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Thread: Preferred barrel length for a 338 Win Mag for Alaska

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    Member Silver Tip's Avatar
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    Talking Preferred barrel length for a 338 Win Mag for Alaska

    All of my guns presently have 22" barrels except my 338 Win Mag (Rem Model 700 Classic, 24"). I'm considering having it cut to 22" as well then re-crowned. What is the preferred barrel length for most hunter in Alaska? This is my "go to" gun for nearly all my hunting. I primarily use a 200 or 210 gr bullets speeding along at about 3100 fps.

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    both of my .338's have 24" bbls.......have not a prob ever since I was 16 some 38yrs. back.....been poking thru bushes and shooting in the opens just fine with them...keep it 24".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Tip View Post
    All of my guns presently have 22" barrels except my 338 Win Mag (Rem Model 700 Classic, 24"). I'm considering having it cut to 22" as well then re-crowned. What is the preferred barrel length for most hunter in Alaska? This is my "go to" gun for nearly all my hunting. I primarily use a 200 or 210 gr bullets speeding along at about 3100 fps.

    Silver Tip
    I have my preferences, but the animals you shoot with your 338 WM will never know that you shortened your rifle 2". Nor do they care about muzzle velocity-hit them rightly and they'll be just as dead.
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    1Cor15:19

    Thanks for your reply. You said you had a preference, would you mind sharing that opinion??

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    Personally I like the 22", which is what i have on my 30-338 and she shoots just fine. The way i see it is more about balance and ease of carrying in the field than the fps.

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    I like mine long. Twenty-six inches.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Tip View Post
    1Cor15:19

    Thanks for your reply. You said you had a preference, would you mind sharing that opinion??

    Silver Tip
    I have a long LOP (14-14.25 inches depending on clothing) and I like the appearance of a bit longer tube on my bolt action rifles. As a rule, I prefer 24 inch barrels and I would not deviate from that with the 338 WM (point of fact my 338 WM has a 24 inch tube). If the cartridge is a bit cavernous (7mm STW or such) I'll stretch that to 26-27 inches. I have a couple of 22 inch barrels, but they are in specifically built trim rifles which a 338 WM ain't. When I start to launch 65+ grains of powder (most magnum cartridges) I like more burn time and to keep the muzzle blast away from my already too damaged ears.

    What I said is true about animals being unconcerned about the muzzle velocity, but I am concerned with it. Instead of shortening a 338 WM, I'd use a 338/06 or 35 Whelen if I don't want 338 WM velocity and at 22 inches you are not going to get its potential velocity. Nothing wrong with a 250 grain bullet around 2600 fps, but I can do almost that in an '06 hull with 40% less powder, less rifle weight, and less recoil. YMMV.
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    I like short barrels. I have 20 inch barrels on the following...243 Win/ Wby Vanguard, 308 Win/ Wby Vanguard, 350 Rem Mag /Ruger 77, 375 Ruger/ Howa and 458 Win Mag/ Rem 798.

    For what its worth the 243 20 incher shoots about 100 fps faster with the same load than my 22 inch Ruger 77 in 243. The 20 inch 308 shoots neck in neck with a my 24 inch Remington 798 in 308. Don't ask me why this is but it is. I don't know if this is just a testament to the quality of the bore in the Vanguards or what. This did factor into my consideration when I purchased the 20 inch Howa 375. Ruger(same gun as the Vanguard) just recently.

    I do agree with 1Cor 15:19, especially with the belted magnums. They do require more inches for a complete burn. I know of a 300 win mag with a 20 inch barrel and it is a fire breathing dragon. I have not seen it shot through a chrony but with that much muzzle flash their has to be a whole lot of powder burning up after it exits the bore that could be turned into fps with a little more barrel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elmerkeithclone View Post
    For what its worth the 243 20 incher shoots about 100 fps faster with the same load than my 22 inch Ruger 77 in 243. The 20 inch 308 shoots neck in neck with a my 24 inch Remington 798 in 308. Don't ask me why this is but it is.

    It's all about optimizing the load for the application. The longer barrel will out run the shorter barrel with the proper powder that allows it to keep building velocity prior to exit.

    Having said that I too like short barrels. I don't mind giving up a little speed but traditional recipes need to be tweaked to reduce flash.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elmerkeithclone View Post
    For what its worth the 243 20 incher shoots about 100 fps faster with the same load than my 22 inch Ruger 77 in 243. The 20 inch 308 shoots neck in neck with a my 24 inch Remington 798 in 308. Don't ask me why this is but it is. I don't know if this is just a testament to the quality of the bore in the Vanguards or what. This did factor into my consideration when I purchased the 20 inch Howa 375. Ruger(same gun as the Vanguard) just recently.
    I know that this often happens, but as a rule longer tubes equal more velocity. Most of the time there is more velocity loss than folks are willing to admit, but the catch is that most cartridges have more velocity than there is any need of so the loss is never missed.

