Re: Very new to the sport and looking for some advice
Just my two cents here: I learned to shoot long range with a 223, and I wouldn't recommend anything else to someone getting into long range.
You're not going to learn bad habits with no recoil.
Good bullets will give you ballistics better than .308 175gr loads that so many love.
Having to make good windage calls will hone your skills.
You're going to learn more by shooting more, and with a 223, you will shot more, a lot more.
You're probably going to have a learning curve in hand loading and load development, so I'd rather make mistakes with the 223.
And the best part is, after you've shot a few thousand rounds and are now an excellent shot making good wind calls, you've still got enough money to buy that 338.
It gets better, because now you have 338 with a barrel that's not worn from learning long range, and you have the skills to load accurate rounds and develops a load quickly.
If you can hit a 10" gong with a first round hit at 1100 yards with a 223, think what you can do with 338.
And during the time you spent shooting the 223, the most important thing you might learn could be that a 338 lapua is not what you need. But maybe you've got more money to throw away than I do?