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Thread: .338-06 how good?

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    Default .338-06 how good?

    The 338-06 seems to have an almost mythical following. If it is a superior cartridge, what actually makes it better than an 35 Whelen or even the .358 Winchester? Whilst considering a replacement for my 35 Gibbs I perused reloading manuals for Barnes and Nosler as I think that these are the bullets most suitable for these cartridges and larger game. The ballistics for 225 grain bullets are almost identical , plus or minus 50-70 fps or 0.4 inch difference in bullet drop at 300 yds with a 200 yd zero when using the top load as an example. In reality at the loading bench I would guess the .358 to be marginally behind the .338 in turn marginally behind the .35. The best performing load ( by the numbers) would appear to be the 35 Whelen with 250 grain Barnes x.

    I doubt that there is an animal or person in existence that would notice the difference. So what makes the .358 woefully inadequate and the .338-06 perfect for large game and even bears?

    Even the little blurb at the start of loading page states that the .338-06 starts 210 grain bullets 100fps slower than the .338 mag. When you check the numbers the loads are 170-300 fps slower.

    None of this should bee seen as a criticism of the cartridge, which is, I believe, an excellent one and the one I will likely go with if the new .338rcm turns out to be all hype. Is it more body taper, a better bore/capacity ratio or a sufficiently large shoulder that make it better? The choice of quality .338 bullets is a factor, but that makes the cartridge a better choice, not an intrinsically better cartridge. What am I missing? Other than personal preference which I completely understand but don’t care about in the context of this rambling question. Again please don’t consider this to be a criticism of the 338-06.

    And lastly for you reloaders, what is the honest, safe max velocity for a 250 grain Nosler in your rifles?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by 35gibber View Post
    ......what is the honest, safe max velocity for a 250 grain Nosler in your rifles?
    I don't have data for the 250 Nosler, but with the 225 grain Barnes TSX and IMR 4350 I get 2587 fps safely in my custom Remington 700 .338/06. I also get 1 MOA out to 200 yards.

  3. #3
    Premium Member shphtr's Avatar
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    Default For one of my 338-06

    I shoot 210 gr. Barnes TSX with Varget and from a 24" barrel the best accuracy is at 2900 fps as I recall - currently at work and shooting logs are not here with me. With my 35 Whelen Imp. and 225 Nosler the most accurate loads run 2750 to 2800 fps.

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    There applications where the 35 Whelen beats out the 338-06 and there are applications where the opposite is true. There are also applications where other calibers on that same case will beat out both. The 6.5-06 would certainly be better for an antelope hunt.

    Now the question is; Which caliber is the best for the broad spectrum of applications.

    To compare the 338-06 and the 35 Whelen with bullets of equal weight, we can select the right powder that will give an edge in velocity to the 338. Also the 338 will have a slight edge in SD and therefore, slightly better penetration. I doubt that any animal will know or show any difference. Better velocity and SD will flatten the trajectory slightly and those things will make the 338-06 a better choice. The 358 Winchester can never achieve the energy levels of either of the '06's above.

    The 358 is a problem child for the simple reason that no bullets in factory ammo are worthy of the task for big bruins. 200 grain power points do not make a bear gun. And when handloading with good bullets of adequate weight, powder space is so limited that it makes it a 30-30 velocity gun. There is no reason to compare any '06 length case with the 308 because there isn't enough room for powder to make it competitive. The 358 with good bullets is a great caliber but it's popularity is really because of it's use in carbines and it is an up close and handy rifle in that regard, not a bear slayer. If we are just talking about ballistics as reason for which caliber and staying with the '06 case, the 375 would be better by far than the 35 or the 338 when in good bear country. Obviously other factors must be considered. The weight and portablity of the rifle, recoil and the availability of components and ammo usually come into consideration.

