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Old September 22, 2012, 10:32 PM   #1
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Tell me about .338 Win Mag, and what you think about it

I'm a lefty and I just traded for a Savage 111 in 338 Win Mag.
I shoot 30-06 and 308 regularly, and got it mostly because it a left handled rifle. Used left handed rifles don't show up very often for obvious reasons. It's in really great condition and it came with plenty of extras in the deal too. My intent is to use it for my Elk rifle out here in north Idaho. I've been told it's a bit much for deer, including Mulies. But I've also heard it a really good long range shooter which would be well suited for hunting The Mule deer out at 400-500 yds. I recently broke my left hand, so hunting this year is out of the question according to the doctor that worked on it.

So, what's the word on it? I'm looking forward to your responses.

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Old September 22, 2012, 10:48 PM   #2
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Work up an accurate reload using a 225 Gr bullet and go out and get an elk. Put that 225 Gr bullet into the heart lung area of a deer and there will be little meat will be damaged. The 338 Win is a fine elk rifle.
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Old September 23, 2012, 06:50 AM   #3
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It's a hard hitting, hard kicking elk hammer. As far as long range(?) it really doesn't shoot much or any flatter than several 30/06 loads but delivers more energy when it does hit. I can't stand that much recoil and continue to shoot well so I have a 338/06 but haven't shot anything but paper with it due to financial deprivation-can't afford to go elk hunting anymore.
The 338 would be advantageous when hunting heavy timber since it gives you some extra assurance of a quick take down of an elk hit maybe less than optimum.
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Old September 23, 2012, 08:26 AM   #4
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My .338 exhibited what was basically .30-06 ballistics/trajectory, but with much heavier bullets (250gr), thus fufilling it's name, "magnum".

I've had both a Ruger #1 (26" bbl) and a Winchester M70 Supergrade (24" bbl), and liked the Supergrade better - less recoil, better accuracy.

I'm sure your Savage will turn out to be the same.

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Old September 23, 2012, 08:45 AM   #5
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Tell me about .338 Win Mag, and what you think about it
They kick like a mule. I had one for a while on a Model 70 Action. Sucker kicked a lot more then my Model 70 375 H&H or my Ruger 77 458.

Not as much as my 416 Rigby thought.

No sir, not for me. If I was to go to the 338 cal, it would be another Model 70 shooting the 338/06.

But that's me, I'm a wimp when it comes to recoil in my old age.
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Old September 23, 2012, 09:00 AM   #6
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I live and hunt in N. Idaho also and a few of my buds have .338s. It's more than needed for elk, but what the hey? One great thing about the round - here in the heavy timber and brush of the Panhandle it's sometimes a good thing to knock the animal down NOW. Sometimes elk run 50-100 yards (or further) after being shot and 50-100 yards in this kind of brush can be a long way when you're trying to track down an elk. They can disappear into the thickest stuff without a sound. Sure you can follow the blood, but sometimes they head for stuff that you need a machete to get through. A shoulder shot with a .338 using a GOOD 250gr bullet is a pretty good bet for knocking one of those big critters down NOW. Meat damage? Yeah, but three quarters is better than no quarters.
Personally I shoot a 30-40AI and have had no problems, but there is nothing wrong with a little more oomph. Recoil in the .338 is pretty stiff, but just put padding on your shoulder when sighting in at the bench. When you shoot an elk or deer you won't feel the kick at all. As far as deer, just hit 'em behind the shoulder. There will be no more damage than with any other round - maybe less than a really high velocity small bore number like a .243 or a 7mm Mag. IMO a .338 Mag is a great hunting round for these parts.

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Old September 23, 2012, 11:07 AM   #7
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My dad has a couple, a Weatherby and a Browning BAR, they have a bit of recoil, but it is not unbearable.
As far as being too much gun, I think it's about the perfect cartridge for elk, and not too much for smaller stuff.
The bullets are tougher than say your standard .270 or 7mm bullet, add to that a slower velocity and meat damage will surprise you, I should say lack of meat damage.
I use a .375 Ruger for elk because I want it to stay where it is when I shoot it, rarely have I seen an elk get shot and run to a "better" place, they always go to the nastiest crap around.....

My dad has killed a couple antelope with his .375 H&H and meat damage was far less than our .270's or '06's.....
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Old September 23, 2012, 11:29 AM   #8
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It is likely a bit much for deer and elk but with that said, it will certainly do the job without question. Go with light loads for whitetail and mule deer and it will serve you well.

It will likely be a bit of a beater for the range but you won't know till you put some down range.

