.338 Federal

Michael Dean

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There are a lot of different cartridges out there that have higher velocities handle heavier weight bullets better and shoot flatter than the 338 Federal. With the higher velocities and heavier bullets you also get greater recoil, some that are outright obnoxious. For me, the 338 Federal fills a specific purpose and notch. The 338 Federal is limited for all practical purposes to about 300 yards. At the same time, 98% of all shots taken by hunters are under this threshold. Personally speaking, I don't want or need a rifle that shoots effectively at 500 yards.

A 210 grain bullet is terrific medicine for just about anything that walks save for a few animals such as the buffalo. For plains game it's terrific for everything up to and including Eland. What I particularly like about the 338 Federal is its recoil or lack thereof. In short, it's a comfortable rifle to shoot, something you cannot say about the other 338 calibers. The reason my 300 Weatherby sits in the safe is the simple fact that it's uncomfortable to shoot.

My 338 Federal in its lightweight composite stock is a pleasure to carry and comfortable to shoot. It fills a specific role and does it well. The next Elk or Eland won't know if its been shot with a 210 grain bullet or 250, and it certainly won't die any quicker if the bullet is traveling at 2,800fps or 2,400fps.
 

sgt_zim

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There are a lot of different cartridges out there that have higher velocities handle heavier weight bullets better and shoot flatter than the 338 Federal. With the higher velocities and heavier bullets you also get greater recoil, some that are outright obnoxious. For me, the 338 Federal fills a specific purpose and notch. The 338 Federal is limited for all practical purposes to about 300 yards. At the same time, 98% of all shots taken by hunters are under this threshold. Personally speaking, I don't want or need a rifle that shoots effectively at 500 yards.

A 210 grain bullet is terrific medicine for just about anything that walks save for a few animals such as the buffalo. For plains game it's terrific for everything up to and including Eland. What I particularly like about the 338 Federal is its recoil or lack thereof. In short, it's a comfortable rifle to shoot, something you cannot say about the other 338 calibers. The reason my 300 Weatherby sits in the safe is the simple fact that it's uncomfortable to shoot.

My 338 Federal in its lightweight composite stock is a pleasure to carry and comfortable to shoot. It fills a specific role and does it well. The next Elk or Eland won't know if its been shot with a 210 grain bullet or 250, and it certainly won't die any quicker if the bullet is traveling at 2,800fps or 2,400fps.

If I were in the market for a .33, the Federal and 338-06 would be tops on my list. Sadly, since I'm a lefty, I'd have to go with a Ruger #1 or buy a LH 308 or 30-06 and get it re-barreled.

I'll have to make do with my 9.3x62 ;)
 

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Good discussion. So, let me state up front, with respect to mid-bores in the thirties, that I am a .338 WM and 9.3x62 fan. I personally think both represent the ultimate choice for a pure PG rifle that will handle anything in Africa out to as far as most people (including me) have any business shooting (and that from someone who has probably shot twice as much PG with a .375 than either of the other two). I also do not have a recoil issue with either rifle. So, having gotten that out of the way, the .338 Federal (and the half dozen other smaller mid-bores) would be a fine rifle for 90% of what I use my preferred rounds. That said, that 10% can be an issue and would cause me pause. The .338 WM and 9.3 shine with the heavier bullets in their class. Velocity and fabulous BC means deep lethal penetration. A lot of folks other than me have opined that is a good thing on larger game and poor presentations. The latter seems to happen a lot in Africa compared to the home deer stand. The lighter mid-thirties with their smaller cases do best with lighter bullets - but they do it with the same frontal area - ergo less efficient BC, "momentum" (apologies to Pondoro) and penetration. 90% of the time, the game animal will never know the difference. I just worry about that 10% - particularly when I calculate in daily rate and trophy fees.

