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Thread: 338-06 What do you think?

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    Member Silver Tip's Avatar
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    Default 338-06 What do you think?

    What's your opinion of the 338-06 for an all around rifle for Alaska or the western US. How does that compare to the 35 Whelen or the 338 Win mag.....

    Silver Tip
    "If we lose freedom here, there is no other place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth." ...Ronald Reagan.....please never forget this!!!

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    I've owned and used all three fairly extensively. "On paper" my pick of the litter would be the 338-06 Improved, but always with an eye toward bullet selection. There are bullets out there intended for higher velocities, and though they're fine at closer ranges in a 338-06 or Improved, their expansion wanes and become erratic as the range stretches. Considered purely from the bullet selection standpoint, I think the selection of suitable bullets is better for the 35 Whelen, or as I prefer, the 35 Whelen improved. There just aren't many bullets around that are "too tough" for it at longer ranges. The 338 Win is certainly a worthy round and gets around the tough bullet problem to a large degree, I prefer 5 rounds in the magazine rather than 2. For me the extra trajectory and energy of the Winnie aren't a good tradeoff for the shorter magazine.

    But this is like so many things in hunting. Ask 100 guys a question and you'll get 150 heated answers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Tip View Post
    What's your opinion of the 338-06 for an all around rifle for Alaska or the western US. How does that compare to the 35 Whelen or the 338 Win mag.....

    Silver Tip
    I own and use all three though I have favored the Whelen more the past few years for one reason or another. The difference in terminal performance between them is difficult to measure IME. The 338 WM shows a definite increase in external ballistics, but loaded with an appropriate bullet in the 35 Whelen or 338/06 the end result is the same so far as I can tell. Carrying a 338/06, I'd not feel undergunned in southwest AK hunting anything with the lone exception of hunting around salmon streams for brown bears.

    If I were going to carry my 338/06 for general purpose hunting around here I'd almost certainly choose the 185 grain TTSX or the 210 grain NPT. Loaded appropriately I could kill anything I come across out to any sane range.
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

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    I like the 338-06 very much and as a "one gun" rifle it would certainly be fine. I like it better than the Whelen and I really wish it would get more commonly available in the general market. 5 down in a rifle like a M70 Fwt would make it portable and carrying plenty of firepower.

    I actually like it better than the .338WM which I believe is too much of a good thing most of the time for most game. Like 1 Cor I would load it with 210NPTs or 180ABs for lighter game.

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    338-06 is a fine cartridge indeed and there is good bullet selection for hand loading.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Tip View Post
    What's your opinion of the 338-06 for an all around rifle for Alaska or the western US. How does that compare to the 35 Whelen or the 338 Win mag.....

    Silver Tip
    The only difference you will see between between the .338-06 and the .35 Whelen is that the 338-06 operates at slightly higher chamber pressures, and retains a little better "paper" performance down range due to things like higher sectional density and ballistic coefficients from identical weight bullets. I don't think critters learn enough Calculus IV to really tell the difference between the two when hit by one or the other. Both can be had with Ackley chambers.

    BTW, one of my buds has a Whelen. He's DLP'd probably three bears with it that I've seen using 225gr Sierra GameKings traveling at what the chronograph keeps telling us is about 2300fps on average. They've all dropped like big sacks of taters when hit.
    Now what ?

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    338-06 is a fine cartridge. Comparable to the 35 Whelen in most respects. The 338 Win Mag will outperform both because it burns substantially more powder. I generally avoid Ackley"improved" versions because the velocity gains are marginal. If I want my bullet to go faster, I buy a bigger gun and avoid specialty dies and non standard chambers. If you read Ackley's manuals, he basically says to not bother because the gains aren't worth the trouble. I agree with that thought.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunbugs View Post
    338-06 is a fine cartridge. Comparable to the 35 Whelen in most respects. The 338 Win Mag will outperform both because it burns substantially more powder. I generally avoid Ackley"improved" versions because the velocity gains are marginal. If I want my bullet to go faster, I buy a bigger gun and avoid specialty dies and non standard chambers. If you read Ackley's manuals, he basically says to not bother because the gains aren't worth the trouble. I agree with that thought.
    I agree about the ballistics, but that's not why I'm using them. They give me quite a bit longer case life than I experienced with the standard version of either caliber. I probably am not pushing the pills any faster from the AI than lotsa guys push their standard version, but with less case trimming and about half again the case life. My bug, and I'm certainly not saying anyone else has to live that way.

