A more powerful 338?

Scrumbag

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so I just got back from Namibia where I used my 338 WM to take a handful of PG at various ranges from 73-277 yards. in terms of killing performance the 210gr .338" TTSX bullet performed perfectly. however there were a few times I wished I could have reached out a bit further (like when baboons were shouting at us from 500 yards). my load in my 338 WM pushes the 210gr TTSX at 2900fps which is extremely effective within 300 yards but when you start thinking outside that, you quickly find yourself in trouble with the bullet dropping fast.

I'm kicking around with the idea of getting a rifle that would be a solid 400 yard gun. the one catch is that I still want the .338" diameter. this leaves me with only a few options as I can tell:

- 340 WBY
- 338 RUM
- 338 Lapua
- 338/378 WBY

finding rifles chambered in 338 RUM doesn't seem to be very easy but the other three cartridges aren't uncommon thanks to Weatherby.

what are your thoughts?

thanks
-matt

500yds seems a long way for whacking anything but I'd have though you definitely want to dial to shoot at that range... If you had something like a Z6 or Zeiss with ASV I'd set the rings at 200 (MPBR out to 200 no problems), 300 and 400 and learn the hold for 500.
 

sheephunterab

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I'm not so sure about that comment. My daughter and I had one shot kills on zebra, blesbuck, 2 impala, 2 kudus and 2 nyalas with 7mm mag 162 gr SST. The Hornady SST is the preferred bullet from the PH we used in the Eastern Cape. Also my recent Dall sheep was taken with a 130 gr SST in my 270. For longer range shooting, the higher BC might be more beneficial than a tougher bullet with a lower BC.

One other comment about all these super 338s: If you are pushing a bullet well in excess of 3000 fps and happen to target a nearby animal, say 100 yards or less, that bullet might over expand or come apart.

The SST is a great bullet in that it's very inherently accurate and it does offer up a great BC and many people like it because it does fragment upon impact and do extensive internal damage. For deer-sized game it is ideal although for me personally, once I start moving into larger game like kudu and gemsbok I prefer something a bit tougher and that's where the GMX comes in. Also, as you point out for the high velocity hits, a mono metal like the GMX can handle it. By using a mono metal, I can drop down in weight significantly and still be assured of great penetration. In my 7mm for example, I use a 139-grain GMX. That was the point I was making about the 338, if you are going to drop down in weight to increase speed and flatten out your 500 yard trajectory,, you then need a super tough bullet.
 

matt85

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what speed are you getting with the 185gr GMX?

I get 2900fps with the 210gr Barnes TTSX so I would need to gain quite a bit to make the 185gr bullet worth it. before settling on the Barnes 210gr I tried Peregrine 200gr, Nosler, Swift 210gr, and some factory Hornady 225gr. only the Peregrine 200gr and Barnes 210gr shot well in the rifle at the speeds I wanted (2900+). the Hornady 225gr SST did not shoot well at all but ive never had luck with Hornady factory ammunition.

-matt
 

bassasdaindia

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FYI

I have just purchased some Barnes TTSX 210g bullets for my .338WM , my desired speed will be also around 2900fps with a 200m zero.
 

sheephunterab

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I'm getting right around 3100fps with the 185s. I had my 338 built as a rifle to carry when I was guiding sheep hunters in grizzly country. It's only 6 pounds 12 ounces. I started out like most people with 225 grain TSX and they shot very well and since it was just a back up gun, I didn't shoot it a lot and never from the prone position so recoil wasn't a big issue. But, as I shot the 338 more and then added a ballistic reticle scope, I started to realize just how versatile this chambering was and its long-range potential. That's when I switched to the 185s. Running hundreds of rounds through this rifle each year from the prone position, they made the recoil very manageable. Now, after shooting several dozen animals at ranges from 50 - 500 yards, I'm convinced this is one of the best over-all options for plains game, even when ranges stretch out to 500+ yards. I can shoot the rifle enough each year to remain proficient with it at long ranges without beating myself up and the 185s have performed admirably on everything we've run them through. The rifle shoots well sub MOA with factory Superformance. I've yet to see a downside to the 185s.
 

matt85

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have you tried the 185s on larger game? im curious how they would perform on animals Zebra sized or larger.

