The 338 Winchester Magnum - An American Classic


November 10, 2009, 08:14 AM
THE 338 Winchester Magnum - An American Classic

With my Ruger M77 chambered in 338Winchester Magnum with a 24” barrel and with the receiver no longer than a standard 30-06 length, I have a substantial big game rifle and cartridge. This American classic is truly a very versatile all around cartridge for big game. It has reasonable recoil with only the 250-300 grain bullets being a little to much for some people, but not for most of us who use the magnum cartridges when hunting big game. If one re-loads for the 338Winchester Magnum, the new cartridges like the the 325WSM are not able to run with it, nor can they use the heavier bullets as well or with as much punch.

The 338Winchester Magnum can push a 180gr bullet at 3100-3200fps, a 200gr bullet at 3000-3075fps, a 210gr bullet at 2930-3010fps, a 225gr bullet at 2800 - 2900fps, a 250gr bullet at 2670 - 2800fps, a 275gr bullet at 2670 to 2700fps, a 300gr bullet 2500-2550fps, and is manufactured by 90% of the major gun manufactures. This places it right in the middle of good company when you consider how flat it shoots (like some of the 300 magnums) and how hard it hits (like the some of the 375 magnums).

It is not a compromise by any stretch of the imagination. On the contrary, with the bullet and powder selections of today, the 338Winchester Magnum is a very good all around big game rifle for coyote to Brown Bear. It is arguably the best elk and moose cartridge, with no apologies when used on bear. With lighter loads it reaches out hitting coyotes, deer and hogs like Thor’s Hammer, while not destroying any more meat than the 30 and 7mm caliber cartridges.

A hunter in the field with this one cartridge could take everything from coyote to the largest Alaskan Brown bears. It would not destroy meat anymore on the smaller size big game like white tail deer than would a 130gr bullet out of a 270. It would buck the wind at distances that most hunters would consider reasonable and with plenty of energy to anchor anything in North America and most of Africa out to 400yds (where legal to use). Also, with some bullets and loads in the right hands, it could be a very effective round when used at longer ranges.

Introduced in 1958 and since 1959 the 338Winchester Magnum has preformed without question on any thing it has been used on in North America, as well as plains game in Africa, with consistent success. Easy to load for, accurate, reasonable recoil if stocked correctly and hits like a hammer. With velocities that are perfect for the big game bullets that are manufactured for the .338 caliber. Jim, a friend of mine said, “with the 338Winchester Magnum you could kill everything from mice to Moose” and I would add even a big mean-spirited bear up close. Jim summed it up in his use of figurative speech, in accurately describing the 338Winchester Magnum.

Most are aware in the hunting world that the 30-06 with a 180gr bullet has been and is very affective in most situations and on most game given proper circumstances. Also the effectiveness of the 300Winchester Magnum using a 180gr bullet is unquestioned. In light of this fact a 338Winchester Magnum using a 250gr bullet, has a striking energy that is around 25% greater than that 30-06 with a 180gr bullet. Also, the 338Winchester Magnum using a 250gr bullet, has at least 15% greater striking energy than the 300Winchster Magnum using a 180gr bullet. On top of that the cross-sectional area of the 250gr bullet is 20% greater with a momentum factor that allows for greater penetration due to 70grs greater weight.

It has tremendous potential as an all around big game cartridge for smaller deer to the largest, toughest and heaviest game in North America. It is a tremendous medium bore with great legs. What do I mean by saying great legs. It is a true sprinter with endurance and has a hard quick crushing blow, like a heavy weight. Bullet selection ranges from 180 grains to 300 grains to meet any need the North American hunter would engage. It can be down loaded to 30-06 levels and still produces excellent accuracy.

On smaller species of big game one can use the 180gr to the 215gr bullets. Now there is a bullet in this weight range that is good on the smaller species of big game, while being the exception in this group due to the fact it is also highly effective on the larger species of big game. I am making reference to the 210grain Nosler Partition. The 210gr Partition has velocities between 2930fps and 3010fps with very good accuracy, flat shooting and hard hitting. It is a combination that really allows the 338Winchester Magnum to stand out as a longer rang load while still being devastating up close.

Of course for the really big stuff the 250gr bullets due to their great shapes and constructions are real game getters for sure. The 250gr to the 300gr bullets when used in the 338 Winchester Magnum do not have to apologize, nor are they inferior for any of the tasks handed them when taking big game.

The 338 Wincester Magnum is hard to beat as an all around big game cartridge. It is easy to load for, shoots flat, hits hard and according to a multitude of hunters and guides, brings home the bacon. It truly is and has been an American Classic and will be used by the discerning and informed North American hunter for many years to come.

