The 338 Federal Really Shines and Should be More Popular!!
Last winter I had an opportunity to buy a new Kimber 84 Classic in 338 Federal. I had been pondering the ballistics of this caliber since it came out a few years ago. I sure looked as though it could easily have similar velocities to a 308 Win. (same case, just necked up) yet would throw 15-20 grains heavier bullet for a given threshold and with a significantly bigger diameter. I had looked at many sales ads but a gun dealer friend called me on this one and the price was right. The wood was very nice and I was pleased to see pillar bedding, floated barrel and a nice/light trigger too. I mounted a Leupold 3x9 VII w/LRD and the whole rig weighs 6lbs11oz! Being this light it does kick a bit off the bench but a LimbSaver pad tames it down to about the same as my 7mm Mag so it is not bad and won't be noticed on game. I bought several boxes of Federal factory stuff to break it in and headed off to the range. I thought it best to try different loads to see what it liked. It shot the 200gr Fusions the bext (3 shots touching and the fourth a flier but still 1.1 inches for this group. It shot the 210gr Partition load to the same point of impact. It did not like the 180 Accubond (1.5+ inches for 3 shots) or 185 Barnes at all (Barnes is a great bullet but some rifles just will not shoot them well and this was all over the paper). I have since tried several of my own loads using both the 200gr. Accubond and 200gr. Speer Hot-Cor bullets and several powders I had on hand. Thus far I have found the 200gr Hot-Cor to give good accuracy (around 1 inch) and a great speed over my chrono (2754fps). So unless something much better comes along this will be my go-to for deer, bear and I see no reason not to use it for elk also. The quikest elk kill I ever saw/had was with a 338 on a big cow elk a few years ago at around 250 yds...she dropped like a ton of bricks had fallen on her DRT. This was out of my 338 Win Mag but at about the same speed and I see no reason this won't do the same. I am really beginning to love this gun! Oh yes, need to mention that the Leupold 3x9 w/LRD (Long Range Duplex) reticle is great. It has the duplex crosshairs and then two dots below that which are good for longer ranges. This is not a long range combo anyway but I felt the extra dots would be good instead of trying to figure holdovers with such a rainbow trajectory (compared to say 7mm Mag). I ran the chrono speed I got through a ballistic calculator and sighted to be less than 3 inches high at 100yds I am close to being dead on at 300 and 400 with the next two dots. I have tried this out and it works great. I can hit the steel at 300 and 400 yds at will and it is a whole different experience from shooting my 7mm Mag...instead of the steel just ringing with my 7mm...when I hit it with the 338 Federal it rings, swings back and forth and dust flies. I can't wait to turn this loose on an elk! PS - I understand the 338 Federal is also available in the Tikka and this should work fine too.
Good Luck/Be Safe/Have Fun Shooting
NRA Life Member