frame at 2300-2400 fps. It’ll easily launch the 225 grain versions of those bullets at 2500 fps.

It can also light up the 160 grain Barnes TTSX at 3,000 fps.

Should we think of it as a modern, short-action .318 Westley Richards? If so, does this mean we have a really awesome Africa cartridge nobody is using?

Good for Eland?

What bullet would you use on a mixed-bag hunt?

I like the cartridge and have used it a bunch. It ballistics are almost identical to the .318 WR with like-sized bullets.
 

Rick Cox

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The .338 Federal will throw a 250 grain Nosler Partition or Swift A-Frame at 2300-2400 fps. It’ll easily launch the 225 grain versions of those bullets at 2500 fps.

It can also light up the 160 grain Barnes TTSX at 3,000 fps.

Should we think of it as a modern, short-action .318 Westley Richards? If so, does this mean we have a really awesome Africa cartridge nobody is using?

Good for Eland?

What bullet would you use on a mixed-bag hunt?

I like the cartridge and have used it a bunch. It ballistics are almost identical to the .318 WR with like-sized bullets.
Seems like a very nicely balanced cartridge. I know a young lady here a bouts that uses one...
 

Mekaniks

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Do you happen to recall what bullet he used?

Handloaded 210g Nosler Partitions going 2450 with 45g of Varget just like the book says...

Kudu, blue wildebeest, black wildebeest, impala, springbok, and a jackel all one shot each with @Pawprint Safaris

It’s in a custom Winchester model 70 with a 20” Douglas XX barrel and a HS Precision Kevlar stock.

I would not hesitate to use it on any plaingame animal. And I have also taken a Kodiak Brown Bear with it.
 
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Drakensberger

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The 338 Federal is a very nice bushveld round, that is if you use it with 200 to 250gr at 2300 to 2500fps.
If you want a 160gr bullet at 3000fps, are there not any other calibers that have a better reputation? The 6.5mm and 7mm come to mind.
 

375 Ruger Fan

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The .338 Federal will throw a 250 grain Nosler Partition or Swift A-Frame at 2300-2400 fps. It’ll easily launch the 225 grain versions of those bullets at 2500 fps.

It can also light up the 160 grain Barnes TTSX at 3,000 fps.

Should we think of it as a modern, short-action .318 Westley Richards? If so, does this mean we have a really awesome Africa cartridge nobody is using?

Good for Eland?

What bullet would you use on a mixed-bag hunt?

I like the cartridge and have used it a bunch. It ballistics are almost identical to the .318 WR with like-sized bullets.

Are you sure about the velocities for the given weight bullets? After all, this is a necked up 308. Seems a bit high from what I've seen published. This is what Hendershots list for their custom loads:

upload_2018-4-23_4-47-31.png



A very good article detailing the 338 Federal:
https://www.ballisticstudies.com/Knowledgebase/.338+Federal.html
 

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ChrisG

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I don't see why it wouldn't work! I am a huge fan of the .33 caliber small bores! with a 225 grain bullet I would think this would be good out to about 250 yards on most game under 1200lbs. I loved my .338 Win mag and the only reason I got rid of it was to buy a .375 H&H and it does everything better than the .338 Win mag at the ranges I need to hunt. But yes, the .338 Federal will be a great plains game round!
 

billc

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To me it is a great round but one that is limited because of the person using the gun. It is were the recoil really starts coming in to play and more then a few cant handle it. If your not recoil shy may be one of the best overall guns for hunting.

My limit is a 300 mag for recoil and the one 338 I shot was just to much for me. The 338 does not make up for bad shots but does a great job when the shooter does his. I don't think your recoil shy so maybe a good choice but so would that 6.5 and I would take both.

For me knowing the list you want to hunt. I would load up some 200 grain or 225 and not be scared to shoot anything on your list.
 

Mekaniks

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Mekaniks

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Closing comments
“The .338 Federal is particularly well suited to hunters looking for a cartridge specifically for use on large game where low recoil or an extremely lightweight portable rifle is a priority. This cartridge can produce both excellent and rather abysmal results depending upon how it is loaded and how it is used. This is not the type of cartridge that should be selected simply for the reason of “wanting something different” by those who show little interest in rifle accuracy or hand loading. The Federal works best when treated as a specific tool for a specific job.”

