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Thread: Ranking Brown Bear Bullets for 338-06

  1. #1
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    Default Ranking Brown Bear Bullets for 338-06

    Just got done reading the thread by SBC on Brown Bear bullets for 35 Whelen , to say I am confused is defintitly an understatement.
    I am in the process of having Superior Ammunition Load some rounds for me to try but do want to match the proper bullet that will perform the best.

    Would like opinions on bullets I should select (maybe the 5 best) for Brown bear.

    Going on a once and a lifetime trip this spring for Alaska browns and Blacks and do not want to Use the Wound-Loss Policy.

    Thanx
    CapnJack

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    Default barnes

    I would use the 225 gr Barnes TSX. Looks like the 338-06 pushes it at about 2600 fps.

    1. Barnes tsx 225gr
    2. swift a-frame 225gr
    3. bonded bear claw 225
    4. any bonded bullet (accubond,interbond,scirroco) 250gr
    5. nosler partition 250gr

    With the a-frame and the bear claw I would not go with the 250 gr. I would like a little move velocity so they would open up more. They are very hard bullets. Seen bear claws poke small holes through moose.

    Should be a good discussion...
    Good hunting

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    As you've seen in the other thread, I'm currently sporterizing a mauser that I hope to convert to 338-06 in the near future.

    You're correct: if using A-frames, or anything else that tough, go 225 gr. Actually, 225 gr. is sufficient in .338, having an SD of .281. You ought to be able to squeeze 2700+ fps out of these bullets... enough to open them up.

    I think that 250 gr. bullets, w/an SD of .313, are even better. It beats the SD of 200 gr. 30 caliber bullets, 300 gr. 375 caliber bullets, etc.
    The 338-06 can push these to better than 2550 fps (use a 24" barrel).

    At these velocities, I doubt you could beat the Woodleigh weldcore. Their Protected Point (PP) version has a high BC, and retains velocity well.

    Sure, you could use a bullet that holds together better (like the A-frame), or you could use a bullet that expands better (like the Hawk), but for the ideal balance between penetration and expansion in a big bear, using a 250 gr. .338 bullet @ 2500 fps, I'd look to the Woodleigh PP.

    (my second choice might be the 225 gr. A-frame loaded as hot as I could stoke it)

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    Quote Originally Posted by SBC View Post
    As you've seen in the other thread, I'm currently sporterizing a mauser that I hope to convert to 338-06 in the near future.

    You're correct: if using A-frames, or anything else that tough, go 225 gr. Actually, 225 gr. is sufficient in .338, having an SD of .281. You ought to be able to squeeze 2700+ fps out of these bullets... enough to open them up.

    I think that 250 gr. bullets, w/an SD of .313, are even better. It beats the SD of 200 gr. 30 caliber bullets, 300 gr. 375 caliber bullets, etc.
    The 338-06 can push these to better than 2550 fps (use a 24" barrel).

    At these velocities, I doubt you could beat the Woodleigh weldcore. Their Protected Point (PP) version has a high BC, and retains velocity well.

    Sure, you could use a bullet that holds together better (like the A-frame), or you could use a bullet that expands better (like the Hawk), but for the ideal balance between penetration and expansion in a big bear, using a 250 gr. .338 bullet @ 2500 fps, I'd look to the Woodleigh PP.

    (my second choice might be the 225 gr. A-frame loaded as hot as I could stoke it)
    Generally I agree with your thinking here. With this caliber and it's limited but more than adequate velocity potential, we must consider the ideal velocity for performance and select a bullet accordingly. Just about everybody claims the bullets will expand at velocities from 1800 to 3000 fps. The is a much more practical range of dependable expansionand penetrations. The TSX's real, not imagined, attributes lie in these factors. It is generally lighter than the next competetor. (i.e 225 vs 250) and can be driven faster. That energy helps. In the 338 the 225 grain has substantial Sectional Density (.281) and even at higher velocities it does not expand much. These are good things for this animal. Expansion is a great thing but sometimes penetration is more important. There is however little evidence that the TSX would be a better killer from any angle than the well proven (to me) Swift A-frame of the same weight.

    By another mind set the Woodleigh or Kodiak bonded in 250 grain weight would come in a close second to the other two. Here again at this limited velocity of the 338-06. I can't speak to the effectiveness of the bonded-come-lately's such as Scirocco, Accubond, Interbond except to say they would likely have the highest and most useless characteristic of all, that being, Ballistic Coefficient. No serious bear hunter would give a rat's wrinkled rump about the BC of his bear bullet. This mainly because hunting bears is an up close and personal adventure. And even if we stretch the practical range to say 200 yards, BC is still such a minor consideration as to omit it from the desirable traits of a bear bullet.

