Recoil - 300 Ultra vs 338 Ultra


Well-Known Member
May 21, 2008
South of Canada and North of Wyoming
I am toying with the idea of getting a 338 RUM or rebarreling my 300 RUM when it burns out. My only hesitation is recoil and I dont like brakes. This would be a carry rifle and although I do put ear plugs in when I have the time in the field, I dont always have that time. I like the idea of a 338 because it would be a better elk killer and the barrel life would be better.

Presently, I normally use a slip-on recoil pad for load work and practice and it makes shooting the 300 very tolerable.

Does anyone have experience shooting both without a brake and if so what is your opinion on the difference in recoil.


I shot a 12 inch pull, 8# 338 Win Mag with a full load of powder behind a 250 class bullet. First shot, from bench, hurt. Second shot from the bench resulted in tears in eyes and a quite lengthy one armed flapping rain dance.

I immediately fell in love with brakes. Swapped a 338 RUM in to the action and full tilt, 2700+ FPS MV w/300 SMKs with tupperware stock and brake are a dream. 105#, 5' 8" pole of a grandson shoots it prone with no problems.

I'd recommend going the 338 RUM route and go the brake way. Sleep with the brake for a while, you'll fall in love with it.:)

Its really worth it to spot your shots even when some times the rest isn't all that good.
The only person that can answer that question is you, everyone on this forum has a different tolerance for recoil. Some don't like any recoil & some can take a really healthy dose without batting an eye.
For me personally, I own a 300 ultra & have put quite a few rounds down a 338 ultra, the 338 pushes a little harder but isn't that bad at all.
I didn't really like shooting my Remington 700 338 RUM a lot at the range, I like to hold it kind of easy. It takes it's toll after a while.
My new 338 RUM barrel is going to have a Muscle brake on it.
300 rum and 338 rum can be very similar depending on what bullet your using. I find that the 300 rum pushing 220's-240's similar to 338 rum pushing 215's. However a 338 rum pushing 300's a different story...more uummff than a sharp push. both w/o brakes for me are ok till about the 15th round. Future buiids will be with a break as the older I get the more my tolerence for recoil is diminishing. +1 with what others have said and consider a brake...not all of them blow sh&% all over ya.
Thanks for the replys guys. Roy, you did a good job giving me a visual of doing the one armed flapping rain dance :)

You guys have done a good job on convincing me to use a brake, and who knows maybe I will. But I'll porbably try it without first. the recoil calc says the 300 will give me about 31 ftlbs vs 41 ftlb for the 338. This is just a pipe dream ATM and I'm thinking of making it a switch barrel on one of my Sendero frames. I could use the same Redding bushing die as the 300 and have another cal for the price of the barrel and smithing.

Thanks again for the help,

Put a #5 contour barrel on the 338RUM and one or two recoil compensators in the butt stock. The weight of the compensators in the butt stock will balance the heavy barre and you may be able to stand it that way.

On mine I used a #5 contour 26" Brux barrel and had the gunsmith put a custom port on it

and put 2 mechanical recoil compensators in the stock

and shooting 225 gr bullets at 3100 fps it kicks like my 300 win mag shooting 200 gr bullets at 2900 fps.

The porting is not as effective as a full blown brake but no one at the range complains about it being excessively loud and it does not blow chit off the bench or your hat off your head either. The main thing is I can shoot it all day with no effect on my old shoulder.
Great pics Woods and thanks. I've thought about recoil reducers. Was even thinking of putting in two. It would add some weight to an already heavy carry rifle. The lighter contour would make up for it, but not sure I want to go lighter than a Sendero contour for a 338 with 27" or greater barrel.

Something to think about though.


I shot a 12 inch pull, 8# 338 Win Mag with a full load of powder behind a 250 class bullet. First shot, from bench, hurt. Second shot from the bench resulted in tears in eyes and a quite lengthy one armed flapping rain dance.

I've never been recoil shy. But I have a Ruger M77 MkII .338 WM, in the "boat paddle" stock. With that thing Ruger called a recoil pad (piece of a tire to me), she could be a bit abbrassive when pushing 225's and 250's to their limits. My Shoulder looks like a grilled steak everytime I get done at the bench with it.

With that said, I'm wanting to rebarrel my .300 RUM Sendero to .338 Edge. I just have a fondness for the .338's. Recoil is a very subjective thing, and it effects everyone differently. I shoot things people twice my size won't. So just find someone to let you try theirs before you make any decisions.
Get a good smith to port it. I have a very similar port on my 338 impLapua as does Woods. Noise wise it is about the same as any magnum w/out a brake, but it helps tremendousy with recoil. In a prone position, I shoot only with my trigger hand on the stock and recoil is actually mild shooting 300smk's at 2900.
I have both, also. I thought about a brake, but tried a Limbsaver recoil pad first. Night and day difference, and now I don't even think about a muzzle brake. Both of my RUMs are lightweight rifles, or as lightweight as a 26" barreled rifle can be. SS and composite stocks. I shoot 180s in the 300 and 225s in the 338. Hard to tell a difference in the felt recoil. I am kinda like the poster above, shoot things that a lot of people bigger than me won't touch.

On both my composite stocked rifles, the pads were a drop-in replacement for the factory pads.
I forgot to add, my father is looking for a 300RUM, since he likes mine so much, so I have been looking at lots of loads, and ballistics for it. Since you are thinking about either one, I would suggest running the numbers through the calculators to compare the performance. I am not sure what bullets you are going to shoot, so my numbers may be different.

When I ran my loads through a recoil calculator, I came out with 1 ft/lb difference between the 300 and 338. I can tell you, it doesn't feel much different on the shoulder.
Recoil calculator:

Recoil Calculator at

I run some loads through the calculator from Hornady, there are others, this is just one of many, but it will give you info to compare loads for the two.
I came to the conclusion that there isn't but a couple of inches difference between the two calibers, with a slight edge to the 300, but the 338 is right on its heels, and with more energy at longer distances.

Ballistics calculator:

Ballistics Calculator - Hornady Manufacturing, Inc
Brakes do reduce recoil but you will suffer hearing loss. I have some tinnitus and if I shoot my 300 RUM with the "quieter" VAIS brake with plugs and good muffs my ears ring much louder for a day or so. This tells me that the brake is far more intrusive that imagined. If you make the mistake of shooting at game without a brake you will suffer irreversible hearing loss. A brake is your choice. If you do get one at least get one that you can remove and replace with a thread protector.

If recoil is a bit much to endure you can always load it down a bit. The 338 RUM would still outperform a 338 win mag and perhaps over time you could work up to max loads.
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