Best .338

Discussion in 'Up To .375' started by Lbarr265, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. Lbarr265

    Lbarr265 AH Veteran

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    So I'm still in grad school and a ways out from getting to Africa, but I am starting to build up my arsenal for the eventual trip. Currently have a .270 win and a 30-30 model 94, but I would like something a bit bigger for eland and zebra. Anything 338, but particularly interested in the Lapua or any of the Weatherby offerings. What does everyone else use, what have they used it on, and how effective was it? I will decide on the platform after I decide the cartridge.
     
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  2. BenH2016

    BenH2016 AH Veteran

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    I've only fired one once. It was a 338 win mag.

    I was on a friends game farm and we needed bait to set camera traps for leopard. We found a young kudu bull that suited our requirements, so I was called on to shoot him. From memory I'd say he was just under 100 yards off, he had his head down and was facing pretty much towards me. My friend, an experienced PH, said wait for him to lift his head, but I was confident I had a kill shot so put one into the top of his withers. The young bull reared up and over and was dead on the spot.

    So from that very limited (one shot ever) experience I'd say that calibre hits pretty hard.
     
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  3. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Welcome to AH!

    I am a huge 338 fan. And I have two, a 338 wm and a .338 federal. I love them both.
    The wm is in a Weatherby Mark V. I have taken everything from deer, pronghorn, caribou and black bear shooting handloaded 185g Barnes TSX. In my opinion the 338 WM is probebly the most versatile hunting round in North America.
    My 338 Federal is a custom Winchester mod 70 that I had rebarrled and restocked from an original .243. I have taken deer, a Kodiak Brown Bear, and I took it to SA last fall where I took a Kudu (in my avatar) blue wildebeest, black wildebeest, springbok, Impala, and a jackel with it. I shoot handloaded 210g Nosler Partitions. It weighs 6 lbs empty (7 1/4 lbs fully loaded w/sling) and has a Leupold 3-9 with a leupold dot reticle and is my favorite go to rifle.
    All that said, I have never been really exited about the Weatherby and Lapua 338's. I think they are good rounds for their intended purpose but have just to much fanfare (recoil, noise and powder usage) for my taste and normal hunting. If you are into long range shooting (like 1000 yards+) I think they will probebly preform extremely well for you.

    Good Luck!
     
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  4. Spooksar

    Spooksar AH Fanatic

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    There are many 338 caliber if you are recoil shy the 338/08 or the 338/06 are both good rounds. Going up the 338 Win mag and the 338 RCM both have more recoil but is fairly manageable. The 340 Weatherby has a bit more recoil, then you get up to the 338 RUM, 338 Lapua and the 338/378 Weatherby, all very flat shooting but with lots of recoil. With what you stated you are looking and with what you have I would go with the 340 Weatherby. But if you don't handload you may want to do the 338 Win Mag, ammo is easier to find and less expensive.
     
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  5. Ryan

    Ryan AH Fanatic

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    From talking to a fair amount of people in Alaska over the years I'd say the 338 Win Mag is probably the most common round Alaska residents use for grizzy/brown bear. For those including brown bear hunting along with everything else using one rifle it seems to become the all around cartridge. And due to its popularity the 338 Win Mag ammo is the easiest to find consistently. It is a kicker more than the heavy push of 375 H&H, but managable.
    The 340 Weatherby and 338 Lapua both hit with more authority but that's true behind to rifle and in the budget too. My father picked up a 340 Weatherby a decade or so back and quickly learned it's merciless on his shoulder and wallet. Something to say considering my Dad weighs 250ish pounds. The Lapua is even worse. If you like them think about reloading.
     
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  6. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    The 338 Win Mag is my favorite. Very impressve performance from a very well established caliber.
     
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  7. Dr Ray

    Dr Ray AH Elite

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    I like the 338 w m. Ammo is easy to get compared to 348 Lapua.
    Always work on the theory that if your ammonia goes astray you can buy factory ammo.
     

  8. greyfox

    greyfox AH Fanatic

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    With your 270 and a 338 or 375 you can hunt the world and save a bunch for your hunting.......

    338 Win Mag and 270 are very popular all over, no need to look any further.
     
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  9. Bullthrower338

    Bullthrower338 AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I believe the 338 to be one of the most versatile cartridges available, my two favorites being the Win Mag and the RUM. Loaded with a 210 they are positively bad medicine for elk sized critters and a 250 A-Frame I would not feel undergunned anywhere in the world. I have taken most of my North American game using the 338 with nothing but positive outcomes.
    I tend to stay away from Weatherby chamberings due to the expense of brass and the short lifespan you get out of it. If you do not reload you will find the cost of factory 340 to be quite prohibitive to extended range sessions unless you have money falling out your butt.
    The Lapua also is spendy when it comes to brass and loaded ammo. Solid performers they are in the long range game but so is the RUM.
    I would recommend the Win Mag if looking for great performance at typical hunting distances. The availability of ammunition and components is hard to beat, although 338 is much harder to find in Africa than the good ole 375 H&H.
    Cheers,
    Cody
     
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  10. JakeH

    JakeH AH Enthusiast

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    I'd go with the .338 Win Mag. With 200gr Trophy Bonded Ballistic Tips you're getting .270 trajectory but delivering more energy at 200yds than the .270 has at the muzzle!

    The .338 is a remarkable round that carries a number of factory loads in a variety of bullets. I wouldn't hesitate to own one, and if I didn't intend to hunt Africa I'd have one before I had a .375.
     