    Now for 338 bullets for bears, in general I would always say use the 250's or 275's because weight does matter. But that would be for the many 338 magnums with enough case capacity to boost velocities up near 2750 with that weight. Our lovely little 338 on the ought six frame won't get there and it would be counter productive to go to lighter bullets to up the velocity. Sometimes more velocity does not make the batter better. The terminal end is far too tough to overdrive a bullet and expect good results.

    For the 338 mags. I'd always opt for the 250 A-frame. For the 338-06 I think a tough 225 grainer is the answer.

    1) The TBBC is probably still the toughest but needs velocity to expand quickly would likely exit. (225 grains) They are awesome at magnum velocities but almost solids at lower velocity.

    2) The A-frame or the TSX are likely tied for number two on this toughness scale and strong enough for the 338-06 velocity.
    (225 gains)

    3) The NorthFork is the same construction as the TBBC but slightly softer and will expand more quickly. (225 grain)

    4) The partition has been around the longest and has an unblimished reputation when fired at these normal velocities. (250 grains)

    5) Woodleigh in the 250 weight is ideally suited for this game and velocity and could swap places with the partition. (250grains)

    6) The bonded Kodiak is also about tied with the previous two. It should also be used in the 250 grain weight.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Very, very informative post Professor Murphy...we just had a graduate level lecture from a real expert. I am always in awe of your expertise and extremely appreciative of your generosity with us. Thank you, sir.

    P.S. It's good to see that you ranked the TSX right next to your beloved Swift A-Frame...I know...I know...it's a highly qualified placement in this case.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Generally I agree with your thinking here. With this caliber and it's limited but more than adequate velocity potential, we must consider the ideal velocity for performance and select a bullet accordingly. Just about everybody claims the bullets will expand at velocities from 1800 to 3000 fps. The is a much more practical range of dependable expansionand penetrations. The TSX's real, not imagined, attributes lie in these factors. It is generally lighter than the next competetor. (i.e 225 vs 250) and can be driven faster. That energy helps. In the 338 the 225 grain has substantial Sectional Density (.281) and even at higher velocities it does not expand much. These are good things for this animal. Expansion is a great thing but sometimes penetration is more important. There is however little evidence that the TSX would be a better killer from any angle than the well proven (to me) Swift A-frame of the same weight.

    By another mind set the Woodleigh or Kodiak bonded in 250 grain weight would come in a close second to the other two. Here again at this limited velocity of the 338-06. I can't speak to the effectiveness of the bonded-come-lately's such as Scirocco, Accubond, Interbond except to say they would likely have the highest and most useless characteristic of all, that being, Ballistic Coefficient. No serious bear hunter would give a rat's wrinkled rump about the BC of his bear bullet. This mainly because hunting bears is an up close and personal adventure. And even if we stretch the practical range to say 200 yards, BC is still such a minor consideration as to omit it from the desirable traits of a bear bullet.

    Now for 338 bullets for bears, in general I would always say use the 250's or 275's because weight does matter. But that would be for the many 338 magnums with enough case capacity to boost velocities up near 2750 with that weight. Our lovely little 338 on the ought six frame won't get there and it would be counter productive to go to lighter bullets to up the velocity. Sometimes more velocity does not make the batter better. The terminal end is far too tough to overdrive a bullet and expect good results.

    For the 338 mags. I'd always opt for the 250 A-frame. For the 338-06 I think a tough 225 grainer is the answer.

    1) The TBBC is probably still the toughest but needs velocity to expand quickly would likely exit. (225 grains) They are awesome at magnum velocities but almost solids at lower velocity.

