Grit, You described the benefits of the 338 Norma very well and all those reasons plus a few more are why it is one of the best choices out there. It really doesn't matter as far as your experience with a particular caliber. Once you gain quite a bit of knowledge and experience with a few different calibers certain attributes began to apply across the caliber spectrum up to 338 or so concerning case design and efficientcy. Efficient case designs like the 338 Norma can utilize faster burning powders making them excellent in shorter barrels and shrinking velocity spreads from the big slow burning powder guzzling giants. Doesn't mean the big guys aren't any good because they can be made to shoot extremely well and I have many. Just that the more efficient the case design, the less critical the cartridge is for getting excellent accuracy. Less overall work and a wider range of loads and bullets to choose from that will achieve extreme accuracy.
Predictions are difficult, especially when they involve the future
All great advice for the op, however, I have yet seen anyone discuss the prices for all of this. He initially talked about having a nightforce for the rig. With rings that's almost half of his budget. Which leaves just a touch over 2k to build the whole rifle. It can be done but with top shelf components this isn't going to come in under or at 4K. All things considered, still need dies, components, and perhaps other loading equip that this caliber is going to need.
Not a party fouler, just hoping your realize that a high end rifle is going to cost (especially) if it's built and not bought second hand.
I agree completely. A cartridge being a personal favorite only makes it my favorite . Most calibers can be made to run well. Sometimes it's simple, other times it's a long road. Taking the long road has its own rewards, for sure. Lots of great 338 cartridges.... I'd love to shoot 'em all. I suspect you've been playing with these rounds longer then I've been taking up space.
Go to the for sale (guns) section right now, there is a fella who has some family issues and is selling his .338 AX that is being finished up with Kirby right now. This is brand new not even finished with BAT action Manners the works!! Inludes nightforce scope!!! 5500 denarii. That's is as good a deal as you will ever find. OH and dies and brass etc etc. If I didn't just build a lapua I would be allllllllll over it! hth.
and say a prayer for the fella.