Thinking hard....are the hyper 338s really worth the extra money??


June 5, 2009, 08:31 PM
I just came back from the range where one of the guys did let me fire a handful of his 338 Win Mag reloads "by the book" (Hodgdon loading data, within specs, no extra pressure, brass perfect...) with 300 gr. Sierra HPBT bullets that he uses for his Ruger, with my rifle.

Apart for my sore shoulder :D:D:D , my relatively cheap Weatherby Vanguard did average 2513 fps on his chrono....

Well he did fire his monster (poor my ears) 338-378 Accumark (same bullets, Hodgdon loading data as well) and that loads averaged 2827 fps....

I always wanted the 338-378 (fun factor) but the price of the rig and ammo (or brass if you reload) kept me away....

In his own opinion, basically the 300 and so fps of extra velocity is not worth the cost......he thinks that the 338-378 is just a tech showcase (he got the dough so price it's not a factor for him)

I computed my results in a ballistic calculator and the 338 reloads I fired in my rifle would still have carried ~1600 ft/lb of energy at 1000 yards!!!
At 2000 yards the energy left would be ~700 ft/lb and the bullet would be just barely subsonic.... that is long range wallop territory to me.....

He tolds me that his Sako 338 Lapua with the same Sierra 300 grainers average 2650-2680 fps..... only 200 fps or less of difference from my "little" 338 Win Mag...

So what is your opinion?? 200 or 300 fps more are worth the extra cost for a Lapua, a 338 RUM or a 338-378???


With lighter bullets the velocity difference with the 338-378 could creep almost in 400 fps trerritory....still

Overall I was impressed by my Vanguard performance.....before the ammo crisis I was able to find relatively cheap ammo for informal long range plinking even for $30 a box.....definitely not the case for the big boys...

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June 5, 2009, 11:59 PM
Getting into the upper echelon of any caliber will always result in trading efficiency for volume and raw power.

Put it this way...

Someone with a .338-06 could still do probably 80% of your Win Mag, possibly even a little more. And they could do it with less powder, recoil, and without that belt. Then someone with a .338 Federal could probably still do at least 60% of what you do with the Win Mag and could do it with even less powder and recoil, from a short-action rifle. Everyone draws the line somewhere when they decide how much power they want or need.

While we are at it, the .30-30 has killed a lot of deer and within the ranges the vast majority of game is killed, has demonstrated it has plenty of power. By those standards, no one really needs a .308 or .30-06, let alone a .300 Win or something larger. Some people want more, whether it is to shoot game at longer ranges or whatever else reason. As long as they can control the rifle and recognize the limits of their ability in terms of realistic effective range, there is nothing wrong with this.

My dad has a custom .338 RUM built on a M700ADL action in a bedded McMillan with a 30 inch Lilja number five stainless barrel. The key to a lot of these larger capacity magnums really is barrel length, I think. From a 24 inch tube, you probably aren't going to get much of an advantage over the Win Mag. The 26 inch tube most of the RUMs came with is about as short as you'd want it. However, by the time you get to 30 inches, 250 gr SMK are easily chronoing at over 3100 fps without even hitting max charges. Getting those 300 gr bullets to 2900 fps would be plausible, I would guess. And he could probably add another 100 to 150 fps on top of that with a 30 to 32 inch barrel in that Weatherby, most of which came with factory barrels of around 28 inches, IIRC. While adding barrel length to the .338 Win will still increase velocity to a point, you're not going to see the advantages from the longer tube that one of the larger capacity magnums will, esp with today's slower burning powders. Therefore, if someone wants the longest possible range, for shooting paper or steel or even game, and is willing to practice to competency, the magnums come into their own.

June 6, 2009, 12:05 AM
I computed my results in a ballistic calculator and the 338 reloads I fired in my Vanguard would still have carried ~1600 ft/lb of energy at 1000 yards!!!
At 2000 yards the energy left would be ~700 ft/lb and the bullet would be just barely subsonic.... that is long range wallop territory to me.....

You found your answer my friend. No need to ask us a thing.

June 6, 2009, 12:43 AM

I totally agree with what you say., but I would add that the price difference between a 338-06 and a 338 Federal compared to a 338 Win Mag is very little (rifle and ammo) or, actually, some 338 Win Mag ammo may be even cheaper and/or easier to find than other lesser 338s

The performance difference and the price difference are somewhat balanced...

In the good old times (before the ammo "crisis") you could buy a "run of the mill" (Remington, WInchester, etc...) box of 30-30 for $10-12.....a box of 30-06 (circa 50% more power, bigger case, etc...) for $16-18, a box of 300 Win Mag (~15-20% more performance) for $25-28, a box of 338 WM in the mid 30's and so on....see where I'm going??

But when you jump to the hyper 338s from the Win Mag, the price premium (rifle + ammo/brass) skyrocket for that 10-15%, at the most, performance improvement...big spike in recoil and blast too...the balance is least IMHO....

The 338-378 Weatherby rifles come from factory with a 28" barrel which include 2" of Accubrake, so the effective barrel length is 26".

This guy get 2650-2680 fps with the Sierra MK 300 gr. in 338 Lapua with his Sako TRG, 27" 1/8 factory standard barrel length.