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    I have a338-06 ACKLEY improved and love it, as for the comment of the ballistics dont really improve, well I an shooting a 250gr barnes TSX with a load of H414 and getting a velocity of right 2600-2625 FPS with no pressure signs and very accurate. A factory 338 win mag will push that weight at around 2660 that is for a factory Federal Premium 250 partition. True mine are a handload but it shows what can be done with an -06 case, plus since mine is a custom 03-A3 springfield I have 5 rounds in the mag under the bolt and a 338 win mag usually has a 3 round mag. POWER BONUS 338-06 ACK for rounds avail and less than 100ftlbs difference.
    As for the 35 whelen I looked at building one of them as well but the bullet selection was no where near what the 338 has, and most established reloading manuals with published loads have a hard time reaching 2500 fps with a 250gr bullet but everyone that lists the 338-06 in non improved form has several 250gr loads that make 2500 fps. So im my humble opinion if you can push a 250 gr .338 bullet fasted than a 250gr .358 bullet with a lower BC and SD the .338 bullet will penetrate deeper and will fly farther. Hate to say it but it is only a matter of ballistics and fact. That being said if I had a 35 whelen would I be sad Hell no Id just have another gun to mage the perfect for the situation load for, If I had one I would probably decide it was a moose/bear 200/250 yrd gun and would never look at a bullet under 250gr, I would keep them heavy and accurate and punch a good hole in a moose, Frontal area has something to be said for it.

    All in All if I wanted a one gun toy I would have a
    300 win mag---faster flatter shooting
    338-06 ack--- 99% of a 338 win mag with more round in the mag
    338 win mag--- 338 win mag nuff said
    or anything in the mix of these class cartridges

    I klove my 338-06 ACK improved if you go the 338-06 way I am guessing you reload so just go the improved version you can shoot standard 338-06 ammo with no issue and then you can load for the stars, PM me for any info

    HUNT HARD HUNT SAFE
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    I gave up on magnums years ago. I think it was 358 Norma on a Springfield action that made me understand they weren't necessary to kill stuff.

    I have a .358 Wn, 35 Whelen, 338-06, and 356 Win in a 336 Marlin. What do I like best...my Tikka in .338 Federal which is not much behind any of the others and I have a 23" barrel 6.5 lb gun with a Leupold 2-7x compact...a dream to carry and not bad to shoot. I believe a 210 gr NPT will do justice on anything in the lower states and probably in AK too.

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    I shoot a cooper excaliber in a 338-06. I load up 210 barnes TTSX. I get a modest speed pf 2700FPS with that bullet. The one thing that I really liek about it is that I get that speed with 53.5 grains of powder so barring I don't spill any I should get 130 round per pound of powder. I have only shot bears with it, but they have all dropped in there tracks. It is my go to NON mountain gun. For that I use a 280 AI that I had built by Stan Jackson. If I had to sell one of the rifles I would give up the 280AI and the 338-06 I think is a fine round for alaska. Now I'm not hunting coastal grizzly, but if you pick the shot I don't see why it wouldnt kill them just as dead as a 375 H&H.

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    250gr barnes TSX with a load of H414 and getting a velocity of right 2600-2625 FPS
    That's pretty respectable for a 250gr boolit. Those velocities are probably what most 180gr factory .30-06 loads are running.
    Now what ?

