Best conventional factory elk load for the .338 Win Mag?


September 19, 2013, 11:39 AM

I hope to have a .338 in hand for this year's elk season. For various luddite reasons, I don't do all copper or polymer tipped bullets, and reloading is not really an option right now. I was going to buy Remington 250 gr Core-Locks, but the box had HORRIBLE QA/QC, with huge variations in seating depth, bullet deformation, dirty, dingy and dented cases.

The 225 gr Fusion seems to be generally available- I would assume it is a good elk load, but the generic Fusion packaging makes only references to deer.

The 200 gr Powerpoint is supposedly rated for elk, bear, and moose, but seems kinda light, especially since I shoot 220 gr RN in my .30-06 for hunting currently.

The 210/250 Partitions seem to have a lot of exposed lead on the tip and vulnerable to deformation and damage.

What do you folks think?



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September 19, 2013, 08:31 PM
I've used core-lokt bullets in my hand loads for years with good terminal performance on deer in Georgia. That being said, Ive also used partitions and really really like them. I've never recovered one.

My father shot a 4pt with his 338 Win Mag in the early 90's using a core lokt 225. It entered behind the right rib cage and came to rest under the skin of the front left shoulder. It was feet of penetration and mushroomed nicely. Approx 80% wt retention which is fine by me. I imagine the fusion is a similar bullet to the core lokt with a "fused" lead core and copper jacket. If the partitions are too much $$$, I'd imagine the fusion would work just fine so long as there was good placement.

September 19, 2013, 09:34 PM
A 200 grn PowerPoint is "supposedly" rated for elk? Seriously? So by that logic the 270 is unsuitable for elk? I think Jack O'conner might have something to say about that. If you want to hunt elk with a 338 then by all means go for it. But 165-180 Cor-Lokts are more than adequate for even the biggest elk. More elk have fallen to the '06 than any other cartridge. And a 180 grn out of the '06 is plenty for moose. So are you getting a 338 because you think or have been told you need it? Or is it just because you want an excuse to buy one and put your shoulder through hell?

September 19, 2013, 11:38 PM
Any .338 bullet will do the job, I'm afraid......I would use what is the most accurate out of your rifle. I like Partitions, have used them for 40 years exclusively for deer and antelope. But I don't shoot a .338, I don't think they are required with the amount of energy the .338 puts out.

September 20, 2013, 08:33 AM
The copper bullets aren't necessary in a 338. If elk hunting with a 243 they are what I'd use.

Some of the better plastic tipped bullets would probably be a good choice in your rifle however. The 338 can be a very effective rifle at longer ranges if you choose. The plastic tipped bullets really help at longer ranges. If you want be able to take full advantage of the rifles capabilities I'd use them.

I'd say anything from 180-250 gr that shoots accurately in your rifle will be more than adequate. Bullet selection is more critical when using guns that are borderline too small for the job at hand. Not the case here. If anything you have too much gun for the job.

September 20, 2013, 12:41 PM
Thanks for the input!

I have hunted Elk for the past 25 years using .270, 7mm Mauser, .308, .30-06, 8mm Mauser and .45/70- They are all good!

My main concern is identifying any .338 bullets that that a reputation for shallow penetration or fragmentation. Just because a bullet weighs a certain amount does not mean that it is suitable for big game like Elk.

Would a 300 gr JSP in .338 Win Mag, .35 Whelen or .375 H&H bullet be good for Elk? Almost certainly yes in all cases.

Would a 300 gr "cup and core" JHP in a hot .45-70 loading be good for Elk? That's a definite maybe, as the bullet could easily fragment and achieve drastic under penetration, especially for a cornering shot.

I definitely don't "need" a .338 to hunt Elk, but I have the opportunity to get a left handed (Happy!) one a reasonable price, plus my family now owns property in Alaska, so future hunts for larger game is a definite possibility.

If i can't find anything I like in 250 gr, i will probably go forward with the Fusions.

Take Care,


September 20, 2013, 02:15 PM
Ok now it makes a little more sense. You never mentioned going into Grizz country. I would say if I were going to get a 338 I would go with a tried and true bullet like the partitions. As with anything though, shot placement is more important than cartridge or bullet design. A FMJ will kill elk when it's hit in the heart or lungs, preferably heart though.

Side note: 300 grn boolits for the 45-70 are pretty small and can have accuracy issues. You're talking 105 grns less than what the cartridge was designed for. Light boolits and high speed doesn't penetrate with the 45-70 as well as heavy boolits and medium speed. There have been many threads about this.

Side note #2: Congrats on your new rifle. I hope you get many years of enjoyment out of it.

September 20, 2013, 09:32 PM
I have seen 210 grain nosler partitions work well though I shoot Federal 225 grain Fusions. I think that most anything in 338 win mag would be effective.

September 21, 2013, 08:06 AM
I've shot elk and deer with my .338/06.
Most of the factory ammo in .338mag is going to be constructed with elk in mind. I would recommend the Remington or Winchester standard powerpoints or corlokts as well as whatever Federal is calling their "standard" load this year.
Whatever is most accurate for reasonable price is your best bet. This allows more trigger time for familiarity. IMO, the .338 dosen't kick that bad. More than an '06, yes! But no more than your average 12ga shotgun... And you probably shoot rabbits and birds with that!

When you get to Alaska, most everything up there will react favorably to the same "standard" loads. However, you didn't say where the property was. (Alaska is BIG place).
Where the bears are BIG,(coastal browns) then a 250gr Partition is THE standard load which everything else is compared to. Federal loads them in their "premium" line, as well as does Remington and I've personnally seen those in the Walmart in Ketchikan.

I built my .338/06 because the velocities are only ~90-110fps below the .338winMag, and instead of 4rds in the chamber and magazine, I've got 6.....
But, now that I've aquired a .375Ruger,... that is mostly moot.... 4rds of .375Ruger trump the .338 w/6rds.... and the rifle is lighter and more accurate too...

FWIW; the worst I've ever "blown up" a whitetail deer was with a 210gr Nosler Partition from my .338/06. (2,800fps m/v, 40yd shot... took out shoulder/spine to far hip....120lb deer (before bullet impact!). two strands of hide holding the deer in one piece... If I ever take this rifle to AK (not likely, now), I'd use the 250gr Partition simply for greater penetration and less "blow-up" at close range. My .300RUM with 180gr bullets is actually much "kinder" than the .338 210 Noslers... (mine are the early mfg Noslers with the band around the middle).

The only other bullets I wouldn't recommend for elk from the .338 would be the now discontinued 180 and 200gr Nosler BallisticTips. They are excellent on deer, but I'd want more penetration for large elk (bulls). They're fine for cows/calves. In factory loads, that would be the still produced 200gr BallisticSilver tips by Winchester....Good for antelope,deer, and such... but I'd want a little stronger bullet for bulls.

September 21, 2013, 10:36 PM
OK, grizzly country, I would shoot Partitions, big ones. I think we all assumed you were new to hunting big game. This makes sense now.....

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