What .338 Win Mag Bullet For Deer?


October 14, 2014, 05:24 PM
What bullet do you using for deer hunting?

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October 14, 2014, 05:40 PM
What range are you looking at shooting at? Are your shots gonna be 300 yards and closer or are they gonna be 300 yards and up?

In my limited deer hunting experience and talking with people I know that have deer hunted longer than I've been alive that 95% of shots are closer than 150yards. I'll suggest a bonded bullet or a lead free monolithic that won't "blow up" at extreme velocity and close range. Plus the GMX, TTSX, and Accubond have very high BC's for extended range shooting.

Nosler Partition/Accubond/E-tip
Hornady GMX

October 14, 2014, 06:07 PM
Shots will be anywhere from 100-400 Meters, pending on the terrain where in.
Nosler Partition in the 225gr, 250gr is what I was thinking, I know some guys that used the TTSX and made a huge hole on the other side, I want to eat my deer, not bloodshot meats.

October 14, 2014, 06:16 PM
Nosler Partition is a great choice. Its the standard that all other bullets are measured

October 14, 2014, 06:31 PM
Partition, Accubond, or Barnes TTSX are all good choices.

October 14, 2014, 06:32 PM
To tell the truth there is no scenario where you would need a .338 Win Mag for deer hunting. (or any mag for that matter) Even my beloved 30-06 is a big gun for deer hunting.

To answer the question as asked, deer are thin skinned and not hard to kill, no harder than a man. Most hunting bullets will do fine but since you might be hunting at medium distances you might like the AccuBond bullet from Nosler. It's almost as tough as the Partition and more aerodynamic. They cost a little less too so practice doesn't hurt the pocket as much. Most of the bullet companies have a good bullet for your application too.

October 14, 2014, 07:33 PM
I love partitions, but I think the soft nose is going to do a lot of damage, even to a deer.

The nose of that bullet will expand FAST, and the base will drive on through, even on bigger animals... SO, a different 250 will probably give less damage to the deer, PLUS it will cost you less.

A plus for the soft nose NP is, giving extra deer damage, the deer will bleed out faster and that = faster kills.

Sierra makes a sleek looking .338 bullet, I've shot caribou with it, it worked pretty good, the deer may run a few extra yards though...


October 14, 2014, 07:48 PM
I used to own and load for a 338-06. I used 200 gr Hornady's only because black bear were a distinct possibility where I hunt. Just about any 185-225 gr bullet would work. Take bear off the table and I'd probably go 185.

October 14, 2014, 08:54 PM

I've got a .338 and have used it for deer, mostly just to get used to the gun in a hunting situation. When I worked up loads for it, the 225 grain bullet was the most accurate, and Hornady made them. They were the common lead-nose spire point. And you get 100 of them in a box for about 28 bucks. Or one-fourth the cost of the wildly over-priced "premium" bullets. I've shot deer from stone's throw to several hundred yard ranges with entirely satisfactory performance from the Hornady's. Proper bullet placement is the key. For a 40 yard shot - neck shoot the bugger. Any solid hit and the animal won't move except via gravity.

I still keep the .338 Winchester magnum around, but frankly these days I even hunt elk with my 6.5 X 55mm Swede. I'll never draw another moose tag in my hunting lifetime, and I get a bear tag just to legally kill one if it disputes my elk with me. I got the .338 for elk, moose, and bear, but nowdays it's pretty much a safe queen.


October 14, 2014, 09:38 PM
I am an old man and hunt in a very hilly in some places a mountainous area. I cannot drag a deer uphill, they ALWAYS run down hill, so they must drop in place. I use a 338 with 220 or 250 nosler partition. It does make a fist size or larger exit hole but they do not run. Loss of meat is not really a problem as we have a liberal limit 1 or 2 a day in Alabama.

October 15, 2014, 05:56 AM
Back when I was younger and shot quite a few deer with a .338, my favorite bullet was the Speer 200 grain spitzer. It killed reliably from any angle and did less meat damage than an '06 with 150 grain Winchester factory loads.
It's also inexpensive, so you can afford to practice more with the bullet that you'll actually be hunting with.

I'm a huge fan of Nosler Partitions, but they're just not needed or even particularly desirable for shooting deer with a .338. I think most people would agree that .338 Win Mag has ample power and penetration for deer without using "premium" bullets.

