A little while ago I ran the numbers (using JBM) on the 338 Edge, 338 RUM, and 338 WM, using the 300gr SMK. I used 2900fps for the Edge and 2500fps for the Winchester Magnum. Using these velocities it seems that the Win Mag has about a 150 yard disadvantage in drop (i.e. whatever the Edge does at 1000yards, the Win Mag will duplicate at about 850 yards) and only a 100 disadvantage in drift (i.e. the Win Mag has the same drift at 900 yards as the Edge has at 1000 yards).
I've read several posts here about the 338 Winchester Magnum not being that great of a longrange cartridge for elk (past 600 yards). I've also read that some members here are getting ~2500fps shooting the 300gr SMK from a plain-jane 338WM (possibly with a match chamber to seat them long?).
So if the Win Mag loses less than 200 yards in drop and drift compared to the bigger magnums, what am I missing? Same bullet, just different velocity. Energy? I think Carlock has stated that the Edge is a solid 1200 to 1300 yard elk cartridge (I apologize if this is not what he wrote, but those numbers have stuck in my head). So the Edge would have something like 1500 to 1700 ft-lbs of energy at 1200 to 1300 yards. The plain-jane Win Mag has the same energy at 900 to 1000 yards. The lowly 338 Win Mag sounds pretty darn good to me!
The purpose of investigating these cartridges wasn't to question the Edge or RUM, but to see how one could exploit the high BC and excellent bullets in .338 caliber. I am still amazed by the .338 cartridges.
Seems like the straight 338WM would be an "economical" longrange cartridge in terms of rifle cost, powder, and recoil. I would love to have an Edge, but all my money has been going into a 243 build for shooting paper and steel. I think a 338 Win Mag could be a great poor man's rifle, assuming one could get 2500fps with it.
My search results were that many thought the 338 WM was only good to 600 to 700 yards.
What am I missing?
Last edited by 4th_point; 09-06-2009 at 12:27 PM.
I don't think you're missing anything. It's a matter of what you want. Squeezing more energy into a given bullet requires burning a disproportional larger amount of powder. Velocity only goes up with the square root of the bullets kinetic energy.
This site is "Long Range Hunting" so it follows that long range is the holy grail here. There are disadvantages to long range hunting too. One is that the probability of making a clean kill does not go up linearly with a gun's muzzle energy, or it's muzzle velocity. It may even go down with more muzzle energy for a given distance. Records for both accuracy and small groups are not held by high case capacity cartridges. Shot placement often determines a clean kill as much as terminal energy or bullet expansion.
Some would argue (maybe not so many on this site) that the indicator of a skilled hunter is their ability to stalk close enough to an animal to insure a clean kill.
One thing I particularly like about the 338 Win Mag is that in a typical long action there's enough room in the magazine (3.65" to 3.75") to feed VLD bullets such as the 300 grain Lapua and SMK.
I'm not saying one cartridge is "better" than the other. One other cartridge which typically shoots 300 SMKs is the 338 Whisper. It's delivers the most downrange energy for the amount of powder burned of any of the 338s., They all have a place depending on what performance is wanted.
Thanks for the feedback guys, that was what I was looking for.
It seems like the key here is the .338 caliber bullets that are available. I'm a firm believer in choosing your bullet, then figuring out what case to drive it with. The 300gr SMK just seems pretty amazing to my novice brain compared to the 6mm and .30 cal options. And, it does remarkable things even with low initial velocities like those from a Win Mag. No doubt that the RUM and Edge take it to the next level though.
One of my friends has a 338 Edge and I hope to get a chance to try it out sometime in the near future. I was thinking that a 338 Win Mag would be a cheap way to play with a legitimate longrange round for big game. My 243 started as a $200 Stevens 200 (on sale from Fisherman's Marine for those in the PDX area), plus $100 for SSS trigger, $300 for LW-50 barrel, and $160 for tactical stock. Pretty cheap, plus I'll put it together myself. I was thinking I could go the same route (i.e. Savage or Stevens) for the .338 and save money over a custom build.
I have to admit that if I were to spend money on a custom I would be very tempted to get a big Allen Mag. But that is not in my future so I haven't put much thought to it.
Remingtonman_25_06- I'm in Hillsboro, just west of Portland.
I have shot the 338WM a lot and did a field test a while back comparing the 300 grain SMK and the 250 grain Hornady BTHP Match bullets on game.
In my Sako 338WM with 24.4 inch barrel I get 2434fps with the 300 grain SMK and used a load with the 250 grain Hornady at 2730fps.
I shot 8 ferral goats with the 300 grainers and about 40 with the 250 grainers. All were dead, however the 250 grainers open up more on these smaller animals and gave spectacular kills. I have since killed a number of large Sambar deer with the 250 grainers and can state that they work very well.
In my rifle these loads are maximum and I have even backed my 250 grain load back a bit to 2670 fps preserve case life.
I hace settled on the 250 grain Hornady as my standard long range hunting loads in my .338WM. I feel that the 300 grain SMK is going too slow for long range use out of a 338WM.
However if my EDGE ever turns up from the gun smith I will give the 300 grain SMK's another try as I have a heap of them sitting in the shed doing nothing.
Your findings are very interesting. Do you think the better performance with the Hornady 250gr is better because of the higher velocity, or are the bullets not constructed as tough as the SMK and so they open up much more quickly? Are you also able to hunt water buffalo as well?! It would be very interesting to see your findings with the 338 WM on those as well.
I wasn't aware that I could build a RUM or an Edge. The biggest action Stevens has is for a 300 Win Mag. So this would be the one to get if I wanted to assemble an Edge? I vaguely recall reading about some Savage based Edges, but it seemed like there were some difficulties along the way.