    2) The A-frame or the TSX are likely tied for number two on this toughness scale and strong enough for the 338-06 velocity.
    (225 gains)

    3) The NorthFork is the same construction as the TBBC but slightly softer and will expand more quickly. (225 grain)

    4) The partition has been around the longest and has an unblimished reputation when fired at these normal velocities. (250 grains)

    5) Woodleigh in the 250 weight is ideally suited for this game and velocity and could swap places with the partition. (250grains)

    6) The bonded Kodiak is also about tied with the previous two. It should also be used in the 250 grain weight.
    Someting to think about... I tend to agree that a heavier bullet in general and with in reason is a better bullet for large and possibly dangerous game. But... is a heavier bullet always heavier? Is a 250 gr A Frame heavier than a 225 TSX? the reason I ask this is because most non-monometal bullets give up to 30-50% of their mass in fragmentation on impact, especially when encountering material like bone. The reason a heavier bullet is better for larger game is because it has a greater SD and more momentum for greater penetration. When a bullet sheds it's mass it looses SD and momentum. True, the shrapnel will do some damage, but if I were a bear hunter I would prefer penetration to collateral shrapnel damage. Sooo... would a 225 TSX be a better penetrator than a 250 A Frame or Partition and therefore a better bear killer? Thoughts?

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    My experience is in the North Fork 225 in my .338--06, at 75 yds I done a pass thru but the shot was a possible miss but.....the 58" bull moose done a jump. Perhaps a sting or in response to the blast report. It took off and and gave me a stove pipe shot as the only opportunity, I took the shot. Busted the ham knuckle and penetration was past the knuckle and still in the ham. Bullet weighed in at 189 grains, fully mushroomed but seriously deformed-it held up. No real meat damage either so for a meat gun you can't beat it.

    The barrel of my rifle is 20" and fully bedded from stem to stern sota speak. The stock was done by Bill Soverns and metal work done by Clearwater Reboring. I was never after speed just accuracies and at 100yds it was right at .6", could have been better with a more powerful scope but the need was for in close.

    Now knowing what I know now would I change bullet? Don't think so, old school velocities showed that many of the historical rounds in the 2500fps range have killed everything that has walked or flied from one side of the world to the other. If I ever change bullets I too suspect strongly that I would lean toward the Barnes. They have never failed me in the past irregardless of the petals were intact or ripped off in impact-they have worked.

    North Fork is back! www.northforkbullets.com

    I have another .338-06 housed in a Win. Mod. 70 with a PacNor barrel built for my oldest daughter but never done much with it until she has the need to hunt with it....hopefully soon. Barrel break in was a breeze, bout 15 rounds or so it cleaned up nicely-mirror like.

    I know some are pushing the .338-06 close to the win mags but if they have the need for speed then they should try for the .338 win mags then. I have 2 in my home but like my .338-06's, 9,3 or the .30 Rem or .30-06---they have killed moose and grizz with ease. It is always marksmanship plus bullet make up and your skill as a hunter that make the trip successful.

    oh well, just another few cents worth of my time.

    best regards,

  8. #8

    Smile good choices.....

    There are lots of good .338 bullets for the .338-06. I think about any of the Nosler Partitions or Swift A Frames between 210 and 250 grains would be a good brown bear load. If I was using a X bullet it would be 210 or 225 grains. Most of my animals since the 70's were shot with the Noslers. In the late 80's I started using the Barnes X. They both work good. I won't live long enough or have enough of a chance to use them all. Woe is me!

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    Quote Originally Posted by grizz106 View Post
    My experience is in the North Fork 225 in my .338--06, at 75 yds I done a pass thru but the shot was a possible miss but.....the 58" bull moose done a jump. Perhaps a sting or in response to the blast report. It took off and and gave me a stove pipe shot as the only opportunity, I took the shot. Busted the ham knuckle and penetration was past the knuckle and still in the ham. Bullet weighed in at 189 grains, fully mushroomed but seriously deformed-it held up. No real meat damage either so for a meat gun you can't beat it.

    The barrel of my rifle is 20" and fully bedded from stem to stern sota speak. The stock was done by Bill Soverns and metal work done by Clearwater Reboring. I was never after speed just accuracies and at 100yds it was right at .6", could have been better with a more powerful scope but the need was for in close.

    Now knowing what I know now would I change bullet? Don't think so, old school velocities showed that many of the historical rounds in the 2500fps range have killed everything that has walked or flied from one side of the world to the other. If I ever change bullets I too suspect strongly that I would lean toward the Barnes. They have never failed me in the past irregardless of the petals were intact or ripped off in impact-they have worked.

    North Fork is back! www.northforkbullets.com

    I have another .338-06 housed in a Win. Mod. 70 with a PacNor barrel built for my oldest daughter but never done much with it until she has the need to hunt with it....hopefully soon. Barrel break in was a breeze, bout 15 rounds or so it cleaned up nicely-mirror like.