I'm a lefty too and Savage offers a good selection of cartridges offered in their lefty models. I bought a 7mm Rem Mag that is a tack driver.
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Old September 24, 2012, 06:52 AM   #9
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I like my Savage .338 - very accurate. First impression on the recoil - not nearly as bad as the legend. I have never fired a .375 H&H, but many people say the .338 kicks harder. My guess is they are shooting a "sporter" weight .338 vs. a "magnum" weight .375. I load 200 grain Nosler Accubonds at 2,950, and they have noticably less recoil than the 250's at 2,700. Most folks split the difference and go 225. A day on the bench will wear you out (e.g, 60 rounds), but so will a 7 mag. Enjoy it.
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Old September 24, 2012, 08:34 AM   #10
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The .338 is, in my way of thinking, the American version of the .375 H&H, or the "cartridge for the guy who wants one rifle that will do everything, even in good conditions, dangerous game.

The big reason why these rifles kick to much is because most of the guns are simply a pound or two too light. Compared to the .375, the .338 is seen to be a "small bore" cartridge, and it's always been stocked like a .30-06 more so than a dangerous game rifle.

Guy I used to work with had a .338 that just ate him up with full powder loads -- no wonder, because it weight in right around 8 pounds!

We pulled the butt plate off and bored a couple of extra holes and filled them full of No. 12 shot to add about 3/4s of a pound and mounted a Kick EEZ pad on it in place of the hard plastic plate.

That really tamed things considerably.

We also found that the action was moving just a tiny bit in the stock, basically allowing the action to get a running start and hit the stock with greatly increased force.

Rebedding with Accraglass not only solved that problem, but it also improved accuracy quite a bit.
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Old September 24, 2012, 09:36 AM   #11
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My Savage .338 has a rubber butt pad. That helps tame things.
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Old September 24, 2012, 09:52 AM   #12
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The 'recoil problem' is due to the fact that the 338 has higher "recoil velocity" than the 375 even though the 375 has higher "recoil energy". A fast push rather than a slow push .
Increasing the weight and using a recoil absorbing recoil pad will help that .
You could , if you're a handloader , reduce the velocity a bit.
Many seem to be using a premium 210 or 225 for everything.
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Old September 24, 2012, 04:55 PM   #13
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I have a Ruger m77 in 338 win mag. I studied up before purchasing it, about 18 years ago. The cartridge was originally developed to be a grizzly bear and moose gun. As was already mentioned it closely matches the trajectory of the 30-06. I have found that the 30-06 150 gr is similar to 338 200 gr loads. 180 to 250 and 200 to 300 grain bullets respectively. It is easy to hand load for accuracy and there are many good bullets on the market. You will pay big $ for premium factory ammo. Mine shot federal premium 250 gr to 1 moa. I also noticed that almost all of my ammo, factory and hand loads, regardless of bullet weight hit the same point of impact at 100 yds. It is the only rifle I have owned that I did not have to change my zero with new ammo. I have heard before that some rifles in 338 would do that, but I was sceptical until I saw it myself. I have tried about a dozen bullets and loads. That is not a large number but the other 15 or 20 rifles I have owned all shoot different loads to different poi.
Also the 338 with boat tail and or polymer tip bullets have a pretty good ballistic coefficient and that makes for good long range trajectory. Have fun ( you will get used to the recoil eventually )
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Old September 24, 2012, 07:11 PM   #14
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I agree with Kraigwy, it's a beast. I went with a 338-06; however, with the wonderful 210 Nosler, you can use for deer or elk.
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Old September 24, 2012, 08:22 PM   #15
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I have one that I like very much, it's an older Ruger 77 with the tang safety. I had a decelerator pad put on it right off, and have never thought it was uncomfortable to shoot. I've mostly shot the 250's and 275's in it. The Whitworth 375 is stouter as far as recoil. My gun is noticably heavier than the average 30-06 Ruger 77, I dont know exactly what the difference is, the barrel is a bit heavier, and the stock has very nice figure, so it's probably a little heavier than average. It also has the steel trigger guard and floorplate. Much of it is the way the gun fits YOU. I shot a Winchester model 70 in 300 Win Mag that I thought was much less comfortable than the Ruger 338.

