.338 Federal

Discussion in 'Up To .375' started by JakeH, Aug 23, 2017.

  1. Michael Dean

    Michael Dean AH Enthusiast

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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.
     
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  2. sgt_zim

    sgt_zim AH Elite

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    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 ;)
     

  3. Scrumbag

    Scrumbag AH Fanatic

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    Oh dear, such a hardship!
     

  4. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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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.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
    Nosler guy and sgt_zim like this.

  5. sgt_zim

    sgt_zim AH Elite

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    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.
     

  6. Dr Ray

    Dr Ray AH Legend

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    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.
     

  7. ufg8r93

    ufg8r93 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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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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