    I know some are pushing the .338-06 close to the win mags but if they have the need for speed then they should try for the .338 win mags then. I have 2 in my home but like my .338-06's, 9,3 or the .30 Rem or .30-06---they have killed moose and grizz with ease. It is always marksmanship plus bullet make up and your skill as a hunter that make the trip successful.

    oh well, just another few cents worth of my time.

    best regards,

    So well said and from one very knowledgable. Thanks for that input, Timothy. Much appreciated, your degree of experience and knowledge.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc View Post
    Very, very informative post Professor Murphy...we just had a graduate level lecture from a real expert. I am always in awe of your expertise and extremely appreciative of your generosity with us. Thank you, sir.

    P.S. It's good to see that you ranked the TSX right next to your beloved Swift A-Frame...I know...I know...it's a highly qualified placement in this case.

    Aw shucks, Doc. Thanks for the kind words. There may be hope for the TSX yet, it is still a study.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    So Murphy,

    You'd choose 225 gr. A-frame over 250 gr. Woodleigh for big bears in this cartridge?

    I'm still deliberating...I'm open to being persuaded... could you discuss, in greater detail, what tips you that way?

    According to the program I used, the 225 gr. A-frame, if it leaves the barrel at 2700 fps, dips below 2500 fps at around 85 yds! At 200 yds, it's down to 2250 fps. If using a lesser bullet, that's no problem. But we're talking about the A-frame... we're talking about a bullet that's too tough to expand reliably below 2500 fps. For an up-close-and-personal defense round, it may be fine... but if hunting, shots over 85 yds. are entirely concievable.

    Am I all wet? You seem to know what you're talking about better than most, Murphy, so I'm all ears for your take on this...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    So well said and from one very knowledgable. Thanks for that input, Timothy. Much appreciated, your degree of experience and knowledge.
    Murphy, after all my years in the village(s) after graduating from Lathrop soooooo many yrs. ago it has been either moose or bears. Going from one rifle or caliber to another using what bullets I had on hand to yrs. down the road then into reloading - bullets/caliber was a new study point. Nothing has changed tho in downing an animal.

    Murph, I have not desire to hunt another species of animal(s) other than them lil' tuskers aka. warthog. I'd like nothing else other than to hunt with my handgun-now that would be tight! One of them new words my boys say often.

    Say, how long you are going to be out of state?

    Merry Christmas my friend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SBC View Post
    So Murphy,

    You'd choose 225 gr. A-frame over 250 gr. Woodleigh for big bears in this cartridge?

    I'm still deliberating...I'm open to being persuaded... could you discuss, in greater detail, what tips you that way?

    According to the program I used, the 225 gr. A-frame, if it leaves the barrel at 2700 fps, dips below 2500 fps at around 85 yds! At 200 yds, it's down to 2250 fps. If using a lesser bullet, that's no problem. But we're talking about the A-frame... we're talking about a bullet that's too tough to expand reliably below 2500 fps. For an up-close-and-personal defense round, it may be fine... but if hunting, shots over 85 yds. are entirely concievable.

    Am I all wet? You seem to know what you're talking about better than most, Murphy, so I'm all ears for your take on this...
    A good question but understand I would not have an arguement against the 250 grain Woodleigh. I would take the A-frame because it will expand less, it will expand, all these bullets will expand at 2500, some more than others. The Woodleigh will expand more at 2500 than the A-frame will at 2700. When a bullet expands it puts the brakes on and slows quickly (!??!?), comes to a stop sooner, penetrates less. How much less? Well if we slow it down, energy level is less so it doesn't expand so much and it penetrates more. At the muzzle the Woodleigh will not penetrate as deeply as it would at 100 yards. This of course is true for all the bullets, but at the same impact velocity the A-frame will expand less than the Woodleigh. If we shot the 250 grain Woodleigh at an impact velocity of 2700 fps and the 225 A-frame at 2700 the A-frame will penetrate more because it will expand less than the Woodleigh. Even though the Woodleigh has a greater SD number and greater weight, momentum and energy. It is this energy level that causes expansion. Now of course I can't prove this to be 100 reliable but my experience with some bullets is extensive, these two I have used a lot.

