Moose hunting... 338 RCM ain't dead to me yet

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by JeeperCreeper, Sep 24, 2022.

  1. JeeperCreeper

    JeeperCreeper Member

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    When I moved to Alaska, I jumped around with options for hunting because nothing made me happy

    Ended up with the early Ruger Guide Gun (I think). It's the stainless M77 chambered in the proprietary 338 RCM. Got the rifle cheap and scored a clearance bulk of ammo at $12/box.

    The 338 Ruger Compact Magnum is basically a 375 Ruger necked down to 338, meant to mimick the 338 Winchester Magnum in a short action beltless cartridge.

    The cartridge was only produced by Hornady as far as I know and is basically defunct like many Ruger/Hornady tag teams.

    But, alas, I have a powerful, reliable, handy rifle in a good cartridge with much ammo.

    So I took it hunting.

    Got a bull on the run at close range, shouldered and then double lunged it. The Hornady SST round looked like a baseball cut through the lungs.

    I'm a believer. Great round in a great package. Let's hope my ammo supply lasts a few more seasons before I have to reload.

    But truly, I'm thankful for my family that allowed me to get on this hunt, regardless of the rifle I used.
    Screenshot_20220922-180317.png
     
  2. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    Sweet rifle and beasty!

    Only note for those that dont know the cartridge is that rhe 338rcm is shorter than the .375 ruger by a noticeable amount and manages to do its work from a short tube and magazine.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2022
  3. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    The 338 RCM was one of the better short magnums, I just don't see much of a future for it. But if you can get brass for it reloading is always an option. It may be based on the 375, but that is like saying the 243 is based on the 30-06. It is much shorter and obviously a smaller caliber.

    Shortly after Winchester introduced their 300, 270, 7mm and 325 Short magnums in 2000 they were sued. It seems Winchester stole someone else's idea. For a short time, you could get the WSM cartridges in Remington, Weatherby, Savage, and Ruger rifles as well as Winchester. But once the lawsuit was settled anyone making a rifle in any of the WSM cartridges had to pay a royalty to the guy who originally came up with the idea.

    Winchester was required to keep making the rifles. But Ruger decided to make their similar RCM line of short magnum cartridges. They were enough different that they weren't sued. Remington developed their Short Action Ultra Magnums. This allowed Remington and Ruger to make a similar rifle cartridge and avoid paying the royalty.

    I always thought it was a good idea, but it didn't catch on as well as hoped. The lawsuit was a big part of that. After the suit Winchester didn't push them hard and everyone else dropped them and/or developed a similar cartridge. And rifle manufacturers didn't build suitable rifles.

    The concept was to give near 300 WM, 7mm Rem mag, or 338 WM performance (about 90-95%) but from lighter, shorter, more compact rifles designed to carry in rugged terrain. But when choosing between a 338 RCM and a 338 WM in rifles that were the same length and weight most guys just bought the more powerful rifle. Kimber was the only manufacturer that figured out that those cartridges were better suited in a lighter, more compact rifle. And all of the short magnums do pretty well in shorter than standard barrels.

    The Ruger in 338 made a lot more sense than Winchesters 325. There just aren't many good 8mm bullets, but tons of good 338 bullets. I liked the 338 RCM a lot better than the 325 WSM.

    Winchester sold enough 300 WSM's and 270 WSM's that factory ammo will probably always be available for those 2. And occasionally I see spurts of interest in them, but for the most part everyone who wants one already has one. The other cartridges are probably doomed to be reloading only cartridges.
     
  4. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    I got one of the Ruger carbines on clearance from CDNN. Also saw the writing on the wall and stocked up on loaded ammo and brass. I like it very much and planned on using it for elk, another trip that got put off indefinitely due to COVID. With handloads it really more closely duplicates the .338-06. albeit with a shorter barrel. Definitely a more compact package than any .338WM. Top to bottom, 77MKII .270, 77 Hawkeye .250 and the .338RCM.

    IMG_6567b.jpg
     
  5. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    That's a fine set of rifles there... Craig..