    Now while we are on the subject of magical calibers lets talk about magical bullets. The magic of the 338-06 and the Whelen come from their ability to perform very well with plain Jane bullets. Core-Lokts. Sierra pro hunter cup and core bullets. When after big bears a good bonded is in order but just about everything else responds very well to standard bullets. At these velocities the tougher Swift A-frames and Barnes X's do not expand well and especially the X bullets tend to leave pencil size exit holes. I shot 8 animals one year with this caliber and and Barnes X's and all made small exits. Good penetration for sure but no expansion. Yes they all died, so no bullet failure there. The point is premiums aren't needed.

    The 338-06 will drive a 250 partition at about 2530 fps from my 23" barrel and my 35 Whelen with 24" barrel would not reach that velocity with a 250 grain. I've seen similar results between the two in other guns. The partition is a faster bullet for any given pressure than the Swift or the Barnes, due to the jacket material and construction, that's just the way it turns out.

    I have a few favorite bullets for the 338-06 and I hunt with two different guns, one AI the other standard. The 210 partition at about 2800 fps (Std), the 225 Sierra prohunter FB (cheap bullets) at 2720 fps and the 225 grain Kodiak at about 2700 fps. The latter would be my heavy bear load of choice in the caliber. I have hunted with the 338-06 since about 1982. I've loaded thousands of loads for several different rifles, it is the only improvement ever made on the 30-06 case.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  5. #5

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    Thanks for your reply, I don't suppose that you would let the cat out of the bag on what powder you use to get 2700 out of a 225 partition? my Nosler manual has a max load of 60 h414 for 2590fps and my experience is that one usually falls short of the manual velocity. Everything you say makes perfect sense but my barnes manual has the .358 225g max load at 2576 with n201 and the .338 225g at 2574 with xmr 4350. (2713fps in the 35 whelen) Are pressures lower as it is technically a wildcat and no lab test pressure data is available?

    Thanks also for partially answering my next question which was .338 bullets are naturally designed for the velocities produced by the .338 mag and so, would 225/250 barnes expand reliably at 200+yds from a slower cartridge? That is why I like partitions, they expand relibly a lower velocity but have the lead behind the partition to drive through.

    I should probably have indicated my intended use for said cartridge which is Elk/moose/caribou in bear country. So i would likely want a 225 or 250grain partition. I don't know where to find Kodiak bullets in Canada.

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    Murphy that was good. Wish I can write that good. Anyways I choose to carry "premiums" in my .338-06's either 250 Kodiaks or the "then" 225grn North Forks. It is not better bang for my bucks just good penetration and bullet weight retention.

    The time I used Mikes 225/.338 bullet on my nice bull this past fall for example was all that I could have asked for. The first shot cleared him good thru the left front shoulder and out the opposing rib. Thought the "jump" he made after the shot was a "stinger" as some young willows were betwixt him and me. The follow up shot on him running gave me abit of a window between the front shoulder and the ham. Kind of a quartering away type deal. Anywhos I downed him and whooped deda dit for awhile-know how that goes?

    Found one bullet, the only bullet - the one that caught him running in the ham. Busted thru the ball joint and went foward aways but not much and I cleaned it upon inspection and weighed it-189grains. The bonding process was very good to say the least but do to the encounter of the big bones the bullet no way appeared to have a nice mushroom.

    Not always an animal goes down the way you want so I figure the premiums help get it done the best way the are made to-straight on thru with the necessary weight needed.

    I will look again into Swifts for my shooting needs before too long, the NF's are truly one of the finest bullets I have ever reloaded and shot. Had lots of hopes for their use in my diverse hunting arms.

    regards,

    edit: a true "meat gun" after the hind end shot and observations of the wound channel I can say that with this combination one can eat right up to the wound channel(two thumbs up!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by 35gibber View Post
    Thanks for your reply, I don't suppose that you would let the cat out of the bag on what powder you use to get 2700 out of a 225 partition? my Nosler manual has a max load of 60 h414 for 2590fps and my experience is that one usually falls short of the manual velocity. Everything you say makes perfect sense but my barnes manual has the .358 225g max load at 2576 with n201 and the .338 225g at 2574 with xmr 4350. (2713fps in the 35 whelen) Are pressures lower as it is technically a wildcat and no lab test pressure data is available?

