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Old August 9, 2012, 04:17 PM   #1
Mac284338
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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

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Old August 10, 2012, 10:55 PM   #2
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I looked long and hard at this caliber a few years back for a good med bore to fill my collection. Shame it has not caught on that well. Still have not picked up a good medium bore caliber yet may have to look at it again.
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Old August 10, 2012, 11:48 PM   #3
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yeah

I was interested in the .338 Fed also. It seemed to have the edge over its bigger sibling the .358 Win, as there are better .338 bullets out there than .35 bullets. More variety in the premo line.

I never committed to a rifle, in .338 Fed or .358, as I realized I will likely never hunt anything that my .308 will not handle. But.......the .338F seems to the mid bore that the .358 wasn't.

Same, same, but aside, I looked at 338-06 as well, as opposed to a .35 Whelen, and again, ... what would I ever shoot with it?...so I didn't buy.
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Old August 11, 2012, 02:25 AM   #4
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The 358W has about reached the end of it's life and I doubt that the 338F wiill even last as long . That , as I see it is the reality of it.
There seems to be more interest in smaller calibers. I used a 6.5x55 for 25 years as my deer rifle Now look at the number of 6.5 cartridges !! The 7mm-08 has become very popular as it should. Performance of all cartridges has improved with the many fine premium bullets and newer powders.
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Old August 11, 2012, 04:32 AM   #5
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Gunsmith I use build couple for some of his customers wanting short yardage timber rifles for elk. We talked about it at the time I was having 35 WhelenAI build and he had Rem 700 short action for a future build for me. I tried to talk myself into building one as late Dec Cow tag rifle but after I got the Whelen that fit my needs better.

Sounds like got rifle that fit your needs.
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Old August 11, 2012, 04:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
The 358W has about reached the end of it's life
Really?

At one time there was some truth to this statement. Not long ago nobody was making rifles and there was only one factory load, the seasonal Winchester 200 grain RN.

In the last few years however, the cartridge has had something of a renaissance. There are 358 rifles regularly available from Browning and Ruger makes some from time to time. In addition to the venerable Winchester load, Hornady has a new load as well.

So I don't see it replacing the 308 in popularity anytime soon, but it's far from dead.
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Old August 11, 2012, 05:15 AM   #7
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I love the 358 Winchester, have a Marlin that shoots it, yes it will work and you can find a gunsmith who will do it right. I also like the 35 Remington, which I also have in a Marlin, I really like Marlin rifles, made around 1970 to 1980, with the half cock gold trigger and no safety pin.. The new Marlins seem to have lost their quality?
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Old August 11, 2012, 09:34 AM   #8
Mac284338
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Whether a caliber is popular or not or even on it's last legs according to some has nothing to do with whether it is the right cartride for you...unless it would mean you couldn't find ammo. In that case you could reload like I do. They will always be an ample supply of 308 cases and resizing up or down is easy. Reloading is fun, saves the cost of factory ammo (which allows you to shoot more) and you can tailor your load to your situation. I've been doing it for 53+ yrs and find it almost as fun as shooting.

Be Safe/Have Fun!

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Old August 11, 2012, 10:17 AM   #9
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I think it is an excellent cartridge.
Mac, if I may say, it helps some of us if you will leave some spaces in a rather long post. I do not try to read through them.
Regards,
Jerry
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Old August 13, 2012, 08:12 PM   #10
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I have a 35 rem that fills the bill for anything between 308 and 338 edge. However if it was not given to me I am not sure that I would have bought it. Not much in between that needs to be filled. JMO
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Old August 14, 2012, 10:11 AM   #11
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I think everyone needs a good medium bore rifle, and the 338 Fed fills the bill. I have had a 35 Whelen AI custom for 20 years, but none of the current offerings were available back then. 338 Federal, 338 RCM and 358 Winchester are all excellent rounds, and even though there are cartridges with flatter trajectories, these are all flat enough for 300 yard shooting, and the bigger bullets just hit harder.
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Old August 14, 2012, 01:40 PM   #12
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Elmer Keith sure did like his .333 O.K.H.
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Old August 14, 2012, 04:01 PM   #13
Mac284338
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338 Federal NOT a short-range woods cartridge either!

Great to hear all the good comments!

I've done a lot of comparisons and the 338 Federal just keeps looking better. It is not a short-range woods cartridge and comparing it to one is ridiculous.

It is also not a 338 Win Mag but it does not weigh or kick you like one (the Win Mag kicks over 30 ft/lbs in all but lighter loads in an 8lb rifle). My 338 Federal only weighs 6lbs11oz and kicks me less than 27 lbs even with full loads. Which one do you really want to carry and shoot? Let's continue this comparison.

By comparison, the 338 Federal winds up being around 100-300 fps/ft lbs behind the big magnum. and I think this does not matter that much at realistic hunting ranges (let's say something less than 400 yds just for argument).

At 400yds my 338 Federal 200gr Speer handload (starting out at 2750 as I've chronographed) is going 2048fps and has 1863ft/lbs of energy (and a 338 size hole before any expansion). It is 21 inches low at this distance (sighted dead on at around 230yds that take max advantage of traj).

Again, by comparison, the 338 Win Mag with a 225gr at 2800 is going 2091fps with 2185ft/lbs of energy and is 17 inches low at 400 (as with the Federal sighted to take advantage of traj).

I know that 400yds is a long way (I may never use my 338 Federal on anything that far away....but I could). I have shot it many times at 400yds and hit the steel every time (3x9 Leupold with Long Range Duplex reticle). So I know the gun is capable.

Does the above sound like a short-range woods cartridge? Not!

