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Help choosing a rifle.

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  • Help choosing a rifle.

    I recently moved to Fort Wainwright (Fairbanks) and after my current deployment to Iraq is over I知 looking forward to finally doing some hunting in Alsaka. Having never hunted anything larger than whitetail deer I知 looking for some advice. I sold my primary deer gun, a TC Contender in 7-30 Waters, before I moved so I知 in the market for a new gun. Most of my hunting will be in and around the Fairbanks area. My list of possible game would include moose, caribou, and black bear. Although I don稚 plan on hunting grizzly I realize there is always a possibility of running into one. The 2 rifles I知 currently looking at are the Marlin 338MXLR in 338 Marlin Express and a Browning X-Bolt in .338 Win Mag. I realize the Browning is a better choice, but I have always been partial to level actions. I guess my question is would the 338 ME, which is around 30-06 power, be enough of a defensive round for an unexpected grizzly run in or do I really need to step up to the .338 Win Mag?
    Thanks in advance for any advice. Having spent a good bit of time reading posts here I realize this is a great source for real, hands on information.</SPAN>

  • #2
    Gun choice

    I have a Tikka 338 win mag and love the options I have with loads and bullet weights... With the 338 win mag you are pretty much are covered for most everything in Alaska.... Good Luck


    • #3
      The 338ME only claims to be simulair to the 30-06 out to 200 yards. It falls off rapidly after that. I doubt that a lot of people are hunting Browns with or using a 30-06 as a Brown bear back up.

      The 338WM is a great round. My younger brother has taken, Brown, Black, Moose, Caribou, Sitka, Dall and Goat with his over the years. I have a 375 for my Alaska trips and a 308 for most other hunting. I recently bought a 7mm RM for a fall Elk hunt in a high plains area but the 338 is more practical if your planning a single purchase.


      • #4
        Browning BLR

        If you are partial to lever actions, Browning makes the BLR in .300 Win Mag or .300 WSM. That might be something to consider.


        • #5
          Given th ose two choices, I would take the Browning in .338. The lever is ok but doesn't have the versitility.


          • #6
            I think either will do the job for you. Ihave a friend that has hunted that same area for years with a 338 win mag that he loves. BUT, he just bought a Marlin 338MXLR in 338 Marlin Express to replace it with because he loves lever guns & likes the balistics on the 338ME. Go figure... Seems like he would be odd man out here.

            By the way, quoting the Marlin/Hornady add it says the 338ME with factory loaded bullets "equeal 180gr 30-06 ballistics in terms of trajectory & energy out to 400yds". Not 200yds.

            Just as a matter of personal choice I'd probably be leaning toward the Marlin.
            Vance in AK.

            Matthew 6:33
            "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."


            • #7
              I'd be worried about the availability of 338 Marlin Express ammunition in 5 to 10 years. With all the new calibers hitting the market a few will surely dissappear. The 338 Win Mag is tried and true and will be around for a long time.


              • #8
                What do you think of the 325 WSM then?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by BigWag View Post
                  What do you think of the 325 WSM then?
                  From what I've read it's a good round, but ammo availability, especially in the bush villages, can be a problem. But if you reload, it should do well on most anything.


                  • #10
                    Thank you!

                    First, thank you for your service to our country. My family is safer because of your willingness to serve in the armed forces and do without the benefits and blessings that so many take for granted. Stay safe over there and keep reading the forum if you have connectivity. Recently, during my 12+months in the sand I read this forum at least three times a week. It helped me immensely to dream of the day when I returned to hunt in my home state. I did just that upon my return, my son and I had a great time.

                    As far as your choice of rifle, either will do as effective killing weapons for Alaskan game.
                    Marlin .338 ME pros:
                    1. quick to bring up to shooting position
                    2. very accurate out to 200 yards (for a lever action)
                    3. quick follow up shots for charging brownies if needed (comforting)
                    4. keeping one in the chamber is not a worry and very convenient
                    5. I believe it comes with open sights?? If so, this is a huge bonus if in the bush the scope breaks and you have no replacement. This is what I have on my Marlin, XS sights with forwarded mounted Leupold Scout scope.
                    Browning .338 Win Mag pros:
                    1. accurate, good trigger, and nice palm swell
                    2. easy to get .338 Win Mag rounds anywhere, although if you go hunting I am sure you would bring your ammo if you had the Marlin .338 ME

                    I actually dont like the safety button on the Browning, it seems strong but I do not like to hunt with 2 position safeties. A personal preference. I believe either would be just fine and be able to take any game in AK. If it were up to me, which its not, I would only slightly prefer the Marlin over the Browning for the type of hunting and location you would be going to. I will send you a PM with some info on scopes.