Like you said, even the 338 Win Mag can also gain a bit with longer barrels, I heard of custom rigs that are capable of quite increased velocity over standard 24" maybe the difference with the super-duper 338 is still constant assuming the same barrel length.

Do not get me wrong...I would love one day to get the 338-378..but at the moment I do not feel like laying out all that extra dollars for an overall small performance improvement....

June 6, 2009, 12:54 AM
"...worth the extra money??..." No magnum is worth the extra money, significantly increased felt recoil and muzzle blast for hunting in North America.

June 6, 2009, 01:09 AM
For hunting the justification is questionable. Only expert hunters need take such shots that would justify needing a .338LM or .338-378 over the already-powerful .338 Win Mag.

OTOH, for those into ultra-long-range tactical or competition shooting, where ballistic advantages have more real-world benefit, such cartridges make more sense. There's a reason the .338LM is popular with top-echelon competition shooters and military snipers, and the .338RUM is similarly effective.

June 6, 2009, 01:33 AM
" hunters..." They don't use magnums.
" competition shooters and military snipers..." They don't use factory hunting rifles either.

June 6, 2009, 01:40 AM
Yes if and only if you plan to reach out to the 1mi. marker. The questions I have is: Do you have the skill to do that (now)? & Do you have a place to do that (now)? If no then wait and get it when you can satisfy the above questions...that is what I plan to do. :)

June 6, 2009, 04:50 AM
" hunters..." They don't use magnums.

That is, aside from quixotic and naive, about the most retarded, short-sided, and ridiculous thing I've ever heard. It seriously takes a special kind of arrogant self-righteousness to assume such things.

June 6, 2009, 06:37 AM
Driving on the centerline of "THE HIGH ROAD":rolleyes:
IMHO an expert hunter actually "hunts" and I personally consider stalking to be part of it.........
If by chance I'm hunting dangerous game - the guide BETTER have a bazooka.

June 6, 2009, 12:06 PM
Almost all "expert hunters" (AKA Professional Hunters, AKA PHs) use magnums. :neener:

June 6, 2009, 12:58 PM
Uh, the hyper .338 was developed by and for expert hunters.

The .338 Winchester is the .333 OKH wildcat (slightly resized to fit an existing Winchester bullet, when Winchester standardized it).

The .338-378 Weatherby is a slightly tweaked .338-378 KT wildcat (the standardized Weatherby factory round is .080" longer than, but otherwise the same as, the original KT).

OKH = O'Neil-Keith-Hopkins
KT = Keith-Thompson

Furthermore, it's getting harder for a hunter to use anything but a "magnum". It seems like every round developed in my lifetime has had "Magnum" in the name, including the tiny .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire.:D

June 6, 2009, 01:11 PM
.17 Hornady Magnum RimfireOr for real punishment, you can use the venerable proven birdstopping .22 Magnum. :D

June 6, 2009, 01:25 PM
If they developed the .22 Long Rifle cartridge today (more powerful than the .22 Short and Long that preceded it), it would be the .22 Magnum.

The .22WMR would be the .22 Ultra Magnum.

No doubt, the Velocitor would be the .22 Short Action Ultra Magnum.:D

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
June 6, 2009, 02:01 PM
Someone with a .338-06 could still do probably 80% of your Win Mag, possibly even a little more.

I'd say 98.6% or more, for *realistic* uses. So no to the question.

June 6, 2009, 03:40 PM
AB, as an aside the CCI CB long is the only .22 long that I can think of, are there any others?

June 6, 2009, 05:13 PM
"Tad" beat me to the draw. My .338/06 gets 92 to 100% of what the .338WinMag gets.
*(I once chrono'd an aquaintaince's .338winmag with a load he was about to take to Colorado elk hunting. I commented on the "low side" velocity of his load. He said HUH? Then, I showed him what I got with my handloaded .338/06. He was amazed. -His load was a starting-mid range load, and very accurate. Mine is a high-end load, but is still accurate.)

Plus, when you consider that I'm using 15% less powder, and have two more rounds in the gun, you then understand why I built a .338/06.

From what I've seen so far of the .338 Fed. is that it suffers more against the .338/06 than the '06 does against the .338mag. Not a slam against the cartridge, just the fact that most factory ammo I've seen chrono'd didn't quite come up to advertisted specs. Especially with bullets 210gr and heavier.

June 6, 2009, 05:46 PM
are there any others?

There used to be. The .22 Long predates the .22 LR. It was originally a black powder round, first sold in 1871.

June 6, 2009, 05:47 PM
Oh WRT expert hunters...

I forgot about the .340 Weatherby, also a hyper .338. Roy Weatherby was no slouch of a hunter, either.

June 6, 2009, 06:08 PM

the 340 Weatherby is just a pinch more powerful than the 338 Win Mag, actually in some loadings they are basically ballistic twins......the other hyper 338s have a bigger performance advantage.

June 6, 2009, 06:12 PM

It was a step along the road to the others, though. I just meant that these rounds were developed by expert hunters, and came from hunting.

