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Thread: 300 vs. 338

  1. #1

    Default 300 vs. 338

    Hey, maybe I'm just totally ignorant, but is there really such a difference between the 300 win mag and the 338 win mag when it comes to terminal ballistics? I mean, the 300 will send a 200-grain bullet (density of 301) @ a bit over 2800 fps. The 338 sends a 225-grain bullet (density of 281) @ a bit under 2800 fps. So the 300 has the advantage of both density and velocity, while the 338 has an advantage of .038 (ed. .338) caliber. All things considered, doesn't that balance things out? Especially when you consider that an a-frame expands 2x anyways?
    Last edited by Murphy; 07-13-2006 at 09:10.

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    Default LOL

    O god,,,,here we go...

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    you are not ignorant and you're assumtions are correct. Some people will not have the tolerance to continually help someone out-don't mind them. I am of the same mind. I think a .30 cal 200grn on up will rival any .33mag up to the 225-250weight. I still believe that a well made .338 with handloads is perfect - they both are a fitting caliber and either will suffice for most or all Alaskan hunting enviroment. So long as you do your own part. I have loaded up some Woodleigh .30/240grn and think they are the creme-de-la-creme of the .30cal. weights in my .30-338win mag.

    regards,

  4. #4

    Arrow 300 or 338

    I think grizz pretty much nailed it on this one and like him I think a 338 is about perfect especially with a good handload and would edge your 300 with heavier bullets in the up close and personal department but there again your comparison was with 200gr.30caL AND 225gr.338 and in that comparison I agree with you and grizz but keeping in mind everyone has an opinion and you will surely get some different ones on here and that's one of the things I like about this forum different opinions.Good shooting Ronnie.

  5. #5

    Default

    I'm a fan of long bullets and high SD for penetration, feeling they're at least as important as suitable contstruction. That's based on following a lot of wound channels through game, as well as lots of shots into test mediums and researching credible accounts.

    You'll get no argument from me.

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    This is a comparison of the two calibers from Ammo and Ballistics.

    300 WM, Federal 200 gr Nosler Partition-HE
    Velocity 2930 fps, Energy 3810, Taylor K-O 25.8

    338WM, Federal 250 gr Nosler Partition-HE
    Velocity 2800 fps, Energy 4350, Taylor K-O 33.8

    Taylor Knock-Out Value = weight X velocity X bullet diameter

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    Default 300 vs 338 Ballistics & TKO

    As with most discussions about comparing ballistics of one caliber to another, we need to compare apples to apples, etc. The heavy bullet for the 30 caliber is 200 grains the heavy for the 338 caliber is 250 grains. Now sectional densities are about equal. 30 caliber with .301 vs .313 for the 338. We also have 220 grains for the 30 and 275 grains for the 338 of about equal SD's. With sectional density and velocity about equal and good bullet construction suitable for the velocity, Bore diameter is the factor for gauging performance. In other words the bigger the bore diameter, the harder it hits. Now, before you jump on that, look at the equal SD and Vel. With equal SD, weight has to go up with bore diameter. There are other ways to do this as well. I would say that I would prefer a 30 caliber 200 grain over a 338 caliber 200 grain as the SD numbers for the 338 would be very low. That would also give higher velocity since a lighter bullet for the 338 but will likely expand the bullet more quickly and lessen penetration so killing power will be reduced when compared to the 30 caliber 200 grain load. Sectional Density is always a factor.

    I will agree the 30 magnums show an increase in field performance with the heavier bullets but I don't think it is on a par with the 338 Win mag and the 250 grains.

    As Les pointed out the TKO value is a factor. I do like the Taylor K.O. index, or value or whatever it is called but it gives no merit to Sectional Density. But I think in his day all bullets were "heavy for caliber" bullets. And, even though his math and physics are flawed, he comes up with valid numbers as to comparisons of calibers which seem to closely match field performance.

    By "flawed", I mean his formula is TKO=M*V*d/7000 this comes from the formula for momentum (P=M*V) so it directly relates to momentum and bore diameter, which is certainly valid.

    M is mass and mass is weight in pounds divided by the acceleration of gravity (about 32 ft/s) in his formula he calls M the weight of the bullet in grains.
    Grains/7000=pounds, so he's on his way there. So it's really W*V*d, and the 7000 is used as a scaling factor, which makes a convenient quantity with which to judge each caliber evenly. I think the TKO is a good gauge with which to judge how a particular caliber will perform in the field. Sectional Density and bullet construction are then the limiting factors for this performance.

