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Centerfire Rifles - Manually Operated Lever action, bolt action or other non gas operated centerfire rifles.

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  #1  
Old 08-11-2018, 2:00 PM
JackEllis JackEllis is offline
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Default What's a .338 Federal Good For?

I have an opportunity to purchase a Savage Model 11 Trophy Hunter in .338 Federal from a friend who lives in Alaska. What's this caliber good for other than a little more punch than my .30-06? The biggest thing I can imagine myself going after is a big elk...maybe...someday...and while something with more power would be helpful with a big elk, I'd use the '06 for everything else except perhaps pronghorn.

I'm not one to own rifles that just sit in the safe so the "can't own too many guns" argument falls on deaf ears.

Any thoughts would be welcome.
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Old 08-11-2018, 2:51 PM
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.338 federal is the little, step brother of the 338 Win Mag. It can be used for deer and pigs but your 30.06 will do as well or better. It's probably almost exclusively an Elk round in North America but honestly doesn't have the punch of the 338 Win Mag. and is better suited for the 200 -210 grain bullets and not the 225 and 250 grainers that makes the 338 WM into a serious elk gun.
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Old 08-11-2018, 5:58 PM
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I can see itís use in lever guns since itís a 308 case. But in a bolt, seems a little eh. Better off with a 338-06 or 35 Whelan for a non mag big bore bolt rifle. Isnít like brass is hard to come by.

I like the idea of a non magnum big bore. Not really useful around here but in a place where Iíd see bigger game like moose and bear, etc., yeah, and it can be good with a lighter bullet for deer, which in those areas run bigger than the small dogs with antlers we have here. But itíd need the long action


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Old 08-11-2018, 6:01 PM
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I wouldn't bother in a bolt gun, but I've been tinkering with the idea of setting up one of my spare AR10 style receiver sets in 338 Fed. It'd be a fun semi auto round.
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Old 08-11-2018, 7:14 PM
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I looked at it. It’s an interesting cartridge. But at the end of the day it didn’t have really any advantages vs the .30-06 save for a few hundred more pounds of energy at short range. Probably a good woods or heavy cover cartridge for elk, moose, bear, etc. but I didn’t need it

Frank
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Old 08-11-2018, 8:42 PM
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Quote:
What's a .338 Federal Good For?
I don't know, squirrels maybe.
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Old 08-11-2018, 9:19 PM
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The 180 gr load is interesting - it has more velocity, more energy, but less recoil than a 180 gr 30-06. Plus it fits in a short action. Which means it also fits in a large frame AR.
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Old 08-11-2018, 9:32 PM
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I’d say it is good for launching a .338 bullet out of a 308 Win case!
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Old 08-12-2018, 7:46 AM
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If you handload it offers nothing except a shorter action.
If you don't reload the smaller case is loaded to higher pressure so it gives you 100 FPS with certain combinations.
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  #10  
Old 08-12-2018, 8:16 AM
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Cool cartridge but it never amounted to much.
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Old 08-12-2018, 9:15 AM
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Thanks for all the comments.

