View Full Version : Rifle Advice - where to go up from .308

December 8, 2001, 11:59 PM
I am confused about all the new 300 mag, ultra mag, Winchester
WSM etc etc. I would like to get a rifle that is a "step" up from
.308 for larger game starting at Elk. Does anyone want to
venture some opinions here?

December 9, 2001, 12:21 AM
All the mentioned cartridges are .308". The .300 Win Mag and the .300 WSM are about the same ballistically; I am not that familiar with the WSM. The .300 RUM delivers the most energy of the four calibers you listed. I have a .300 Win and a .300 RUM. The ultra mag is a handful and I would consider it more than a step up from the .308.

December 9, 2001, 01:11 AM

I am not sure that I would choose another .30 cal if I was trying to move up from the .308. Of course, I think the .308 is an excellent round for most game, certainly including elk, as we use it regularly on game as large as eland in Africa. If I was going to move up, the next logical choice would be the .338 Win Mag. If you are ever planning on heading to Africa to hunt, it's wisest to stick with familiar calibers, as finding obscure ammunition can be difficult there...

Joel Slate
Slate & Associates, LLC
The Safari Specialists

7mm Rem Mag Page www.slatesafaris.com/7mm.htm

December 9, 2001, 01:14 AM
It depends what you're looking for. .338 Win Mag would be the next more or less logical step up in the romper stomper category. Long range category? Any of the .300 mags would be a step up. It's your call.


Al Thompson
December 9, 2001, 12:09 PM
I strongly second the idea of increasing your bullet diameter and mass. While the various .300s add speed and some increase in mass, the .338 (or .375) gives you a significant boost.

I've shot stuff with both and the added thump of the bigger bullet helps in acheiving a clean kill.


December 9, 2001, 12:43 PM
I'm more familiar with the vendor .308 rifle options. I'm real happy with .308 Remington as a basic tool. What is the lay of the land when it comes to .338? From a ballistics point of view".

Barrel lengths to extract the performance potential.
Design issues to handle the power of the cartridge?
Are there "Short Action" versions of this caliber?

etc, etc

What is the "skinny" on the Remington .338 & .375 Ultra Mag?

December 9, 2001, 12:55 PM

I've heard that some professional snipers have gone to the 338 for serious long range work.

Dan Morris
December 9, 2001, 08:26 PM
I have long used the 06 on elk.Reciently got a .338......retains
more long range energy than my 06. Actually, both have been
satisfactory to me. Depends on what you shoot best. The 338 does
have more recoil!

December 10, 2001, 12:05 AM
If you want something in an entirely different class than the 308, I'd start at 35 whelen and maybe even go up to 375 h&h. 338 is fine too. My choice would be the whelen, since you can load it down with pistol bullets or up to handle the big and nasty critters. The 338 limits you to big game bullets. Good shooting, Weagle

Covert Mission
December 10, 2001, 12:26 AM
I've been using .270 Win for deer and antelope, and now elk (just shot #1). I know some think it's too light for elk, but with a well-placed shot and good bullets (140 or 150 gr Fail Safe, Trophy Bonded Bear Claw etc), it worked fine for me, and for the friends who have taken dozens with .270, and with mild recoil. For me, the next move up from .270 will probably be .300WSM in a Browning A-Bolt, but I agree with those who say that you already have a .30 caliber rifle, so maybe for you, the next best step might be .338, which some hunting writers call the best elk caliber bar none (and of course, ammo can be bought abroad, as was mentioned). I imagine it recoils noticably more than .300, though.

Winchester has just introduced both a .270 and 7mm Win Short Magnum to complement the .300WSM, but I think the .300WSM may be the most versatile. It is a more efficient round than .300Win Mag, supposedly has less recoil, and is a short action caliber (which works ok with a 23" barrel, whereas the .300 Win needs a 26" ideally).

Too many calibers, too little money :(

ps: I hunted elk this year with my caliber-crazy hunting buddy. I filled my tag a week ago, and he took his elk yesterday. He had both his custom blasters with him... a 7mm STW and a .300 Rem Ultra Mag, and because of the potential for a long range shot and the 50MPH gusting winds, he chose the .300 Ultra. He ended up shooting his cow at about 330 yds (couldn't move closer and light was fading) in a gusting crosswind, so the heavier 180gr bullet was good. BUT-- one round struck the shoulder in profile, and absolutely pulverized it and part of the opposite shoulder. Turned the meat to burger... that Ultra packs such a wallop. Maybe too much?

December 10, 2001, 04:41 PM
Have to put in my $0.02 . . . if you have a .308, you're not going to see much difference in the field by going to a .300 Win, .300 WSM, .300 Weatherby, .300 Rem Ultra, or whatever. Yes, the trajectory will be a bit flatter as you move up, but you're still shooting the same bullet. As fine as the .300 mags are, I'm not convinced that the added velocity/energy increment translates into a similar increment of extra killing power on big game.

I'll echo those who consider the .338 as the next logical step up.