June 6, 2009, 06:52 PM
He tolds me that his Sako 338 Lapua with the same Sierra 300 grainers average 2650-2680 fps..... only 200 fps or less of difference from my "little" 338 Win Mag...

My Sierra load manual shows four .338 Lapua Mag loads for 250 grn BTHP's (which is the weight I load) that run the velocity all the way up to 3,000 FPS. It also lists a 300 grn load at 2,750 FPS.

Now, I've not been brave enough to load one to that point yet, but the data has been verified and published, so I assume it's safe and repeatable.

Your buddy has just a little bit more head room with his loads to push a little faster if he wants, whereas the smaller cartridges have to push harder to even come close.

The very hottest load listed for your 338 Win Mag is a 300 grn at 2,400 FPS.

That's a non-trivial difference in velocity.

I think guys like the big magnums because they can always back their loads down to match yours, but you can't load the smaller cartridge hot enough to match the big magnum's performance.

That 350 FPS difference equates to a 31% increase in terminal energy.

June 6, 2009, 07:22 PM
"Headroom" matters, too.

Say you want to back down a grain for accuracy. With a big boomer, you still have more than enough velocity for silly levels of performance. With, say, a .338 Federal, you're gettin' a bit slow unless you can max the thing out and still shoot good groups.

BTW handloading is a wonderful learning experience! After doing it for handguns for a while, I just started doing it for rifles, and a whole lot of stuff is starting to make sense to me.:)

June 6, 2009, 07:41 PM

From the Hodgdon reloading data center:

The most powerful load published for the 300 gr. Sierra Match King load in 338 Lapua Magnum is listed at 2677 fps, for the 338 Winchester Magnum is 2441 fps

Velocity Difference: 236 fps, Energy Difference: less than 20%

Now from the Lapua VihtaVuori powders reloading data manual:

Most powerful load published for the 300 gr. Sierra Match King load in 338 Lapua Magnum is listed at 2710 fps, for the 338 Win Mag is 2479 fps

Velocity Difference: 231 fps, Energy Difference: ~20%

The Sierra loading manual is not online, but I suspect that they are either a bit on the light side on the 338 Win Mag or on the optimistic side on the 338 Lapua or both....or there is the possibility that their published 300 gr. 338 Win Mag load is intended for a 22" barrel and their 338 Lapua Magnum load is for 28-30" barrel or longer...

Double Tap sells a 300 gr. Woodleigh load for the 338 Win Mag well within pressure specs advertised at 2500 fps out of a 24" Ruger 77 rifle

So yes, non trivial difference but way less than your 31% figure....

To me 20% performance gap doesn't justify the enormous spike in price (rifle + ammo/brass) and less general availability

June 6, 2009, 09:36 PM

Generalizing velocities from manuals is a fool's paradise. If you do so, it's my suggestion that you use either, or preferably both, the Hornady & Speer manuals. At least they use actual firearms, not test barrels, for the most part.

The thing is, guns are specific individuals much like people. Just because my .338 Winchester magnum has a 26" barrel & so does yours, does not necessarily mean that they're going to be within 50 fps of each other with identical ammunition. I've got guns that exceed published max load velocities by a wide margin, with a load that's one full grain under max. Others barely meet the published standard even if yer shootin' 'em downhill.

IMHO every reloader should have, and use, a chrono. Then be able to interpret what it can tell you.


June 6, 2009, 09:40 PM
Well, I don't own a Hodgdon manual, but I have the Sierra book on the desk next to me.

Since I shoot Sierra bullets, I take their word for the loads that ought to propel them.

I don't have anything in .338 Win Mag, so I can't say how close their numbers are, but the .338 LM loads I've tested are pretty much spot on out of a 28" barrel (I use a chrony, no guessing here). Though, as I said before, I've never tried those hottest loads, so the results may not track as closely as the velocity goes up the scale. Could just be luck that my rifle replicates their results in the velocity range I use.

I'm quite happy to live down around 2,600 FPS. The thing beats on you bad enough at those velocities, using the lighter 250 grn bullets, I'm not sure I want to try the faster and/or heavier loads.

I start messing with those heavier loads, and my shoulder may up and go on strike on me. :D lol

June 7, 2009, 01:43 AM
CB900F and Logic GS

I agree, every gun is different and, obviously you cannot expect to replicate the exact published numbers of the load in your rifle..... sometimes you will go lower sometimes you will be over...and temperature has a big impact too...50-100 fps variance or even more is not unheard of....

I was talking about comparison of published that regard both Hodgdon and Lapua VihtaVuori put the 338 WM and the 338 LM within 230 fps of difference from each other using the 300 gr. Sierra Match King bullets, not 350....

Furthermore, the 338 Lapua, in the published numbers, has a longer barrel (26" for the Hodgdon and 27" for the Lapua VihtaVuori) Vs. 24" for the 338 Win Mag

I don't know about VihtaVuori but I did speak with a Hodgdon technician and he confirmed the their numbers are not computed values but averaged numbers of actual firearm shooting...Sierra make the bullets but Hodgdon make the powders that propel these bullets....:D:D

Your rifle, with a 28" barrel, may be well go over the published values because of the extra pipe length....

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