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Old August 14, 2012, 04:16 PM   #14
Brian Pfleuger
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Personal opinion, YMMV...

Can't say as I see the appeal. Far more power and recoil than needed for even elk at any reasonable distance. Clearly unnecessary for anything smaller.

Doesn't fill a need for the VAST majority of shooters, who can do anything they'd ever want to do with a 30-06, 270, .308, 7mm-08, 25-06, 243... or myriad other choices with considerably less recoil.

Beyond 200 yards or so, a 30-06 has more energy and under 200 yards the 338 has more energy than will ever be needed for most applications.

I'm glad you like it but I don't see any reason why it will or "should be more popular".
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Old August 14, 2012, 05:21 PM   #15
Mac284338
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Really? Yes, ymmv. Let's examine this a bit.

The revered 30-06 will launch at 180gr Speer at around 2700fps according to the Alliant book.

At 300yds this bullet will be going 2169fps and have 1880ft/lbs of energy.

This 180gr 30-06 load will recoil approx 2lbs less than a 338 Federal 200gr Speer launched at 2750fps (which by the way at 300 yds is going 2211 fps and has 2171ft/lbs of energy) out of a similar weight rifle.

Sounds very similar doesn't it. Yet, the 338 does this out of a shorter 308case while still throwing a larger caliber bullet.

Just sayin....we all have a personal opinion. That's why we're on this website.
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Old August 14, 2012, 05:29 PM   #16
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Mac284338, I'm sure your and expert elk hunter and you caliber selection is based on that. When I mention short range yardage timber custom rifles build to those hunters spec it is just that.

We have what called Dark timber and short barrel short action calibers are prefer even our DOW mention please read down to parag 14

http://dnr.state.co.us/newsapp/press.asp?pressid=5262
If you don't want to read the whole article here it is

"During the day, hunters need to move into the dark timber and not be hesitant to hunt in difficult areas. Hunters should move as quietly as possible for short distances, and then scan the woods for 10 minutes or more before moving again. Even in dense forest it's a good idea to use binoculars so you can discern subtle movement or colors in the trees."

I should mention those guys with there 338 Federal rifles kill big bulls
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Old August 14, 2012, 05:55 PM   #17
Mac284338
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Thanks Old Roper, read the article and couldn't agree more....that's why my rifle is approx 41 inches long and weigh 6.75lbs with the scope.

I've used 7mm Rem Mag, 300 Wea, 338 Win, etc. on elk and a 338 bullet launched at over 2700 just works at hunting ranges (sometimes 275 yds, sometimes 25 feet).

Thanks again!

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Old August 16, 2012, 12:22 PM   #18
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Not a great long range round, so doesn't have appeal to that crowd as there are better choices. But sure does put a lot of energy on the target at shorter ranges for hunting applications.
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Old August 16, 2012, 03:45 PM   #19
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But sure does put a lot of energy on the target at shorter ranges for hunting applications.
Exactly... If I was going to buy an elk gun, it would be a 338 federal. A big bullet with a log of energy, and good out to 250 yards (easily), and moderate recoil.
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Old August 16, 2012, 04:47 PM   #20
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What is the availability and price of .338 vs .30-06? I can go to a lot of places and find .30-06. A lot of shooters and hunters don't need a rifle in .338 Federal.
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Old August 17, 2012, 06:09 PM   #21
Mac284338
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Great stuff everyone.

I wonder, I'll bet the '06 was in short supply back in 1912.

Ain't it a wonderful world that we have all these choices...or not. We'all be the judges.
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Old August 17, 2012, 06:32 PM   #22
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I guess I'm with Pk on that one, it's not really all that superior to a 30-06, and doesn't have the authority like a 9.3x62 or 338 WM on stuff that needs more power than the 30-06.
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Old August 17, 2012, 07:01 PM   #23
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"I wonder, I'll bet the '06 was in short supply back in 1912."

And, with no Walmarts to go to what would some people do!!!

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Old August 18, 2012, 08:46 AM   #24
Mac284338
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I like your thinking Interlock! I keep my eyes open for an 338RCM just for that reason even if the Federal isn't too far behind.

Guess I'd go in a W'Mart if they gave me the place....they've killed off a lot a little stores and I don't like that.

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Old August 24, 2012, 03:50 PM   #25
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338 Fed (or even 338-06)

I'm in agreement Mac. I wish I took a serious look at the 338 Fed before. I'm still learning and love my .308 for an all around cartridge (3-400 yards) BUT I couldn't believe the numbers coming out for the 338 Fed based on the same case. Just barely shy of WinMag/WSM velocities or ft/lbs of energy from a .308 case. That's amazing and when you think of the heavier bullet options for the 338-06, then is a magnum even necessary for anything less than 500 yards?

I love target shooting and I won't be free hold shooting an animal (I know I'm far more accurate with a bipod) unless it's trying to kill me and for hunting I don't plan on shooting beyond 3-400 yards. As I was researching my options (aiming at 300WSM) I came across the 338 Fed again but gave it a real chance, now that I understand reloading and ballistics a little better than a couple years ago. From deer to moose or elk, the 338 Fed/338-06 can do it all.

It seems to me that a 338 fed or 338-06 outshine the .308/30-06 in almost every way? These should almost become standard cartridges IMO. Thanks for starting this thread, I hope more manufacturers will start taking these calibers seriously (Savage & Browning in particular).

Q's.
  1. I'm assuming the barrel wear will be just as good as the .308?
  2. Can you rebarrel or change a .308 barrel to 338 without any other mods, since the case is essentially the same?
  3. Since 20" barrels work great with .308, assuming same for 338 Fed?

Last edited by miykael; August 25, 2012 at 12:39 AM.
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