Light loads for the .338 Win. Mag.

.338 Handloading with AR 2209
.338 Handloading with AR 2209

Q: I am interested in purchasing a .338 Win. Mag. rifle. Can you tell me if this rifle can be loaded down for use on smaller species of deer up to, say, red stag? Of course, I’d use full- power loads for sambar. I think the .338 is a great gun that can be used on everything from buffaloes on down. I don’t want to own a different rifle for each size game I hunt and am content to be a “one gun man.” Later, I intend using the .338 on a hunt in Alaska.

Sam Harrison

A: Certainly you may load the .338 Win. Mag. down for use on small deer. This is a better course of action than buying a light calibre rifle and attempting to use it on heavy game. I think you’ll find the Nosler 180gn AccuBond bullet an excellent choice for small to medium-size deer. A modest charge of 72gn of AR2209 will produce about 3100fps in most rifles with the standard 600mm barrel length. This is sufficient velocity to give a reasonably flat trajectory and the bullet is still traveling at approx. 2300fps at 200 yds. To drop the velocity any lower than this will result in poor bullet expansion, For an all-around load to be used on all Alaskan game I like the Barnes 225gn TSX FB ahead of 67gn of AR2209 for about 2750fps.






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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.