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Old January 31, 2014, 03:45 PM   #1
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.338 Federal

Ok, I admit I like the 'off' calibers. That said, what's the story with the .338 Federal? It had a good start a while back but I don't seem to see much on it anymore. Anyone have one? How's the performance?
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Old January 31, 2014, 04:20 PM   #2
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It's an interesting cartridge, but realistically doesn't really offer much that the .308 doesn't already offer. It has more recoil, develops slightly more energy, because it's slightly more efficient. You need heavier projectiles to get the same BC and SD that you would from a .308 bullet, and where the .338 has the real advantage over .30 cal is the heaviest for caliber bullets like the .338 300 grain VLD bullets, which don't work too well in the .338 federal, because it can't really push those projectiles fast enough to have any real long range advantage. .338 Federal should have slightly more barrel life because it's slightly less 'overbore' than .308 win. That's about it.
I've thought about getting a .338 federal semi auto, but every time I want to I just think how much cheaper and more available .308 win is and how the .338 wont really give me anything that the .308 can't do well. Plus more recoil with the .338
I just can't convince myself there's any real advantage or reason for the .338 fed, other than just to have it.
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Old January 31, 2014, 05:01 PM   #3
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338 Federal,Ballistically it is the equivalent to the 338-06 in a short action,again the 338-06 gets a slightly better edge due to the case capacity.

JDOXO is spot on with his analysis.
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Old January 31, 2014, 05:49 PM   #4
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I agree with JD0x0. I am a huge fan of the .338-06, which is not an equivalent of the .338 Federal BTW. The .338-06 is just a tad behind the .338WM and at least 200 fps faster than the .338 Fed, with 180s. Teh 338 Fed just does not work with the better BC bullets like 225 and 250 in .33 caliber.

.308 is just cheaper, more plentiful and works pretty well. 175 to 195 slugs work well in the .308 and will have a better BC than the .33 caliber 180s.

Is it a good cartridge? Yes, but it just does not separate well enough from its competitors to rise to the top.
Good Shooting, MarkCO
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Old January 31, 2014, 08:10 PM   #5
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The .338 Federal will launch a 200 grain bullet 2700+ fps and have slightly less BC than a 165 grain .308 bullet on average. So this will allow it to have nearly the same trajectory as a .308 165 grain bullet, but with more energy when it arrives. Does it translate to anything much better than the .308 Win, IMO no.

However, sometimes bigger holes aren't a bad thing. A .338 will always make a bigger hole than a .308. I don't believe that a .338 Federal kills game any better, but it does it just as well as the .308 as long as you can shoot it well.

I shoot the .338-06 and love the cartridge which has about the same difference between the .338 Fed as does the .308 and .30-06. I also shoot the .358 Win so I've never felt the need to invest in the .338 Fed. However, if I didn't own those two rifles already I'd probably take a serious look at the .338 Fed.
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Old February 1, 2014, 09:13 PM   #6
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No comparison to a .338-06

Nosler 6 - no load with a 200 goes past 2529. I've seen some loads with the new Power Pro that are 2725 in a 24" barrel, but I'm skeptical. My 338-06, with a 22" barrel, pushes 200s 2810 and 210s 2750 through my Oehler 33.
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Old February 2, 2014, 08:35 AM   #7
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Alliant lists Power Pro 2000 powder to push 200 grain Speer and Fusion bullets at 2725. Federal also list 2700 as the published velocity of their factory loads. I'm not saying every rifle will shoot 2700+ but there are loads capable of getting it there.

I can easily push the Hornady 200 grain SP past 2900 fps out of my .338-06, I just loose a little accuracy. I've settled for 2880 and still can shoot under an inch if I'm doing my part. I didn't have enough bullets to test the 185 grain Accubond effectively but I did have my Chrony showing I was above 3000 fps with that bullet and no pressure signs.
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