Elk Build--.300 Dakota, Norma, or .338 Norma?

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by Conrad, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. Conrad

    Conrad Well-Known Member

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    I've decided to build an elk hunting rifle that packs some punch, but something I can still hike with. I have a scope whose reticle will match moderately high BC bullets and moderately high velocities. So basically .57 to .62 to .72 with velocities from 3050 2750 fps.

    I'd like to shoot accubonds, and the above scope lead me to center around shooting a 200 grain .30 cal accubond around 3000 fps.

    I have a 29" 5R 1:10 Krieger blank sitting in the safe.

    My research has me comparing the .300 Dakota and the .300 Norma Mag.

    Looks like I have to get custom dies for the Dakota. Looks like Brass is a long wait currently for the Norma.

    The appeal of the Norma is that I could shoot a 24" barrel and still achieve velocity. I'd like to have this handier length barrel. However, Quickload shows the rounds to be very comparable, and the Dakota doesn't give up much velocity in comparison and it's using roughly 10 grains less powder with the same barrel length. I might be pushing it close to max pressures though (QL shows 59k, but is that right?). Running the Norma at moderate pressures is appealing. I would like some first hand experience to confirm QL data. Leaning towards Norma, but the efficiency of the Dakota is interesting.

    I shoot a .338 Norma mag in a heavy ELR rig. The other option is to sell the .30 cal barrel, get another .338 and build another .338 Norma mag since I already have the brass and dies, and shoot the 250 accubonds. I'm not sure I can get away with a remington varmint contour with the .338 Norma mag? I'm trying to keep the rifle around 10 to 12lbs all up. Not sure about recoil with the 250's either. Not recoil sensitive persay, but my big .338 weighs 17lbs and is braked. Should I just man up to .338 and 250's or am I on the right track with the .30 cal options?

    Experience, thoughts, and opinions appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Conrad
     
  2. jrsolocam

    jrsolocam Well-Known Member

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    I was going through the same type of decisioning. I wanted a lighter weight (not real light) hammer for elk and such at long range. I settled on a .300 Dakota on a Mark V action I had, #4 Brux at 26" and McMillan Edge. I hope to shoot either 210 or 215 Bergers, maybe try 230's. With the long box I'll be able to seat bullets out a ways. Weight should be light enough to carry and heavy enough to absorb some recoil, I don't want a brake on it.

    300 Dakota I think is about ideal case capacity for a hunting .30 cal. QL shows it almost equals RUM velocity with less powder at equal pressures. Brass isn't cheap, but the Normas you mention aren't either. I could spend money on worse things than Dakota brass at $1.80 each. If brass is a little soft so what? Its not a competition rifle. I'm pretty anxious for this build to get done!

    I like the Dakota round, it looks like a WSM and RUM hooked up....:D
     

  3. sp6x6

    sp6x6 Well-Known Member

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    I think all your choices are good.I like the Norma case and brass,but the Dakota looks good also. I already have my light hunting set up and it is a 338 Norma. I hope to get a Sako TRG,WHICH is close to custom,without the cost. In a 338 lapua, shoot the heck out of it for fun,then either Imp it or turn it into a Norma.
     
  4. Conrad

    Conrad Well-Known Member

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    Very cool. How much are you expecting your rig to weigh?

    I grabbed the Krieger remington varmint blank primarily because it was available and it was a 5R (For what that's worth). When I run the numbers I think I'll be doing good to hit 12lbs, but some weight isn't a bad thing with these large rounds.

    Action: 2.5lbs + Barrel: 4.5lbs (cut to 24")+A3 stock 2.5lbs + bottom metal: .75lbs+Scope and Rings: 2lbs = 12.25lbs

    I know I can get the A3 lighter, but I haven't decided on Edge with paint, or regular with molded in camo. I've weighed my blank at 5.2lbs at 29" and have done some calculations to come up with my rough 4.5lbs at 24".

    I still have (some, haha) of my youth, and my competition rifles run 16 to 18lbs. Nonetheless, for whatever reason 10 to 11lbs sounds more appealing? :rolleyes:

    Am I overthinking it, or is a lighter contour recommended since I see you went with a #4.

    Sp6x6, what does your light .338 NM weigh in at and what stock and barrel contour did you go with?

    Agreed, cost of brass isn't an issue, especially with a bolt action hunting rifle.

    Decisions, decisions, thanks for the help yall.

