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Mike's Monthly Monologue About Shooting
Volume 1, Issue 3 - August 1, 2012  -  Other Issues  -  Articles/Downloads

by Mike Price
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What if we could have a rifle and cartridge combination that meets our needs for taking big game, having no more than a 24 inch barrel? The receiver would be no longer than the standard 30-06 in length and have reasonable recoil. Hunters could take everything from white tail deer to the largest Alaskan Brown bears. It would not destroy meat any more than a 130gr bullet out of a 270. It would buck the wind at distances most hunters would consider reasonable and with plenty of energy to anchor anything in North America and most of Africa out to 400 yards. It is manufactured by 90% of the major gun companies. Also, with some bullets and loads in the right hands, this cartridge and rifle could be very effective beyond 400yds.

When it comes to rifles and cartridges, we are constantly reinventing the wheel. Why do we do this? Among other reasons, I am sure it is for marketing purposes to keep gun companies relevant and in business. In a few years the next line of new wonder cartridges and their platforms will be given birth. They will be marketed as better than previous offerings or as the next best thing. The prevailing attitude held by some will likely be that the engineers, riflemen, and hunters of the past were uninformed, misled, or just not intuitive enough.

Sometimes it truly isn't necessary to reinvent the wheel when there is a cartridge already in existence that fits the above description and has been here since 1959. It is the .338 Winchester Magnum rifle. It is easy to load, accurate, has reasonable recoil if stocked correctly and it hits like a hammer. It has velocities that are perfect for the bullets manufactured for big game in .338 calibers and this makes it very versatile. As one friend of mine said, "With the 338Win Mag you could kill everything from mice to moose and even a big mean spirited bear up close." He ought to know since he and others have used the 338Win Mag in these very circumstances.

Most of us who have been around guns and hunted most of our adult lives know that a 30-06 with an 180gr bullet is very effective in most situations. In light of this fact a .338 Winchester Magnum using a 250gr bullet, has a striking energy that is around 25% greater than the 30-06 with the 180gr bullet. Also the .300 Winchester Magnum and the 300 Weatherby Magnum are about the same when it comes to energy. Yet the .338 Winchester Magnum's bullet has a cross-sectional area that is 20% greater with a momentum factor that allows greater penetration due to 70grs more bullet weight.

The 338 Win Mag is a tremendous medium bore that hits with a hard crushing blow. There are a great number of suitable bullets ranging from 180grs to 300grs to meet any scenario the hunter might want to encounter. With such a great selection of bullets, one could imagine a sequence of possible events in the field as a North American hunter and feel confident you are well armed. It can be downloaded to 338RCM, 338-06 or 30-06 levels and still produce excellent accuracy, showing its versatility.

On smaller species of big game the 338Win Mag with 180gr to 225gr bullets work just fine. In this weight class there is the 210gr Nosler Partition that is a good choice for smaller game, while being the exception in this group due to the fact it is also highly effective on the larger species of big game.

The 210gr Partition with velocities between 2980fps and 3010fps has very good accuracy and flat shooting. It is a hard hitting combination that really allows the 338Win Mag to stand out as a long range load while still devastating up close.

Of course for the really big targets on special hunts the 250gr bullets are real game slayers. Bullets from 250gr to 300gr in the 338Win Mag do not have to apologize, nor are they inferior for any of the tasks handed them when taking big and dangerous game. I have owned and hunted with the 338Win Mag off and on for some 20 years. I certainly agree with the great hunters and guides of today and in the past who have known for years the very effective killing power of this fine medium bore cartridge.

If you find yourself confused with the multitude of choices when it comes to Magnum cartridges for big game, just remember you don't have to reinvent the wheel. With plenty of factory ammunition available, lots of great bullet choices for the person who hand-loads, and rifles from many of the major manufacturers, you just can't go wrong. Go to the nearest gun shop and purchase a 338 Winchester Magnum and know that you have in hand what it takes to hunt all kinds of big game in North America as well as most of Africa.

Mike Price is a lifelong shooter, hunter and reloading enthusiast. He has been published at AmmoGuide.com, Guns & Ammo and Nosler. His article "Green Boxes", available at AmmoGuide.com, is posted in the bullet production area at Sierra. Mike has traveled to Africa, Europe, Asia, parts of Central America. His favorite two hobbies are spending time with grand children and taking them hunting. Mike holds a Ph.D in Philosophy and Psychology, is a licensed clinical therapist, adjunct professor and Minister in the Church of Christ. To read more by Mike, CLICK HERE.

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