A final thought. The .338 WM needs a bit of length to get all that velocity going. I have never, ever found a couple of extra inches of barrel were an issue in the brush. Ever. I have always thought that the "brush rifle" moniker was a great marketing idea with little practical application. But, if that length thing is important, then you can still have a full length rifle in a very short package by purchasing a Ruger No. 1 or a Blaser R8 in a full length cartridge.
 
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sgt_zim

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Good discussion. So, let me state up front, with respect to mid-bores in the thirties, that I am a .338 WM and 9.3x62 fan. I personally think both represent the ultimate choice for a pure PG rifle that will handle anything in Africa out to as far as most people (including me) have any business shooting (and that from someone who has probably shot twice as much PG with a .375 than either of the other two). I also do not have a recoil issue with either rifle. So, having gotten that out of the way, the .338 Federal (and the half dozen other smaller mid-bores) would be a fine rifle for 90% of what I use my preferred rounds. That said, that 10% can be an issue and would cause me pause. The .338 WM and 9.3 shine with the heavier bullets in their class. Velocity and fabulous BC means deep lethal penetration. A lot of folks other than me have opined that is a good thing on larger game and poor presentations. The latter seems to happen a lot in Africa compared to the home deer stand. The lighter mid-thirties with their smaller cases do best with lighter bullets - but they do it with the same frontal area - ergo less efficient BC, "momentum" (apologies to Pondoro) and penetration. 90% of the time, the game animal will never know the difference. I just worry about that 10% - particularly when I calculate in daily rate and trophy fees.

A final thought. The .338 WM needs a bit of length to get all that velocity going. I have never, ever found a couple of extra inches of barrel were an issue in the brush. Ever. I have always thought that the "brush rifle" moniker was a great marketing idea with little practical application. But, if that length thing is important, then you can still have a full length rifle in a very short package by purchasing a Ruger No. 1 or a Blaser R8 in a full length cartridge.

No disagreement, but I'd point out one thing on "brush guns." The shorter barrel beans a shorter muzzle swing when tracking game. It can be a difficult thing to reconcile since the angle change would be identical for a long barrel as it would for a short barrel. Will the small fraction of a second make a difference in the bush? Probably the overwhelming majority of the time, no, it won't. Even with DG, it won't make any difference most of the time. But I'm the kind of guy whose whole existence has always been outside 2 SD.
 

Dr Ray

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So I'm looking to make the move to a non-magnum medium bore and I'm strongly considering the .338 Federal as a Jack O'Connor styled brush gun. I'd use it on deer, black bear, and hogs here in North Carolina. Probably buy a Savage Hog Hunter and replace the stock with a Boyd's walnut stock and slap a 2x7 scope on top.

What's everyone's thoughts on this round? Using factory 210gr Partitions or 200gr Fusions its within a couple hundred ft/lbs of factory 286gr A-Frame 9.3x62's and a dead ringer for 225gr .35 Whelen loads.

This is a good choice. It’s not too far from the crunch factor of the 338 Winchester magnum.
I suggest the 210 grain Nosler Partitions. In my 338 Winchester magnum I use 225 grain bullets.
 

ufg8r93

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I have a Sako 85 Hunter in 338 Fed. Is a 338 Fed the end all and be all? Nope, but who cares. We all have multiple rifles. It's a fun round and does what it does quite well. I'd be comfortable shooting kudu and wildebeest with it, and everything below. Is it demonstrably better than an '06 or a 300 WM for plains game? Nope, but who cares? With good shot placement they'll all be stone dead no matter what you choose. Enjoy the rifle and have fun.

Is it a 35 Whelen? Nope. But that's why I have a 35 Whelen also.

My 338 Fed Sako is very comfortable to shoot and I love the rifle, but she's a bit picky. Didn't shoot any of the 6 factory ammo loads I tried very well. After a bit of work I found that she'll shoot 185g TSXs just under MOA at 2550fps over 50g of CFE223.

I think the accuracy issue is a 338 Fed issue and not a Sako issue, by the way. If you do a bit of research you'll find a lot more whining about 338 Fed accuracy than you will about Sako accuracy.

