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Reloading .338 WinMag for Whitetail

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by djkrieger, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. djkrieger

    djkrieger New Member

    I'm looking to reload ammo for my .338 WinMag for whitetail hunting in PA. I want to try reloading some lighter loads using H4350 powder and the 185 grain Barnes TSX. The Lee guide has me doing 62 grain for 2727 fps. From the research I've done my bullets should still expand at velocities as low as 1600-1800fps. Anyone have data on how much powder to use? I'm looking at hitting as close to 1800fps as possible.
    I'm fairly new to reloading and for the past year have been sticking to the book. I tried doing some rough calculations for a place to start and came up with 46.0 grains (which seemed low). I took two Lee data sets and ran some calculations:
    62.0gns ~ 2727fps (62/2727*2000(fps)=45.4)
    68.5gns ~ 2971fps (68.5/2971*2000(fps)=46.1)
    I used 2000fps rather than 1800 because I didn't want to underload. Is this a system that would work if I tread cautiously? Any thoughts?
    Thanks for your help.
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    1,800 FPS and a Barnes TSX would be a marrage made in hell for whitetail deer hunting, or any other hunting!

    You might get slight expansion, but more then likely that solid copper bullet would perform about like a FMJ military bullet. Tiny hole in, tiny hole out, and almost no blood trail to follow.

    You would be far better off with a plain old Rem, Win, Hornady, or Sierra soft-point at that low a muzzle velocity.
    Remember, it will be much lower then that out where the deer is.

  3. Funshooter45

    Funshooter45 Well-Known Member

    H-4350 is not a wise choice to used in reduced loads. Most rifle powders do not work at all well outside of the normal published load data. One of the exceptions to that rule is H-4895. That is one of the best powders to use in experimenting with low powered rifle loads. Hodgdon says that you can take the maximum listed load of H-4895 and reduce it down to 60% of that number. In this case, that number would be somewhere around 40 gr of H-4895. As a practical matter though, I'm not sure how accurate those loads would be at such a low density level. If it were me, I would probably start with something like 50 or 52 gr of H-4895 and work downward 1 grain at a time, looking for a load that gives you reasonable accuracy.

    Maybe one of the guys with the Quickload software could give you an estimate on the velocity you would get with that amount of H-4895.

    Like others have said, I would be a bit skeptical as to how much expansion you would get if you had a muzzlle velocity of 2000 fps. At 150 yards, the velocity would be quite a bit less and you might not get much expansion. I would feel a lot more comfortable if I had a muzzle velocity of 2400 fps. And I would feel a lot better about the expansion if I was using a more conventional bullet. Hornady makes 200 gr bullets for .338. One of them is a conventional lead tipped spire point. The other is their SST tip. Both of those bullets offer good expansion at fairly low velocities. But to be honest, I really don't have much experience with the Barnes copper bullets. I just always assumed that they are harder to expand.
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Good point on powder chioce for reduced loads Funshooter45!
    I completely overlooked that right there.

    Here is a page from Hodgdon on working with reduced loads.
    Read it and follow the suggestions and you won't blow yourself up!
    http://www.hodgdon.com/PDF/Youth Loads.pdf

  5. Craigman

    Craigman Well-Known Member

    RC has it right.

    Last year I asked the same question and ended up loading 200gn Hornady SP at about 3000fps. No trace of lead and a complete pass through with nothing damaged but the boiler room. 1" in and 2" out. Clean.

    Barnes TSX like to be pushed hard! They will expand, but the beauty of the .338 is the energy it carries, and delivers to the animal. Mine ran 2 running leaps and dropped like a sack of bricks.....done! IMO its a waste to download them and whatever .338 you use on a whitetail will do the trick.
  6. JerryM

    JerryM Well-Known Member

    Make sure the loads will work properly. I once attempted to get 30-06 velocities out of my .300 Wby. There was so much room in the case that the reduced loads of all powders did not occupy enough volume to reliably shoot. I got several delayed firings.

    I realize I could have used a filler, but was not willing to go to that trouble.
    The .338 case is not so large so you might be able to work up a good load without using a filler.

  7. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    I'm not telling you not to use the rifle of your choice but are you sure you want to use a .338 win Mag one Whitetail Deer? (even downloaded) Besides the obvious overkill you might not be able to build reliable ammo like mentioned above.
  8. TonyT

    TonyT Well-Known Member

    IMR-4350 would not be a wise choice for reduced velocity loads. You should use a faster burning powder. I would suggest SR-4759 or XMP-5744 for really reduced loads. You also should be able to get the velocity you require from IMR-3031.

    For bullets you should consider a nice soft pont or if still available one made for the older 33 Winchester cartridge. The 33 Winchester 200 gr. Hornady soft pont should provide excelent expansion on deer at 1800 fps.
  9. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Well-Known Member

    One box of Remington Core-Lokt's should last you several seasons of whitetail hunting.

    I see little point in bothering to reload the heavy-kicking hunting cartridges.
    Especially if you are hunting "less" game than that for which the cartridge was envisioned.