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    If I were to do it all over again, I probably would go the .338-06 route instead of buying a .338 Winchester Magnum. Still kick myself regularly for giving up my Remington Model 600 in .350 Rem. Magnum. It never caused me the problems my 1970s vintage Winchester Model 70XTR has. Being as I have a supply of the old 275 grain Speer bullets, sticking with the .338 Win. Mag makes sense. These are a bit too heavy for the '06 case capacity.

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    Member 58dranger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevelyn View Post
    That's pretty respectable for a 250gr boolit. Those velocities are probably what most 180gr factory .30-06 loads are running.
    Ya its probably a bit warm but multiple manuals list loads in excess of 2500 with the standard version 338-06 the ack has around 7% more volume to drop the pressure. the problem I found with the TSX is it is sooo long that H414 was the only powder I could stuff enuff into the case with our crazy compression. I have thought about going back to a lead core bullet like the swift Aframe for a little more case room. I was loading H4350 but ran outa room before I got to max charges due to powder density.

    Either way I love this gun think My 300 Win mag just got dethrowned as my favorite hunting rifle for anything that is in sane shooting distances


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    Regardless of what the reloading manuals may say or what it looks like on paper, there is no real world practical difference worth mentioning between the 338-06 and the 35 Whelen. Either one is completely suitable for all Alaskan game. Comparing either one with the 338 Win Mag is apples and oranges due to the difference in powder capacity. The 338 Win Mag is a fine cartridge, but I don't personally feel that it has any particular advantage over the other 2 in actual hunting situations.
    I'm somewhat biased toward the '06 family, so take my opinion FWIW. In addition to an '06 and 35 Whelen, I also hunt with a 270 Win. My next project will most likely be an 8mm-06.
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    Quote Originally Posted by walk-in View Post
    Regardless of what the reloading manuals may say or what it looks like on paper, there is no real world practical difference worth mentioning between the 338-06 and the 35 Whelen. Either one is completely suitable for all Alaskan game. Comparing either one with the 338 Win Mag is apples and oranges due to the difference in powder capacity. The 338 Win Mag is a fine cartridge, but I don't personally feel that it has any particular advantage over the other 2 in actual hunting situations.
    I'm somewhat biased toward the '06 family, so take my opinion FWIW. In addition to an '06 and 35 Whelen, I also hunt with a 270 Win. My next project will most likely be an 8mm-06.
    Keep us posted on that 8mm-06. Lots of those conversions from 8x57 to 8mm-06 were done to surplus rifles following WWII, and I was around a couple of guys that had them. They were proud, and I'm more than a little curious what one would do today.

    As for your observations on the other cals vs 338 Winnie, we're reading out of the same book. Truth be known, if I need more than either a Whelen or 338-06, I grab one of my 375's. The 338 Winnie is a fine round, but all mine have gone down the road.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    The 338 Winnie is a fine round, but all mine have gone down the road.
    I hear you on that one... I find that if I think I want more than my .300 I just go straight to the .375 That's not to say the .338WM isn't a good round- it is and with modern bullets better than ever- but it's more than I want for caribou or moose and if I'm thinking about big bears it's not enough.

    I've had a couple of .338wm but they never held my interest for long- but since my taste in guns is cyclical I'll probably end up with another.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    ...but since my taste in guns is cyclical I'll probably end up with another.
    Man, you said a mouthful there!

    It's scary to think how many times I let something go, only to replace it years later at much higher cost when my interests cycled back around again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    Keep us posted on that 8mm-06. Lots of those conversions from 8x57 to 8mm-06 were done to surplus rifles following WWII, and I was around a couple of guys that had them. They were proud, and I'm more than a little curious what one would do today.
    It may be a year or so before I get to it, but I have an old sporterized Mauser donor rifle. My intent is re-do/restore it to a post-war style sporter. I can't think of a much more appropriate caliber for what I have in mind.
    We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.
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