Q: Some say the .30-06 is the best big-game cartridge of all time, but many hunters are not convinced. They favour the .300 Win Mag, which they credit with being one of the most inherently accurate cartridges ever designed. But I am looking for a cartridge that is the best all-rounder, one that will handle a wide variety of game from deer to buffaloes. What’s your recommendation?
– Dennis McClure
A: In my opinion, the .338 Win Mag is the best all-round cartridge. It is big enough for game such as buffaloes, yet not so big as to be ridiculously so when used on deer-sized game from fallow to wapiti. The .338 shoots as flat as the .270, hits harder than the .300 Win Mag, is accurate and is much kinder to the shoulder than magnums of larger calibres.
I am a great believer in “one rifle, one load” and the universal load in my long-throated Whitworth Express in .338 drives the 225gn Barnes TSX at 3000fps without any pressure pangs using 81gn of RE-19. That load will handle cervus up to the size of moose and African plains game like eland.
For buffaloes the original Barnes 300gn FMJ over 68gn of RE-22 for 2460fps treads close on the heels of the great .375 H&H and can be depended upon to break both shoulders on the biggest bull as effectively as a 300gn FMJ from the .375.
The .338 is a good cartridge, one I didn’t learn to appreciate until I took it to Alaska, where it is a most popular calibre with bear hunters.