338 Win Mag for Whitetails


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MNgunhead
April 7, 2009, 10:46 PM
I just purchased a new Ruger Hawkeye in 330 win mag. I have had it to the range 1 time and tried out several hand loads using barnes tsx 185's and nosler accubond 180's. I purchased this rifle with the intent on using it for elk hunting, but want to use it for deer this fall just to get it out and see what it does. Do any of you guys have any experience with this caliber when it comes to whitetails? Thanks for any info you can provide.

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telomerase
April 7, 2009, 10:51 PM
You could check out the old short "Bambi vs. Godzilla" for a technical breakdown.

bang_bang
April 7, 2009, 10:56 PM
Several people in my area use them. They'll get the job done, just try to make a good shot to avoid bloodshot all the way through the back straps. :rolleyes:

JonB
April 7, 2009, 10:59 PM
Well I suppose it would 'work', but you certainly don't need that much gun for any deer. Might not have much meat left depending on where you hit it.

zgate
April 7, 2009, 11:32 PM
I've shot several with mine. It works as well as any of the other rifles I have and does about the same amount of damage.

mossberg
April 7, 2009, 11:33 PM
Hey that's a great deer caliber. The meat will be cooked by the time you get to it.:D

30mag
April 7, 2009, 11:36 PM
I believe that a .30-06 is a little overkill for whitetail..
And .338 win. mag is probably enough gun for two deer.. at the same time.
I might try to get ahold of some light loads for it.
Also, take it hog hunting, and line up two hogs... then, you can see what it will do.

bad_aim_billy
April 7, 2009, 11:53 PM
It might be alright for deer with a max load, but I'd feel a bit undergunned personally.

AKElroy
April 7, 2009, 11:57 PM
A little much for the whitetail I hunt; My 7mag is too much unless I make a clean neck or kill zone shot. Any joints hit will grenade, so avoid the shoulders & hips. Dig a hole if you clip one & save the tag.

Jason_G
April 8, 2009, 12:02 AM
You could check out the old short "Bambi vs. Godzilla" for a technical breakdown.

LOL, I had totally forgotten about that, but remember it perfectly now that you mentioned it. I'd say it's appropriate.

.338 will certainly work, but you could easily take whitetail with a more cost-effective (not to mention shoulder friendly) cartridge. Have you priced .338 lately?

Jason

Thingster
April 8, 2009, 12:03 AM
Since you reload, I'd try treating it as a "slow and heavy" bullet. Try to find a load that lobs a 300 grain bullet around 2,000 FPS- slower if possible.

Also rely on penetration and direct damage from the bullet for a kill. If the bullet expands, you won't have much of a deer left. I'd be using a hard cast or "dangerous game" bullet with a WIDE meplat to ensure no to minimal expansion and the most immediate tissue damage possible.

I shoot deer with a 45-70 on occaison and my typical load is 300 grains running along at supposed 1900 (59 of H4895 behind a 300 grain LFP). Hits hard, puts them down clean, and doesn't do too much collateral damage; just a through and through .45" hole.

PT1911
April 8, 2009, 12:07 AM
dont you know that round will just bounce right off of the deer's hide..., even the wimpiest of White tail will walk away from it... better suited for rabbit hunting.:neener:

t165
April 8, 2009, 12:13 AM
If there is a "gun heaven" then Elmer Keith just smiled or maybe shook his fist, at Jack O'Connor and chalked up another one for his side. :)

30mag
April 8, 2009, 12:37 AM
+1 Thingster.

desidog
April 8, 2009, 12:55 AM
i'd say hot-load; to generate a serious p1 and p2 shockwave - field dressing will not be fun; but no need for a meat grinder or tenderizer!

PotatoJudge
April 8, 2009, 12:58 AM
I have no experience with with the 338, but I think taking it out for WT deer is a great idea. The more time you spend carrying and shooting that thing the more likely you'll be to tag your elk when it walks out. Pick a load the gun likes that's adequate for elk and stick with that for all uses. By the time you've shot WT deer, pigs, groundhogs, or whatever else at all distances you should be in good shape. Just get a good recoil pad, make sure the stock fits you well, and mount a scope with long eye relief.