-matt
 

sheephunterab

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We've shot a truckload of zebra with a 139-grain GMX from the 7mm without issue but with the 185 in the 338 we've shot kudu, zebra, gemsbok, Barbary Sheep, wildebeest, moose, elk, grizzly bear and several others on the larger side. Not once has penetration ever been an issue. I shot my cape buff this year with a 250 grain GMX from the 375. I get that we've been taught all our lives that weight equals penetration and that somehow energy plays a role in death but mono metals are definitely rewriting the rules.
 

Mekaniks

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have you tried the 185s on larger game? im curious how they would perform on animals Zebra sized or larger.

-matt
Matt, this is a 185g TSX that I shot a black bear with. It went in the left shoulder, glanced off the inside of the right shoulder and lost a petal, we found in under the hide in the right rear quarter. The lost petal came out just behind the right shoulder. It's the bear in my avatar.
I handloaded it with a full load of IMR 4831 and CCI 250 primer. It's the only TSX that I have ever recovered...
image.jpeg
 

375 Ruger Fan

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Bullthrower338

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Matt,
I'm obviously a fan of the 338 and have extensive experience with all of them from 338/06 to 338 LM. My favorite is the RUM version with a 210 Swift Scirocco for LR work and a 250 A-Frame for just about anything else. You are correct on the difficulty of finding rifles and components for the RUM. My OCD makes me buy an ass load of everything when I find something I like, socks, brass, bullets and special runs of whiskey especially. So I feel comfortable in my stock of RUM components for the rest of my life and my kids. The 340 is a great round also as is the ole WM IMO. I just have the personal preference not to own another Weatherby rifle after my past experience. The LM is an awesome round but as mentioned be aware of where you are traveling with Military Chambered cartridges as stupid as that is, it is fact. This fact reserves the LM as a great cross canyon North American round.
If I am not mistaken Quality Cartridge has RUM available and nosler is still making brass and loaded ammo as well as HSM.
Out of all of the 338's I've found the RUM and the WM the least finicky to hand load. My RUM loves that Scirocco II the best though.
Good luck and I'm sure you will enjoy whichever you choose,
Cody
 

matt85

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its actually tough to find a rifle chambered in 338 RUM, short of high priced custom rifles. id be nervous buying a used rifle chambered in any of the high velocity magnum cartridges because you cant be sure how many rounds have been down the pipe. a rifle isnt going to live a long life throwing pills at 3300+ fps.

-matt
 

Velo Dog

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Hello Matt85 and other Long Shooters,

Seems to me that, with regular long range practice, you will be able to hit game, (large vermine such as baboons/jackals as well), out to at least 400M/yds, with your "regular" .338Wnchstr, provided your PH is Announcing the distance, via his laser range finder.
I suspect as dedicated as you are, even 500m/yds, probably more is in your future, with no super special fancy cartridges or gadget-rich scopes.

My first rifle (at age 16) was a 1903-A3, Smith Corona .30-06 Springfield, unaltered in any way.
With issue "peep and blade" sights, I shot many ground squirrels out to about 200 yds and more than one or two stationary jack rabbits, out to around 300 or perhaps more.
Couldn't see these rodents very well, beyond those two approximate distances with no scope.
Since those times, I graduated to a 220 Swift and old Leupold 10x scope, with fine cross wires and "target dot".
With this simple outfit, I regularly shot ground squirrels out to 400 yds, using almond and/or walnut tree spacing by counting them, in orchards as "range finders."

Many years later, during my first African trip (Namibia), I brought a .300 H&H Mauser / 180 gr Nosler Partitions at something over 2800 fps.
It was equipped with "only" a Zeiss 4x scope, with standard cross wires, mounted low, in older Talley lever rings.
Shooting over sticks with that simple rifle and 4x scope, I had no trouble shooting very dead, at least one gemsbok and one springbok, at a little over 400M each, according to the PH's Leica range finder.
I now cannot remember if there was another 400+ meter/yard shot from myself during that trip or not.
But I do not think so.

