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338 Win Mag bullet choices for Africa

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by shaggy430, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. shaggy430

    shaggy430 Member

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    I’m going to Africa next year to hunt plains game. I’m planning on taking my 338 Win Mag. I have 225 grain Accubond and Partitions and 250 grain Speer Grand Slam components and am going to start working up loads. Which of these bullets would y’all recommend and does anyone have any pet powders they use for this caliber? Obviously, accuracy will play a part in my decision. Also, I don’t want to start a caliber debate. I want to keep discussion to 338 Win Mag. Thanks
     
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  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    i think i would go with the grand slam the added weight should help to,
     
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  3. Matthew Clark

    Matthew Clark Member

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    My friend I have never hunted Africa so bullet choice I will leave to more experienced individuals.
    Powder however I can elaborate on.
    I have a Ruger No.1 S with a 26 inch barrel in 338 win mag. In it I have tried numerous powders and always come back to IMR 4350. I find the best balance between accuracy and velocity over a wide range of bullet weights and makes.
    I use Sierra bullets for most game with this caliber. Same weight bullets you have but I don't have load data handy
    Good luck!
     
  4. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    i will 2nd the imr 4350. the last 338 my dad had was a ruger 77 and with 4350 the gun was a true 1/2 to 3/4 moa gun. i will look for the data if i have it, i know he liked the speer GS.
     
  5. Flintknapper

    Flintknapper Member

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    I'll pitch my hat in for IMR 4350 as well, have used it in .338 and others for 45 years and it is hard to match.
     
  6. shaggy430

    shaggy430 Member

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    I’ll try IMR4350 first. It’s my go-to for my ‘06 so I have quite a bit.
     
  7. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    I would go with the heavier bullet. It should do fine on all the usual plains game.

    It does somewhat depend on where you're going to hunt. Most shots will be 150 yards and under though I did take one at 400 yards (with a 200 grain Accubond out of a 300 Weatherby Magnum) and a few in the 200 yard range.
     
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  8. Matthew Clark

    Matthew Clark Member

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    It does work beautiful in the 30/06 as well.
    I will say on bullet choice, do not sacrifice accuracy for a tougher bullet.
    My first hand knowledge of Africa hunting is 0 but I read in an article a fella took a gigantic Kudu bull from 250 yds. with an 8mm Rem Mag and a Sierra Gameking bullet. He chose the Gamekings for accuracy over all others. One shot....DRT.
    I believe personally when bullet weight is matched to caliber correctly that the "premium bullets" are a choice and not a necessity. But if they give you accuracy and you want to use them by all means do so.
    Again good luck!
     
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  9. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    I fully agree.

    On my first trip to South Africa, my rifle was a Thompson/Center Encore in 375 H&H Magnum for which I had loaded cheap Speer 270 grain cup and core bullets. Nothing I shot with it got away and nothing needed more than one shot. The score was:

    Impala - DRT
    Blesbok - DRT
    Warthog - DRT
    Blue Wildebeest
    Another warthog
    Zebra - from about 200 yards that ran a few yards and was found in a big pool of blood

    While it's true that a bullet that blows up leaving a superficial would has failed, a bullet that has penetrated to a vital area and then fragments has not failed. A bullet that fragments after penetrating to a vital area is more effective than one that produces the classic and oft wanted mushroom.

    On several trips to Africa, to date, not one of the animals I've hit has gotten away though some have needed more than one shot. That includes the 16 Springbok I took on one trip. I have never agonized over using a "premium" bullet having always made accuracy the most important quality.
     
  10. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    You’re traveling entirely too far NOT to opt for premium bullets. I don’t comprehend paying a premium for a hunt and then cutting cost on arguably the most important component of a clean kill. JMHO.
     
  11. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    Actually, a "premium" bullet is NOT the most important component of a "clean kill." If it were, I would agree with you; that is if what are called premium were really premium. Putting the bullet where it needs to go is the most important component.

    Then there is the fact that purveyors of various goods lie; that could even include bullet manufacturers. Also consider that about everything is premium now. Premium water even. It's hard to believe but they even import water to the United States of America from Norway! My ancestors must be laughing all the way to the bank. Premium usually means the price is premium and not much else.
     