usmc1371
April 8, 2009, 03:40 AM
I have seen deer shot with 338 a few times. Didn't have to go far to find them. IMHO the 225 grain nosler partition doesn't tear up as much meat as the 130G 270 weatherby. I am packing my 375 HnH for mule deer this year for the same reason, I am taking it elk hunting so may as well get used to packing it around.
If you load a good tough heavy bullet like 225 or 250 at a normal speed and try to stay off the shoulder you will do less damage than a small light fast bullet that dumps all its energy very fast, you will have an exit wound and a bullet still packing some punch so Do Not line up 2 deer.

lefteyedom
April 8, 2009, 03:56 AM
I use a 338 on deer and have been real happy with a 210 grn. Shot placement is key. Idrop a BIG doe at a little over 300 yards and she did not take a step.
Just keep in mind the bullet path though the animal.
Dead enough is just right/

dakotasin
April 8, 2009, 08:20 AM
i run 225 hornadys at about 2950 f/s in my 338 for deer.

it does not tear up deer, blow things up, destroy meat, etc etc etc anymore than any other common deer cartridge.

the 225's do very little expanding in a rib-shot deer.

once you get comfortable with the 338, you may come to the conclusion there is no better 1 gun for every big game critter. in fact, the 225's in the 338 will work nicely on whatever you want to hunt. it is the formula i use for elk in the mountains, deer on the prairie, or whatever whenever wherever.

good luck!

achildofthesky
April 8, 2009, 10:11 AM
a Ruger m77 338 magnum was for years my go to woodchuck rifle... it did double duty on deer.

patty

skinewmexico
April 8, 2009, 10:57 AM
Probably be more fun on some big hogs. But then again, I use a 223.

db_tanker
April 8, 2009, 11:44 AM
mebbe using a cast gas check and lighter load of powder? Make it easier on the shoulder, I'm sure. I have seen nice 235 and 250 grain LFN-GC and you can get 'em for about 23 dollars per 100.

batmann
April 8, 2009, 11:49 AM
Just my two cents worth, but that sounds like a little much for the average White Tail Deer I run across.

freakshow10mm
April 8, 2009, 11:54 AM
Is it more gun than needed? Yes. Big deal. I deer hunt with a .375 Holland. Eat right up to the hole.

The .338 loaded with a heavy bullet at moderate velocity, say 300gr at 2300-2400fps is perfect for whitetails.

NCsmitty
April 8, 2009, 11:57 AM
The 338 Win Mag has been a solid work horse for decades. The 338 can be loaded down or up for any situation and game. It can be a one gun fits all type of rifle.
A 210gr at 2700fps is a milder shooting load for deer or similar game, or you can push a 225gr at 3000fps for the heavy game.
The 338 Mag is truly versatile if you are up to the recoil it can generate.

NCsmitty

Art Eatman
April 8, 2009, 12:05 PM
Y'ain't s'posed to shoot a deer in the eatin' part. If you're halfway competent in shooting and a bit picky about the shot, you'll never ruin enough meat to care about.

"Ruined meat" generally seems to come from aiming somewhere in the brown, and that's not really the best way to go about it.

jacob.elliott
April 8, 2009, 12:13 PM
i want a 338 win mag so bad i can smell it. but for deer i think it is a little much, 25-06 or 243 is about perfect in my opinion. but if i had one i would do the same as you and take it just to get used to what it will do

moooose102
April 8, 2009, 01:33 PM
well, overkill is way better than underkill!:what: obviously, you do not need that much, but you won't have to chase them, that is for sure!:D

Water-Man
April 8, 2009, 01:34 PM
I'd use a Remington Core-Lokt 225 gr. PSP

cougar1717
April 8, 2009, 02:10 PM
My brother deer hunts with a 338 win mag and uses 225gr bullets even though it's better suited for taking larger game. I shoot a 30-06 and the wound channels are very similar - small hole on one side, larger hole on the other. After seeing deer taken with both calibers, I'm not so sure that many would be able to guess which caliber took which deer. The ruined meat argument is not very convincing if the deer is hit in the kill zone. I have yet to shoot a deer with a 30-06 where the bullet didn't exit.

woof
April 8, 2009, 04:29 PM
I agree that .30-06 is overgunned for whitetails. If you must hunt deer with a bear and moose gun, load it down to .35 Rem ballistics.

