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338 Win Mag Load Question

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  • 338 Win Mag Load Question

    I have run into a pressure problem (bolt sticking) working up a load for my .338 Win Mag.

    Data: 225 gr Barnes Tipped TXS bullets
    IMR 4350, one grain increments ranging from 63.0 gr to 67.0 gr.
    Mod 70 Win with a 21" stainless barrel
    Rest: Lead sled... to reduce the effects of the weakest link... me!

    Problem: The rifle loves the 65.0 grains powder, 0.6" groups at 100yds. but the bolt sticks occasionally but not always. The manual gives a load range for IMR 4350 of Min 61.0 gr to Max of 67.5 gr.

    I am looking for any suggestions, I know dropping the powder charge will eventually do, but the groups open up to 1.25" at 100yds with 63.0 grains... kind of defeats the purpose of handloading....

  • #2
    I would try some RL-19 powder - what primer ? try 215M - If you want to commit to a "miracle maker" get some TETRA OIL and start using it in your barrel - clean the bore CLEAN then brush pure TETRA OIL with bronze bore brush, min 40 strokes 50-60 better then dry patch to make sure the bore is dry - pressure problem will disappear - your barrel will never be dirty in the conventional sense again


    • #3
      Thanks back country,

      I used Fed #215 primers and have been thinking my barrel was very CLEAN, but I will try your Tetra Oil suggestion as my next step.

      Other previous steps have been using brand new brass, and I even tried 10 rounds that I moly coated, but neither showed any change. I am anxious to try the Tetra Oil.



      • #4
        Try dropping down a primer. The Fed 210 primer for example, might just lower the pressure a tad so its not so sticky. That has worked for me in the past.


        • #5
          Thanks Armymark, I'll try that!


          • #6
            mnsdak, I love my 338WM and would like to know how it works out for you. Hopefully you won't lose the tight group. My 7mm mag will shoot 1/2 inch groups at 100yds with 4350 but I have to darn near pry the bolt open, I almost started to cry when I realized it just wasn't going to work and had to move on to another powder. RL22 did the trick. Good luck and post a follow-up.


            • #7
              Stainless has a slight tendancy to feel sticky until it's been polished properly. Especially if it's getting dirty and hasn't been polished properly. Not talking about the barrel, I'm talking about the action.

              I have a hard time believing that you're hitting pressure at 2 grains below max... I'm also having a hard time believing you're having pressure problems at 65g IMR 4350 when I'm loading 70 behind 225 partitions.

              Yes, different bullets = different everything... so I could be wrong.

              If you shot molly, make sure you strip every bit of that crap out of the bore .. yep, it makes things slick but what stays behind is a real MOTHER to deal with. And it does stay behind...

              Need help, look me up. And good luck.


              • #8
                I second what rdklinak said. I'm actually finishing my 225 TTSX load in my .338. Hopefully next range session will do it. I'm shooting a Ruger instead, and last session I ran 65 - 69gr of IMR 4350 without excessive pressure. 67gr shot a 1/2" group, which is the first time for this gun. Changing COAL on the 69gr load to match the jump I used in the 67gr load in hopes it'll drop the groups size from 1-1/2" to below an inch. Moving the bullet farther away from the rifling (into the case more) compressed the load, but Barnes bullets typically likes to jump around 105-115 for me. Hopefully I won't see too much pressure after compressing the load, but in your case, your powder charges seem to be well within the safe limits.

                I'm useing Fed 215s too.

                It would surprise me if you are really seeing high pressures. Good luck testing!


                • #9
                  what about some other signs? Primers, stamped heads stretching or cracked cases. Why is it only intermittent? What changed between shots? Was it the bullet, gun or both. How certain are you of your charges and are you calibrating your scale. Just a few questions I came up with off the top of my head. I know my powder throwing device does not like IMR 4350 much. There is about a .4 +/- difference, so I weight each charge. Those big long grains don't meter so well some times. Maybe try backing off in less than one grain increments, say .3 and see if your pressures are tolerable and your accuracy remains. How about a chrony to see how consistent your load is. It may tell you if you are really pushing it hard or it is your gun like on previous posts. Good luck.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mnsdak View Post
                    Problem: The rifle loves the 65.0 grains powder, 0.6" groups at 100yds. but the bolt sticks occasionally but not always. The manual gives a load range for IMR 4350 of Min 61.0 gr to Max of 67.5 gr.
                    I'm puzzled by your intermittent sticking issue. Perhaps a poor inconsistent measurement of powder charge.

                    Are you using a chronograph to measure velocity?

                    If so are you shooting a tight ES with your .6" group?

                    Inspect your sticky brass. Look at the top of the neck. Is it getting jammed into the end of your chamber? If so it will crimp and increase pressure and cause a sticky bolt.

                    Are you trimming all brass to .010 under max SAAMI length to prevent the above mentioned problem?

                    I've seen virgin brass trimmed to max length stretch and jam causing a tight bolt by interference. Your 338WM is spaced off the belt so the body will stretch and push the shoulder forward, that could push the neck into the top off the chamber.

                    Is your brass all the same manufacture or a variety? Different brands have different capacities and will have different pressures.

                    Personally I would stay away from non Magnum primers in a Magnum being shot in cold weather hunts in Alaska. If dropping to a lighter primer is a cure then use the hot primer and reduce your charge by .5gr. Yes it is possible to light off a Magnum with a less potent primer but why not reduce the charge and stay with positive ignition for confidence and reliability.


                    • #11
                      If you used moly coated bullets and still had the sticking trouble it would lead me to believe all the other comments here are leading you down the correct path, brass length issues or stainless steel galling, if this is a custom stainless barrel some antsieze on the lugs will tell you - some very out of the ordinary stuff to check also would be things like making sure you don't have a tiny piece of crap stuck in the bolt face or lugs - mixed head stamps for sure - short chamber, is yours a custom barrel job ?

                      BEFORE you try TETRA OIL in your rifle barrel PM me @ so I can give you the caveats and procedure, I'll tell about the rifle/load that made me a believer - Also, there have been "reports", not substantiated by me, of moly coating in chrome moly barrels and rust issues so if yours isn't stainless do some homework - The TETRA also protects against corrosion but I just want you to be aware of other opinions besides mine

                      338 win mag & 215M primers for sure - it's normally a great and "easy" cartridge to handload for


                      • #12

                        thanks for the imput, I measured each charge to the 0.1 grain with a tweezer... I don't know why friends think I'm anal... I have not chronographed the loads as I don't have one, about the brass, they are trimmed and I tried shooting groups of different brands and new brass and wasn't able to discern any pattern. I'll try the slow decrease in podwer to see what happens. Sorry, but I don't know what a "tight ES" is so I can't give feedback on that one...

                        Thanks for your help!


                        • #13
                          mnsdak, Have you checked your headspace and case length? The minor adjustment in powder can be enough to cause the brass to stick, with no other pressure signs, on brass that flirts with the allowable tolerances.


                          • #14
                            If you aren't using Nickel plated brass you might try that. I have found that Nickel has less friction and feeds and extracts easier. I use only nickel plated brass for all my bear and coastal hunts. I had a sticky bolt on some loads in my 270wsm and and tried the same recipe with nickel plated and they worked with no sticky bolt. Just a thought.

                            "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"


                            • #15

                              I tried nickel plated too and some of them stuck as well, but thanks... I'll keep trying!


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