  12. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    When discussing loads and bullets for hunting, one must assume shot placement is good. It's not part of the discussion. What is part of the discussion is how well your bullet will perform on the given game animal. No, in my opinion not all bullets are premium today. Marketing versus reality. If your bullet comes apart before striking anything vital, placement won't make a difference.

    Lots of folks try to save money on bullets and I think it's a mistake.
     
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  13. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    I would argue the exact opposite. Absolute gilt-edged accuracy is not a requirement. It's not even an added bonus. However, a bullet that stays together and does what it needs to do is critical. Sure, you might go forth and fulfill your lifelong dream of hunting Africa and spend $10,000 for the opportunity and have 100% success with old tech, cup & core bullets. Lots of folks have done it. You might also have a bullet failure that costs you a trophy fee and hours if not days wasted tracking a wounded critter. African critters are sometimes tougher than expected but they are also built differently. You also can't always get perfect presentation. Premium bullets are not a guarantee but they are cheap insurance, especially valuable if everything is not just perfect. For me, I'll spend the few extra dollars for that peace of mind.


    So you use a .375 with a heavier bullet on plains game and conclude that premium bullets are not necessary? Had you used a cartridge more suitable to the task, you might think differently. Would you use those same standard cup & core bullets for Cape buffalo? Or would you opt for either a monolithic solid or premium expanding bullet? I know what I would choose.


    That depends entirely on what the bullet is supposed to do. And the bullet that merely travels to the vitals and fragments is probably going to blow up on a shoulder bone. There is no way on God's green earth that I would go to Africa with a bullet that traveled no further than the vitals and fragmented.


    No, putting the RIGHT bullet where it needs to go is the most important. Shot placement is important but so is bullet selection, which is often critical. The two are inextricably linked. Perfect shot placement does no good if your bullet sucks. Your ancestors never worried too much about lost game either. You've never agonized over premium bullets but everything is premium? This is bordering on comical. The irony is palpable. You obviously have no clue what premium bullets are or what they do. Premium bullets are what make your .375 a legitimate dangerous game cartridge, rather than just a decent pinch hitter for the recoil sensitive. Premium bullets minimize the chance of fragmentation. Premium bullets are more consistent in both performance and accuracy.

    Premium bullets do this:
    IMG_0397b.jpg

    Instead of this (lost nearly half its mass):
    IMG_0411.jpg

    And this (Federal HST on the right):
    013b.jpg

    Instead of this:
    IMG_0409.jpg

    Premium bullets like the Barnes, Swift A-frame, Nosler Partition, etc., will often penetrate DOUBLE what your average cup & core bullet does and are far less likely to fragment.

    To take this a step further, here are premium bullets in action. Premium bullets are what takes a good whitetail cartridge like the .44Mag and turn it into a dangerous game getter.

    IMG_066613.jpg
     
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  14. shaggy430

    shaggy430 Member

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    Folk, thanks for the replies thus far. I’m not looking for a premium vs non-premium bullet debate. Of the 3 I posted about- Accubond, Partition, and Grand Slam which would you choose and why? All three have a proven track record of taking large game successfully and were at one time or another considered a premium bullet or still are. I have no desire to use a Barnes bullet as I have had more than one less than satisfactory experience with them.
     
  15. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    For Africa, I would lean on the heavier side, depending on what game you're after. Big difference between duiker and eland. ;)
     
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  16. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    I use Nosler Partitions or Swift A Frames for a good portion of all my hunting. Deer, hog, and even coyotes as I shoot them opportunistically. I even use Winchester Partition Gold sabot slugs and use Partition HGs in my muzzleloader. I am a fanboy of these two bullets.

    I do not like one hole kills or woundings.

    I’ve spent some time in Australia buffalo hunting and a premium bullet put into the boiler all but guarantees a quick kill. Not necessarily so with any cup and core design. I am not a fan of Nosler Accubonds because they do not like to carry through tougher game like Partitions and AFrames. I have had a few "bullet failures" with Accubonds that still killed the game. I would have preferred the bullet not break apart inside the animal though the damage done was impressive, I would have liked an exit wound. This is to say that not all premium bullets are created equally either.

