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Location: Missouri/Arkansas
Joined: 08/21/2003
Posts: 890
300 win mag or 338 win mag? Semi-auto or bolt-action?

Couldn't find anything about the 12 gauge 3-1/2. It does indicate that the 3-inch 12 gauge magnum shell recoils with around 60 ft-lbs, which is about twice the recoil energy of a 300 Winchester Magnum.

arrowflipper's picture
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Joined: 01/03/2011
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it isn't all about the caliber

I've owned and hunted with a 300 Winchester mag, a 300 Weatherby mag and a couple of 338 Winchester mags.  What I've found is that it's got a lot more to do with the rifle than the caliber, to a certain degree.  The first 300 win. mag I owned was a Huskvarna and it just about killed me.  More than once, I ended up with a cut over my eye from the scope.  The Husky was great to carry but brutal to shoot. 

I then picked up a Weatherby Mark V in 300.  As much as I loved the weight of the Husky, I found that a heavier rifle had a lot less felt recoil.  I kept that rifle and finally had a custom stock put on and it now does more sitting in my safe than hiking around the hills with me. 

I then had a custom 338 made on a model 98 action with a custom stock.  The recoil was acceptable as I had it made fairly heavy. 

I finally picked up a Browning bolt action Stainless Stalker in 338.  I love this rifle.  It's not as heavy as some but the recoil is well within my acceptable range.  I now use this rifle for most of my hunting.  I've taken deer, elk, moose and African game with this rifle and love it.  Some may question its use on deer sized game, but the meat damage seems to be less than with my 25-06 or 270.

Another tip I'd give to someone thinking about one of the larger caliber rifles; use heavy shoulder padding while shooting off the bench.  You will notice the recoil a lot more while sighting in or target practice than in the field.  I don't remember any recoil from any of my shots on animals.  If I could only own one rifle, it would be the 338 win. mag.

Topgun 30-06's picture
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Location: Allegan, MI
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Not going to get in a p***ing

Not going to get in a p***ing match , but all I will say for the last post is OVERKILL on anything short of long range on elk or for the bigger dangerous game!!!

jaybe's picture
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Location: S.E. Michigan
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 It may be more gun than

 It may be more gun than needed to kill something, but in the final analysis, dead is dead.

IMO having "too much" gun is far better than "too little" gun. If you hit an animal with ten times the force it takes to kill it, it won't care. But if you hit it with a caliber/bullet that's too small, it's called a wounded animal that may die a miserable, slow death.


Topgun 30-06's picture
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Location: Allegan, MI
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We're not talking popguns

We're not talking popguns here jaybe.  Anything in the .308, 30-06, .270 is more than enough for anything other than big bears here in North America and they don't have the excessive recoil that the average person can't tolerate.  On the other hand, these big magnums are not needed until you get into the bigger animals like moose and elk and even then only at the longer ranges that you wouldn't want to stretch the other mentioned calibers.  Too many "wannabe" hunters fall back on these big boomers thinking they can hit an animal in the tail with it and it will drop on the spot.  Then they find they can't afford to practice with them because of the expense of the ammo and/or the recoil that has them flinching such that they can't hit a barn wall from inside the barn.  Show me one guy that can shoot that big stuff accurately and that needs it and I'll show you ten that shouldn't have one and are probably wounding more game than the person who is using the proper caliber and staying within their limitations.

Joined: 04/21/2010
Posts: 45
Reply to Topgun 30-06

Well said, Topgun; there should be more hunters in the woods as pragmatic as you are. I have never felt undergunned by not using a magnum. Afterall, it's all about "hunting", not blowing the animal away. But, there again, if a hunter feels more confortable with a magnum of some sort, more power to him. That's what makes our sport great. Sign me, curmudgeon.

rgbwmb's picture
Joined: 02/19/2011
Posts: 26
300wm or 338

Go with the 300wsm...good for whitetails and elk with plenty of bullet choices, won't kick as much as 338 either. Also not a belted cartridge so feeding through your rifle is smoother.

7mm Magnum's picture
Location: Custer, Michigan
Joined: 03/16/2008
Posts: 89
Weapon of choice,...

Personally I for one favor my 7mm Magnum,.. I own a fair selection of the various calibers mentioned here. I was brought up on the 30-06 Springfield as it was my fathers go to hunting rifle choice and I learned on that rifle at the age of 12-13 years old. For a youngster it did have a kick so to say,.. but if you had it shouldered correctly it wasn't all that bad to shoot. I prefer the the 7 mag over it as it has a longer shooting capability as well as a flater trajectory. The comparison of felt recoil between the two of them is barely negligable,.. maybe just a tad more "bite" but with the recoil pads that are now manufactured these days absorb the prime majority of any felt recoil.

I did purchase a .338 WM to elk hunt with out west and find it quite manageable to shoot as well. I'm not a giant of a man by any means, but with the Decelerator recoil pad on it and having it shouldered correctly when shooting it I find the felt recoil is quite comparable to my 7 mag's recoil. I do bring my 7 mag along as a backup weapon just in case of any malfunctions or disasters with the primary rifle while elk hunting out west. The reason for my choice of the .338 was due to the larger frontal area the projectile has,.. bigger holes on both sides = more blood traveling out of the wound plus the wound channel will be larger making for a faster demise. Not to mention the God awful amount of energy the thing produces and transfers to the intended target. All in all a faster and very effective way to drop your animal.

BikerRN's picture
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Old Thread

Forgive me for digging up an old thread but I think some things need to be said. 


For someone to sit there and say that certain calibers are overkill, or too much gun, is hogwash.