    Thanks also for partially answering my next question which was .338 bullets are naturally designed for the velocities produced by the .338 mag and so, would 225/250 barnes expand reliably at 200+yds from a slower cartridge? That is why I like partitions, they expand relibly a lower velocity but have the lead behind the partition to drive through.

    I should probably have indicated my intended use for said cartridge which is Elk/moose/caribou in bear country. So i would likely want a 225 or 250grain partition. I don't know where to find Kodiak bullets in Canada.
    There's no secret I use RL-15 and H4350 (H not AA or IMR, they are totally different powders even though approximate burn rate) for the 225 grain bullets. H414 is too slow for the caliber. The 210 and 225 partition do perform very well at the 2600-2800 fps velocity range. Often the nose section will be intact at the longer ranges. The 225 is my preferred heavy for the 338-06 because I can keep it in the velocity range of the 180 grain '06 and give the same trajectory and use same bullet design. I shoot all my calibers in about that range. In other words I pick a bullet that will give about 2800 fps. I know that trajectory very well. From the field the 210 or 225 shoot close enough together to keep the same trajectory numbers but the 225 hits harder. The kodiaks and partitions are made for the same velocity envelope. They are both tougher than the Sierra prohunter but not so much that they won't perform well at these velocities. The super tough bullets just wont expand in soft tissue at the rate of the kodiaks/partitions. I would not use the stronger bullets. They do behave much better in the various 338 mags. Even though the various maunfacturers give velocity ranges that start as low as 1800 fps I don't find that to be the case. The partition and the kodiak will expand at that velocity. This isn't a guess, I've seen it many times, I know they work well in the 338-06.

    The kodiaks are made in Juneau, Alaska. I have several of them in 338 caliber. Can I send them to Canada to you? I can ship Wort hog teeth, wooden spoons and knives to and from Canada. Why not some little pieces of lead? The number for Kodiak is 907.789.3834. Give mike a call, maybe he can ship to you.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  8. #8

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    I keep on hearing about the great 338-06, & how it comes within a hairs breath of the mighty 338WM. So lets put the facts down. Just how close is the 338-06 to the 338WM?

    The way I see it is. 338WM has allot more powder capacity, which basically equals allot more thump.
    Am I wrong? Enlighten me.



    340

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    Quote Originally Posted by 340Wby View Post
    I keep on hearing about the great 338-06, & how it comes within a hairs breath of the mighty 338WM. So lets put the facts down. Just how close is the 338-06 to the 338WM?

    The way I see it is. 338WM has allot more powder capacity, which basically equals allot more thump.
    Am I wrong? Enlighten me.
    I think it's all relative. The 338 WM does indeed hold more powder, therefore higher velocity, more recoil and noise.

    338-06 Velocities
    • 210 grains 2750 fps
    • 225 grains 2675 fps
    338 WM Velocities
    • 210 grains 2900 fps
    • 225 grains 2800 fps
    For comparison I thought the 308 Win vs 30-06 would be interesting:

    308 Win Velocities
    • 165 grains 2750 fps
    • 180 grains 2675 fps
    30-06 Velocities
    • 165 grains 2900 fps
    • 180 grains 2800 fps
    I got the data from Hodgdon's web site, notice the number are the same. I did some rounding (15-20 fps max) to make it easy to see the similarities.

    The point is, some like to pack a 308 Win vs 30-06 for the same reasons some like the 338-06 instead of a 338 WM. I have a 338 WM and love it, but one of guns at the top of my "next guns to get" is a 338-06.

    Woody

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wa Woody View Post
    I think it's all relative. The 338 WM does indeed hold more powder, therefore higher velocity, more recoil and noise.

