338 Federal Ammo
The 338 Federal ammo is the best deer and elk cartridge you’ve probably never fired or maybe never heard of. But you should have. This efficient short-action cartridge flattens game like the hammer of Thor without kicking you in the shoulder like a stubborn mule.
So why is it so uncommon? Well, it has a couple of “issues” that turn many hunters off. One, it throws heavy .338 bullets. Once hunters in the U.S. get to .308, they’re pretty much done. The old .30/06, the .308 Winchester, or any of our many .300 magnums will handle any game stateside and most anything anywhere else on the globe. So why go bigger? Second, the .338 Federal launches its 180- to 250-grain bullets from a small, short-action case (.308 Winchester). Most shooters have no problem with short-action cartridges if they throw bullets faster than the .308. That’s why the .243 Winchester, .260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Remington, and now .277 Fury are wildly successful. The .338? It’s hiding in the basement.
Before we dive more deeply into why this cartridge gets no respect, let’s outline what it does. Yes, it’s pretty much just the .308 necked up to take .338-inch bullets. But here’s the thing: When loaded with 180-grain bullets, the little .338 kicks out more muzzle energy than a 7mm Remington Magnum pushing 160-grain bullets. It recoils less than a .30/06 throwing 180-grain bullets and at 300 yards drops only a measly 1/2-inch more.
If that doesn’t impress you, look at it this way. Load 210-grain bullets in a .338 Winchester Magnum and a .338 Federal. Zero both for their Maximum Point Blank Ranges (MBPR). At 300 yards the Federal will drop just 1.5 inches more than the Winchester Magnum. And it’ll slap your shoulder with 12 ft/lbs less recoil.
All of this should impress the many North American hunters who celebrate the mid-caliber deer rounds of the good old days, like the 32 Winchester Special and 35 Remington. Those, the old timers insist, put deer down now—hard. Heavy bullet. Wide bullet. Dead deer.