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Old September 18, 2011, 07:00 AM   #1
lizziedog1
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358 Winchester vs. 338 Winchester Magnum

Two different gun stores have Ruger Model 77's on their racks. One is chambered for the 358 Winchester Magnum and the other in the 338 Winchester magnum.

Both rifles are new and priced about the same.

I do reload, so I can get maximum versatility from each caliber.

Do be honest, I really don't have need for either caliber at the moment. I do have rifles that can handle any chore around here. So, this will be pretty much a "what the heck" type of purchase.

I want to here from members that have experience with either or both rounds.

Which would you buy?
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Old September 18, 2011, 08:56 AM   #2
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Never heard of a .358 WM, but if it is a .358 Winchester based off of the .308 cartridge then that would be a more versatile rifle for most hunters. I suppose it could be a wildcat based of the .338 WM cartridge, if so I'd avoid it. .338 Win Mags are great rifles if you are going to spend most of your hunting time chasing elk, moose and big bears.

A .358 Win running a 200-225 grain bullet will take anything you can hunt in the lower 48 out to 300 yards easily. I'd rate it as one of the most under rated cartridges out there. The .358 Win will get my vote everytime because it is one neat little cartridge.
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Old September 18, 2011, 10:42 AM   #3
ligonierbill
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Never shot a .358 Winchester, but yes it is based on the .308. A newer cartridge is the .338 Federal. Like the .35 Whelen and the .338-06 based on the 30-06, you get a fairly heavy bullet at decent velocity and less recoil than the big magnums. I do shoot a .338 WM. It's not as bad as rumored, but it does kick. With a 225 grain bullet, you will get about 2,500 fps out of the .358 (Nosler Manual) vs. 2,800 fps out of the .338 WM (my chronograph). The magnum gives you more reach, but I agree with taylorce1 that it won't give a lot of advantage within 300 yards. One thing, with the .338 Federal out, you may have to look for ammo for the .358 if you don't load your own.
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Old September 19, 2011, 11:41 AM   #4
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.358 Winchester. Read this article: http://www.leverguns.com/articles/paco/358_wcf.htm
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Old September 20, 2011, 08:55 AM   #5
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338 all the way.
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Old September 21, 2011, 12:18 AM   #6
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.358 Win Mag v. 458 Win mag

No commecial ".358 Win Mag, which makes me wonder if its a .458......?

A Ruger 77 in .358 Win (no mag) might be a very rare bird and I would be inclined to buy that one as opposed to a .338 for said reason. I'm not sure if .358 Win is a factory caliber on early Ruger 77's or not.

Unless you're a big bear, elk, Africa hunter, the .338 has more muscle than you really need for deer black bear and hogs.
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Old September 21, 2011, 06:19 AM   #7
Mike Irwin
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I personally would take the .358.

I HATE belted cartridges. They're a pain in the butt to reload and case life is generally shorter than non-belted cartridges.

That said, the two cartridges really are in different classes.
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Old September 21, 2011, 06:47 AM   #8
Jimro
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I'd chose the 358 Winchester. A very efficient cartridge, and you can neck up cheap 308 brass and use .357 diameter pistol bullets for fun.

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Old September 21, 2011, 08:04 AM   #9
Mike Irwin
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If you want the best of both worlds?

I THINK Ruger is chambering the .338 Federal now.

Excellent performance from that cartridge.

You get the better sectional density and BC of the .338 bullets, and you get the hassle free life of cases sans belts.

No, not as powerful as the .338 Win. Mag., but flatter shooting than the .358.
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Old September 21, 2011, 10:54 AM   #10
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Mike Irwin,

The "flatter shooting" 338 Federal isn't a really good argument when you actually look at the numbers.

A 308 Win with 180 grain bullet and a 358 Win with a 180 gr bullet have a virtually indistinguishable Max Point Blank Range (with the edge going to the 358 Win by 4 yards...) The 338 Federal pushing a 180 grain bullet only extends the MPBR of the 358 Win by 10 yards.

http://www.chuckhawks.com/338_federal_first_look.htm
http://www.chuckhawks.com/358Win_mystery.htm

Of course the 338 Win Mag must have a huge advantage, after all it has "magnum" in the name right? Not really, 40 yards advantage on MPBR over the 358 Win.

I'm doing my darndest to destroy the myth of "flat shooting", after all, even the 30-30 has an MPBR of around 250 yards.

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Old September 21, 2011, 11:11 AM   #11
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I agree, this is almost an apples/oranges comparison.