I can get 3,000 FPS from my .30-06 using 150 grain Hornady GMX projectiles and that's good enough for any game I'm interested in at the distances I'm comfortable shooting. It has no compelling advantages over the .30-06 if I wanted to try ringing the bell at long (1,000 yards plus) distances. If I did decide to go with a more powerful cartridge, I'd probably look at a .300 Win Mag or maybe a .375.
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Old 08-12-2018, 11:15 AM
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JackEllis
If you didn't already own a 30-06 there is nothing inherently wrong with the 338.
BUT
As you already own a 30-06 the 338 Federal doesn't offer a significant enough improvement over what you already have to justify you changing chamberings in my opinion.
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  #13  
Old 08-12-2018, 11:59 AM
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I have a .358 Win and I love it. The .338 is similar and is a great gun for 300 yards or less, especially for heavier game. If you don't hunt bear, elk or moose, you probably don't need it. It simply offers the advantages of a bigger bullet, more "smack" and a bigger hole. (My .358 is a custom rifle built on a MRC 99 action, shoots half inch groups pretty consistently and my loads are "over max" as the .358 has been loaded low for levers and semi-autos.)
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Old 08-12-2018, 12:39 PM
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The .338 Federal is a very good 400 yard (max) elk cartridge chambered in a short action, lightweight mountain rifle. Not for those long shots, but rather for the woods. I have a Kimber 84M chambered in .338 Federal and it is a pleasure to hunt with being light, slim, and not overpowered by the round (210 gr. Nosler Partition). My Browning titanium A-Bolt in .300WSM hurts in comparison (similar weight) and I would rather shoot the .338 any day although on paper the .300WSM ballistics are much better.
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  #15  
Old 08-12-2018, 2:02 PM
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If you handload I've seen higher BC loads listed that would stretch the range somewhat.
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Old 08-13-2018, 8:27 AM
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.338 Federal, just so happens I have used one for several years. Ya I use a lot of guns but for the last few years my go to timber rifle most of the time has been my .338 Fed. At this time I own one 30-06 and with 150 grain Sierra GK loads it kills elk just fine just as does the .338 Fed does deer or a elk or anything else I would use it on inside of it's effective range. My hand load go to is the Barns 160 gr. TTSX loaded to 2950 fps and it shoots good. I have a new load to try out one of these days a flextip Hornady 200 gr slug that I have yet to run over the Chrony. The .338 gives you a little more frontal and seems to deliver the shock a tiny bit better, the deer I have shot go dead almost instantly. No tracking, maybe sliding or tumbling until they cone to a stop. In my opinion limited as it is the .338 Fed. is a damn fine 300 yard + or- some for just about anything you care to shoot. Is it better than a 30-06? well people argue the .270 vs 30-06 all the time.............is there a real winner or decision yet, in a dream yes. You want one gun to hunt with, stick with a 30-06 or a .300 mag. HTH
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  #17  
Old 08-13-2018, 12:22 PM
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I think a 338Fed would be a nice rifle to own in a Tikka T-3 Lite.
True I have many others that will do the same thing and some that will do so at longer ranges. But that new stopped me from e buying another differently cambered rifle.
I also think it would be a great cartridge for my Encore pistol. I already have a 308w, 257R, 223, 454Casull and 500S&W barrels for it.
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  #18  
Old 08-13-2018, 7:25 PM
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I wouldn’t mind having a lever gun and an AR chambered for the cartridge. I’d hunt hogs with it. In a bolt action I’d rather have a .338-06.
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  #19  
Old 08-15-2018, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horrendo Revolver View Post
I wouldn’t mind having a lever gun and an AR chambered for the cartridge. I’d hunt hogs with it. In a bolt action I’d rather have a .338-06.
Yep, it's a .338-06 in short pants - not really ready to be sent out to do a man's job.




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  #20  
Old 08-16-2018, 1:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garandimal View Post
Yep, it's a .338-06 in short pants - not really ready to be sent out to do a man's job.




GR
Instead of bad mouthing the .338 Fed. and it's shooters in that round about way. Why not share your extensive knowledge of the .338 Fed. and how you come to the conclusion that it's not capable on big game. How many head of big game did you shoot with not only your .338-06 but the .338 Fed.? Is that your field comparison? What were it's failures or inabilities to kill game? How would you prepare this cartridge for "a mans job"? I really want to know.
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  #21  
Old 11-05-2019, 6:51 PM
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LMT has 338 barrels on sale if anyone is interested.

https://lmtdefense.com/parts/lm338b220s
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  #22  
Old 11-05-2019, 7:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garandimal View Post
Yep, it's a .338-06 in short pants - not really ready to be sent out to do a man's job.




GR
160 grains at 2950 will kill most things. Hell, if you drew a darn chart I'd bet 90% of commercial hunting loads are redundant. It's a good round for medium to large game that isn't overly ornery. If you get a good deal on a nice rifle go for it.
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  #23  
Old 11-06-2019, 12:57 AM
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The reason the 338 Federal exists is so you can have a 338 bullet in a short action.
Think Model 7 mountain rifle or the likes.
Nice lightweight package with a short bolt throw so you can keep your face on the stock between shots unlike many long actions which will tap you in the face while cycling the bolt.
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Old 11-06-2019, 1:30 AM
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For those thinking Lever gun on a 338 cartridge look at the 338 Marlin Express.
Ballistics of a 30/06 and a Hoot to shoot.

