A Review of the .338 federal cartridge by: Lyndon combs
The year was 2006, two companies had debuted a new cartridge...... Federal Cartridge Company, and SAKO firearms released the .338 Federal cartridge. It was created by simply taking the .308 Winchester case, necking it up to .338, and stamping .338 Federal on the case head. By doing this Federal made a wildcat cartridge a legit offering to the shooting world. The great idea of this cartridge had been around for some time, wildcatters as well several famous gun writers had toyed with the idea. Some stated that it was a useful cartridge idea, and a few others thought of it as less than worthwhile to pursue. Luckily the ones that knew what they were talking about kept it alive so, and the smart R&D people with Federal cartridge could see the cartridge for what it was.... a very useful cartridge, well balanced, and worthy of being legitimized.
The .338 Federal Cartridge is a happy balance of punch, and easy recoil. Producing more energy than the classic .30-06 Springfield. Similar muzzle velocity and energy as the 7MM Remington Magnum utilizing bullets of similar weights, but with less recoil. I can not stress enough that this cartridge... despite being a .338 caliber cartridge is not an arm buster. The Ruger M77 Hawkeye All Weather weighing in the neighborhood of 7 lbs. is very pleasant to shoot,,,.,, far easier to shoot than many short action deer cartridges. This rifle/cartridge combination is ideal for the mountains of Eastern Kentucky able to shoot through small limbs and twigs without a problem to travel on to the target delivering a nice punch. As evidenced in the pictures below....... In the first one you can see behind the target the path of the bullet ( 225 grain SPEER Hot-Core) that went through the target then on through the brush to travel on into the hillside behind. In the second picture you will see the path of the bullet that went through a limb, not seen is that the bullet continued on into the target hitting just above the bullseye. The third picture shows the target that was hit from numerous angles, and distances.
Previously I mentioned that the .338 Federal is a .308 Winchester case necked up to .338 caliber.... now as a handloader I love the fact that if I can't find .338 Federal Cases to load.. I can use .308 cases simply by using a little Lee Precision lube, and running the case through my Hornady resizing die. This is a very simple process that anyone that handloads can do themselves.... all that is need after necking the case is to trim, clean and load. The .308 case is a case that is plentiful... I have even found them laying around on the ground at the spot I shoot as well as picking them up in numerous other places. This makes a new cartridge very versatile as many shops will not stock cases for a new cartridge like the .338 Federal. Since the cartridge is a .338 caliber offering means that the handloader has many great choices to choose from in selection of bullet weight, construction, and brands. Most recommend the .220 - 210 grain bullets as best for the .338 Federal, but I like other choices such as the SPEER 225 grain Hot-Core, Barnes 185 grain TTSX bullet, and of course the majority of bullets I use are from the wide variety of Horandy bullets.Another factor about this cartridge is that Federal did it right, by offering a wide variety of factory ammunition choices everything from their economy American Eagle to the higher end Vital Shok...... the best of which is the Federal 200 grain Trophy Copper.
The .338 Federal has found a spot in my heart, and I intend to do a great deal more with this cartridge/rifle combination. The .338 Federal is a happy balance of punch, accuracy, and recoil that is a pleasure to shoot. I am currently working on a load using the Hornady FTX bullet that is used in their successful line of Leverevolution ammunition. I hope to complete some videos on matters mentioned in this article such as the necking up of .308 Winchester cases. I am also watching for a shot at a big Coyote that is coming through some brush near where I shoot on a regular basis.... As you can tell you are going to be hearing a great deal more in the future on the ,.338 Federal cartridge.
Below are some links that will take you to more information on the .338 Federal cartridge.
Update: December 5, 2013....... I have been reloading for this cartridge for some time now, and took the rifle hunting this Deer season after I had finished some work on the action, and free floated the barrel with the Venom Wedge... if you have followed the blog you have seen the difference in accuracy it made to the rifle, but if you haven't a picture is below so you can compare with the pictures above for a comparison. It was a poor season... one small Buck, and many many Does running around the mountain. I have worked up one that load that is probably going to be my primary load. The recipe as follows....... Hornady 200 grain SPRP, Lee Dipper #1.6 twice which equals 43.0 grains of IMR-4064 propellant, Winchester Large Rifle Magnum Primer, Federal Case (also use Hornady 308 Winchester Match cases necked up) trimmed to 2.015" and overall cartridge length of 2.490 min- 2.820 max. This load generates in the neighborhood of 2,500 fps. and with a zero of 100 yards.... it shoots -0.6" @ 25 yards, 0.2" @ 75 yards, with a double zero @ 50 yards drops to -5.3" @ 200 yards. I have other loads that are still in the testing phase, and will publish them as soon as comfortable.
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