    338-06 Velocities
    • 210 grains 2750 fps
    • 225 grains 2675 fps
    338 WM Velocities
    • 210 grains 2900 fps
    • 225 grains 2800 fps
    For comparison I thought the 308 Win vs 30-06 would be interesting:

    308 Win Velocities
    • 165 grains 2750 fps
    • 180 grains 2675 fps
    30-06 Velocities
    • 165 grains 2900 fps
    • 180 grains 2800 fps
    I got the data from Hodgdon's web site, notice the number are the same. I did some rounding (15-20 fps max) to make it easy to see the similarities.

    The point is, some like to pack a 308 Win vs 30-06 for the same reasons some like the 338-06 instead of a 338 WM. I have a 338 WM and love it, but one of guns at the top of my "next guns to get" is a 338-06.

    Woody
    I agree. All your numbers look good. It ain't a 338 Win mag. That of course is both a pro and a con. It doesn't kick like one either. I said it was a great round and it is for sure but it will never reach the power level of the mag.
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    I don't think a .338-06 should be compared to a .338 mag. It should be compared to the .30-06. With .338 bullets as light as 160 grains there is a good deal of overlap to compare. For Alaska hunting the .338-06 is a "better" -06.

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    Well said. This is one caliber I been wanting to build up in a rifle for years and havent done it.
    It very well could be the best all around caliber for hunting Alaska.
    Peyton, Colorado

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    Well said. This is one caliber I been wanting to build up in a rifle for years and havent done it.
    It very well could be the best all around caliber for hunting Alaska.
    X2! I also think it's an excellent caliber for much of the lower 48.

    Woody

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    What rate of twist would you folks recommend for this caliber if 95% of the bullets are 210-225 grains?
    Peyton, Colorado

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    What rate of twist would you folks recommend for this caliber if 95% of the bullets are 210-225 grains?
    This talk about .338-06 has got me salivating and scheming about the next build too. First, I need to get my .338 RUM delivered and squared away. I believe 1:10 is the standard and a versatile twist rate for most .338 caliber bullet weights. Here is a link to Dan Lilja's site, see what he says about it. http://www.riflebarrels.com/products...wist_rates.htm


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  16. #16

    Default .338 comparisons?

    It may be fair to compare the various .338s depending upon what you want to do with them. As has been discussed ad-nauseum, velocity can be the enemy of bullet construction and performance. If your hunting typically involves shots at less than 100 yds then a 210 barnes at 3000fps might not be ideal. But a 250 partition at 2400 would. I recently read an article by an African guide who downloads his .375H&H to 2400 believing that penetration is more reliable at that velocity. (given that his clients shots are 90% of the time taken at 50-75 yards.) I will never see enough large/dangerous game shot to conduct my own study so I have to glean as much info from others and filter the BS as best I can using my own experience. I have seen Moose and Elk reliably taken with 6.5 X 55 and .270win and honestly couldn’t tell the difference between these “small” calibers and 7mm and 300 win mag when used for said animals.

    So like many I am looking for a rifle to take large ungulates reliably from 50 to 250 yds and if I have to, discourage a bear from making a meal out of me at 25-50 yds. After some reading I have come to believe that a 225 to 250 grain bullet at medium velocity is a better defence option than a 180 grainer at 3000+ fps, and that the same 250 grainer will easily dispatch a moose at 200 yds with less bloodshot Jello………. if I do my part. The .338 mag is without question a superior cartridge past 250 yds but in my life I have shot just 1 animal at that distance. I have seen bears absolutely flattened at 40yds with soft lead shotgun slugs at 1500fps so what do you do? I think that the 338-06, 35 whelen, 9.3 X 62 class of cartridge is the way to go for me and hope I live to not regret it!

    The velocity/energy/killing power/ bullet performance envelope discussion goes on partly because it is complicated and perhaps ,understandably, not well understood. Why do dangerous game rifles throw big bullets at moderate to low velocities and Varminters small bullets at very high velocities? The difference between stopping and just killing etc.. The subject is fascinating. I have made my choice but am always interested in the forums many opinions.