                    • #11
                      I shoot a .325 wsm and love it for the most part. The only thing I don't like is the ammo availability. It is very expensive and not available outside of Fairbanks. I would imagine the .338 ME would be even worse.

                      The .338 WM would be great for anything in Alaska and is available anywhere. If it is the cost of the Browning that puts you off, there are plenty of other rifles available in .338 WM.


                      • #12
                        It's not really the cost putting me off. My biggest concern is that I値l only be getting 1 maybe 2 hunting seasons in Alaska before I have to move back to the lower 48. I think the .338 Win Mag will be a little big for anything I値l be hunting down there. So if I can get away with something slightly smaller while I知 here it will be better after I move. I could always just buy another gun after I move, but having one gun that would work for both would be great. On the plus side I have nothing but time for the next few months to ponder this.


                        • #13
                          .325 is good if you reload. I have one and like it, but then again I reload. Leave the levers at home and get a .338wm in a bolt action. Might try a remington 700 or kimber if they are in your price range. Nicer guns in my opinion.


                          • #14
                            not a magnum fan

                            I know lots of guys are, I am not. I don't like getting kicked around very much. And when you look at ballistics, and point blank range, the magnums don't really seem to give you that much extra. Besides, in over 35 years of hunting Alaska, I think I've only shot past 200 yards twice.
                            The ammo is more expensive to boot, regardless if you buy it or reload it. The guns are normally a bit heavier also. I have a new/old Sako .358 that I can't wait to shoot, but can't find ammo for here yet. So guess that is not a great idea. I have a .35 whelen which really shoots nice, and doesn't seem to beat me up. I have ammo, and occasionally find more laying around in stores. My .30-06 is my go to gun for everything now and off the bench w/ factory ammo that I was not sighted in for I shot a quick group that went just over 1". She and I get along pretty well. And the ammo is everywhere.
                            I might suggest getting here and trying out a few different calibers and styles. Just give any of us a holler and we can meet for a little shooting. Then, find a used rifle in a popular caliber. When you leave, it will still likely be popular and you can sell it. That is if it is a caliber you don't want to take south with you.
                            As far as bears go, most of us never have had a problem. Sure, be prepared, but I don't perseverate about what might happen with a bear while I am out and about.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Vance in AK View Post
                              By the way, quoting the Marlin/Hornady add it says the 338ME with factory loaded bullets "equeal 180gr 30-06 ballistics in terms of trajectory & energy out to 400yds". Not 200yds.
                              Vance the Marlin is a real cool idea and a nice looking rifle. It's a funny thing about advertisements, they make comparisons hoping that we don't check. Reminds me of the zero percent interest gimmick seen in car ads.

                              Yes, the max load 200gr 338ME matches down range energy not trajectory of the 180gr standard load 30-06. The 338ME is sighted at 3" high@ 100yards and hits minus 25.9" with 1471 lbs remaining. The 180gr 30-06 is sighted at 2.1" high @ 100 yards and hits minus 25.3" with 1475 lbs remaining. When only looking at 400 yard piont of impact and energy it looks good. In reality the 338ME is lobbed out there.

                              Most would agree that a 200gr 338 bullet is light for caliber and a 180gr 30-06 is a bit heavy. To be fair, let's look at a 150gr 30-06 from Hornady. Their retail available loaded ammunition 150gr interbond loaded to 3100fps sighted at 1.4" high @ 100 yards hits only 18.6" low at 400 yards with 1660 lbs of energy remaining. That is a more realistic presentation of the 30-06 in my opinion.

                              The 338WM is a very hard hitting round. The 338ME only has 1 rubber tipped safe for tubular magizine loading bullet availble and no retail available powder yet that will allow the hand loader to match factory balistics.

                              Having said all that, I too like the Marlin but as a 1 rifle hunter I would opt for more power to cover Alaska's range of game.



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