Opinions on scoping a .338 ruger for SE Alaska


December 26, 2008, 01:31 AM

My father in law just got me a .338 ruger (stainless steel and synthetic stock) for Christmas. It is a good rifle for my area (Southeast Alaska).

The rifle will be used to shoot sitka black tails (typically around 125 pounds) at ranges usually less than 80 yards, but sometimes early in the season, towards 200 yards. When the snow falls the deer leave the open areas on the top of the mountains to low land coastal areas which are more densely vegetated.

I am interested in people's opinions on how to scope this rifle. I was thinking a 3-9 or perhaps a 2-5 power leupold any suggestions/ideas would be appreciated.

Brown bears are of slight concern.

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Coal Dragger
December 26, 2008, 01:49 AM
One of my favorite scopes for a hunting rifle is the Leupold 2.5-8X36 VXIII. I have one that I have used on just about every rifle I have ever owned. The rifles sometimes go away, but the scope stays. Good glass, solid adjustments, rugged construction, good eye relief, nice compact size, and nice looking.

Mounted in a set of low rings your father in law will have a nice handy rifle with a low mounted scope that will come up fast on target at 2.5X, and that has enough magnification to take longer shots when needed.

December 26, 2008, 02:06 AM
Way too much gun for those little deer. Even at 200 yards or with light bullets. Light is 160 grains on Hodgdon's site.

Coal Dragger
December 26, 2008, 02:29 AM
Over gunned or under gunned that's what the man will be using. I think the OP was looking for scope suggestions.

That said although the .338 Ruger may be more gun than needed, it's better than no enough and if other larger game are on the list for future hunts the guy will be covered.

December 26, 2008, 02:40 AM

I've had a Leupold 4-12x40 VXII on my Ruger77 chambered in 30-338 for the last ten years. I have no idea of the round count with that combination, but I have put that combination through it's paces in some terrible weather and nasty terrain here in Washington. I have another Leupold 3-9x40 VXII on my 30-06 that's been through it's paces too.

If I had to do it all over again, I'd do the same in a VXIII, maybe 50mm, maybe not. I like that the 40mm will sit lower to the reciever/barrel. So, for that 338Ruger, I think a 3-9x would be a fine choice.

In Grizzley country, that 338Ruger is not too much rifle to have in your hand. No matter what you're actually hunting. But I'll agree, it's a bit over kill for Blacktail.


December 26, 2008, 04:16 AM
when i lived in the cantwell area, i had a ruger in 338WM. it came with a fixed power leopold, which i changed into a 1x4. i kept it on 1X when in close cover, and there is time to go to 4X when danger is beyond 1x ranges.

4X is plenty for 200 yds.

1X allows for stereo target acquisition, which is very fast for close threats.


December 26, 2008, 08:20 AM
Living in SE Alaska the 338 is not for the deer, but the bears that have a habit of showing up for the gutpile.

I too am a fan of the 2.5-8X Leupold. They are a reatively light scope that provides plenty of magnifucation for longer shots and I like the ability to use the low 2.5 power for woods work. A 1.5-4X is another good posibility but most have a 20mm front objective and come up a little short when shooting in low light.

December 26, 2008, 08:24 AM
The Leupold Vari X III in 1.75X6, there is no finer choice for scoped rifles in thick country. Use heavy slow bullets on those little deer and you'll have less meat damage than you would just about anything else. Don't worry about using "to much" gun on black tails I guarantee you it won't kill them too dead and you have a decent brown bear defense rifle as well. I'd say it is just about the perfect rifle choice for SE Alaska deer hunting.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
December 26, 2008, 08:26 AM
I would say a maximum power of 8 or 9 should suffice -- less power if you are CERTAIN you will never need to take that "far shot."

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
December 26, 2008, 09:33 AM
Hmmm, either a 3-9x40 or a 2-7x32. Probably a 3-9, since you said up to 200 yards. Some makers advertise & sell 2.5-10s, and that would be ideal, but these may be more marketing than actual results. I do like my Bushnell Elite 4200 2.5-10x40mm, but I'm not altogether convinced that the low end is truly less than 3x.

