.338 Win Mag rifles


November 16, 2008, 09:35 PM
I am considering adding a .338 to my small group of working guns. Without any substantive evidence, I have always thought that certain calibers seem best suited to certain rifles, e.g. a .300 Weatherby Mag just seems to belong in a Weatherby Mark V. While the .338 is not immensely popular, I have heard that it has its own circle of devotees, so I am asking for your experiences good and bad with it in various rifles. Thanks.

If you enjoyed reading about ".338 Win Mag rifles" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
November 16, 2008, 09:56 PM

When I decided to go for more energy than the .30-06 I'd hunted with for decades could provide, I looked at the spectrum of .30 magnums to see what made sense. The short answer was none of them. When I considered the cost of a new gun & glass vs the increase in delivered energy, I passed on the entire catagory & widened my search.

I wound up buying a .338 Winchester magnum & have been shooting it for a little over 4 years now. I'm a happy camper. I don't find the recoil to be excessive, though I'm not looking for anything that kicks harder mind you. The accuracy has certainly been there & the round is easy to reload for. I'm pushing 225 grain bullets out the muzzle at 2900 fps with Reloder 19 & getting no signs of overpressure with very good case life. That's over 4000 lbs of muzzle energy.

When it hits on the other end, it most certainly is "terminal" energy.


November 16, 2008, 09:56 PM
Ruger 77 original is my 338 experience rifle. There is not much better. Maybe a controlled round feed Model 70 as well.

November 16, 2008, 10:17 PM
In the Intermountain west, the 338 Winchester Magnum is heavily relied on for elk and moose. Don't get me wrong, lots of other cartridges too, but there are 338's found in every hunting party. They are considered "popular".

November 17, 2008, 03:03 AM
I have shot several Ruger77's and Winchester 70's in .338winmag. I have always been impressed both of with them.

I currently shoot a Ruger77 that was a 300winmag. Now a wild cat. Love that rifle.


November 17, 2008, 07:27 AM
+1 for the .338 it is a fantastic rifle.

November 17, 2008, 08:40 PM
I have a Mauser 3000 in 338 win mag. It is very accurate and has 1 shot drop on the spot capability.

November 17, 2008, 08:51 PM
I had the Remington Classic in .338 Win Mag when it was issued in (about) 1986. Even though I had it MagNPorted, it still kicked like a bull. It was a genuine beast. :cool: The recoil was far worse than my .375 H&H or my .300 Wea. Mag.

The extreme recoil may have been in part due to me having developed a handload, using an over-max charge of AA 3100 powder (amount not to be disclosed), and a Fed. 215 Mag primer. That load pushed a 200 grain "Speer Hot Core SP" at 3,171 FPS out of a 24" barrel. Yes, I typed that correctly...3,171 FPS. It actually exceeded Weatherby's .340 Wea Mag's listed data for reloads of the same weight.

If I were to buy another .338 Win Mag, I would buy it in a Wea. Mark V due to bolt strength and the stock's cast-off. That Remington "Classic" design stock literally used to bruise my cheekbone after 3 or so rounds. It is one of the few rifles that I am glad to have sold. I liked the round and the rifle, not the stock.

November 17, 2008, 11:44 PM
Thanks to all of you for your replies. Doc2005, I agree with you about the Rem 700 Classics. My dad has one in .35 Whelen. It is terrible to shoot - the most abusive rifle I ever shot, but he loves it and that's all that counts, I guess.

I appreciate the reference on the Ruger and will check it out. I also appreciate the input on the Wby Mark V. I know what you mean about it. I have one in 7mm Wby mag and truly believe its design helps with shooting magnum rounds.

Thanks again everyone.

November 18, 2008, 12:52 AM

Since we're now getting into perceived recoil & stocks that seem to be shooter friendly, I'll mention that my .338 is a Tikka Whitetail Hunter. Kudo's to Tikka from me, it was the only available platform I could find that gave me the .338 Winchester magnum and a left hand bolt at the same time. Others cataloged it, but couldn't deliver the product when the money was on the counter.

