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What power scope for a .338 Bolt Action???

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by GunNut, Apr 7, 2003.

  1. GunNut

    GunNut Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Washington State
    I'm looking at a Browning A-Bolt in .338 Mag. It has Williams adjustable sights.

    This gun will be used for Elk hunting, and for Moose, Caribou and ?? in Canada or Alaska in the future.

    I'm thinking about a quick detach scope mount so that if the need arises the scope can be removed and the open sights used.

    First question, will the quick detach mounts be strong enough on the .338? If so, what manufacture?

    Second, what power of scope would you recommend? And why?


  2. Warner

    Warner Member

    Mar 18, 2003
    I can offer an opinion on 1/2 of your situation. I scoped out both a .338 and .375 H&H with a Leupold VXIII in 1.5 - 5 power. That is a premium first choice and should handle everything most would ever require out of this class of cartridges.

    Next, and almost as good would be a Leupold VXII in 1 to 4 power.

    A straight 4x may suit you if you don't envision many up-close shots in your future. I wouldn't make the mistake of "overpowering" your rifle with a higher power scope because you'd loose versatility, but way too many people do it these days. Carry a small set of binocs for your game ID's.

    My hots for Leupold should be obvious, but it comes from a bit of trial and error, especially with the variables.

    For a looksie at some quality mounts, check out Brownells

    Last edited: Apr 8, 2003
  3. nextjoe

    nextjoe Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Detroit area
    If it were mine, I'd use a Leupold, either a fixed 4x, a 2-7x, or a 1.5-5x. The only scope mounts I use are Talleys. Expensive but well worth it.

  4. JStordahl

    JStordahl New Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Gun Nut:

    Though I like the Leupold 1.5x5, I would choose a little more magnification because the .338 is a long range cartridge. I guess I'd go with a matte finished 1.75x6, or the 2.5x8, or even the 3.5x10. Just my 2 cents.
  5. Soap

    Soap Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    I would go for a 1.75-6x or so variable. Since it is for large game, the lower magnification stuff should be great. You'll probably just keep it on 1.75x the entire hunt anyway, but in case you have to make a longer shot (or want to verify the size of the animal better) you can crank it up.
  6. 444

    444 Senior Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    My .338 Win Mag is wearing a Leupold fixed 6x. There are a number of reasons why I chose this scope. First of all, I read a couple articles about fixed 6x scopes; one thing that was interesting was that 6x is the highest magnification that transmits all the available light to the eye. Any more magnification and the light transmission is limited. After reading the articles it occured to me that Carlos Hathcock used a fixed 6x as his sniper scope in Vietnam. I have to assume that he used it in all types of conditons from dense jungle to more open terrain. From distances fairly close out to that shot at over 2000 yards with his scope mounted on an M2 Browning. I also realized that when I was hunting with a variable scope, I usually had it set up six power. I like magnification and over the years, I sort of just learned that six power was the most magnification I could have and not limit myself for close range moving shots. In fact, the last two elk, and the last deer I shot were all shot with the scope on six power. Both elk were in heavy timber and both were moving. One was running flat out, the other troting. I had no problem at all hitting both of them on the first shot, in the vitals with 6x.
    The reason I chose that particular scope is that at the time (I don't know about now), the 6x was the only Leupold fixed power scope that used their multicoat 4 lens coating. After getting this scope, I consider it the best scope I own. I like it better than all my Vari-X IIIs and have considered trying to get a couple more of them to replace the variable Vari-X IIIs on some other rifles.
  7. dakotasin

    dakotasin Senior Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    leupold 2-7 or fixed 6. i prefer just a touch more magnification than many...

    for mounts, i would reccomend talley.

    i noticed that in nearly all my hunting, i have my variables turned to 6... it seems to be about right for me for everything from the wide open prairie, to the dense trees and brush in the black hills...
  8. WYO

    WYO Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    If you're talking about using it as a close quarters dangerous game rifle, then a scope with a very low end is probably a good idea. If you are planning to use it for general purpose shooting, then a general purpose scope such as a 3x9 may be better. My current general purpose scope is a 2.5X8 Vari-X III. Traditionally, I have kept all of my scopes on the lowest power, and dial them up when the need arises.
  9. HankL

    HankL Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    The Sunny South
    The Talley Q.D. rings on a Ruger #1 in 45-70 Govt. have given me no problems at all using Ruger's factory cantilever base during two years of hunting. Given well mounted Talley bases on your rifle I can see no reason for you to expect any problems.

