If you can get a chance, check out the Limbsaver recoil pad. I order one for a friend a couple weeks ago and I really like it. It's lots softer than the factory pads.
I will be putting one on my 300WM before long.
[ 10-22-2004: Message edited by: Zod ]
West Coast of Washington
It should be remembered that all the recoil pads in the world will not cure the evils of a stock that does not fit the shooter. Coorect LOP is of paramount importance for the LRH.
Will this rifle see duty primarily from the prone, from a bipod/tripod, or from a bench? This needs to be considered with respect to LOP.
I've spent the last couple of years playing with different recoil pads on some rather heavy calibres, e.g., 500 NE Ruger #1, 378 WM Ruger #1, etc.
Cushy pads may sound nice and feel good initially, but they also allow the rifle to get a running start on ya! The Deccelerator is absolutely the softest pad I would consider using on any hard kicking rifle. I've got a workbench full of the others.
If you change pads, and I believe you should, this is an ideal time to get measured professionally and add a spacer along with the new pad or reduce the LOP if necessary.
Custom stocks are of course highly desireable but the workin' stiff cannot always go that route initially. Spacers can make a big difference.
Get measured professionally with respect to your primary shooting position and I think you will be most pleased with the result.
I've got both a limbsaver and a decelerator. Personally, and maybe this is just because I have shot the gun (338 Win) more recently, the limbsaver seems a little more cushy. Both pads are gread though. The limbsaver is definately comfortable and gets the job done. The decelerator is great too, although right now its on a 6.5 varmint gun, so there isn't alot of recoil to begin with. Both get the thumbs up.(if anything, buy the cheaper one)
Oh, to answer your question, if your getting the winchester in 338 like mine (Sporter LT) I would change out the pad. Especially if you switched out the pad on your guide gun. Full blown 338win loads will kick just as bad(probably worse than some) 45-70 loads.
LOP is established so that with the most common firing position that rifle will see, eye relief on the scope is perfect and you can comfortably control the rifle during recoil.
The LOP is not fixed in stone. My rifles I hunt with have a slightly shorter length because I will be wearing more clothes and possibly having a backpack strap in between. Also, the rifle is shot offhand or in a more upright position so LOP can be shorter.
Rifles I shoot with high mag scopes and low recoil will also have another LOP because of the reduced eye relief AND lower recoil. Rifles I shoot prone have longer LOP, simply because that's how the rifle sits.
I want my rifle to allow me to get a full view in my scope when shouldered. That length also ensures that the scope/thumb does not hit me during recoil. Heavy recoilers will need more LOP in general.
Are you uncomfortable when you shoulder the rifle? Do you need to adjust your eye back and forth to get a good sight picture? Do you get tired holding the rifle quickly? Do you get scope rash? Are you shooting a heavy kicker? Need to wear heavier clothing?
All of these things affect the final LOP I put on my rifles. That length of pull is usually finalized after firing the gun.