    I once shot a big lioness with a 375 (improved) and 300 grain Kodiak at about 2650 fps, at a distance of 30 yards. Massive wounding, no exit. Second shot, same results. I later shot a larger lion at the almost exact same point on the shoulder but at about 130 yards and with the 375 H&H and the same bullet loaded to about 2550 fps. Complete exit. That impact velocity was about 2400 fps vs 2640 fps in the first example. Now we cannot ever exactly duplicate a shot in the field but this was pretty close. The exit on the second shot was because the impact energy was less and expansion was less, penetration was more. We can't predict at what distance we will get a shot so the bullet must be matched to the muzzle velocity and the game we seek.

    Also some one remarked about bullets loosing 30% of their weight at impact, that would be an over driven bullet. I have pulled many A-frames from animals and never seen any loss greater than 12-15%, that in cape buffalo, and 10% or less is more common for this bullet. The Kodiaks from my first lioness weighed 284 and 276 grains and this is a fairly soft bullet still retained more than 90%. I would use it again on the same animal. A bullet looses weight at impact and then more as it travels through bone and muscle. A bonded bullet rarely ever looses even 10% of its weight. Here again matching bullet construction to energy levels and the target helps keep things together.

    Your 250 Woodleighs in the 338-06 is still a sound choice. More weight, less velocity, higher SD and momentum, some expansion good penetration. I don't see anything wrong with that except; You may hit a large bone at the entrance. Large predators have very strong bones and muscles, big bears have very big bones. There could be a case where a tougher bullet would be needed. On the other hand, it may work very well for you.

    I can tell you that if I were hunting big bear bears, as much as I love the 338-06, I'd probably reach for a different gun. Something with a name that starts with a four. Bullet selection isn't so critical with a 416 Murphy or 404 Dakota or even my puny little 411 with 350 grains at 2450 fps.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Good discusion Murphy. I've never fired A-Frames, but I'm sure they are a tough bullet. I used a couple of different bullets while hunting this fall with my 300 WSM. Factory 180 Fed Softpoints (not sure if they're bonded) and 180 Accubonds. I shot 3 antelope with the softpoints and recovered one bullet from a Texas heart shot that passed through the length of the body and lodged under the hide in the shoulder. Amazingly, no bone was hit. The recovered bullit weighed 93 gr - never found any of the fragments and I butchered and processed it. I'm sure they'll be tasty. Most of them were probably left in the gut pile. MV was about 3000 fps and impact velocity @ 180 yds was probably just under 2700 fps. This past Sat I shot a cow elk @ about 200 yds with a 180 Accubond. I shot it in the back bone and it left about a 2" exit wound. I found one fragment weighing 9 gr. My guess is there were more fragments. Reports that I've read from other hunters who use Partitions or Accubonds seem to indicate about 60 - 70% retained bullet weght at various velocites. Your's is the only report I've read on recovered A-Frames.

    Both bullets I used worked well for the game I was shooting. And I would have no second thoughts about shooting a large bear with a 250 gr Accubond or A-Frame, especially if someone was standing behund me with a 416 Murphy but if I had my druthers, I would pick a 225 TSX over a 250 gr bonded bullet. But hey... that's just me I may end up on a bears breakfast menu someday

    Cheers

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    Honestly, I think any of the new premium bullets are great. Start with the Nosler partitions and go from there. Woodleighs, A frames, Barnes, North forks, etc. Just find one that will shoot reasonably accurate out of your rifle and go from there.
    Time will be better spent with offhand practice instead of hashing out bullet perfromance.
    Enjoy your hunt.
    Tennessee

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    Honestly, I think any of the new premium bullets are great. Start with the Nosler partitions and go from there. Woodleighs, A frames, Barnes, North forks, etc. Just find one that will shoot reasonably accurate out of your rifle and go from there.
    Time will be better spent with offhand practice instead of hashing out bullet perfromance.
    Enjoy your hunt.
    That's probably really good advice, we are over analyzing this a bit. Maybe it's time to shut up and shoot.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Snowwolfe, that is very true. I too have mulled over many quality made bullets for my .338-06's and they will all do just fine so long as I do my part-very key component. There is something to say though if I chose to wander in some further North country where the big beasts roam that I would opt for my 9,3x62 as minimum.

    I tend to lean towards one limiting factor in any/all hunting conditions and that is confidence or lack thereof in ones ability to overcome. Here I am attempting to get this wrote out and Murph jumps in ---what you speak of is absolutely correct.

    Merry Christmas

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    Murphy,

    Is there an option that's tougher than the Woodleigh but softer than the A-frame?

    Oh well, probably can't go wrong either way, like you all said.

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    The 240 gr. NorthFork looks like a good option...

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