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Help me find a 338 Cartridge

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Unread 09-09-2010, 10:11 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Lansing, MI
Posts: 197
Help me find a 338 Cartridge

I'm looking for the most efficient cartridge that could get a 250 gr 338 bullet to 2800 fps, or a 300 gr 338 bullet to 2550 fps. Yes I know there are rounds that will push these weights much faster, but that's not what I'm trying to do. And yes I know I could "load down" some of those rounds, but again, that wouldn't make it too efficient.
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Unread 09-09-2010, 12:15 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 2,612
Re: Help me find a 338 Cartridge

The 338 win mag is going to be your closest bet. Your parameters are just above the 338 win mag unless you had a very fast or a long barrel. The 340 wby is the next step up but it is closer to the ultramags and you would be loading it down to reach those velocities. You said most efficient so you wouldn't want to load the 340 wby down a couple hundred fps. A hot 338 win mag is the closest to what you want to do. The necked up short mags can't get there. The 338 win mag is an excellent cartridge that is easily capable to near a half mile and a great choice for an all around rifle.
Predictions are difficult, especially when they involve the future
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Unread 09-09-2010, 09:18 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 899
Re: Help me find a 338 Cartridge

The 338 win will work out great.
But if you want to have a little fun you can always make a 338WSM
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Unread 09-09-2010, 10:17 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 611
Re: Help me find a 338 Cartridge

338 Win mag will work for those requirements. I would go with the 338 rum though. Not really one of the big magnums like snipetac, lapua, big bear or edge but will get some good FPS for sure. That might be your best comprimise.
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Unread 09-10-2010, 12:33 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Patagonia Mountains, Arizona
Posts: 770
Re: Help me find a 338 Cartridge

What's your definition of "efficiency". Muzzle energy/propellant energy or terminal energy/propellant energy? If the latter then heavy slow low drag bullets are the most "efficient" since they give up a smaller percent of their energy pushing air out of their way. Your stated velocity requirement makes the 338 Win Mag the choice for efficiency. I doubt a 338-06 can make it. Without the velocity requirement a 338 Whisper (338 BR) is a lethal subsonic which is a far more efficient (in terminal energy/propellant energy) than any of the magnums. That's not to say it's a good choice for long range or for big game.

An advantage of the 338 WM is that it's a mid-length cartridge 3.34"SAAMI OAL which is often sold in full length magnum 3.6" actions. That's very desirable for shooting heavy low drag bullets at moderate velocities.

I have rifles in 338 Federal, 338 WM, 338 Rum, and 338-378 Wby. My favorite is the 338WM in a SAKO TRG-S rifle. (3.6"_ magazine) My 338-378 is also a SAKO TRG-S, but it cannot feed cartridges loaded with heavy low drag bullets from the magazine, nor can the 338 RUM in a Rem 700LA. Both have obnoxious recoil and muzzle blast. The 338 Federal also is hopeless for shooting heavy ow drag bullets as it's a short (2.85") action. A 338 WSM or 338 SAUM would have the same problem as most are sold in short action rifles. .

Each of the above cartridges is a tradoff in several properties. Kind of like the Goldilocks story. Too much, too little, or a good tradeoff in all of its properties. The 338 WM is not the "best" in any one property including efficiency, but the best overall combination of properties in my opinion.

High efficiency isn't always the best choice. At moderate ranges lighter bullets at higher velocities may produce more reliable kills. The short action cartridges have their place too.

I'm curious why you (MSU Marksman) emphasize high efficiency over other properties which are desirable in a hunting cartridge such as a flatter trajectory and reduced wind deflection. I've never considered cartridge efficiency a goal in itself, only a result of trying to achieve particular exterior and terminal ballistic characteristics.

Last edited by LouBoyd; 09-10-2010 at 01:10 AM.
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Unread 09-10-2010, 01:44 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,087
Re: Help me find a 338 Cartridge

The .338 NSS is your answer. (.338NelsonSambarSlayer)
It is a .338RUM shortened to hold 85 grains of powder.

Can get a 250 grain Hornady BTHP match bullet to 2850 - 2950fps out of a 26" barrel with minimal recoil.

Now all I have to do is build one?
scientia est potentia
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Unread 09-10-2010, 05:45 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Tucson Az
Posts: 2,065
Re: Help me find a 338 Cartridge

I would like to hear more about the 338 NSS. Tried googling it, no listings.

The 338 Dakota or 338/375 Ruger are other considerations. They are very similar to each other. The 375 Ruger brass is less expensive. Both are larger than the 338 Win mag with same length case. You can read load data for the Dakota to get some idea of potential.

From what I can gather, based on published reloading data, the 338 win mag and the 338 Dakota are incapable of delivering 2800 fps with a 250 gr bullet. Perhaps with a 30" barrel the Dakota case could do it.

I would like to hear of members who have actually gotten a 250 gr bullet to go 2800 fps with a typical sporter length barrel and a 338 win mag.
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