    Muzzle Energy is more a product of velocity than anything else and can be increased greatly by a little boost in velocity. I don't like the energy calculation much because it halves the mass and squares the velocity. It is certainly a part of the field performance but also can be a negative factor as well because at higher levels it puts more stress on bullets at impact and can literally destroy the mechanism we rely on to do the work, the bullet. To me, on it's own, it is the least useful indication of actual field performance. Now, many high energy calibers drop 'em like the hammer of Thor, but these calibers also have very high TKO numbers too.

    Well this is fun and this physics lesson is brought to by your friendly neighborhood Shooting Forum...you can't get this performance anywhere else.

    Good shootin'.

    Murphy

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    Good lesson in ballistic physics, Murphy.
    There is a good bit of difference between the 300WM and the 338WM when comparing heavy for caliber bullets. This is where the 338WM really has the advantage on heavy game.
    Les

  9. #9

    Default 300 vs. 338

    Drat, I just ran out of popcorn!

  10. #10

    Default Experience on Elk

    I usually shoot my elk with a 338 Win Mag and most of my buddies use a 30. cal (anything from an 06 to a 300 Ultra). It seems that my 338 hits a little harder and will penetrate deeper. I've never recovered a bullet from my 338. This is comparing 225 grain 338s vs 180 grain 300s. This is somewhat subjective, but I think it is true (OK I'm a little biased since I have the bigbore).

    The fact is that both of these guns will kill the biggest bull elk just as dead as the other. The key is hitting the animal in the right spot.

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    The main advantage of the .338WM over the .300WM is when bullets from 225 grains to 300 are used, since these have much more SD than lighter bullets. The .300WM duplicates the lower range ballistics of the .338WM with bullets from 160 to 220 grains. It's the same with a lot of cartridges. For example, the .338WM kicks on the hills of the .375H&H when bullets from 230 to 300 grains are used, but the .375 H&H does much better than the .338WM with the heavy bullets around 300 grains. Even so, none of these cartridges can completely duplicate the ballistics of each other.

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    call me a loyalist to the .30 caliber irregardless of the Taylor formula. Field performance is still the test of any caliber. If I can still place my shot in the sweet spot you can't tell the difference between the .30's or the .33's given the right bullet and load for the animal hunted. If I am "really" afraid of big hairy things then I would go to my .45-70-it is still around after "all these years" and in theTim Thumma knock out formula that is a round beyond compare but we are not talking that comparison. Field "terminal" ballistics. Man I just hate bloodshot meat!
    just my .02 ----

  13. #13

    Default

    Hey guys,
    Thanks for your help. I have another question which may seem slightly off-topic... does SD effect expansion? In other words, I know that a bullet of higher SD will penetrate further, but will it expand less because of its density? For instance, a 250 gr. 338 bullet will penetrate deeper than a 225 gr. 338 bullet, but will the 225 gr. expand more quickly because of its lower density?
    Just curious- THanks!

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    It's kinda like comparing a sedan to a truck, you can play around with numbers to show that one can do what the other can, but in the real world they each have their place.

    To me, 30 calibers and under when used against large game, you can either have penetration, or wound diameter, but you can't expect to get both consistantly, because you can only throw so much bullet. Once you start getting consitant exits, and 30's do that with good 180 gr bullets, heavier bullets don't buy you anything, as a 30 will only open up so large, no matter how long the bullet shank.

    Having talked to several guides, I've come to the conclusion that for large game with thick fur, say a wet brown bear, you can't expect to get consistant blood trails, which goes back to you either get penetration or wound dia, but not both.

    The 338 and larger on the other hand, do provide both penetration and wound dia, and consistant blood trails.

    So, you can certiainly use a 300 against the largest critters, and it'll usually work quite well, just as you can fit a cord of firewood in a sedan, but neither are the best solution to the task at hand.

    For black bears, caribou, sheep, goats and blacktail deer, I can think of few chamberings I'd rather have than a 300 mag. For moose, muskox, bison and brown/grizzlies, I can think of few reasons for taking a 300 over a 338.