    I really like AFrames. Expensive though at a dollar or more per bullet. I recovered one out of a tree behind the hog I had shot and it had 97% weight retention. It's the only one I have recovered. Partitions all but guarantee fast expansion and around 60% weight retention. I like those numbers myself.
     
  17. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    300 gr Woodleigh Weldcore
     
  18. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    In order

    Accubond or Partition interchangeably, then the Grand Slam.
     
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  19. Matthew Clark

    Matthew Clark Member

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    I apologise if I started that elaborate discussion about bullet performance.
    I just thought it responsible to state that no matter how well a bullet performs, if it lands in the rear haunch due to poor accuracy it's bad news.
    Of the bullets you mention, you are correct, I don't think any of them would be a bad choice but I've always liked heavy for caliber bullets. That's just me and what I would want if I we're going to Africa.
    I wish you the best of luck with your choice and again sorry for the turn the conversation took.
     
  20. LRDGCO

    LRDGCO Member

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    IMR4350 is temp sensitive. Doesn't matter much in the October woods in the northern hemisphere but if you are going to be in 100 F +, H4350 might be better suited.

    I have to agree with CraigC that a sure bet hold together doing its thing bullet is the number one priority. If you've ever seen a Gemsbok, you'll know what I mean: big, dense, tough animals. Very medium plains game, not nearly as big as an elk, but I would want to hit it a lot harder than an elk. I haven't hunted anything but birds and ngiri, (which I assume are the same warthog all over Africa?) in Africa, but I have seen a lot of plains game and they want some hard killing.

    I think you've got the right rifle. I would want a tough, heavy bullet going as fast as it can while allowing me to confidently place shots out to 250 yards. Solid hits that break bones are great first shots.
     
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  21. DM~

    DM~ Member

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    I have quite a bit of experience with .338" bullets in .338-06, .338 Win Mag. and the .340 Wby...

    In .338", I've seen Gran Slams NOT penetrate enough for my liking and I wouldn't/won't use them for bigger big game. We aren't talking white tails here, make a better choice!

    MY choice would be 250 NP's as the best bullet for all around BIG game in .338". It has a track record of giving good expansion and DEEP penetration! And that's exactly what you want a bullet to do...

    DM
     
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  22. shaggy430

    shaggy430 Member

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    I’ve used Grand Slams in the past but understand that the bullet construction has changed. The ones I’ve used were the old style dual core. I’ll take that into consideration.
     
  23. hillman23

    hillman23 Member

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    I've hunted with 250 grain Accubonds in my 338 win mag with great success on deer and elk here in the states. Excellent wounding and VERY short tracking jobs on both 140 lbs blacktails up to 700 lbs elk without a bullet recovered. Not sure how that translates to Africa but I'd love to find out.;) I haven't specifically taken game with any of the bullets you've listed but I'd probably start with the Partitions if it was up to me. The powders that have proven most effective in my rifles are IMR 4831 and Reloader 19 although IMR 4350, Hunter, and H4831 have given decent groups, too. Africa is a dream! Have a great time and keep us posted, if you don't mind.
     
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  24. shaggy430

    shaggy430 Member

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    A little background of why I chose these 3 bullets. A local mom and pop store stopped selling reloading components a few years ago. I was looking for 338 bullets at a couple of the big box stores and decided to stop in there. I asked if they had any old stock and they said they had some odd ball stuff in the back. I picked up a box of 225 Partitions, 250 Grand Slams (new style), and 275 Speer Semi-Spitzers all for $5 per box each. I already had a box of 225 Accubonds. I thought the 275 grain Speers would be a good choice but with them being discontinued I knew I wouldn’t be able to find more. My plan is to do test loads of these and buy more of whatever my rifle likes best.

    Second question, for those of you who have been to Africa, how many rounds did you take with you?
     
  25. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    I’ve hunted South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania multiple times. You are limited by the airlines to 11 lbs of ammo. Check with your airline as they all have specific regs on carriage. The 11 lb limit is universal.
     
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