The .358 Winchester should be a GREAT medium bore rifle for anything in North America, out to 250-300yds. I'm sure it will kill beyond that range, but it's probably beginning to run out of mustard going beyond 300. It's probably almost as good as the .35 Whelen, with the edge going to the Whelen because of the larger case capacity.

The .338 is considerably more powerful. I had a Ruger M77 in that caliber for a while. I found it to be needlessly powerful for what I hunted. I never got to take it elk hunting, but it would be, IMHO, the PERFECT elk rifle.
The .358 and .35 Whelen are way more versatile for hogs and big deer, and are much more efficiently loaded down to "magnum" .35 Remington speeds.
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Old September 21, 2011, 11:36 AM   #12
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"The "flatter shooting" 338 Federal isn't a really good argument when you actually look at the numbers."

Take all three of my arguments together. BC, SD, and trajectory.

The advantage for the .338 Federal isn't huge, but when you get right down to it, it's not huge for ANY cartridge in any comparative class.

That said, 10 yards is still 10 yards.
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Old September 21, 2011, 11:45 AM   #13
Jimro
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I agree that 10 yards is 10 yards. 30 whole feet. However, we are talking 264 yards verses 274 yards...

1% of 264 is 2.64 yards. 10 yards divided by 2.64 = 3.78% greater range to the 338 Federal.

Would you give up the ability to shoot cheap and plentiful 158gr .357/9mm pistol bullets to gain a 3.78% advantage on the maximum point blank range? Considering that the advantage of the 338 Win Mag over the 358 Win is a whopping 15%?

And all this is closer to 300 yards than 200? I'm just saying, "flat shooting" isn't all that it is cracked up to be.

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Old September 21, 2011, 12:06 PM   #14
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I'll add one more to your argument Mike

The OP was asking about a choice between the .358 Win and .338 Win Mag, nowhere did he mention the .338 Federal but...

Like Mike said, "Take all three of my arguments together. BC, SD, and trajectory."

Add one more to the argument for a .338 caliber cartridge over a .358 caliber...

A FAR better selection of RIFLE bullets.

T.
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Old September 21, 2011, 12:09 PM   #15
Mike Irwin
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"Would you give up the ability to shoot cheap and plentiful 158gr .357/9mm pistol bullets..."

Well I never bothered to shoot any of my cheap or plentiful 158-gr. bullets out of the .35 Remington that I used to have, so I'd have to say that that is a call out to a false economy.
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Old September 21, 2011, 12:11 PM   #16
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What will you use the rifle for?

If it is not to be used for game over 1000 pounds the 358 is a nicer way to go. Holds 2 more rounds, weighs less, it's shorter and it kills well, but for big bears or moose and bison, the 338 mag is going offer more power.

Production is driven by the market place, not necessarily by merit of lack of merit. The 358 was a round that never caught on, but it's actually a very good and practical round (like the 338 Federal) It is probably a better round for most hunters then the 338 mag, but men like power in many cases even though the smaller round would do all they need with less recoil, less length , and less weight.

If you do buy the 358 you will want to load your own ammo, brass is easily made from standard 308, but factory ammo is hard to come by these days.
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Old September 21, 2011, 12:39 PM   #17
Mike Irwin
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"The OP was asking about a choice between the .358 Win and .338 Win Mag, nowhere did he mention the .338 Federal but..."

Nope, you're right, he didn't.

But that's why I answered his question FIRST, then added my opinion on cartridges second.

If it's an either/or choice of the named cartridges, the .358 wins because the .338 is a belted cartridge, and belts stink.
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Old September 21, 2011, 02:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Well I never bothered to shoot any of my cheap or plentiful 158-gr. bullets out of the .35 Remington that I used to have, so I'd have to say that that is a call out to a false economy.
My first "big game rifle" was purchased in 1985. I was days away from leaving for Basic Training but wanted to have a rifle to hunt with when I came home. Remington was offering their Classic series in .350 Remington Magnum that year. I ordered one and a 4x Zeiss scope and I was off to El Paso for something like 14 weeks of OSUT.

When I got back and got to shoot the rifle, I immediately ordered up reloading dies, etc. I eventually settled on 4064 and the Sierra 225 GameKing for actual big game. But I experimented a lot with .357 pistol bullets. I didn't have a chrono back then but those bullets would really fly fast out of that 22" rifle barrel. I tried the 125 and 140 grain bullets but they were erratic. The Sierra 158 JHC worked the best. Had to experiment with seating depth and charge but I eventually had an amazingly destructive short range killer. It approached gory to see what it would do to things like a coyote or a snapping turtle that came up to breathe in a southern OK strip pit lake.

