33 Nosler - what am I missing?

surgeon260

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Dec 18, 2017
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Hello all. I am a long time lurker on this forum, but I recently joined and this is my first post.

I want to build a precision .338 hunting rifle. I have been researching .338 cartridges for a few years now but have not been able to decide on a chambering. This will be for a dedicated elk/moose/bear rifle. The explosion of high-BC .338 bullets in recent years - Berger 250 EH, Hornady 230/270 ELDX - has really driven me to build a .338 hunting rifle.

My velocity goals for this rifle include pushing the 250 Berger at 2900+ and the 230 Hornady ELDX at 3000+. I would also like to be able to push the 250 A-Frame at 2800+ for big bears.

I have ruled out the 338 Win Mag because all of the load data I have seen just doesn't meet my velocity goals (at least not without tons of pressure and a very long barrel). Also I would prefer an unbelted case, which rules out the 340 Bee. I would really like to avoid going too much bigger in terms of case size, i.e. Norma Mag, Edge, or Lapua, because I just don't want THAT much recoil and muzzle blast in a lightweight hunting rifle. I already own a 338 Norma Mag Improved target rifle and it would be an absolute beast if it weighed 10 pounds less than it does. I am not opposed to wildcats like the 338-375 Ruger, although I am not a huge fan of Hornady brass and I hate the thought of that being the only source.

At first glance, the 33 Nosler seems like it might be the chambering that meets all of my requirements, but something doesn't add up. First off, I am completely ignoring all of Nosler's marketing BS about the 33 being faster than a Lapua. That is a ridiculous claim. But the 33 still seems like an interesting cartridge.

Here is what is throwing me for a loop: using my best Googling skills, it looks like the 33 has a case capacity of 89.8 grains of H2O. The 338 Win Mag is at 86 grains of H2O. Are those capacities accurate? I find it hard to believe that the 33 will significantly outpace the Win Mag with only 3 grains more capacity. What gives?
 

tbrice23

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I've owned a 338wm but not a 33N. I do however have a 26N and 28N.
I'm almost certain that the displacement difference is more than 3 gr.
I was pushing 225gr at 2900 from a 24" bbl in my 338WM. ( geez I hated that **** thing).
 

Timber338

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I don’t have a 33N but I do have a 30N, the Nosler cartridges are great. I think the 33 will do everything you want. I own a relatively light weight 338 RUM and you could consider that as well but recoil would be pretty monstrous without a brake.

If you are building a custom 33N I would do some research into a custom throat, and try and decide up front what bullet you want to shoot for your precision load. I would limit bullet weight to 250 grains max to keep velocity around 2900fps, but keep in mind that the 250EH has a very short bearing surface and will require a very different throat than any of the other bullets you mentioned.
 

cjuve

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With the Nosler brass costing as much as Lapua, for me it is no question that I would build off a Lapua for a 338. Don't get me wrong, I own multiple 28 noslers but believe that once you get beyond the .284 there are better cases.
 

LongBomber

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Dec 27, 2008
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I have a 33, havent had a ton of time to play with loads, but 74.5gr h4831 will push a 265LRX right at 2780 from my 26" barrel. That bullet has about the same bearing surface length as a 300 berger, keeps the speeds lower than what they could be I think.

If you are going to use a rem 700 action the 33 case length is about perfect. I seated a 285eld so the boattail is sitting right at the neck/shoulder junction. That just fits in a rem 700 and feeds fine. I have a nosler 48 which limits the coal to 3.4", the action itself has space to go out to 3.9ish but they limit it with the mag box and bolt stop location. You gain another couple grains of working case capacity seated long, I would like to see what a long throated 33 could do.
 

jrsolocam

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That 88.6 number is with bullet seated. Case capacity is more like 98-100...
 

jfseaman

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The 33 N is in power terms more than a 338 WM and less than a 338 RUM or Edge.

It is in a nice sweet spot for just what you describe.

No, it is not the match of the larger 338s like the Lapua, that was marketing non-sense that was put out for stupid reasons.

Mine is actually a 338/26-Nosler which gives a little power edges of the 33 N but I have to make my brass from 26 or 28 N. I made mine before the 33 N was announced. I also have an aversion to the 338 RUM vs. 300 RUM case size fiddling.

So, no you are not missing anything. It is fine without a brake for a hunting rifle. The loading options will fit many applications. Accuracy of a well assembled rifle is going to be outstanding.

Oh and mine is simply a Weatherby Mark V "Alaskan" 338WM rechambered. Very nice, very accurate, very flexible. The barrel diameter muzzle brake doesn't do much but I still like it. Not needed. I will make a thread protector some day instead.
 

Frank in the Laurels

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Jul 15, 2007
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Based on what game you would want to use it on, is there a need fo rprecicsion when the kill zone is the size of a beach ball, not needed in the world of ultra big game HUNTING.. any el cheappo deluxe in.338wm will get the job done and free up your hard earned money in a better project. After all to be honest unless your subsistasnce living how many shots des anyone reallyfire at biggame...seems like a lot of hard earned money for 3 shots per year, your not going to like either off a bench for long..
 

scottw2119

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Jan 5, 2014
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212
If you are looking to have a custom rifle built look at the 338 demon (338-375 ruger) easy to form brass, easy to find brass, nosler is getting ready to start production I have built a few of them with 7828ssc im getting 2855 fps with the 250 berger I havent tried rl33 or other slower powders but it is a absolute hammer.
 

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