    Years ago, back in the seventies when my brother first moved up to Alaska... he did a bunch of research while he was learning to be a dedicated homesteader about the rifles he'd need (don't believe they ever relied on any grocery store for their meat...). His final choice for the field in general purpose was a 375 H & H caliber and eventually he had three of them. That choice was made for two reasons - the very real problem of interior bears coming to the sound of a rifle shot where he was - expecting a meal - and that there was a well established supply of ammo for that caliber wherever you were (and this was long before he took up handloading). For moose (one a year every year if at all possible) caribou two a year every year usually at long range, and small black bear in season (berry bears for roasts and stews...) this was his main heavy weapon. No it wasn't really needed for most of his game (with the exception of big bears - always a possibility and most probably at close quarters in heavy alder thicket type situations, and moose on foot at all too close distances up along timbered hillsides...). Of the game meat I've tried - the moose was my favorite...

    My brother passed away this year in early June and I'm still down here in south Florida - he was always the hunter - I'm still the fisherman... I was only able to visit him up there one time in all those years but we talked regularly about this or that. he was very knowledgeable about rifles - my interest was always shotgun - he hunted in the field in every condition - all I ever hunted had two legs and lived in cities...
     
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  6. JeeperCreeper

    JeeperCreeper Member

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    That's a great point, and something I noticed in the reloading manuals.

    The 338 RCM, with it's secret Hornady proprietary blend, can't keep up with factory box loads when it comes to reloading. Or I should say "claimed" factory performance.

    I did have some Hornady Superformance powder for it, but there is only printed data for 300 RCM and I never contacted Hornady.

    Plus, I'm sure the universal Superformance powder will be different than factory Superformance loads for a given cartridge.

    Thank goodness I have a few dozen boxes of ammo!!
     
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  7. robin banks

    robin banks Member

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    greedy rick jamison was the guy that sued and bankrupted winchester. I say the 7mm WSM was the best of the bunch. US army rifle team set records with it even before the unbelievably high BC bullets in 7mm came out at 1000 yds. it has the best combo of gilt edge accuracy and wide range of bullets combining high BC and SD for any game or targets with moderate recoil
     
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  8. JeeperCreeper

    JeeperCreeper Member

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    I always liked the WSM.

    I remember reading about them in the gun mags when I was a kid and obviously the marketing hype really impacted my 11 year old brain.

    If I ever start reloading, the 270 WSM is on the short list
     
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  9. JeeperCreeper

    JeeperCreeper Member

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    Double post
     
  10. Roverguy

    Roverguy Member

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    Congratulations. Quite a fan of the 375RM so not surprised at the worth of its “little brother”. Dig those shades in your photo :D
     
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  11. JeeperCreeper

    JeeperCreeper Member

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    Haha yeah I think they are polarized haha
     
  12. DM~

    DM~ Member

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    Over all the years I lived in Alaska, spending time in the bush hunting all over Alaska, after firing literally hundreds of rounds in the field, I never even one time had a bear come to the sound of a shot.

    DM
     
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  13. JeeperCreeper

    JeeperCreeper Member

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    I've heard that myth as well, never personally met anyone it happened to

    Allegedly, it "might" happen on the islands with deer hunting like Kodiak

    But we were in dense bear country and we never even got anything on our gut piles
     
  14. DM~

    DM~ Member

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    I hunted Kodiak and the islands around there, also the islands in Prince William Sound, never had it happen.

    DM
     
  15. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    I know a guy that had a bear come in on his moose kill while they were dressing it.
     
  16. Roverguy

    Roverguy Member

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    There was a recent article in Sports Afield about some chap who had three bears come in while he was field dressing a deer on Kodiak. Had to shoot two of them and scarpered when the third came in. Pretty scary story!
     
  17. DM~

    DM~ Member

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    I've been charged by brown bear, but never after firing a shot or while butchering an animal.

    One time while flying in the get the rest of a moose I shot, a bear was munching on my pile of moose meat. As I hiked to my meat pile, the bear grabbed a quarter and took off running through the swamp grass. I ran after it, and when I started closing the distance, the bear dropped the quarter and got away, I was going to shoot the bear and take it too, but all I got back was the meat I cut off the quarter, the bear had taken. lol

    All of this other "stuff" probably did happen, but I'm betting it isn't common, or for sure, not something I'd worry about.

    DM
     
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  18. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    I've heard two first hand accounts of bears running in towards a gunshot in Alaska, and one in Montana. All of them were later considered to be that individual bear, not all bears out there.
     
  19. crstrode

    crstrode Member

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    Best Moose I've ever taken was with a 2000 Mercury Grand Marquis. merc killer.png
     

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  20. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    Ditto….
     
  21. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    I wonder if it's more the smell of blood than the sound of the shot.
     
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