October 15, 2014, 12:57 PM
I certainly hope the recoil while occasionally practicing doesn't put the hurt on ya too much. If it does, the nasty old flinch can start to rear it's ugly head A well placed shot from a smaller caliber for deer is more than adequate. Many deer have fallen to my .243 win. My father in law killed both bucks he shot with it. Neither went far after being shot well. My buddy shot an average doe last year and she ran so far that we never found her. He described the shot and we both figured she was hit good. This deer was shot with a 12 ga shooting 3 1/2" Lightfields!!! If you had to choose one rifle, then choose one that you can afford to practice with, doesn't kill on both ends thus no bad flinching.

October 16, 2014, 10:47 AM
My FIL uses Winchester Ballistic Silvertips (a Nosler Ballistic Tip with a coating) in his .338WM for deer. I thought his were 210gr, but the Winchester site only shows a 200gr. Of course, by FIL shoots for heart/lungs, so a fast expanding bullet is great. You might want a tougher bullet if you plan to take a shoulder shot.

October 17, 2014, 02:07 AM
.338 WM for deer? :what:

Are you trying to cut it in half?

October 17, 2014, 12:48 PM
This is an easy one.....Any box of 338 WM ammo you pull off the shelf will take down a deer.

October 17, 2014, 03:05 PM
Aren't most cup and core bullets for .338 pretty well designed? I dont have a .338 but it would seem that they would not make too many varmint bullets.

I would use a cup and core bullet through the lungs. Any bullet through the meat will cause a lot of blood shot meat.

October 17, 2014, 03:10 PM
300gr Sierra BTHP at 2750fps+. It's the only way to be sure. Suggest a 338 Lapua or 338 Norma magnum if you don't like pressure signs.


October 17, 2014, 05:32 PM
Ethical deer hunting in my area requires a minimum bore size of .375".
Some of our deer will go over 80 pounds! :D

Seriously though, to those that think a .338 Win Mag will "cut a deer in half", it's really not that destructive, or even a particularly quick killer with heart/lung shots that avoid shoulder bones.

With more or less equal lung shots, my .257 Bob Improved tends to drop deer faster than my .338 ever did.

.338 bullets are generally pretty tough, so the majority of the energy is deposited in the landscape behind the deer.

On the other hand, I did use a few 200 grain Hornady flat points meant for the .33 Winchester on hogs. At a little over 3000 fps it'll make a 40 pound shoat look almost like a prarie dog being hit by a .220 Swift! :eek:

October 17, 2014, 06:24 PM
200gr Speer Pt.Spt "HotCor"
Load to starting/accuracy load level.
It's as good as it gets. Excellent accuracy and expansion with excellent bullet integrity.
Hornady 200gr PtSpt are also good. The 200gr SST Hornady is an excellent long range deer bullet.
The 215gr Sierra is probably the most accurate bullet you can use, but not much more than the Speer.
The Speer is the cheapest "good" bullet. I'm prejudiced against the Hornady's as I've had some fail on $$$$ hunts.
I've also had good luck with the Hornady FTX in the .338ME. It would also be a good bullet for the .338 at "starting" load velocities.

The 200gr Hornady FN has been discontinued a number of years. You can however find them at Buffalo Arms web site but they are "pricey".
All of these bullets are good for elk too.

I in fact for practical purposes DID CUT A DEER IN HALF with my .338/06. I was using some early production ('60's) Nosler 210gr Partitions. The load was ~2,800fps and I hit the deer in the spine behind the shoulder at about 40yds. Only the hide was holding that deer together. Worst I ever tore up a deer.

Penoe Hunter
October 17, 2014, 06:57 PM
I was going on a Maine deer hunt and the weather prediction was rain every day. The only stainless, synthetic stock gun I had was a M70 Winchester in 338 Win Mag. I loaded 180 grain Nosler Ballistic tips with a H4831 load ,accurate, light recoil and did a job on a big Maine dear

October 17, 2014, 08:19 PM
Took a deer with a .300 win mag, I was looking for elk but saw a deer, tagged a bit of a shoulder and a bunch of meat got shot up.

150 grains out of a .300 win mag at about 80 - 100 yards is basically a hand grenade launcher in my opinion.