So the pistol bullets can work and they can be fun to play with.

The .350 RM has more top end than .358 Winchester but I've killed more deer with my .350 RM than anything else and I'm sure the .358 would have worked just as well. Those heavy and wide bullets at moderate velocities penetrate deeply and kill very well.

Gregg
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Old September 21, 2011, 04:10 PM   #19
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I never quite got the reasoning behind the 358 Win. It's not powerful enough (as my primary choice cartridge, it sure would get them dead) for mouse and brown bear, and not as flat shooting as the parent cartridge on elk and smaller. The 9.3x62 is my preferred round in that class. I have a 338 Win Mag, but never learned to shoot it well enough to take advantage of the greater long distance power.
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Old September 21, 2011, 11:08 PM   #20
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Quote:
I never quite got the reasoning behind the 358 Win. It's not powerful enough (as my primary choice cartridge, it sure would get them dead) for mouse and brown bear
I dunno............I think my .358 Winchester would be plenty for a mouse........now a big rat on the other hand, may be pushin it.

I chose the .358 for my elk rifle for two reasons. #1, it doesn't have a belted case, and #2, it doesn't contain the word "Magnum" in its name.

I did not want to mess with the belted cases while reloading (and .358 brass is only slightly more expensive than .308 brass in my neck of the woods), and I wanted to be able to actually shoot my rifle without it giving me a headache or bruises from the recoil.

My hunt areas for elk give me average shots of out to maybe 250 yards, which the .358 Win will do just fine.

I also enjoy having something a little different than the other guys, so the .358 appeals to me in that sense as well.
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Old September 21, 2011, 11:18 PM   #21
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The .358 is no slouch. Crankylove even hunts Antelope with his. (It's over-kill, but wickedly effective.)

On paper, the .358 Winchester looks like a piddly reminder of the "dark ages" of cartridge development.

In reality, it is more than most hunters will ever need in their lifetime.


The .338 Win Mag? Meh... A waste of powder. A waste of energy. Unnecessarily punishing to the shooter. (It's perfectly manageable, but even .338-06 is quite respectable - without the extra recoil. The "upgrade" to .338 Win Mag is just more recoil and a trivial velocity increase.)


The only real argument against .358 Win: For non-reloaders, ammunition is a nightmare. (Good luck finding it.) But, as a reloader, you don't have to worry about that.
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Old September 21, 2011, 11:20 PM   #22
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The "upgrade" to .338 Win Mag is just more recoil and a trivial velocity increase.)
Don't be hating on the magnums
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Old September 22, 2011, 02:27 AM   #23
Jimro
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Well I never bothered to shoot any of my cheap or plentiful 158-gr. bullets out of the .35 Remington that I used to have, so I'd have to say that that is a call out to a false economy.
Not really, false economy doesn't apply here. A 158 gr 9mm pill from the 358 Win is a perfectly adequate deer load (will do everything a 150 grain pill from a 30-30 will do). If you want to step up to heavier rifle bullets for bear, big hogs, or elk, then there are plenty of .358 rifle bullets on the market.

So cheaper to reload = more practice for less money. That is definitely NOT a "false economy."

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Old September 22, 2011, 05:57 AM   #24
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Yeah, false economy was the wrong term.

I should have said "For me, it was a non-existent "benefit.""

I've known many people who have owned .35-caliber rifles of one stripe or another AND .38/.357 handguns and who have regularly reloaded for those cartridges.

Yet, of them, I've known but ONE person who has loaded pistol bullets in their rifles.

If you have no inclination to do it, for whatever reason, then it's not a benefit.

As someone else mentioned, as well, there's also a far better selection of .338 caliber bullets available for reloading.

The .35s generally are decent cartridges, but in my view they are severely handicapped by the variety and selection of bullets that are on the market.

Pistol bullets don't do much to alieviate those selection issues.


In short, were I given the choice between a rifle chambered in one of the .338 cartridges, or one of the .35 cartridges, and all things about the rifle (price, weight, etc.) were roughly equal, I'd choose the .338 every time, hands down.
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Old September 22, 2011, 10:08 AM   #25
Jimro
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I understand completely, the 338 bore is an excellent choice for a medium bore rifle. The availability of a plethora of premium bullets for reloading (as well as premium factory ammo) makes the 338 Federal a good choice for someone who is more into hunting than shooting. But the old 35 caliber medium bores will probably never go away, too many satisfied 358 Win and 35 Whelen shooters out there :-)

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