I did take the stock Tikka pad off & had a Decelerator put on & am glad I did.


brown is down6
March 5, 2009, 02:12 AM
i just won a tikka .338win mag and shot it today and can anyone give me some information how far it can shoot before it starts dropping and whats the fps...i cant find it anywhere online...if anyone could help it would be greatly appreciated and thanks you

March 5, 2009, 07:18 AM
I use a Ruger M77MKII in .338 win mag. I have had 3 of them, and they all shot extremely well. I don't think you can go wrong with a Ruger.

March 5, 2009, 09:12 AM
Brown is down6;

May I presume that we're talking about factory ammunition? What weight and type of bullets? Who's the manufacturer of the ammo? All that's relevant in order to provide you with information.

Or, using ballistic tables from Hornady 6th, and the Hornady 225 gr spire point bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2800 fps, we get this: Muzzle energy is 3916 ft lbs. With a 200 yard zero, midrange is +1.9" and drop at 300 is 8.2". Drop at 400 is 23'9".

I'd think those would be pretty representative figures for factory ammo with that bullet weight & type.


March 5, 2009, 01:56 PM
I've owned two .338 Win Mag rifles. One was a Winchester Model 70 in the early 1970s, the other a Ruger Model 77 MkII Sporter which I currently have. I've shot several deer with these rifles. I also found the 250 grain bullet to be a better brush penetrator than the 225 grain bullet. This is a one shot stopper on deer. It also delivers on moose. I purchased the original .338 for a grizzly bear hunt that never happened, and the second one for an elk hunt that has not occurred yet.

March 5, 2009, 02:05 PM
I have shot my little bros ruger 338 all weather quite a bit and seen him drop deer and elk with it and it works great on elk. I shoot an older ruger 300wm all weather IE boat paddle stock and it seems to kick harder than the 338 with the new style stock. +1 for the rugers and the 338.

March 5, 2009, 02:23 PM
I have an old aquaintance who sold me his Ruger M77 (tang safety) .338 Win mag that had been worked on by Idaho gunsmith George Vais. Vais put one of his own prototype muzzle brakes on, glassed the action and free floated the barrel & put on a Pachmayer decelerator pad. Let me tell you that I am normally not a big fan of Ruger rifles but this rifle shoots 1/2" - 1" groups routinely with Federal High Energy 250 grain Nosler Partitions. The recoil however is still a bit stout and I don't like shooting this "pig" more than 10 rounds from the bench. I am having neck surgery at the end of March so I don't think I will be using it for elk until the fall of 2010. Oh by the way the .338 Win mag had nothing to do with my need for neck surgery

March 5, 2009, 03:03 PM
I have a left handed browning that is one hell of a rifle. I've used it on everything from moose to coyotes. It is a pain to sight in as Benellimonte said but well worth it once you have it zeroed.

Polar Express
March 5, 2009, 04:07 PM
Years ago, my dad had a .375 H&H, I forget the maker, but it was a bolt gun. Recoil was more of a soft push, not a hard thump. Later, he bought a .338 in BAR. What a neat gun! He sold off the .375 (never understood that one), and the .338 was stolen in a home burglary. Dad was a ballistics nut, and just loved the numbers of both rounds, He often reloaded his .375 stuff, and had different loads made up. I think the .338 he pretty much stuck with factory loads though. He didn't have it very long before it was stolen. I'd like to put a .338 BAR in my safe as well someday.

March 5, 2009, 06:04 PM
I had a BAR in .338, that was a consistent 3" grouper at 100 yds. Recoil wasn't too bad.

I also had a Sako TRG-S in .340 Weatherby. Super accurate, consistent 1" grouper at 100 yds. It's recoil was a bit stout. You knew it was a magnum when you fired it off.

Come to think of it, I traded the .338 for the .340

For some crazy reason, I keep looking at 375 H&H's- go figure.

March 5, 2009, 09:55 PM
I carried this particular rifle on an ID elk hunt. I thought I was tough enough until I spent a week humping around the River of No Return Wilderness. I'd get shot if I said anything else about that place...
Any way, this rifle http://seattleguns.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1328&sid=1df8364d10f95343c34ba721195c7752
was on my shoulder for at least half that time.
Its a M77 MkII, stainless, "heavier than normal" barrel, custom braked, in a Hogue stock...about 1 moa with a Barnes bullet.

I've shot a couple black tail with a .338, and I will attest to it being way overkill. Very destructive to smallish deer. 215 gr projectile at, what, 2850 fps?