I reload, so ammo availability isn't really an issue for me. Have plenty of brass and thanks to the 338 WM guessing I'll always have a few bullet choices.
 
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So I'm looking to make the move to a non-magnum medium bore and I'm strongly considering the .338 Federal as a Jack O'Connor styled brush gun. I'd use it on deer, black bear, and hogs here in North Carolina. Probably buy a Savage Hog Hunter and replace the stock with a Boyd's walnut stock and slap a 2x7 scope on top.

What's everyone's thoughts on this round? Using factory 210gr Partitions or 200gr Fusions its within a couple hundred ft/lbs of factory 286gr A-Frame 9.3x62's and a dead ringer for 225gr .35 Whelen loads.
@JakeH
Sorry to disappoint you but the 338 federal ain't no dead ringer for the 35 Whelen with 225 grain projectiles. I doesn't matter what you load into the 338 federal the Whelen will put a 225 grain down range at 2,900fps SAFELY and give you 4,200 fpe of muzzle energy. This even eclipses the 338 win mag.
Yes the 338 federal is a good cartridge But I personally feel the 358 Winchester is slightly better. It will do A 225 grain bullet to 2,500 fps.
Bob
 
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If it where me I would get a 35 Whelen and use 250 gr NP's
@Art Lambert II
Or 250 grain Speer hotcore or woodleigh PPSP and load it with a snoot full of cfe223 for 2,700fps and 4,000+ fpe of muzzle energy.
He could even end used your dads load with the 225 grain Barnes with similar energies.
Bob
 

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Somehow putting the 338 Federal in perspective has been complicated. I can't figure out why. The 30-06 is kind of a standard, long length cartridge that has been around long enough and in large enough numbers most people are familiar with it. The 308 is kind of a shorter, more modern version of the 30-06 and has been around long enough in large enough numbers most people are familiar with it.

Expand the neck of the 30-06 to 338 and you have a 338-06 and it has a certain potential because of case capacity. Expand the neck of the 308 to 338 and you have a 338 Federal and it has a certain potential because of case capacity. There's no mystery, no magic. Expand the neck of the 30-06 to 358 and you have a 35 Whelen and it has a certain potential because of case capacity. Expand the neck of the 308 to 358 and you have a 358 Win and it has a certain potential because of case capacity. There's no mystery, no magic. Thought all this was common knowledge but maybe not.

In the end, the ballistic potential of the two parents and all their direct offspring is related to length thus case capacity. Additionally, those two basic lengths of the parents and offspring may limit the length of action either fits. Both pedigrees can work in standard long actions. But only the 308 and offspring will fit in standard short actions.
 
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bruce moulds

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.33 Bore 210gr Partition leaving at +2600fps, whats not to love? Had a nice Savage 99 re-barreled to .338 Fed., turning into one of my favorites.
whats not to love?
the 210 partition.
i had one fail in the shoulder blade of a pig.
the next shot was a 200 gn speer that dropped it emphatically in a similar place.
you would expect the speer to be less of a bullet, which it is, but it is more consistent and honest in what it does.
however, when the nose blew off the nosler it changed the bullets direction, a thing which has also happened on a donkey with the 9.3 calibre.
the nosler bullet would be better suited to side on chest shots, but you cant always choose your shot.
bruce.
 

Graham Hunter

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Why do you keep shooting the bullets you hate. You are the only person I know that hates PARTITIONS but keeps shooting them.
whats not to love?
the 210 partition.
i had one fail in the shoulder blade of a pig.
the next shot was a 200 gn speer that dropped it emphatically in a similar place.
you would expect the speer to be less of a bullet, which it is, but it is more consistent and honest in what it does.
however, when the nose blew off the nosler it changed the bullets direction, a thing which has also happened on a donkey with the 9.3 calibre.
the nosler bullet would be better suited to side on chest shots, but you cant always choose your shot.
bruce.
 