Likewise, I once owned a plain old Remington 700 ADL in 7mm magnum.
It liked 150 grain spitzers, at a bit over 3,000 fps.
I bought it used, with a 4x Leupold, in Redfield rings/one piece base on it and eventually I switched to a Leupold 6x with duplex reticule.
In those days, Civilian Cops were allowed to use the Army Rifle Range, once in awhile under certain terms.
For this, I zeroed my scope straight on at 200 yds.
And discovered I could hit the 500 yd steel "lollipops", by using the pointy end of the lower duplex (that tapers upward, to produce the smaller vertical wire or "hair"), by holding the point at "6 o'clock on the target.
I believe theses targets were 16" but, perhaps they were slightly larger or smaller, not positively sure any more.
This 500 yd "gong shooting" was from prone, over my day pack as a sturdy rest.
It was very satisfying to feel the recoil, and hear the "bang smack" and upon regaining my sight picture, watch the "lollipop" swing back up into view for another smack down.

Anyway, my point is that you are an above rifle shot and so, if I could manage the above shots, in my 40s and 50s back then, a young, sharp eyed chap like yourself should have no problem hitting the mark, out to at least 4 or 500, from prone with light spitzers at around 3,000 fps, from your .338, not to mention your powerful scope.

Cheers,
Velo Dog.
 
Last edited:

sierraone

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And that sir is why we have muzzle breaks. My multi purpose target comp rifle (not indoors I add) is a 6.5 Grendel topped off with a S&B PM2 3-12 mag scope. I have had good scores with it and puss it out to 1200 yards!! Granted it might not kill at that distance but I'm tempted to take it to Africa for the baboons.
I think you are comparing a 130 grain bullet + or - to 300 grain bullet and up. Not sure that's the same thing.
 

norfolk shooter

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I think you are comparing a 130 grain bullet + or - to 300 grain bullet and up. Not sure that's the same thing.
No but will a 120grn soft point centre of mass on baboon so the job?? I think it should as it would on a human.
 

sierraone

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No but will a 120grn soft point centre of mass on baboon so the job?? I think it should as it would on a human.
I agree with the shooting of baboons, but since the thread was about .338 bullets going faster and faster...that's where I became lost in comparing to a 120-130 gr bullet.
 

norfolk shooter

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I agree with the shooting of baboons, but since the thread was about .338 bullets going faster and faster...that's where I became lost in comparing to a 120-130 gr bullet.
Sorry I thought I would throw in 6.5 as a long range round as it works rather well.
 

sierraone

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Sorry I thought I would throw in 6.5 as a long range round as it works rather well.
It's an outstanding round for long range. My son has two 6.5's, but he has trained to shoot out to 1000 yds and he an one of his friends are trying to work out a deal in some farm land to be able to shoot up to one mile!!! Not me though, 200 yards is about it!!!
 

matt85

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I went to the range today and tried a couple boxes of Hornady ammunition. I had one box of 200gr SST and one box of 185gr GMX factory ammunition. now in order to give the cartridges a fair chance, I thoroughly cleaned my rifle and got all the copper from the TTSX's out of it. but sadly neither cartridge shot well for me, the 185gr shot better then the 200gr but both were still pretty bad. my groups with the 185gr GMX ammunition averaged about 2.5 inches at 100 yards while the 200gr SST was around 3.5 inches at the same distance.

I ran both cartridges over the chronograph and here were the results:

185gr GMX
1. 3079 fps
2. 3030 fps
3. 3033 fps

200gr SST
1. 3008 fps
2. 3016 fps
3. 3006 fps

my own load of a 210gr TTSX at 2900 fps averages 1 inch groups at 100 yards from this rifle.

-matt
 

sheephunterab

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SSTs are typically one of those bullets like the Accubond that every rifle shoots well but it does show the importance of trying different bullets through your rifle, especially one that sounds as fussy as yours. I had a .338 Kimber once that we had a similar dilemma finding an accurate load for and it sure can be frustrating. I much prefer a rifle you can feed virtually anything but you never know till you shoot them. Sounds like velocity rather than the bullet could be the issue. What twist is your barrel?
 

matt85

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in defense of the SST loads, they did get shot after 14 rounds of GMX cartridges. i havent cleaned the gun yet but im betting 14 mono-metal bullets leaving the barrel over 3000 fps left me a gift of copper fouling. i still have 14 more of the SST loads to try once my barrel is cleaned up again. however honestly i dont think the 200gr SST is tough enough for tough heavy bodied PG such as Zebra or Eland.

if memory serves me correctly the twist on the Winchester 338 WM is 1-10" (without looking it up).

-matt
 
 

 

 

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