This is from the article that @375 Ruger Fan posted. This totally sums up the 338 Federal in my experience and opinion as well.
If you want to shoot 160g bullets at 3000fps or 250g bullets at 2400fps, there are others calibers that can do it much more effectively.
If you want to shoot quality 200g bullets at moderate velocities and moderate ranges, in a short action, relatively light weight gun without a lot of fanfare, and hit like a hammer under 300 yards, then the 338 Federal is a great cartridge.
 

seattlesetters

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Are you sure about the velocities for the given weight bullets? After all, this is a necked up 308. Seems a bit high from what I've seen published.
Quite sure. Different powders can produce different results without signs of pressure. You can get another 100 fps over what Hendershot’s publishes.
 

ufg8r93

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I have a Sako 85 in 338 Federal. I love the idea of the 338 Fed as a plains game cartridge. Mekaniks is spot on - it's a very specific cartridge for a very specific purpose, and handloading helps a lot. I think 185 TTSX to 225g bullets are ideal in the caliber based on the load work I've done thus far. I think the TSX and TTSX may be a bit too tough at 338 Fed velocities, based on a pig I shot recently. So I'm currently working on a load with a 200g Accubond. 48.0 Ramshot TAC, Fed 9.5M primers. Just over 1" @ 2600 fps, think I can get it printing under MOA with some seating depth work. My Sako has a long throat/free bore. Luckily it also has a magazine with plenty of room to load cartridges long. That's next up. No signs of pressure and not really that close to max loads.
 

billc

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My comments were based on 338 win mag my bad for not talking about right caliber. This one maybe a true winner by the sounds of it.
 

Divernhunter

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billc---You had the right CALIBER but the wrong CARTRIDGE :)

I believe Barnes makes 165gr TTSX that works quite well in the 338Federal. I use the 185TTSX in my 338win mag.
 

seattlesetters

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billc---You had the right CALIBER but the wrong CARTRIDGE :)

I believe Barnes makes 165gr TTSX that works quite well in the 338Federal. I use the 185TTSX in my 338win mag.
It’s actually a 160 TTSX. It is an absolutely wicked killer in the .338 Federal. I have pole axed a couple of bull elk with it out to 300 yards. It puts two big holes in them and destroys large bones with ease.

Both were bang/flop. And the flops were HARD!
 

seattlesetters

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I think a 225 Swift A-Frame at 2,450 fps would make a good all-around bullet for a genuine mixed-bag hunt that might see everything from Cape Grysbok to Cape Eland taken on chance.

I’d probably run a 185 Barnes TTSX, 200 Nosler AccuBond or 210 Nosler Partition if Eland or Giraffe aren’t on the menu, depending on the type of country to be hunted.

I’d imagine all those bullets word work for everything, though.
 

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The .338 Fed is an amazing short-action thumper. With factory loads it’ll deliver 210gr bullets with the same MPBR as 180gr slugs from a .308 or 175gr from a 7x57mm. From a ft/lbs prospective, it performs much more in line with our common magnums, .300WM and 7mm RM than it does the rest of the .308 family that it comes from. And it does this while delivering recoil similar to a .30-06, well within most people’s tolerance.

It’s amazing to me that it’s not more popular than it is, given its ability to take anything this side of dangerous game within 300yds, yet still fit in a rifle trim enough to carry anywhere.
 

Bob Nelson 35Whelen

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I think a 225 Swift A-Frame at 2,450 fps would make a good all-around bullet for a genuine mixed-bag hunt that might see everything from Cape Grysbok to Cape Eland taken on chance.

I’d probably run a 185 Barnes TTSX, 200 Nosler AccuBond or 210 Nosler Partition if Eland or Giraffe aren’t on the menu, depending on the type of country to be hunted.

I’d imagine all those bullets word work for everything, though.
@seatlesettler
A mate of mine used one up in the territory for hunting water buffalo. He used the 185 grain Barnes TSX. Worked well but he prefers his wildcat 358 Mitchell Express. Works even better. It's an 8x57 case necked to 34 and Ackley modified. Almost as good as the Whelen but not quite.
The 238 federal with 185 tsxs will do everything you want on your list.
Bob
 

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