When shooting anything potentially uncomfortable off the bench, try to set the sandbags or whatever you're using for a rest to a height that allows you to sit straight backed, not leaning into it. Leaning into a hard kicking rifle is distinctly uncomfortable, shooting off a tall rest, or sitting, kneeling, standing etc, not as much.
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Old September 24, 2012, 11:32 PM   #16
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What do I think about the .338 Win Mag?? Good cartridge for elk and other larger critters but less gun than a .340 Weatherby Magnum... Therefore I don't need one...
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Old September 25, 2012, 11:46 AM   #17
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I don't "feel" recoil at all when I'm shooting at game, be it ducks, deer or grouse. At the range when firing off a bench recoil becomes much more noticable, of course. I have a fairly heavy Savage Model 116 SE rifle chambered in .338 Magnum that came with a unique Savage muzzle brake that can be turned on or off. I shoot it off the bench most of the times with the brake in the "on" position and, when hunting, in the "off" position. Point of impact does not change with respect to which setting it's on.
Maybe it's because the rifle is relatively heavy and has a substantial recoil pad but I don't think the recoil is all that objectionable even when shooting off the bench with the brake off-though I wouldn't want to fire more than a box of rounds or so at any one sitting, regardless of which position the brake is in.
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Old September 25, 2012, 01:22 PM   #18
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I have never fired a .375 H&H, but many people say the .338 kicks harder. My guess is they are shooting a "sporter" weight .338 vs. a "magnum" weight .375.
I think what you say has great merit. No matter the "perceived" recoil, everything else being equal (weight of rifle, design of the stock, same recoil pad, etc.), the "actual" recoil of the .375 H&H Magnum will be greater than the .338 Magnum.
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Old September 25, 2012, 02:01 PM   #19
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welll... since I shoot magnum level rifles quite a bit... a couple observations ...

Recoil... I shoot my 338 from the bench more than anything ( not the most shoulder friendly shooting position... mines a Browning Stainless Stalker with the Boss system... I guess I've never shot a 338 Win Mag without the Boss, but mine kicks maybe a a bit more than my 375 H&H ( same rifle configuration, less 2" of barrel ), & less than my 45-70 guide gun with magnum level loads, or even my milsurp 8mm with a steel butt plate, & probably about the same as my 8 lb 416 Rigby

penitration... I was shooting Fedreral Permium Safari ammo with Trophy Bonded Bear Claws, in both my 338 & my 375 H&H one day quite a while ago... my back stop back then was only out 100 yards, & was a huge freezer "freshly" packed solid with sheet rock... ( freezer was like 24" thick ) at 100 yards, my 375 H&H was shooting well... the 338 was shooting well also... but when going down to inspect my targets, I noticed every single 338 went through my back stop, not one of the 375's even dented the back side... I don't know how "much more" penitration the 338 in that load had than the 375, but it had "more" penitration than anything I've shot on my range...

BTW... I've since rectifyed the back stop issue, by making it much much bigger & moving it out to 300 yards ( it's now over 6ft thick, & filled with junk & dirt ) I'd not shoot a 50 Browning at it, but so far nothing else has hinted at penitrating... especially since I added the 1/2" ammor plate behind the barrels I use for target backers
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Old September 25, 2012, 04:06 PM   #20
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If we get practical,you have a .308 and a 30-06.Fair to say you can hunt anything in the lower 48 just fine with those.

But,who wants to be stuck with practical?I think the .338 is a great cartridge(and so is the 338-06).

If you choose to,look at the 165-168 30 cal bullet BC's.and the 250 is grain .338 bullets.I believe you can find near identical BC's.I also think your load book will show near identical velocities.You can have a.308 and a .338 as a pair.

What is learned from the .308 will work real close with the .338.

Something to consider,I like a push and roar of shooting a big gun,but everyone has limits.I tried a .416 Rem Magnum.Its not fun for me,I do not want one.I enjoy my .375 Taylor A 44 magnum handgun is great,but full power 454 Casull is too much,for me.I built my .257 AI for a good reason.Less is more,sometimes.

You have to decide if you enjoy shooting it.Important,do you start to anticipate recoil and get a little squinty?One way to notice a decrease in your shooting skill is to shoot a gun that is uncomfortable to shoot.You can then recognise you are flinching and dsicipline yourself to recover but that might happen after you miss your 150 yd bull.
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Old September 25, 2012, 10:29 PM   #21
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similar hunting calibers

I started with the 06 which is a great round, Then wanted a bigger rifle for AK and elk hunting and bought a rare Win 70 LH SS .338 Win mag when they were briefly produced about ten years ago. Since then I had a LH Montana 1999 LH custom .308 built.

I love them all but there is no substitute for the .338's power and its power at range in that group. I use a heavy foam pad in conjunction with the the recoil pad while bench shooting. I took two elk with my .338 both at close range. In both instances in the Oregon wilderness an elk that moves after it's shot can be a major addition to the work of packing out.

I think a LH bolt action .338 is too awesome a rifle to have to ever have buyers remorse or second thoughts about.
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