MNgunhead
April 8, 2009, 05:47 PM
Being that this was my first post, I am happy so many of you are giving opinions. I do understand that this is definately more gun than necessary to drop a whitetail. I typically shoot a 270 win, but I want to put some mileage on what will be an elk rifle. I don't intend on making this my primary whitetail gun, but I do want to see how it handles in the field. (plus it's just fun to shoot a big gun sometimes)

jacob.elliott
April 8, 2009, 06:08 PM
i agree

RSVP2RIP
April 8, 2009, 07:19 PM
I used a .338 for deer once and shot a buck at about 12 yards with a 200 gr hornady loaded near max. It blew up on a rib and had to put another in the neck as it stood there wondering what happened 5 yards further away. That was my fault for not understanding what was going to happen. In hind sight I would load up with a 250 gr bullet and just let it sail on through. This year I'm gonna try a .375 with 300gr. SP's. Oh and that neck shot didn't exit either, looked like a 40mm grenade hit him, as well as there being soup where the lungs were supposed to be.

dogrunner
April 8, 2009, 07:43 PM
I've a BAR in .338 and I am here to tell you that it IS an outstanding device for 'killin' 'em dead right there'!

Shot a small five point deep in a W.Va holler a couple of years ago and I have never seen a deer just flip upside down dead right there like that one...........a friend saw that shot and was amazed at the quickness of the kill........but then I've seen the same thing happen with a .223, even tho that too is NOT a deer caliber in my opinion.

Load I've settled on is Hornady's Accubond, 70.0 IMR 4350.............recoil in the autoloader is really quite soft, but the recoil impulse is a LOT longer than my '06 in the same design.

Great cartridge.......extremely accurate too. Should I ever get to make another Alaska trip, that IS the rifle that'd go with me!

bang_bang
April 8, 2009, 08:06 PM
After seeing deer taken with both calibers, I'm not so sure that many would be able to guess which caliber took which deer.

If you load the .338 Win Mag with deep delayed controlled expansion bullets, the damage will be minimal on whitetail. So, the "elk" bullets are perfect for deer, they hit like a ton of bricks.

Just a big, heavy bullet that won't blow up like a ballistic tip if it hits a bone.

I hunt with 7mm Rem Mag and a 300 Win Mag. I used to shoot the 175 gr Power Points out of the 7mm, wouldn't mess up the meat that bad. I now shoot 150 gr. Ballistic Tips that tend to blow some huge chunks out of the deer. Head shots will literally blow half of its head off. In the 300 Win Mag, I have shot 180 gr. Soft Point ammo, which was similar to that of the 175 gr out of the 7mm Mag. These bullets hit the deer hard, but you have to compensate for elevation at longer ranges vs. a little lighter bullet.

codybrown
April 8, 2009, 11:59 PM
I used my 338 for the first time on deer this past year. The first one I shot right behind the shoulder. The deer was quartered away from me, so it blew apart it's far shoulder. It took one step and crumbled. The second deer I shot was a headshot, and she just flopped over. I have decided to take headshots whenever available. It's much easier to field dress them without all the blood in the insides.

Jefferson Herb
April 9, 2009, 01:41 AM
What a wonderful bunch of info.I like using a 45-70 w 400gr cast ,the only problem is w/origional dup loads it drops 2' from 100 to 200 yds.
I have a .338 ultra mag,hav'nt used it for hunting yet,85 gr h4831 w sierras 250gk is very accurate.They also advertise that the 250 has an extra heavy jacket,ie less expansion on thin skin.Two things cause bloodshot,velocity and bullet construction.If you want to use your .338 use a heavy bullet/your elk load,and wait for them to give you the back of the head and snipe it.

Arkansas Paul
April 9, 2009, 01:50 AM
As the great Bob Hagel said, there is no such thing as overkill. Bullet selection and shot placement have just as much if not more to do with meat destruction as the caliber of the weapon used. A thin jacketed bullet that blows to confetti will obviously be pretty hard on the chops. Use a good nosler partition, and the .338 will be just fine.

bang_bang
April 9, 2009, 01:56 AM
there is no such thing as overkill.

