Q: I’m a one-gun man who owns a Winchester Model 70 in .338 Magnum and I intend to handload it with light bullets for use on deer. My hunting mates say it is too much gun for fallow and red deer, but I say when the .338 is loaded with A bullet like the 180gn AccuBond to a velocity of 3200 fps it will shoot as flat and kill even more spectacularly than their .270 and 7mm Magnums. Do you agree?
A: I suppose a lot of shooters would agree with your mates, but I am not one of them. I have owned and used my .338 Win. Mag. for 26 years now. It is built on a Zastava M70 action and long-throated, but I settled for just one load – Barnes 225gn TSX and 78gn of AR2209 for 3023fps- which served me well hunting in Alaska and other places.
The lightest bullet I’ve used is the 200gn Ballistic Silvertip which develops 3226fps with the same charge of AR2209. Hornady makes a 185gn bullet, but what’s an extra 15 grains in weight gonna prove? While the .338 is far more gun than one needs for bumping off fallow and red stag, it would be an excellent choice for sambar.
I believe the .338 is one of the finest all-around big-game cartridges of all time. I have loaded the Barnes Original 300gn solid to 2450fps and if that bullet won’t break both shoulders on the largest buffalo bull, then I’ll eat my hat. Don’t worry about what your pals say and have every confidence in your rifle.