I am proud to be one of those discerning hunters who has a lot of fun with this cartridge during hunting season. It will not disappoint me on Arizona black bear, Mississippi deer and hogs, Missouri white tail, Louisiana deer and hogs, when using the 210gr Partition. Last but not least, Alaskan Black bear in the spring of 2011 using the 225gr Partition. As someone once said, "there ain't no flies on the 338 Winchester Magnum." By: Mike Price

If you enjoyed reading about "The 338 Winchester Magnum - An American Classic" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
November 10, 2009, 09:32 AM
I would like to trade for a 338 Win Mag I also think it is the perfect caliber.Id like a new Winchester Mod 70 Extreme Weather or a Remington XCR

November 10, 2009, 12:11 PM
If you get one it will impress you when you hit game with it.

November 10, 2009, 12:18 PM

We discussed several times the content of your interesting long post.
I could have written it myself!!
I would add that the 338 Win Mag is the most powerful caliber commonly available in inexpensive quality rifles (Savage, Weatherby Vanguard, Tikka, Mossberg 4X4)...usually the same price tag of a 30-06 in the same product line....
You can get a brand new 338 Win Mag for as little as a bit more than $300 (Mossberg 4X4)....try that with a 375 H&H.....
I would not say that the versatility matches the legendary 30-06 (the 338 is a bit overkill on light game even with moderate loads and lighter bullets) but it is close
For the very same reasons you admirably exposed in your post, I bought my Vanguard look damn good and it is loud, fun and amazingly accurate at the range......someone said before that the 338 Win Mag is not a good long range cartridge....well almost 1700 ft/lb of energy left at 1000 yards (Sierra Matchking 300 gr.) sounds pretty good to me....
Elk shots at 600+ yards are not unheard of in some part of the continent with the 338.

November 10, 2009, 12:30 PM
Yes, the 338 Win mag is really one fine cartridge. Here is a picture of my 250gr load and my rifle.

Here is it with my back up when hunting bear or dangerous game.

November 10, 2009, 04:25 PM
nice rifle I want one because I think it would do less meat damage than my 257 Wby
Plus then if ever got the chance could hunt anything in US

November 10, 2009, 04:39 PM
I used my 257Wby last year to take to deer, one at 354yds and the other at 106yds. The 257Wby is a killer but when you see a deer hit with a 200gr Accubond out of a 338Win Mag moving over 3000fps, it should bring a smile to your face. I like my Ruger M77 for the controlled feed quality and this Ruger is a good shooter right out of the box with no extra work done to the trigger or bedding.

November 10, 2009, 05:36 PM
do you prefer the 338 to the 257

November 10, 2009, 05:39 PM
when you see a deer hit with a 200gr Accubond out of a 338Win Mag moving over 3000fps

What, did you walk right up to the deer and shoot it from 6" or something?

November 10, 2009, 05:47 PM
At least 6" :D

November 10, 2009, 05:49 PM
I prefer the 338Win mag over the 257Wby for most of my hunting but the 257Wby is a reach out and touchem cartridge for gas lines and long fields on deer and like game.

November 10, 2009, 06:10 PM
I prefer the 338Win mag over the 257Wby for most of my hunting but the 257Wby is a reach out and touchem cartridge for gas lines and long fields on deer and like game.

Why the 338 is not a good "blue yonder ' round?? At 500 yards the 257 is below 1000 ft/lb, some loading of 338 are over 2000!!!! Try an Elk shot at 600 yards with a 257...:D

November 10, 2009, 06:20 PM
The 338Win can reach out there, it certainly can with the right load and a good shooter and the 257Wby certainly has it's place in reaching out on deer and small size big game. I use my 338Win mag for elk.

November 10, 2009, 06:23 PM
I agree beartooth Ive had 2 270 a 280 a 25-06 and a & mag none of them shoots as flat as the 257.Plus its the most accurate of them all also

November 10, 2009, 06:26 PM
There is a limit to what you should shoot with the 257Wby especially as the down range distance increases when it comes to big game.

November 10, 2009, 06:30 PM
how many rounds you have through your 257 beartooth?

November 10, 2009, 06:36 PM

What you mean you cannot reach out there with a 338??? In some loading it shoot as flat as a 300 WM.....seems pretty good to me....few more click of your scope doesn't mean it cannot get there and do its job with authority....

November 10, 2009, 06:36 PM
I have 540 rounds from load records that I know of for sure but figure at least from shooting coyote and hunting around 700 or so - and my hunting load still is under an inch.

November 10, 2009, 06:38 PM
have you noticed any bore erosion

November 10, 2009, 06:39 PM

I corrected it, I meant to say "Can" sorry for the miss type

November 10, 2009, 06:40 PM
No bore problems yet on my 257wby

November 10, 2009, 06:48 PM
I only have about 50 rounds down mine.But I always let her cool after every shot I would shoot and clean after every round for 5 rounds now clean after every 3 rounds
at 60 rounds gonna clean after every 5

November 10, 2009, 07:01 PM
890 yards 338 Win Mag deer shot with a custom rig based on a Rem 700 action and a match grade 28" barrel....not that I justify that kind of long shot...but the 338 WM can get out there and do some damage...