I love mine.
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Old 11-06-2019, 4:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Divernhunter View Post
I think a 338Fed would be a nice rifle to own in a Tikka T-3 Lite.
True I have many others that will do the same thing and some that will do so at longer ranges. But that new stopped me from e buying another differently cambered rifle.
I also think it would be a great cartridge for my Encore pistol. I already have a 308w, 257R, 223, 454Casull and 500S&W barrels for it.
Tika made a .338 Federal, I don't know about the "Lite" part but the Tika part yes they did. I shot one before I bought my Ruger. Good cartridge for what he was using it for which was spring bear. He wasn't a reloader so he was limited to factory ammunition. If I had to choose between my 6.5 CM Bergara and my .338 Fed I would choose the .338 Fed in a heart beat. I have shot game with both enough to know what does what and the .338 Fed wins hands down from 350 yards down. 160 Barns TTSX works great across the board for most any big game and when I want more bullet I load the 200 grain Hornady mush point, both are deadly accurate.
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  #26  
Old 11-06-2019, 7:35 PM
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338Federal is about the most power you can pack in a Short Action with a standard (0.473") bolt face. To compare it to a 30/06 or any long action cartridge is unfair. If you have a 30/06, there's not reason for a 338Federal.
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Old 11-07-2019, 6:50 AM
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It’s a cool caliber for up close and personal situations. Heavy timber gun where you’re not shooting long distance.
I really wish 338-06 would be more popular. IMO The 308 case just doesn’t have the powder capacity to push heavy 33 cal pills.
Also you don’t see too many boxes on the shelves.
If you don’t have a an 06 or similar and you can get that rifle for cheap, then maybe.
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Old 11-07-2019, 4:35 PM
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The 338 Federal has a place for sure. And it will certainly down pretty much anything in North America. I believe its limited as a short range cartridge. And 3006 is going to surpass it at extended ranges.

The Federal is really limited to 200gr bullets, for the most part. And although I’ve heard of higher velocities, 2700fps is about it’s limit with the 200gr. pills. The highest the 200gr bullet in .338 variety is squeaking out, is .430BC. It’s about out of breath past 800yds or so. And it’s lost “Big Game” ability LONG before that 800yd drop off point!

But as I said, there is definitely a place for it. I do like the idea of an AR10 in 338 Federal. Interesting proposal.
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Old 11-07-2019, 5:59 PM
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I have a Browning BLR in 358 Win. Really like shooting the lever action 358 Win with 180 grn Barnes TTSX at 2700 fps. 338 Federal looks like a good cartridge just wasn't an option in the lever gun. I think 338 also has some great bullet choices

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Old 11-07-2019, 8:12 PM
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The 338 Federal is to the 338 Win Mag as the 7mm-08 is to the 7MM Mag. In spite of that, the 7mm-08 is still popular.

The 338 Federal is a sensible cartridge if you want a bigger hole but don't want heavy recoil.

The overwhelming number of animals are shot at ranges less than 200 yards.
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Old 11-23-2019, 7:27 PM
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Whats a .338 Federal good for............shooting bucks like this one.

Attachment 851877

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  #32  
Old 11-24-2019, 4:04 PM
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.338 Federal is a .338-08. Similar to the .358 Win. which is a .35-08

Both necked up .308 cases.

As opposed to .338-06, similar to the .35 Whelen/.35-06 which are both necked up .30-06 cases.

All of these rounds will kill just about anything you point them at, so do you want it or not?

Randy
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  #33  
Old 11-25-2019, 4:56 PM
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Iíd say if you reload itís a good caliber. Itíll certainly work I guess it depends how cheap the deal is and if itís worth it for you or not.