    Cheers

  17. #17

    Default .338-06 how good?

    Years befiore I bought my first chronograph, I developed a load for the .338 Win. using a 250 gr. Nosler Partition spitzer. I used it enough to become proficient with it in most shooting situations. Long shots were done on target ranges out to 400 plus yards. I mostly killed game within 200 yds and it worked ok. I took a trip to Wyoming to hunt trophy elk with some friends. We hunted for a week without seeing an elk. Then we found a herd of 20 or so, with two beautiful 6x6s in it. After a long stalk crawling in deep snow I managed to get to where I could cover their escape route. Two fellows from Pennsylvania were shooting at them from 600 to 700 yds. on the other side of them. The elk were attempting to climb a ridge to safety, and I had a shot at one of the bulls at about 450 yds. I had a good rest, held high and in front of the bull and let fly. He went down fast but got up and went in some brush. He couldn't climb with the herd. An hour later I found him, still alive; I killed him and then found my
    original shot passed through both lungs without opening. The bullet acted like a military round. My killing shot expanded fine. When I obtained use of a chronograph, I tested those loads and found they were leaving the muzzle at about 2400 fps. They were accurate, but wouldn't open up at 400+ yards. With that particular rifle, I could not achieve "factory velocity" or even within 150 fps of it with any 250 gr. load. It wasn't accurate with any lighter bullet. When the .300 RUM came out I went to that and relegated the .338 Win. to the role of brush gun, and it is good at that. Ballistically, it is about equal to the .338-06. Great moose gun.
    The Pennsylvanians? 700yd. marksmen? They were using .30-06 rifles and 165 gr. Nosler partitions as I found out later. They did manage to put one bullet (two of them fired about 40 rnds.) on the other 6x6 elk, cutting a major artery on the elk's rear leg. It grew dark and they couldn't find the bull until the next morning, after the coyotes had gotten to it. They were able to save the cape and some meat. Lesson: Use a chronograph and know the real ballistics of your rifle. Borrow one if need be. They are everywhere these days. Use a rifle and load adequate for what and where you are hunting. Don't shoot so far? Ridiculous. If one hunts in wide open country, one will have to be proficient at making long shots. Period. Know the velocity, trajectory, use the right bullet, and dope the wind. But a .338-06? Deadly medium range rifle with the right velocity matched to the right bullet. Use the 210 gr. Nosler partition for most game. For bigger animals up close, use the 225 Partition. Or try a 225 gr. Barnes triple shock for up close. Forget the long shots on big animals.
    For 95% of Alaskan shooting, the .338-06 and .35 Whelen are hard to beat and I could live with either one if I had to. But there is that other 5%..........
    Jack.

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    Murphy, I've followed your threads for some time on this great website. This is my first post. Alot of what you have said about the 338-06 AI had a hand in my decision to have one made by a fellow here in Saskatchewan. It will be used for Moose and Elk. I'm loading 225 gr Hornady IB followed by 61.0 gr of H4350. They graph at 2725 and group around 1 in. Seems perfect to me. Lend me your thoughts. Cheers.

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    61g H414 with 225gn Swift A-frame Winchester 30-06 cases CCI standard primer 2610 fps 20" bbl 3 shots in 0.6" at 100yds.

    210gn Nosler Partition has not grouped well in my personal rifle. I would like it to work, but no luck so far. The 180gn Barnes look interesting. The 225 has worked very well for me on game. Have not tried anything heavier.

    I would be equally happy with a 35 Whelen, 375-06, or 400 Whelen. All are just "better 30-06" cartridges for AK. Moderate recoil with a bigger hole and more thump, not a "magnum replacer". Don't become another member of the "75,000psi club" , and I know a few who are, use a larger case. The only reason you need to buy another gun is, because you want another gun. j

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