The original poster asked about the recoil of certain calibers. That's a valid concern, I think, but that's only my opinion. I had much the same question when I was stepping up to the .300 Win Mag and later the .338 Win Mag. 

What I've learned in that time is that stock fit, gun weight, and additional devices, muzzle brakes and mercury recoil reducers, can do a lot to lessen the perceived recoil of a hard thumping caliber. 

My .300 Win Mag beat me a lot harder than my .338 Win Mag due to the .338 having a custom fitted stock. Both had good recoil pads but the .338 also had a muzzle brake. A properly designed muzzle brake is worth it's weight in gold. 

Just because you use a standard caliber that doesn't mean everyone should. Sometimes the distance one shoots will necessitate the use of a magnum. Other times it may be because of the energy needed. You can't just say,  "Get closer" and have that be a cure all for everything as that's not always an option. 

I have three rifles in my stable for everything from coyotes on up to moose and brown bears. I'll try to give a scenario for each one that I would use each caliber for. 

6.5x284 Norma,  Good out to 650 Yards, or so,  with 130gr TSX for antelope, deer, sheep. Minimal recoil, in my opinion, after shooting the real thumpers.

30-06,  Good to 300 Yards, or so,  with 180gr TTSX for Elk, moose, and deer. Mine is for deer and feral hogs mostly in thick brush. I likely won't shoot this particular rifle past 200 Yards even though it's a 1/2 MOA rifle out to 600 meters. 

.338 Win Mag,  I'm using a 210 grain TSX as my all around bullet due to liking it's better, read that as more, velocity and flatter trajectory when compared to the heavier bullet offerings in that caliber. I can easily use this rifle out to the same 650, or so,  Yards that I would use the 6.5x284 for. 

Granted, it takes time to work up to shooting a bigger caliber and shoot it effectively. I'd rather see someone that practices and shoots all year, no matter the caliber, than someone that thinks he doesn't have to practice because it's a lighter recoiling caliber and he thinks he can hold it steady. The same holds true for someone with a bigger,  harder recoiling, caliber thinking a hit with his, or her,  Magnum will drop anything DRT. No matter the caliber one needs to practice as its all about bullet placement. 

Now with all that said and since we are all just basically giving opinions, some more valid than others, if I could only have one rifle caliber it would be the .338 Win Mag. Some of us are not fixated on the mythical mystique of the '06 and can see beyond it. For me the 30-06 doesn't carry enough terminal velocity at the distances I would frequently use it and I don't need a true long range magnum as I have a self imposed limitation on how far I will shoot that the .338 Win Mag works well for. If I was hunting the browns I'd likely load a heavier bullet and move in closer, like inside 100 Yards, more to test me than the caliber. 

The caliber, .338 Win Mag,  is more versatile than the 30-06 could ever hope to be. Overkill is relative and something can never be too dead. How close to your game are you likely to get? What is your game animal? When you add distance many calibers don't hold up to the hype I've found. That's where the extra push of a magnum comes in handy. 

From shooting I've found myself comfortable in the 300 to 600 meter range. I've found the 30-06 wanting past 400 meters. Yes, I know I've switched from yards to meters. I would encourage anyone reading this to consider how far they plan to shoot, what game animals they will pursue, and how often they will be willing to practice. 

OK,  rant over. I'll be heading to the range this week to confirm my zero and do some shooting for an upcoming deer hunt. The rifle? .338 Win Mag of course. It's my all around caliber. I'm questioning why I ever bought the 6.5x284. 





buffybr's picture
Location: Montana, USA
Joined: 11/15/2007
Posts: 358
300 win mag or 338 win mag

biker, I don't think there is anything wrong with bringing up old threads like this one.  Most new hunters have questions like this and time doesn't change the answers.  I agree with just about everything that you posted, but I've killed enough elk with .30 and smaller calibers that I can't justify a .338 in my battery.

It would be interesting to see what the OP (dentodoc) bought, and how that decision worked out for him.

I also agree with most of what Topgun posted.  My first centerfire rifle was a .30-06 and I killed a pile of deer and elk with it.  I also have a .270 Win as do several of my friends, and they have killed alot of deer and elk with their .270s.  For about 20 years, my favorite elk rifle was a .30 Gibbs which is an "improved" .30-06 with similar ballistics as a .300 Win mag.  Just about every year an elk fell to that rifle, as did a couple of Shiras moose, a mountain goat, and a couple of Alaskan caribou.

My favorite elk (and almost everything else) rifle now is my .300 Weatherby.  Its custom stocked to fit me, is fitted with a KDF muzzle brake and an in-stock mechanical recoil reducer, will shoot a variety of bullets sub moa, and kicks less than a .30-06.  I take it to the range with me just about every week, and love to lay down prone and ring the 430 yard gong with successive shots.

Along with the increased energy of magnum cartridges, they shoot a flatter trajectory which means a longer point blank range.  The trajectory of my .300 Weatherby is +/- 3" out to 330 yards which means that a center hold on just about any animal within 330 yards will result in a lethal hit.  In almost 50 years of very successful western and international big game hunting, there were only a handful of animals that I shot at longer than that range.

I've always handloaded for all of my rifles, pistols and shotguns.  Even at todays greatly inflated prices, because of the increased powder charge, it only costs me about 10 cents per shell more to load a .300 Weatherby cartridge over the cost of loading a .30-06 shell.

As to magnum cartridges blowing extra large holes in animals, I think that has more to do with shot placement and bullet construction.  A shot behind the shoulder into an animals lungs will not damage very much meat, but a shot in the shoulder hitting upper leg or shoulder bone will result in a lot of blood shot and damaged meat.



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