I saw about 18 months back CDNN had a cheap clearance deal on nice rifles in the Ruger compact magnum rounds. I thought the reloading headache was worth the cost savings, then discovered just the brass was insanely expensive so I passed on it.
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Old 11-25-2019, 8:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrewN View Post
160 grains at 2950 will kill most things. Hell, if you drew a darn chart I'd bet 90% of commercial hunting loads are redundant. It's a good round for medium to large game that isn't overly ornery. If you get a good deal on a nice rifle go for it.
Ok.

Who loads this one bullet, how much is it a box, and where does one buy them?

A singular bullet w/ a BC of .34 and an SD of .2.

A 150 gr. .30/7mm/.277 will do that with inexpensive ammo on the shelf of every sporting goods store in the Country.


Want something they can't do?

9.3x62mm/286 gr. A-Frame or 250 gr. copper mono.




GR
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Old 11-25-2019, 8:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elk hunter View Post
Instead of bad mouthing the .338 Fed. and it's shooters in that round about way. Why not share your extensive knowledge of the .338 Fed. and how you come to the conclusion that it's not capable on big game. How many head of big game did you shoot with not only your .338-06 but the .338 Fed.? Is that your field comparison? What were it's failures or inabilities to kill game? How would you prepare this cartridge for "a mans job"? I really want to know.
elk hunter
My Pick-up can kill deer.

The .338 Fed, as a cartridge, does not have the velocity, with bullets of optimum BC and SD, to make a versatile rifle.

It is a woods round, and a good one, that may be misused at the whim of the owner to do any kind of shooting they feel compelled to do.

At 300 yards, the .30/7mm/.277 will work better, and work almost as well in the woods.




GR
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Old 11-25-2019, 9:31 PM
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A friend of mine has a 338 federal in a AR platform, well there I was smacking steel at 500 yards when all of a sudden a 338 smack the plate hard enough the plate spun around over the bar it was hanging from. The he shot 2 pigs, over 150 lbs. with 1 shot both through the head, at 120 yards. His AR has a 16Ē barrel a MFn beast.
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Old 11-25-2019, 11:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garandimal View Post
My Pick-up can kill deer.
The new Tesla pickup is better. It's quiet so it can sneak up on them.
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Old 11-26-2019, 6:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garandimal View Post
My Pick-up can kill deer.

The .338 Fed, as a cartridge, does not have the velocity, with bullets of optimum BC and SD, to make a versatile rifle.

It is a woods round, and a good one, that may be misused at the whim of the owner to do any kind of shooting they feel compelled to do.



At 300 yards, the .30/7mm/.277 will work better, and work almost as well in the woods.



GR
Of course your mind is closed, I got that part, your prejudice against something you simply don't like and has no real basis. It's pretty obvious you have zero experience with that cartridge. For whatever reason it doesn't matter and I don't care anymore about your opinion than you do about mine. Don't like me or my opinions......don't read them and put me on ignore as I am you as of now. Get over your self importance bub.
Bye
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Old 11-27-2019, 1:38 PM
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Old 11-27-2019, 3:51 PM
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Well I bought a rifle in that cartridge and would like to find a T/C Encore pistol barrel chambered for it now.
It will put the smack down on deer/pigs/bear and such and even elk at reasonable ranges.
I like it for Ca since it has more frontal area than a 6.5/7mm or 30cal bullets and that does matter with non-lead. The 160gr Barnes TTSX should be really good at 2900-3000FPS.
Wish I had bought one when I could have got it in a Tikka T-3 lite for $400. I did get a new Savage Hog Hunter that is now discontinued I am told. Ordered a Leupold VX3i 3.5X10X40 duplex reticle scope and have bases/rings at home already. Ordered 500 rounds of new brass from Starline. Ordered a couple hundred 160gr TTSX bullets and reloading dies/shell holder. I will have the supplies before I can pick up the rifle.
__________________
A 30cal will reach out and touch them. A 50cal will kick their butt.
NRA Life Member, NRA certified RSO & Basic Pistol Instructor, Hunter, shooter, reloader
SCI, Manteca Sportsmen Club, Coalinga Rifle Club, Escalon Sportsmans Club & NAHA Member, Madison Society member
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