+1 :D

UnTainted
April 9, 2009, 02:18 AM
Nope, minimum is a 357 h&h! :what:

UnTainted
April 9, 2009, 02:19 AM
codybrown, neck shots are just as nice when cleaning out!!!

sarduy
April 9, 2009, 02:40 AM
i have't shot a deer, but i have shot a few wildhogs with my 30-06 and 180gr that's about all my experience with it.

if i get the .416 or .408 rifle i let you guys know how it does on deers ;)

ndh87
April 9, 2009, 03:16 AM
Sure your not a little under gunned? Might have to spring for a .50

Matrix187
April 9, 2009, 04:11 PM
A 150gr 7mm mag bullet does alot more damage to the meat than a heavier .338 bullet. The .338 will do fine... just be careful if there is more deer behind the target deer.

usmc1371
April 9, 2009, 04:18 PM
FREAKSHOW
What bullet are you using in your 375? I am packing mine for deer this year and so far the 260 nosler acubond fedrals are all I have shot, they have fedral 300 G partitions at the local GS that I am going to try to. I don't hand load so I am stuck with factory offerings.

freakshow10mm
April 9, 2009, 06:49 PM
FREAKSHOW
What bullet are you using in your 375? I am packing mine for deer this year and so far the 260 nosler acubond fedrals are all I have shot, they have fedral 300 G partitions at the local GS that I am going to try to. I don't hand load so I am stuck with factory offerings.
I have used a variety of bullets. I handload and load commercially too, so I can have the pick of the litter. I've used cast loads of a 265gr FN and a 335gr RN with excellent results right about 1950fps. The 300gr Sierra Gameking is an excellent bullet at 2400fps. Also the 220gr JFP from Hornady is a great deer bullet at the extremes of a 2800fps load or a reduced 2300fps load.

The reduced load still has 2585 ft lbs of energy at the muzzle and is more than plenty for deer. In a 10 pound gun, the 220/2800fps load kicks at 26.5 lbs and the reduced 220/2300fps load only kicks at 14.4 lbs, making this as light kicking as a .300 Win Mag or a 30-06 in a light rifle.

usmarine0352_2005
April 9, 2009, 07:01 PM
.
.338 no problem.



I've used a .338 win mag for years. The reason being my father bought me it for elk hunting in MT and it's the only rifle I own. (I own one more, but it's a .22).

I've used the same box of ammo for nearly 15 years. It's a box of Winchester Failsafe .230 grain.

I've killed roughly 11-13 deer with it. Every single deer dropped except one. Which just stood there, and then I shot it again. I could have let it fall over, but got a little overzealous.


Don't listen to the people who say, "It will tear the meat up."

Of all of those deer only one was tore up, and that one the bullet hit the shoulder and exploded, leaving about a 5 inch hole in the deer.

All of the other deer had either bullet size exit holes or holes that were actually hard to find (which I don't know why.....maybe the bullet passed thru and didn't have time to expand.)


It's not the ideal caliber, which is why I'm moving to a .30-06, but it has killed plenty of deer with one shot kills.


On that note, for some reason my friend has exploded a lot of deer with his .300 win mag. Almost every deer he's taken has had big exit holes.

Maybe someone knows why there has been much bigger exit holes with the .300 win mag and nearly non-existent ones with the .338 win mag.

.

bang_bang
April 9, 2009, 07:33 PM
Maybe someone knows why there has been much bigger exit holes with the .300 win mag and nearly non-existent ones with the .338 win mag.

It's the construction of the bullet, not the caliber. A bullet designed for deep penetration will not blow deer to bits as much as lighter, more frangible bullets; etc. ballistic tips.

In other words, your .338 Mag is probably loaded with bullets preferred for use on elk, moose, and bear. His 300 Win Mag is probably loaded with rounds "more suitable" for deer, where the deep penetration is not needed. End result, your bullet goes in and out rather cleanly, his expands rapidly on soft tissue, making the bullet larger thus destroying anything within 2 inches of its diameter.

RH45
April 9, 2009, 07:45 PM
My .338 is my "go to" rifle and I use nothing but controlled expansion bullets (sometimes, Nosler partitions, sometimes Barnes X) and have no issues shooting deer with it.

That rifle has been all over the world with me, and taken moose in Newfoundland, down to Duiker in South Africa.

usmarine0352_2005
April 9, 2009, 08:32 PM
It's the construction of the bullet, not the caliber. A bullet designed for deep penetration will not blow deer to bits as much as lighter, more frangible bullets; etc. ballistic tips.

In other words, your .338 Mag is probably loaded with bullets preferred for use on elk, moose, and bear. His 300 Win Mag is probably loaded with rounds "more suitable" for deer, where the deep penetration is not needed. End result, your bullet goes in and out rather cleanly, his expands rapidly on soft tissue, making the bullet larger thus destroying anything within 2 inches of its diameter.


I think you are 100% correct.

.

Jefferson Herb
April 10, 2009, 02:55 AM
yipeeeeee! common sense prevails!

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