    I'm much more impressed by day in day out good conditions and bad conditions results vs paper balistics.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by go_north
    Hey guys,
    Thanks for your help. I have another question which may seem slightly off-topic... does SD effect expansion? In other words, I know that a bullet of higher SD will penetrate further, but will it expand less because of its density? For instance, a 250 gr. 338 bullet will penetrate deeper than a 225 gr. 338 bullet, but will the 225 gr. expand more quickly because of its lower density?
    Just curious- THanks!
    Sectional density only applies to bullets of a given caliber and construction, bullet construction is a much more important factor in penetration than sectional density. If you took a 150 gr 30 cal solid, a 165 gr partition, and a 180 gr varmint bullet (they don't make them that heavy but for the sake of argument) the 150 gr solid would penetrate the most deeply, followed by the 165 gr partion, and the varmint bullet might not make it to the vitals.

    For your 338 example, if you used a 225 gr barnes TSX, you'll get deeper penetration than a conventional cup/core 250 gr. The reason is the barnes will retain all or nearly all of it's weight, whereas the 250 gr conventional bullet may loose 100gr and end up being a 150 gr bullet that doesn't exit.

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    Default Gettin' Deep...er

    North2AK,

    SD is not anything magical. Let's try another analagy. A needle has very sectional density. It takes very little weight to get it to penetrate into the muscle of ones buttox. Apply that to bullets.

    If there is no expansion or deformation of the bullet and all weight and velocity is the same, bullets with higher sectional density will penetrate more. A 200 grain 30 cal vs 200 338 will go deeper. This is just an edge in our favor and it helps. There is no way to predict the exact performance of any bullet in any animal. There are just certain things that help and higher SD is one of those things. Now as for expansion vs SD, no, not directly. Higher energy at impact, with a given bullet design, will cause more expansion. Higher energy can be had with higher velocity and/or greater weight. More bullet weight brings more SD (if staying with the same caliber) so there may be an indirect correlation between SD and expansion.

    Heavier for caliber bullets, in any caliber, under the same conditions and same type of bullet construction, will always penetrate deeper than lighter bullets of the same caliber. Think about that a while. Good shootin'.

    Paul,
    Could you further explain this: Feel free to elaborate. I am not saying I disagree, just want more clarification.

    Thanks,
    Murphy

    For your 338 example, if you used a 225 gr barnes TSX, you'll get deeper penetration than a conventional cup/core 250 gr. The reason is the barnes will retain all or nearly all of it's weight, whereas the 250 gr conventional bullet may loose 100gr and end up being a 150 gr bullet that doesn't exit.
    07-14-2006 14:24

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    I will add the following: even though a 200-grain .30-caliber Partition has greater SD than a 210-grain .338-caliber Partition, the one of the two launched at a slower velocity has the potential for greater penetration. This is not always true, but in most cases the slower bullet will out-penetrate the faster one because the reduced speed will retard expansion for a fraction of a second.

    The same principle is used in the design of cartridges such as the .338 Sabi, and others: relatively soft and heavy-per-caliber bullet to enhance penetration on soft-skinned game.

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    Default Velocity and Penetration

    Ray,

    I would agree with that. Slower will penetrate more. Lower velocity is lower energy and lower energy doesn't expand as quickly. And, as Paul said, bullet construction will make all the difference. Strongly built bullets expand slower and penetrate deeper. Higher velocity rifles need stronger bullets. All we can do is talk in general terms about what would be better, there are a great number of variables from caliber to bullet to target media. What we do is go the same way with two or three variables and hope for the best. Each animal will behave differently when hit with the same bullet from the same gun. Just shoot 'em. Good shootin'.

    Murphy

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    I am an avid fan of the 300 win mag and have shot numerous animals with it. It is my steady companion when I go to Kodiak deer hunting. But.............last year my son and I were being stalked by a huge browning while we were in the middle of a snow storm. The same bear stold a deer from us.
    After this experience I am having a 338 WM built. The 300 is a great round but it does not inspire much confidence when you feel you may have to defend your self against a huge bear. Give me 250 grains of lead any day for an up close and personal encounter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe
    I am an avid fan of the 300 win mag and have shot numerous animals with it. It is my steady companion when I go to Kodiak deer hunting. But.............last year my son and I were being stalked by a huge browning while we were in the middle of a snow storm. The same bear stold a deer from us.
    After this experience I am having a 338 WM built. The 300 is a great round but it does not inspire much confidence when you feel you may have to defend your self against a huge bear. Give me 250 grains of lead any day for an up close and personal encounter.
    A 250-grain A-frame should work very well for bears, or a 275-grain A-Frame out the muzzle around 2,400 to under 2,500 fps should work even better at closer range.

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