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I had Dave Manson build this reamer to take advantage of a 3.0 mag box as the SAAMI spec cartridge was designed with the knowledge that it would probably be used in an AR10 platform at some point. The action is Tikka T3X left hand, stock is factory Tikka T3 (lighter than the Superlite stock on T3X), barrel is a 22” Remington Standard Sporter contour by X-Caliber. The 100 yard group below represents a 4 shot ladder from 45-48 grains of H335 with a 186gr Shock Hammer from Hammer Bullets in Montana. Topped at 2620fps and there’s room for a little more. Shoots the factory Federal Fusion 200gr into 1 MOA at 2640 as it does with 200 Woodleigh Weldcore albeit about 100fps slower. The 200gr Nosler Etip and Federal Trophy Copper give a shotgun pattern.

Overall very happy with the rifle, hope to get the TC’s to shoot a little better. The quality of the Tikka action is pretty damned amazing for being mass produced. This rifle is carried in brown bear country while Sitka black tail deer hunting. The recoil is noticeable but by no means do I find it abusive. The weight is slightly over 7# with 1.75-6 Leupold and a full magazine.

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bruce moulds

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Why do you keep shooting the bullets you hate. You are the only person I know that hates PARTITIONS but keeps shooting them.
graham,
i do not hate them.
i did keep using them for a while believing gun writers who claimed them to be superior for bigger animals.
in fact i thought the problem was me, as gun writer s would be all knowing.
but in the end, evidence had to be taken note of and acted on.
there are still guys around that tout the partition as a reliable bullet for top end game in a given calibre.
they seem to do this to put themselves in a psychological safety zone of some sort.
however more and more guys are coming to the understanding that the partition is in fact a good deer bullet and that is what it was originally designed for.
i myself use 140 gn partitions for smaller deer species down to goats in the 280 rem with great happiness.
i use 160s in the 7mm stw for similar game.
i will no longer use them in 375 or 9.3, as a number of other bullets have clearly proven superior for the bigger things taken with those calibres.
bruce.
 

BeeMaa

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I very much agree with @fourfive8. The only favor a short action did, lies with the manufacturer...not the hunter. The 30-06 based cartridges will outperform the 308WIN based cartridges because there is no replacement for displacement.

If looking for a .338 caliber, my vote would be the 338-06 (to minimize recoil) followed by the 338WM (to maximize performance), but I would not be sacrificing barrel length for a "brush gun" concept.
 
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I very much agree with @fourfive8. The only favor a short action did, lies with the manufacturer...not the hunter. The 30-06 based cartridges will outperform the 308WIN based cartridges because there is no replacement for displacement.

If looking for a .338 caliber, my vote would be the 338-06 (to minimize recoil) followed by the 338WM (to maximize performance), but I would not be sacrificing barrel length for a "brush gun" concept.

All true. However the short case .308 based cartridges get within 150-200fps of the ‘06 based cartridges with 15-20gr less powder. At reasonable hunting ranges, no practical advantage.
 

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It all depends on what level of recoil you are comfortable with. I can shoot my Savage Hog Hunter in .338 Fed all day at the range and enjoy it. My Winchester Model 70 in .338 WinMag beats me up after 10 shots if I don't load it down to .338 Federal levels... and if I am gonna do that, why not just use the .338 Federal. As for the Federal not being able to "reach out there", that is absolutely true. But I am old school when I hunt - anything over 300 yards means I just need to stalk a little closer. I don't share in the long range hunting philosophy, which to me is more like sniping. I have been hunting since 1973 and have never lost an animal I have hit. I attribute that to my willingness to stay off the trigger until I am within 300 yds. A bunch of buddies and especially their sons have no problem trying to make shots on elk and bear at 600+ yards. Their stories of losing the track on the ones they wound pains me. In North America, your tag is not filled till you attach it to your animal, so wounding an animal that gets away is no big deal. It is a sad thing that gives anti-hunters something to bitch about. Anyway, the .338 Federal is a great cartridge for anything except the big bears or DG in Africa.
 

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