    Quote Originally Posted by elmerkeithclone View Post
    I do agree with 1Cor 15:19, especially with the belted magnums. They do require more inches for a complete burn. I know of a 300 win mag with a 20 inch barrel and it is a fire breathing dragon. I have not seen it shot through a chrony but with that much muzzle flash their has to be a whole lot of powder burning up after it exits the bore that could be turned into fps with a little more barrel.
    This is my experience as well. For example, I've shot a lot of 24" 300 WBY Vanguards. I've yet to chrony one over 3225 fps with 180 grain bullets and most are under 3200 fps. This means that these 300 Wby shooters are getting only 20-40 more fps than a 300 WM with significantly more expensive ammo and greater recoil. I'm not at all down on the 300 Wby, but if it doesn't have a 26 inch barrel I'll take the 300 Winchester every time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    I have a long LOP (14-14.25 inches depending on clothing) and I like the appearance of a bit longer tube on my bolt action rifles. As a rule, I prefer 24 inch barrels and I would not deviate from that with the 338 WM (point of fact my 338 WM has a 24 inch tube). If the cartridge is a bit cavernous (7mm STW or such) I'll stretch that to 26-27 inches. I have a couple of 22 inch barrels, but they are in specifically built trim rifles which a 338 WM ain't. When I start to launch 65+ grains of powder (most magnum cartridges) I like more burn time and to keep the muzzle blast away from my already too damaged ears.

    What I said is true about animals being unconcerned about the muzzle velocity, but I am concerned with it. Instead of shortening a 338 WM, I'd use a 338/06 or 35 Whelen if I don't want 338 WM velocity and at 22 inches you are not going to get its potential velocity. Nothing wrong with a 250 grain bullet around 2600 fps, but I can do almost that in an '06 hull with 40% less powder, less rifle weight, and less recoil. YMMV.
    Those large "65+" grain powder charges are only large relative to bore diameter. While 65 grs might be a lot of powder to burn up in a 7mm bore, it is not all that much powder to be buring in a .338 inch bore, hence you dont need the barrel legnth in 338, that you would in 7mm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Tip View Post
    All of my guns presently have 22" barrels except my 338 Win Mag (Rem Model 700 Classic, 24"). I'm considering having it cut to 22" as well then re-crowned. What is the preferred barrel length for most hunter in Alaska? This is my "go to" gun for nearly all my hunting. I primarily use a 200 or 210 gr bullets speeding along at about 3100 fps.

    Silver Tip
    Both of my 338 Win. Mag. rifles have 22 inch barrels as I carry them in heavily timbered areas and in steep snotty terraine and I find 22 inches to be pretty handy, while not handicapping the cartridges potential in any substantive way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Sundles View Post
    Those large "65+" grain powder charges are only large relative to bore diameter. While 65 grs might be a lot of powder to burn up in a 7mm bore, it is not all that much powder to be buring in a .338 inch bore, hence you dont need the barrel legnth in 338, that you would in 7mm.
    Agreed. However, 72-75 grains of 4831, RL22, etc. still finds value in more tube. Whether or not that value is significant is something for every person to discern for themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Sundles View Post
    Both of my 338 Win. Mag. rifles have 22 inch barrels as I carry them in heavily timbered areas and in steep snotty terraine and I find 22 inches to be pretty handy, while not handicapping the cartridges potential in any substantive way.
    I've no issue with a 22 inch 338 WM, but its advantage over a 35 Whelen or 338/06 in a similar 22 inch tube would be indiscernible IMO. Of course these discussions are what makes horse races isn't it? For my part, I'll take a bit less velocity and a lot less recoil and muzzle blast from the '06 hulls if I need a rifle focused on agility.
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    I prefer a barrel length that suites me, I could care less about fps or anything else since the animals are not velocity snobs.

    Guess I just never felt the need to get everyone elses approval on what I wanted in a firearm. Good luck and I hope you end up happy with whatever barrel length you decide on.
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    24" is about right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    Agreed. However, 72-75 grains of 4831, RL22, etc. still finds value in more tube. Whether or not that value is significant is something for every person to discern for themselves.
    No doubt that a 338 would still be gaining velocity at even 28 inches of barrel............but I'm not going to carry that around the mountains--just getting it out of my truck would be frustrating.

    I'm using 74 to 75grs, of R19 with my 225gr. .338 Win. Mag. loads.

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    For years I carried one with a 26 inch barrel and never thought much about it. A couple years back I bought another one as a backup with a 24 inch barrel and it feels a bit more comfortable to carry. Not necessarily lighter in weight it just handles or feels different.

    My chronograph showed a velocity from the 26 inch barrel producing 2820 fps with my favorite load using a 225 grain Barnes TTSX and IMR 4350. The same load in my 24 inch barrel yielded 140 fps less velocity so I increased the powder charge by one grain and got the velocity up 50-60 fps in the shorter barreled rifle.

  18. #18
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    For everything big enough to go into tight cover following up bears I refuse to go over 20-21". Muzzle blast and a few extra fps mean nothing if your muzzle cannot be moved around promptly...

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