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  11. Lbarr265

    Lbarr265 AH Veteran

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    Thanks everyone. I do reload so ammo price isn't too much of an issue, but didn't know about weatherby brass having a shorter life, so thanks for letting me know. As unusual as it sounds I use my 270 for having long range fun, so I'm not looking for a second long range gun. I was looking at the heavier hitting rounds just for potential hydrostatic shock factor, but it sounds like the Win Mag pack plenty of that on its own, so that will be my choice for now.

    Anyone have good platform recommendations for it? I'm wondering about a Model 70 Alaskan, or maybe a Montana rifle company offering.
     

  12. billc

    billc AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    great round if you can handle the recoil. I have seen more people shoot them poorly then well. I would say shoot one if you can before getting one. I have only take one shot with a friends and that was enough for me to say my 300 is plenty. My 300 has taken 2 eland now and 5 zebra . Both eland ran 60 to 80 yards and fell over dead.

    Unless you have shot bigger guns then a 270 or 30-30 I would say shot some before buying your next gun. Just my thoughts
     
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  13. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Really depends on your price range and what you like/want in a rifle. I personally like the new Model 70 and think the action is as good, or maybe even better the pre-64 actions (shhh don't repeat that out loud or fire may rain down from the sky :)) The Weatherby Vanguard, Savage models, Tikka and Remington 700 are also excellent rifles for the money. If you want to step up into Montana and Kimber price range rifles then your options start to increase as well. Really just depends how much $ you want to spend and what you expect from the rifle. Good Luck and keep us posted on your decisions. (y)
     

  14. Philip Glass

    Philip Glass LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    I would ask you to seriously consider just going up a bit to .375. The recoil of the .338 is bad, real bad. The ballistics of my .375 are very good for such a large caliber. Everyone has their opinion but In my experience the two guns everyone should have for Africa are .300 Win Mag or RUM and .375 (Ruger or H&H). I've seen numerous animals run off and we spent the days tracking animals shot with .270 (I know this always fires the .270 fans up but I saw it happen on a 2x1 hunt where my parter had the .270 not me).
    Have fun planning and preparing for your great adventure!
    Philip
     

  15. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    The .338WM is my favorite cartridge, it does kick on the bench, as Philip just said, but doesn´t bother me at all in the field.

    With the right bullet, I´ve had clean kills on all kind of animals up to an eland.

    I am lucky to own a Sako L61R since 1987, they just don´t make them like that anymore :D
     
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  16. GA Hunter

    GA Hunter AH Enthusiast

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    I've got a 338 RUM that I'm quite found of. It launches a 300 grain Accubond at 2600 FPS. If you compare that to a 375 H&H you'll see that the 338 edges it out by a couple of FPS and gives you quite a bit more range. I've used it on all manner of plains game and a few pigs. Thus far it has knocked everything flat.
     
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  17. TTundra

    TTundra AH Enthusiast

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    I tend to echo Phillip. As every year goes by I'm more years out of college than I like to think about, but I had the same plan. Hunting rifle wise, I started with a 300 Win and 375 H&H/ that way I was prepared for everything and anything. I wanted a platform of two rifles that could cover me. I then went back over and filled in the specific niches I wanted as money permitted. Your 270 can do all the plains game depending on your skill set and load choice. A 338 would arguably make the PG "deader" with the same skill set and load choice...but you still couldn't legally hunt everything in certain areas.

    I know DG may seem like a long way off, but when the Africa bug bites you that long way off becomes much shorter. It may behoove you to at least look at the 375 H&H's or 375 Ruger's to fill that need. Besides....its just cool knowing you can go after anything you want. ;)

    My .02...
     
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  18. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    If I had to pick a dedicated PG rifle it would be my .338 WM. It has accompanied me on two trips to Namibia, and I used it to take my leopard. Mine is a lovely, well balanced custom built mauser that doesn't weigh much more than most 'o6's. In short, I love the rifle. That said, I haven't used it in a while because I have been combining buffalo with my PG hunting. Phillip is exactly right. The .375 will do everything that the .338 will, but also will allow you to effectively hunt that buffalo. And many of the modern .375's are in the same weight class as the typical WinMag. My Blaser R8, wearing a sporter .375 barrel and the "classic" stock weighs a couple of ounces less than the .338. Perceived recoil, at least to me, is not much different.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017

  19. JakeH

    JakeH AH Enthusiast

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    I will echo these sentiments as well. If you're planning on making a jump up from your .270 and you'll be hunting Africa anyway, why not go ahead and make the jump to .375 since you can take anything in North America or Africa with that round?
     
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  20. Lbarr265

    Lbarr265 AH Veteran

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    I have shot big bores that belonged to friends, 458 category, and didn't mind the recoil so long as it wasn't prone, so recoil isn't as big of a driving factor for me. I'm large, young, and dumb which helps a lot on physical punishment.

    As far as the 375 is concerned, I know its the legal for everything, I don't know if I will be trusting it with DG. Yes I'm sure all the seasoned vets here have stories of dropping elephants with 375, but DG makes me nervous and I know I can shoot the big bores well enough to justify going that route. My planned DG rifle is somewhere in the .458 + category (dreaming of 500 NE but I know I could never justify that). I was planning on getting the 338 to fill the role between 270 and 458 for heavy plains game and maybe leopard depending on location. With my plan to get a true big bore for DG I didn't think it wise to also look at a 375, do y'all disagree with this? Would a big bore and a 375 be justifiable?
     
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