Re: Any .338 Win mag users?
My rifle is a Browning A-Bolt Composite Stalker with a 26-inch barrel — a plain factory rifle.
I had a gunsmith install a Pachmyer Decelerator pad, and he offered to install a brake as well, but I chose to see how the pad worked before adding the brake.
So far, after just under 200 rounds, the gun has not hurt me yet. I have fired as many as 30 rounds in one session, with no evidence of flinching, bruising or other effects of recoil, beyond the visible pushing-back.
I am 6'3" and 240 pounds, and was warned that my rifle would be too light to comfortably shoot in the .338 Win. Mag. version, but it's fine. I have no intention of adding the brake, since my ears are bad enough, and, while I wear protection on the range, I don't while hunting, and the brake add a lot of decibels.
Now for the other side: my shooting buddy is much smaller than me and shoots a 7mm Rem. Mag. I have shot over 100 rounds in that gun, too, and, frankly, have been both bruised and pounded uncomfortably by his gun. It hits with a sharp rap, while mine is a strong push.
On the other hand, he shot mine once and has no intention of ever doing so again.
The way a gun is stocked, the way you hold it, the weight of your scope and other factors will determine your comfort level.
For me, personally, you just move into the stock hold it like you mean it, but not hard, and let it do the talking. It pushes hard, like I said, but not sharply.
If there's anyway you can test-fire your choice of rifle, do it. And if you find the .338 Win. Mag. chambering in your choice of rifle hits too hard, try another rifle before you give up on the cartridge. As has been said, there is much to recommend it.