    As others have said the 338 Win can perform at considerable ranges. Steve, you will need to ask yourself which power scope you want relevant to what you have in mind. My take is this. You are getting Williams adjustable sights so for shooting in the aspens or willows they should be just fine at any range that your own eyes can identify your quarry as a keeper. Leupolds 3.5x10 is my favorite scope for hunting, plinking etc. down here in the South where ranges can vary quite a bit. A combination of your Williams sights and the 3.5x10 would take you most anywhere you want to go. If you end up needing more or less scope for a particular application just get another set of Talley rings and the scope to fit that application. You can swap around because the Talleys return to zero very well after dismounting/remounting.
    Of course, check zero if you can.

  10. swifter

    swifter Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Southern CA mountains
    I shot my .338 for years with a Bushnell 2-8 on it, worked very well.:D Right now its wearing my B&L 4-16X50. When I change it, in my eternal game of musical scopes:eek: , I'll probably look for a 4-12 or 4-16, I like a little more magnification, and the only big game I hunt anymore is antelope.

  11. cratz2

    cratz2 Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Central IN
    Yeah, I guess like so many times when advice is sought, it depends on what sort of hunting you are planning. The 338 is often used as a long range hunting cartridge as opposed to a killing great big animals fairly closely.

    Unless you're planning on seeking out shots longer than 300 yards, I'd probably stick with in the 1-4, 1.5-5 or 2-7 power ranges. In general, I really like the 1.5-6x42 European scopes. They're a bit heavier and larger than the 1.5-4x20 but allow for close up use and 6x should be able to get you pretty far out there. The Kahles isn't too expensive but certainly isn't a budget piece.

    Be sure to check SWFA's Sample List for some great prices on slightly used optics. Some great deals pop up from time to time.
  12. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    North Central Florida and Miami Florida
    One thing to bear in mind, is the probable range you will be shooting at. I think where I hunt, in heavy Florida cover, anything over 6x is just not going to used. I have had a Pentax 2 x8 scope on a custom Mauser for years. ( 7X57 Mauser, Ackley Imp.) The rifle is fully capable of taking deer at 400 yards, but the longest range I am likely to shoot at here is about 150. I don't feel I need a 4 x 12 scope.
  13. BusMaster007

    BusMaster007 Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    Upper Left Coast
    There's some good advice here, as always.

    My .338 Win.Mag. is a Remington 700 BDL-DM (pre-embellished 1995 blued version) which I put into a factory synthetic stock.
    If I keep this rifle, I may change the stock to a Hogue, and also change the scope and mounts. Haven't decided yet. The attached photo is of the rifle in its factory wood stock.

    For a scope, I chose a Redfield Lo-Pro Widefield in 1.75-5x20 in Redfield JR 1-pc. base and JR low rings. All this when Redfield was its old self.
    I didn't plan to remove the scope.
    The scope is fine for this application and I have adequate eye relief with no scope cuts to show.

    Another choice down the road for this gun, if I don't trade it off for a .375 H&H..., might be a Leupold Vari-X III in 2.5-8.
    Yet another would be NIKON's 2-7, which is reputed to be one of the clearest and brightest scopes.
    I have both Leupold and NIKON scopes on other rifles.

    The fact is, the Leupolds have better eye relief, (This is important for eyeglass wearers, like me.)
    nicer packaging, and the Golden Ring---worth its weight in gold for the snob factor. I finally gave in and saw why. I feel SO dirty now! ;)

    I still consider the NIKON line, though, as they look brighter than the Leupold to MY EYES.
    Here's a link to NIKON hunting optics:

    Have fun shopping! It can drive a guy nuts. :banghead:

    Attached Files:

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