THE 338WINCHESTER MAGNUM - AN AMERICAN CLASSIC
With my Ruger M77 chambered in 338Winchester Magnum with a 24" barrel and with the receiver no longer than a standard 30-06 length, I have a substantial big game rifle and cartridge. This American classic is truly a very versatile all around cartridge for big game. It has reasonable recoil with only the 250-300 grain bullets being a little to much for some people, but not for most of us who use the magnum cartridges when hunting big game. If one re-loads for the 338Winchester Magnum, the new cartridges like the 338 Fed and the 325WSM are not able to run with it, nor can they use the heavier bullets as well or with as much punch.
The 338Winchester Magnum can push a 180gr bullet at 3100-3200fps, a 200gr bullet at 3025-3075fps, a 210gr bullet at 2980-3010fps, a 225gr bullet at 2850 - 2900fps, a 250gr bullet at 2800 - 2820fps, a 275gr bullet at 2670 to 2700fps, a 300gr bullet 2500-2550fps, and is manufactured by 90% of the major gun manufactures. This places it right in the middle of good company when you consider how flat it shoots (like some of the 300 magnums) and how hard it hits (like the some of the 375 magnums).
It is not a compromise by any stretch of the imagination. On the contrary, with the bullet and powder selections of today, the 338Winchester Magnum is a very good all around big game rifle for coyote to Brown Bear. It is arguably the best elk and moose cartridge, with no apologies when used on bear. With lighter loads it reaches out hitting coyotes, deer and hogs like Thor's Hammer, while not destroying any more meat than the 30 and 7mm caliber cartridges.
A hunter in the field with this one cartridge could take everything from coyote to the largest Alaskan Brown bears. It would not destroy meat anymore on the smaller size big game like white tail deer than would a 130gr bullet out of a 270. It would buck the wind at distances that most hunters would consider reasonable and with plenty of energy to anchor anything in North America and most of Africa out to 400yds (where legal to use). Also, with some bullets and loads in the right hands, it could be a very effective round when used at longer ranges.
Since1959 the 338Winchester Magnum has preformed without question on any thing it has been used on in North America, as well as plains game in Africa, with consistent success. Easy to load for, accurate, reasonable recoil if stocked correctly and hits like a hammer. With velocities that are perfect for the big game bullets that are manufactured for the .338 caliber. Jim, a friend of mine said, "with the 338Winchester Magnum you could kill everything from mice to Moose" and I would add even a big mean-spirited bear up close. Jim summed it up in his use of figurative speech, in accurately describing the 338Winchester Magnum.
Most are aware in the hunting world that the 30-06 with a 180gr bullet has been and is very affective in most situations and on most game given proper circumstances. Also the effectiveness of the 300Winchester Magnum using a 180gr bullet is unquestioned. In light of this fact a 338Winchester Magnum using a 250gr bullet, has a striking energy that is around 25% greater than that 30-06 with a 180gr bullet. Also, the 338Winchester Magnum using a 250gr bullet, has at least 15% greater striking energy than the 300Winchster Magnum using a 180gr bullet. On top of that the cross-sectional area of the 250gr bullet is 20% greater with a momentum factor that allows for greater penetration due to 70grs greater weight.
It has tremendous potential as an all around big game cartridge for smaller deer to the largest, toughest and heaviest game in North America. It is a tremendous medium bore with great legs. What do I mean by saying great legs. It is a true sprinter with endurance and has a hard quick crushing blow, like a heavy weight. Bullet selection ranges from 180 grains to 300 grains to meet any need the North American hunter would engage. It can be down loaded to 30-06 levels and still produces excellent accuracy.
On smaller species of big game one can use the 180gr to the 215gr bullets. Now there is a bullet in this weight range that is good on the smaller species of big game, while being the exception in this group due to the fact it is also highly effective on the larger species of big game. I am making reference to the 210grain Nosler Partition. The 210gr Partition has velocities between 2980fps and 3010fps with very good accuracy, flat shooting and hard hitting. It is a combination that really allows the 338Winchester Magnum to stand out as a longer rang load while still being devastating up close.
Of course for the really big stuff the 250gr bullets due to their great shapes and constructions are real game getters for sure. The 250gr to the 300gr bullets when used in the 338Winchester Magnum do not have to apologies, nor are they inferior for any of the tasks handed them when taking big game.
I owned and shot the 338Winchester Magnum some 20 years ago but did not hunt with it nor did I reload for it to my regret. I am doing both now and that is why I have written this article. I am a shooter, hunter, and re-loader, that is in the process of discovering what others have known for years. The 338Wincester Magnum is hard to beat as an all around big game cartridge. It is easy to load for, shoots flat, hits hard and according to a multitude of hunters and guides, brings home the bacon. It truly is and has been an American Classic and will be used by the discerning and informed North American hunter for many years.
I am proud to be one of those discerning hunters who will have a lot of fun with an American Classic cartridge during hunting season this year and the years that will follow. I will not be disappointed in the results. Yes, Mississippi deer and hogs, Missouri white tail, Louisiana deer and hogs, with the 200gr Accucond, 210gr partition and last but not least. Planning a trip to use the 225gr Patition on Alaskan Black bear in the spring of 2011. Watch out game, cause here I come with my 338Winchester Magnum.