December 10, 2001, 08:13 PM
The difference between a .308 and any of the .300 Magnums becomes very important if you plan to shoot beyond 200 yards. At 400 yards, a .300 Magnum will deposit the same muzzle energy that a .308 does at 200 yards.

Going from a .308 to a .300 Magnum is a very definite step up in long-range performance. I'd call going from a .308 to a .338 Magnum two steps up.
Recoil for the three:
.308=19 lbs.
.300 Mag=26 lbs.
.338 Mag=33 lbs.

Good Shooting,

Al Thompson
December 10, 2001, 09:09 PM
CoyDog, I agree with you to a point. Unless you are an experianced shooter, those over 300y shots get very risky, very quickly. As you probably know, range estimation (especially for us easterners) is tough.

I like the idea of making a bold change. More bullet weight, more smack on target.

I am a bit embarresed - weagle is dead on the money with a .35 Whelen. This is a mild mannered but highly effectve cartridge for the 300y and under shots. I'd forgotten about it...:(


December 10, 2001, 09:24 PM
IIRC, the 35 Whelen is a necked up 30/06 case?? Up to (?) 250 gr bullets at what velocity? Is it still a wildcat?

December 10, 2001, 10:27 PM
You can buy new ruger 77's in 35 whelen and factory ammo is available. You can push 275 gr slugs close to 2400fps and 300 grain slugs about 2250fps according to the Lee Manual. That's pretty potent stuff. Good shooting, Weagle

December 11, 2001, 08:41 AM
.50 BMG :eek: :D :eek:

Bottom Gun
December 11, 2001, 11:30 AM
I went from using 30/06 on elk to a .338 Win Mag. It works MUCH better on large animals.

It's a great cartridge and I'm real pleased with it. I really can't see why I'd need more performance than what it gives me.

Ammo and brass is readily available and there is a good selection of bullets in .33 caliber.

December 13, 2001, 10:07 AM
I've asked myself the same question and concluded that when I do "go up from .308" it will be to the .338. Just haven't had the need (or the spare cash) to do so yet. But when one or the other occurs . . . :)

December 14, 2001, 01:39 PM
Good question, because I was planning on asking it too.

I have a .308 Remington that I started to use for deer hunting. I thinking of purchasing a new Winchester Model 70 and haven't decided on the caliber. I'll continue to hunt deer here in Virginia with some possible excursions to hunt larger game out west once in a while. I don't expect to hunt and shoot anything passed maybe 250-300 yards. I'm leaning towards the 30-06.

Can you think of any reasons to upgrade to a higher caliber? I think Covert mentioned about destroying good meat with high caliber rounds.

December 14, 2001, 09:42 PM
My suggestion is to buy another .308 and consolidate your need to haves for that caliber, especially if you reload. Also, the .308/180 worked very well for us on elk. He was shot at 75 yards thru the shoulder and there was considerable meat damage. Shot placement means more than raw power, which the .308 isnt too light on...:cool:

Bottom Gun
December 17, 2001, 08:16 AM
I've found the heavier bullets in the larger calibers don't expand as rapidly on lighter game and excessive meat damage isn't an issue. The bullet jackets are either thicker or harder to control expansion.

In fact, I'm considering my using my .338 as an all around big game rifle.
Just a thought. . . . . .

Covert Mission
December 17, 2001, 08:31 PM
Roadrunner: You'll be wasting, or rather misallocating, your gun dollars if you get a .30-06 in addition to your .308, imo. The .308 was designed to duplicate the performance of the '06 in a short action case, iirc. The performance of the two is so close that they nearly duplicate each other.

I like the idea of the .300WSM... better long range performance, in a short action caliber that doesn't need a 26" barrel (the Browning A-bolt has a 23").

.35 Whelen: This is one that I'm not familiar with, until just reading two very solid recommendations of it by experienced hunters. Especially if you hunt in thick woods and shorter ranges (up to 200 yds +- ?), it seems like an excellent choice for deer, elk, or even moose, with less recoil than the .300 Ultra, or the .338. Not as flat shooting of course, but great for timber. I've read enough great things about the .375 H&H that it seems like a good choice, too (though much stouter and maybe 3 notches up), if you're looking for a heavy rifle that could do duty for bear or other dangerous game.

Oh, the choices we have to make ;) Of course, there's still no substitute for putting the bullet (a well-chosen one at that) where it needs to go. I'm gonna spend more time practicing this year for sure.

Jamie Young
December 21, 2001, 11:18 PM
I've been wondering the same thing lately. I've been shooting 30/06 and recently fired a 50BMG for the first time. I hung out with a guy who was shooting a .338 Lapua and from what I've read and what I've seen at the rifle range thats the next caliber to jump up to. Everything in the 300's is a baby step up. The .338 Lapua is a hop up;)

December 24, 2001, 04:18 PM
Well guys it's already been said but if you want more kill go with a bigger diameter bullet. Velocity won't help you much on large animals. So if I were stepping up from a .308 I'd definatley go with a .338 or a .375. As far as the .338 goes it carries energy down range very well and is reasonably flat. I prefer the .375H&H but that is a personal thing. It really won't do anything that .338 won't.