    -Conrad
     
  5. Conrad

    Conrad Well-Known Member

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    Just weighed my little 22" .270 with VXIII 4.5-14 and it comes in at 9.3lbs so maybe ~12lbs is pretty reasonable.

    My .338 NM is on an Eliseo tube chassis, and I broke it all down last night and if I put on his new AR15 adapter and ran an ace skeleton stock I could come in around 14lbs. Pierce would simple machine my barrel and it'd be ready to go as I can simply screw the barrel on. However, 14lbs is getting kinda bulky, and the cheek weld on that ace wouldn't compare to an A3 unless I put some pipe insulation on it ;). I think an A3 would be sleeker and easier to pack, the Eliseo forend tubes are pretty wide, and the chassis at the action is pretty deep.
     
  6. aspenbugle

    aspenbugle Well-Known Member

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    --.300 Dakota, Norma, or .338 Norma?

    I agree with your thinking. I built a 300 Dakota about 10 years ago, on a #6 Krieger (I think). I love the gun and have used it as my primary hunting rifle all that time and taken lots of game. I chose it for the same reason - seemed to be at the "sweet spot" of the performance curve -- any more velocity takes a LOT more powder. As long as you are staying with 200 gr or below, I think either is a great choice. My biggest hesitation on the Dakota and slight pet peeve is the brass. I don't mind the price for good stuff, but it seems they have someone new making it every other year or so. I got excited when they were linking up with Norma, but that didn't last long. I don't know, it works fine and isn't horrible, but it's pricey and you are always "hostage" to them. When loading for accuracy, it sure is fun to use Lapua or real sweet brass, or buy 100 and cull through them, but at about $2 a pop culling isn't quite so fun. Again, maybe not a reason not to go with it, but that part has made me fall out of love with it a bit. If the Norma is a good alternative, I think I may lean that way.
     
  7. Conrad

    Conrad Well-Known Member

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    AspenBugle, you make good points. While I know I can special order Dakota dies, and I've seen the brass available on Midway, it seems that the NM is the more popular round. Forster dies are readily available, and the Norma brass is backordered which is actually a good sign showing demand. I really want to drive the 200gr AB at 3000 fps from a 24" barrel. Do you think that is doable with the DK, or would I be pushing it to the fring of its pressure limit? The extra case capacity of the NM would let me run it moderately and achieve velocity.....just seems like a lot of dang powder. People often quote good velocities on a variety of cartridges, but fail to mention their running 28" barrels. I run a 28" on my .338 NM, but I want to be able to hike with this new rig. What velocity do you get with 200gr bullets and your DK?

    I've also kicked around the .30/375 Ruger. It's appeal is no bolt face work (I think), but I'm not sure I want do do all the brass work. 300 NM seems to be the front runner.


    Thanks,
    Conrad
     
  8. sp6x6

    sp6x6 Well-Known Member

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    My Norma is 7-2 oz bare. With 6-20x50 Mar 4 ,sling,atlas,loaded,level ACI-9-12 OZ. I am nocking on 50 ,but love the high country. All the gear catches up with you.I built light as a main goal,but top componenets,rifle is a 1/2 moa type.Abs barrel 26'' braked,Lonewolf stock,Defiance .This is the country I hunt,been on every piece you can see and in clouds area where you cant
     

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  9. Conrad

    Conrad Well-Known Member

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    I love the high country too. Your rifle sounds exactly like the .300 WSM I helped my buddy spec out. Lonewolf thumbhole, abs carbon barrel, and Defiance action. Great rifle.
     
  10. sp6x6

    sp6x6 Well-Known Member

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    This is the Norma,waiting for a bear,sitting in a saddle I made for my sportsman tripod and Atlas. My kid and a bud pulled 2 bear out of here this spring and I passed a not yet big enough chocolate
     

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  11. jrsolocam

    jrsolocam Well-Known Member

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    Conrad,

    I'm thinking mine will weigh about 8.75 or so, without optics. I chose a #4 Brux because I have one on another rifle and its about as heavy as I think will handle well. I still want a rifle versatile enough to "point and shoot" if I have too. My gun builder reminded me that its the first cold bore shot that matters, and the Brux #4 is .67 at the muzzle, its not too light.