December 26, 2008, 10:21 AM
Ditto H&HHunter......

My first choice would be the 1.75-6X Leupold, second choice is the 2.5-8X.
I have a 2.5-8X on my favorite rifle, a Rem. M7 in 7mm08.

I have several Leupold 2-7X also. (older VariX-II)

I'd opt for the Heavy Duplex reticle also for low light conditions.

No need for higher magnifications.

I took a whitetail at ~220yds Tues on a powerline in much the same terrain as OP hunts. Rifle was set at 5x, by choice as I had ample time. (Scope was a Simmons ProHunter 3x-9x on a .30/06). More magnification only amplified the "wobble" and was annoying. Single shot took out heart and broke offside shoulder. Took a doe from same spot on monday. Range was ~95yds, scope on .257Robt was left on 3X. Berger 115gr VLD just below spine, slightly behind shoulder was a bang-flop. Scope was also a 3-9x. The above two rifles are "long-action" and rings don't allow me to install a Leupold 2-7 or 2.5-8x. Hence, they're stuck with the "cheap" scopes......

However; either the Leupold 2.5x or 4x fixed powers are never a bad choice....

My .338 carries a Burris 3-9 Fullfield II, with ballistic-plex reticle. Never shot a head of game with it set at over 3X. Most have been under 100yds and moving game didn't allow time to reset. Wouldn't have anyhow.....

If funds are tight; the Bushnell Banner 1.5-4.5 resides on my Marlin 1895GG. Good scope for the money. My brother still has/uses a 1.5-4.5 Banner on his '06 he bought in 1972. Went back once to factory after he dropped the rifle and bent the tube/rear objective. (20' fall from shooting house!). This scope/rifle spent 5yrs in Anchorage,AK while he was stationed there in AirForce.

December 26, 2008, 03:14 PM
No doubt about a .338 being more than enough for blacktails.

However, as previously mentioned, deer are not the only critters in this rain forest.

Appreciate the replies, after a bit more research I'll post what I'm buying.

December 26, 2008, 03:24 PM
Certainly no more then 2-7X.

A wide field of view and long and forgiving eye relief would be far more important for your use then unnecessary power above 7x, or even less.

My old 30-06 has worn a K3 for 40 years, and I've never needed more power.


Float Pilot
December 26, 2008, 06:09 PM

Although I now live in my home area of South Central Alaska, I lived in Petersburgs for a couple of years back in 84-86.

I hunted or hiked every day off I had. I noticed that the super large rain forest type trees in South East do not give you any long shots except on the beach. Or when skiff hunting...
Plus light is fairly dim while wandering around under a 200 ft tall canopy of Hemlocks and Cedars.

Peronally I found the high power scopes on my rifles a hinderance. Particularly when running across those big Brown bears or trying to count the rack on a black tail deer. I ended up using a 1.5 x 5 Leupold on one rilfe and a straight 4 power on another.
The straight fixed power scopes tend to let in more light.

Eventually I ended up using my peep sighted Winchester M-71 in 348 caliber for the heavy woods.

Anyway, due to the wet conditions in your area , do not settle for a cheap scope that will fog up..

I think this guy in Anchorage has a silver colored Leupold that might work


December 26, 2008, 06:12 PM
2-7X to 2.5-8X.
Possibility of a bear encounter at close range, the 2X glass would be needed. 7-8X is plenty glass for 2-300 yd. deer and larger game.

December 26, 2008, 06:50 PM
How much do you plan to spend? That is important as I could tell you to buy a Schmidt & Bender 2.5-10x56 but you may not have or want to spend $2000.

December 27, 2008, 06:50 PM
That would be a very easy choice for me--a fixed power Leupold. I'd probably go with a 6X (I have 18 times), but actually, a 4X might be better in your situation. But definately a fixed.

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