    Not like you are going to burn through buckets of ammo with one of those kickers.
  10. Haxby

    Haxby Well-Known Member

    Hornady makes a 200 gr bullet intended for the 338 Marlin.
    IMR 3031 or H4895. Speer #13 shows a 338 WM load with their 200 gr bullet and 55 gr of 3031 for a mv of 2469.
  11. dogrunner

    dogrunner Well-Known Member

    Last buck I shot In W.va was with my BAR in .338..........225 gr Accubond under 70 grains of IMR 4350..............needless to say it was a DRT, and I MEAN RT shot. Shot was at about 200, extreme downward angle deep in a "holler", hit a bit high on the shoulder & the animal flipped completely upside down into a classic 'field dressing' position.

    Took that rifle along on that trip on a whim, but frankly I see nothing wrong whatever relative to using the caliber on deer. It has excellent range capacity, unquestioned knockdown ability, plus its an easy cartridge to load. Too, you darn sure ain't gonna have to trail anything you touch with it fair and square!

    I've toyed with the idea of paper patching some very soft cast stuff & doing a repeat of that trip using it. Likely tho, that would be a bit too destructive. Have managed to develop some fairly accurate functional loads, but it's not yet to the point I'd use them on game.

    Incidentally, I had far less edible meat damage with that accubond load than I usually experience with my HPBT '06 loading.
  12. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Why would you down load a great performing cartridge like that, and with an excellent hunting bullet like that barnes, especially for a hunting application? It sounds really kind of bizzar to me.
  13. jimniowa

    jimniowa Well-Known Member

    I shoot a .338 and use a Sierra 215g bullet for most game up to bear. I don't down load it, use IMR 4831 and IMR 7828 under max recommended by the manual. This is the lightest bullet I would shoot in this rifle for accuracy and distance. I have a 7mm mag for the Antelope and Whitetail, but really like the .338 to do the job.
  14. mr.trooper

    mr.trooper Well-Known Member

    According to the data in this thread:

    The OP is getting a bit over 1,500fps with a 200gr cast lead bullet, using 18.5 gr of Trail boss. I don't believe that is a max load either - the OP likely stopped due to leading reasons (IMR recommends staying under 1,600 fps with lead bullets for exactly that reason).

    If you used a 185gr jacketed bullet, such as the lighter constructed Speer 'Accubond', I'm sure you could reach your goal of 1600-1800 fps quite easily. You would have a much better chance of achieving expansion as well.
  15. 1stmarine

    1stmarine Well-Known Member

    TSX are extremely deadly but designed for full power.
    Even an AR round with a 70gr or a 85gr 6mm at 2700fps are devastating.
    The .338 is just too much for white tail so look for a SP SMK or even
    a simple korelokt will do a good job as they expand a tad better at lower speeds in soft small animals. If this was bear or moose that would be a different story.
  16. ForneyRider

    ForneyRider Well-Known Member

    I've downloaded 225gr bullet in 375H&H with Varget to 2400-2500fps. I would think IMR 4064, IMR4895, or Varget would work for 338 Win Mag with light bullet at that speed with a min. charge.

    To get down to under 2k, look at the lead loads in Lee book with IMR SR powders.
  17. 1stmarine

    1stmarine Well-Known Member

    I am playing whit the superformance powders. No much progress at the moment. I have to go longer (the barrel).
  18. ForneyRider

    ForneyRider Well-Known Member

    May also try Trail Boss. Call Hodgdon for a load. They have loads online for other magnum cartridges loaded down with Trail Boss, and should be able to come up with min and max for 338 Win Mag and light bullet.
  19. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Well-Known Member

    Like some others stated, you'll not likely get good results in such a drastic reduction of powder charge with most of the powders usually associated with the .338wm. At such drastic reductions, the powders don't burn efficiently and may result in hang-fires, and possibly a stuck bullet in the bore. The latter can result in a "detonation" if you don't check the bore and discover the stuck bullet, or empty jacket which can result from the bullet sticking in the bore.

    My suggestion is that you use the excellent Speer 200gr "HotCor" softpoint. Secondly, use the minimum starting load listed in either the Lee, Speer, or Lyman manuals. H4895 has been good for me for many applications and will work splendidly for this use.

    I've used my .338/06 on deer with excellent results. The loads you are looking to use will closely match what I've been using for deer.

    Lastly, the Speer "cup and core" bullets are the least expensive jacketed bullets you are going to find for the .338.

    Another alternative is to use the full powered typical load you'll use in your rifle as you'll find that the .338 won't tear the deer up any more than most other suitable highpower rifles. The controlled expansion will limit the amont of damage, that is if you will only use broadside chest shots. Frontal or going away ("Texas heart shot...") will make a horrendous mess. Ask me how I know.........! The worst I ever tore up a deer wasn't with a .300RUM but with my .338/06 and a Nosler 210gr Partition loaded to duplicate the Weatherby factory load (2,750fps). I hit a ~120lb doe in the shoulder angling backward with a quartering frontal shot at about 60yds. I lost the fore-shoulder, the opposite ham, and most of the back-straps/tenderloin. The massive impact expansion of the Nosler blew bits of shoulder and spine bone shards thoughout the rear half of the deer and likewise the far pelvis/hip bones and left a 5" exit wound on the far ham....... Place your shots carefully with a .338! Even my .338MarlinExpress isn't much "kinder" too them with a similar shot placement with the 200gr Hornady FTX @ 2,550fps....
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011

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