    I ran the 300 Dakota w/ 200 Accubond, 24", and 60K PSI. The following common powders gave between 2930 - 2980 fps: MAGPRO, MRP, RL25, Magnum and Retumbo. 3,000 might be achievable but they will be hot no matter which one you use.

    You should take a look at the new McMillans, the A3 Sporter in Edge would shave a little weight and be a more versatile stock.
     
  12. aspenbugle

    aspenbugle Well-Known Member

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    Conrad
    I've got a 26" barrel and get around 3000 with the 200gr. I can get a bit more, but it's not always my most accurate load, and there again is where lesser brass gives way...it doesn't take too many near-max loads to loosen the primer pockets. I think you can get very close to 3000 with a 24" barrel without much problem, using about 77-78 grains of RL 22 or similar - your brass may not last a long time though. How much powder was the Norma going to use to get that? By the way, Barnes #2 and other sources had better powder numbers for me than Nosler etc...the Nosler #s were wimpy and made it look like the 300 mag had longer legs than the Dakota. Again, I may lean to the Norma. I know some guys with 338 Normas that swear by the thing.

    My rifle is 11 lb + scoped (Nesika action, McMillan stock, Swaro 3-12). I go like a mountain goat with it, but I won't lie that 3 lbs lighter wouldn't be nice at times (I'm 6'0, 200, and wrong side of 40). It is also not easy to shoot off-hand. I've had to try learning to wrap the sling around the arm etc. to help stabilize it - if not, it's tough. I missed a monster mulie in MT before learning that trick... I'm a better shot with it at 600 than I am at 100 off-hand without sling assist. The Butler Creek stretchy slings sure make the weight more bearable on the shoulder too. I also think if you decide to go above the 200 gr, the Norma will handle it better as the Dakota starts running out of gas.

    I see some others replying have much lighter rifles, which is great too. I think if it's primarily a carry rifle with the ability to make some long pokes when needed, the lighter route may be best. However, if it will primarily be a "ridge sitter" with the ability to hunt there and back and around (secondary) - I think your mention of 10-12# may be a safer bet (my $.02 - even in the steep stuff like sp6x6 shows - I hunt that as well). Even if only for a first cold bore shot, your odds of getting a real good shooter seem to go up by having at least a #4 or heavier. I don't want to start an argument - just sharing what I've learned from many discussions with higher-end long-range gunsmiths and barrel makers. Sure you can get a #2 to give you 1/2 moa - but it's much harder to find that barrel, load, bedding, etc. formula to do it with than if you start with a #4 or larger. As jrsolocam pointed out, using an edge stock is a good way to save some weight - I'd rather cut it there than too much in the barrel. In fact, I just re-investigated all this as I tried to put together a nice custom 260 for my 12-year old (and me - grin) - she needs it light to aim well (hold up), but darn, I want it to shoot good too. Got the edge stock - some guys can bed and finish them for not much more than McMillan asks for them retail btw.

    Is your varmint contour going to be 4.5 lb when cut down? If I'm reading their contours right, that's even a fair bit heavier than my #6. Good for a ridge, but bad for that elk that pops up at 50 yards in the timber - yikes. Even knocking some weight off with fluting (I did) - I think you may be too heavy for a reasonable point-n-shoot. I can certainly vouch on that part. My fluted #6 is hard to point and aim, and the weight isn't in that last two inches you're cutting off. I don't think you'll like it for anything off-hand, that's for sure. I'm marginal with my sling tight on my arm...but maybe you have skills I don't :) or maybe you can be quick with the shooting sticks...
     
  13. jrsolocam

    jrsolocam Well-Known Member

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    Aspenbugle had some excellent points. Great post. Trying to find the right balance between portability/handling and long range accuracy is more difficult than it sounds. I've have #3,#4, and #5 barrels, and have decided that for myself, #4 with Edge is the best compromise. I try to make up for the lighter barrels with alot of practice and good optics. I have a 300 RUM in an A5 with a 28" Sendero contour, and while its nice to shoot, I don't enjoy carrying that beast around anywhere. I'm on the wrong side of 40 too.

    Where I hunt I get plenty of chances for long range shots, but like we all know, the animals don't always co-operate, and sometimes a quick shot is needed.

    What I really need to do is carry 2 rifles, maybe I could hire someone...:D
     
  14. durak

    durak Well-Known Member

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    After reading all the posts, and maybe I just plain missed it, why not a 300 RUM? The RUM will get a 200gr AB past 3000 without even trying.