Alaskan Grizzly

Which Calibre For Alaska?

Alaskan Grizzly
Alaskan Grizzly

Q: I have a hunt booked in Alaska next September for bear, moose and caribou. I’m hoping to get there if the border restrictions are relaxed by then. I own a 7mm Rem. Mag. and a .338 Win. Mag. I’ve carried the 7mm overseas a few times, the last hunt being in Namibia. But I am not really comfortable about using it on brown bear. How much advantage would the 250gn .338-calibre bullet have over the 175gn 7mm for bone smashing ability and deep penetration? Could you recommend a good bullet?

John Henderson

A: Penetration is not a function of bullet weight or length. It is dependent on several variables, including bullet construction, sectional density, velocity, how heavy the muscles and bones encountered and other factors. All things considered, I’d not send a boy to do a man’s job. While a typical 175gn 7mm hunting bullet will have a sectional density of around .310, the 250gn .338 bullet has the slightly higher sectional density of.313. Not much difference there, but bullet shape is important: a pointed spitzer is more likely to deflect on meeting massive bone than a semi-spitzer or round nose. When I

Alaskan Porcupine Caribou
Alaskan Porcupine Caribou

hunted Alaska I used my .338 loaded with the Barnes 225gn TSX. You can upgrade the penetration potential of your 7mm and .338 by using stouter heavier bullets, like the Barnes 175gn TSX FB or the 250gn TSX in your .338. However, penetration isn’t your sole concern and bullet weight and diameter is a prime factor on large game. When dealing with big bears, I’d recommend you take your .338 and shoot a bullet like the Barnes 250gn TSX.




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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.