March 6, 2009, 12:04 AM
i had one of the original ruger 77s. the recoil was stout but managable but the price of ammo was prohibitive i couldnt find anything under $42 a box and this was 4yrs ago. if you can afford to shoot it great for you it will be an excellent elk rifle. if you cant then stick to an 06.

March 6, 2009, 02:55 AM
I have personally never owned one but the .338 Win Mag was the caliber of choice for all around rifle in Alaska. Most of the folks I hunted, with when I lived there, were shooting Ruger Model 77's, but that was in the 80's before the release of the new Winchesters with controlled round feed.

My ex has and uncle who has been guiding for Elk in Idaho for over 30 years and the 338 is what be swears by.

If hunting dangerous game I would opt for a rifle with controlled round feed, otherwise I am partial to the Remington 700.

March 6, 2009, 10:17 AM
Kinda surprised at Dryhumor's comment about his 3" groupin' BAR..........I have one, lightweight model, and it'l shoot right there with my old M/70 in '06......honest 1" and less groups.

I know the powders kinda slow for an autoloader, but IMR 4350 pushing a 200 to 225 bullet produces exceptional groups.....recoil's soft, but a LOT longer than that guns duplicate lightweight in '06.

Were I to return to Alaska, that BAR .338 IS the gun I'd take. I can't imagine what it coulden't handle!

Bottom Gun
March 6, 2009, 04:25 PM
I REALLY like the .338 Win cartridge. I used to use .30-06 and .308 on elk but I've taken my last four elk with my .338 Finnbear. I've found it puts the animals down with much more authority than the .30 calibers.

Recoil is a bit more than the .30's but not bad. Felt recoil varies with the cut of the stock. I've shot other .33's which seemed to kick me a lot harder than my Sako does.

I had a BAR in .338 for a while and found it to be a very nice accurate rifle as well. I sold it simply because I don't need two .338's.

Hope that helps.

March 6, 2009, 04:36 PM
I've owned six, and still own two rifles in .338WM. It is probably my favorite large game caliber, and perfect for elk, bear, and other large game. I really like the older M77 Ruger in this caliber, however, any M70 Winchester is fine too. I have never fired a .338WM that kicked MORE than a .375H&H, of which I own several. You will find a few light, composite stocked .338WM's, but few .375's that wear non-wood furniture. In equal weight rifles the .375 kicks about 20% harder with simalar loadings IMHO.


March 6, 2009, 04:41 PM
Buckskinner, that's a decent deal on your Ruger AW .338. If I could justify it we would be talking. With the smaller 130gr and 150gr bullets at around 2800-3000fps the .338 is a perfect deer round. I've taken a number of Whitetails, Muleys, and Blacktails with it, and it preforms about like a '06 when loaded correctly. You can always load a bigger caliber down, but not always a smaller caliber up.


jim in Anchorage
March 6, 2009, 05:02 PM
This is a bit off the post, but all this talk of recoil puzzles me. The only time you would be shooting a 338 would be[A]off the bench for load development or sighting in.[B] shooting at game. For my bench work with the big stuff,I place a 25 lb shot bag between my shoulder and the butt. You loose some field of view in the scope because the eye relief is to far back,but who cares as long as you can see the crosshairs. I can shoot a 460 all day with this setup. Asfar as shooting at game,if you notice recoil at all you need to take up a new sport,or have your adrenal gland checked.

March 6, 2009, 06:13 PM
I've had a Savage 116SE "Safari Express" chambered in .338 Winchester Magnum for the past fourteen years that I like a lot. It has a muzzle brake that can be turned on or off, "express" iron sights and is "controlled" round fed. I prefer the .338 Win. to the .300 Win. because it can use heavier bullets, has a flatter trajectory when using equivalent bullets and I can't tell much difference between the two in terms of recoil.

March 6, 2009, 09:29 PM
Or, using ballistic tables from Hornady 6th, and the Hornady 225 gr spire point bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2800 fps, we get this: Muzzle energy is 3916 ft lbs. With a 200 yard zero, midrange is +1.9" and drop at 300 is 8.2". Drop at 400 is 23'9".
Wow, it falls out of the sky at 399yds. :uhoh: :eek: :neener: P.S.: I think you may want to change that figure to 23.9".

If you enjoyed reading about ".338 Win Mag rifles" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!