But as the saying goes, opinions are like...

October 17, 2014, 11:11 PM
On a whim, I bought a 338 WM about 25 years ago. I shot a deer at around 160 yds or so using a 200 grain bullet. The bullet went right through it without any expansion. I thought I missed it, but it went just out of sight and died. I can't remember what the bullet was.

I sold the rifle not too long after that, figuring I was never going anywhere to hunt where I would need a cartridge with that much power.

It wasn't very much fun to shoot.

I think if you get a head that expands rapidly, you will be ruining way too much meat and if you use one that doesn't, you will get the same results that I had.

My opinion is the same as everyone else above. Why kill a rabbit with a 22-250 when a rimfire would be more than adequate.

Just MHO

October 17, 2014, 11:34 PM

In response to most of the above, there's several points to make. Yes, the .338 Winchester magnum is indeed overkill for the stated task of killing deer. Which is not to say that it can't do so in a very effective manner. But, that effective manner requires some thought and preparation on the shooter's part. The .338 WM is a very effective long-range cartridge, but it's a very rare deer that gets shot at more than 300 yards. Many .338 rounds are at or near 4000 lbs. of muzzle energy, two tons! Therefore, if your shot is at short range, pick your shot carefully or suffer the consequences. The Siamese twin to the previous statement is to also pick the bullet carefully. Bullet manufacturing technology has progressed a very great deal in the last quarter-century, but nonetheless, there are better and poorer choices to make. When thinking of deer, factor both the bullet and the range into the shot. Also keep in mind that there can be other circumstances that will affect the performance of the round. I've no doubt that using a bullet meant for dangerous game, I could shoot through a small tree at a hundred yards and kill the deer standing on the other side of it. But would I carry that load in a normal hunting situation in the Michigan woods? No, I don't think so. Neither would I pick the lightest bullet I could if my expected shot was in excess of 500 yards. The relatively light weight and lower B/C would surely mitigate against proper terminal performance at a longer range regardless of increased muzzle velocity.

All-in-all though, I'll stick with my original post. Load an accurate 225 grain bullet with a muzzle velocity in the 2700 -2800 fps range, and odds are very good it'll do the job asked. If you give some thought as to how let the bullet do it's job properly.


October 18, 2014, 06:30 PM
Originally Posted by: GooseGestapo
I in fact for practical purposes DID CUT A DEER IN HALF with my .338/06. I was using some early production ('60's) Nosler 210gr Partitions. The load was ~2,800fps and I hit the deer in the spine behind the shoulder at about 40yds. Only the hide was holding that deer together. Worst I ever tore up a deer.

It's odd that you mention the 210 grain Partition as being particularly destructive, because that's the same bullet I used for my own "Deerburger" story.

I was hunting in South Texas with my Ruger M77 .338 Win Mag loaded with the old "screw turned" cut cannalure, 210 grain Partitions and I decided to take a doe for camp meat. I could see a couple about 180 yards away, but they were standing about 10 feet from our property line and we didn't have blanket permission to enter the adjoining land. One of the does was standing broadside to me and I decided to take her with a shoulder shot, figuring that I'd lose a little meat, but that the Nosler would probably do less damage than the 200 grain Speer bullets I normally used since they were designed for deeper penetration.

When I touched off the shot the deer instantly flipped over into the tall grass and vanished. I climbed down from the stand and walked over to where she was laying and saw something I've never seen before or since. The doe was lying "flat on her back" with both front legs splayed out to the sides at 90 degrees with the hind legs together and parallel to the ground!

Both shoulders of that deer were so torn up that I doubt we got five pounds of chili meat off of them and THAT'S how I learned that the "deep penetrating" Partition is ALSO a very "quick expanding" bullet!

Mosin Bubba
October 18, 2014, 06:56 PM
I hunt with the 243 Winchester, and 100 grain Core Lokts get the job done for me. A 338 Win Mag is twice as big, twice as heavy, and just as fast as those. So I'm thinking that just about any 338 round would work for deer.

October 19, 2014, 09:15 PM
300gr Sierra BTHP at 2750fps+. It's the only way to be sure. Suggest a 338 Lapua or 338 Norma magnum if you don't like pressure signs.

The Hornady .223 50gr SXSP does a great job on head shots, but don't always have the chance for a head shot.

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