November 10, 2009, 07:05 PM
Awesome in deed, I have had that kind of results with the 338Win every time I have shot deer but certainly not that far. My farthest shot with my 338Win was 426yds on a whit tail. What bullet and load were you using if I may ask. Good shooting and thanks for the video link. :D

November 10, 2009, 07:18 PM
Is not my shot!!! :eek::what::D I'm not that good...:D

I was pointed to this video by the guy that built the rifle....I believe the shooter was using 225 gr. ballistic tip boat tail

November 10, 2009, 07:43 PM
I cannot not figure out why beartooth is being so defensive over the 338 Winchester Magnum. Was there a recent thread bashing this fine round? If so then direct me to the thread. I would like to read what is wrong with the our most popular .338 cartridge.

I own a Weatherby MKV ClassicMark Rifle chambered in the 340 Weatherby. Fine rifle and cartridge. That rifle is pictured on top.

I also own a Savage 338 Winchester Magnum. Fine rifle and cartridge. Pictured in the middle. Current scope problems is the reason for the absence of one. This is a fine long distance big game round and deserves a scope.

And I own a Remington 700 Chambered in the 257 Weatherby Magnum pictured on the bottom. Again, fine rifle and cartridge.

The Winchester 338 Magnum and 340 Weatherby Magnum are close enough in performance that I doubt anyone can ever tell the difference on game. If you need more gun that a 338 Winchester magnum then you need a bigger caliber...not a 340 Weatherby Magnum. And while both the 340 and 338 would make great deer calibers I'll stick with smaller calibers for that endeavor. Hunting/shooting is suppose to be fun. I advise everyone to pick whichever caliber they like and enjoy shooting.

Now point me to those guys who mocking the 338 Winchester. I could use a good laugh!

Redneck with a 40
November 10, 2009, 10:18 PM
So do you guys enjoy the 35-40 ft lbs of recoil on these things?:neener: My .308 only hits me with about 16 ft lbs, that's enough for me.

November 11, 2009, 01:16 PM
There have been some great hunting articles about the 338 WM in Outdoor Life magazine by Jim Carmichael. He hunted with the 338 from Alaskia to Africa and even killed cape buffalo with it. I think Carmichael's rifle was made by David Miller and he always used ammo loaded with 250 grain Nosler Partitions. I'd like to see that rifle, I bet it has some great stories to tell.

November 11, 2009, 01:53 PM
So do you guys enjoy the 35-40 ft lbs of recoil on these things? My .308 only hits me with about 16 ft lbs, that's enough for me.

Yeah, I'm sure the .50 BMG is a great all-around hunting cartridge, too.:)

Seriously, the .338 is a great round, but if you aren't at least going after elk-sized game or larger, there are plenty of options that recoil less, cost less, and shoot flatter.

I'd much rather have a .240 or .257 Weatherby for pronghorns or mountain goats, but .338 WinMag for moose if I ever try that. There's no such thing as a cartridge that's ideal for every field application.

That said, since you mentioned some varmints, do they make a .339" V-Max bullet?:D

That might be fun...

November 11, 2009, 01:59 PM
Nothing against the 338WM but I would place the 7mm RM ahead of it as a "classic" due to it's popularity, rifle availability, ammo and reloading die sales and usefullness, but that's just me.:D

November 11, 2009, 04:27 PM
I do appreciate the comments on this forum to my article. I have hunted in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. I have hunted all kinds of game both none dangerous and dangerous game.

Jim Carmichael has killed more buffalo and DG in general than most anyone alive today. Both sport hunting and in culling operations. I must conclude he knows better than any occasional DG hunter (including me) what it takes to kill DG. His gun of choice for DG is a 458WM..though his statements about "just 1 gun in Africa for all game.." being a 338wm speaks loud enough for anyone but the ones who have not been on these type of hunts or those that ignore field experience as though it does not matter.

If I had to pick up just one rifle to do it all (where legal) it would be the 338Win Mag.

My favorite rifles are the 257Wby, 30-06, 300Wby, 358Win and the 338WM. This is from use in the field for 30 years and these are not mentioned as though all the other great cartridges out there are no fun to use and useful. I have just found these to be highly effective cartridges doing specific jobs very well, with the 30-06 and the 338Win Mag as truly versatile cartridges when on the hunt. Once again, thanks for the comments and allowing me to visit this forum and present my article. Mike Price

November 11, 2009, 04:35 PM
257Wby, 30-06, 300Wby, 358Win and the 338WM

Great list.

...but look out for those .270/7mm guys...:D

November 11, 2009, 08:44 PM
the 270 is good but I prefer my 257 Wby

If you enjoyed reading about "The 338 Winchester Magnum - An American Classic" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!