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cgates's picture
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Need help choosing a .338

Next spring I am going black bear hunting in Alaska and want to buy a .338 WM.  I know this may be more than I need for black bear but I am also planning to hunt Moose and other large game in the near future.  I like the Browning X-bolt but the gun length is longer than I want.  Not sure.  Can anyone help direct me to a good .338 WM gun?  Thanks 

Critter's picture
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I doubt that you are going to

I doubt that you are going to find a short barrel rifle in a .338.  Most are designed to get the maximum burn out of the slower burning powders that are used in them.  The easiest way to get a rifle that is shorter in length is to buy a single shot but I doubt that you want to do that. 

I use a .340 Weatherby Mag and have packed it all over some rough country not to mention the brush and thick trees that I have drug that rifle through and I have never had a problem with it being a little longer than a lot of other rifles.  The best thing to do is find a rifle that you like in that caliber and then buy it and not to worry about a couple of inches.    

Tndeerhunter's picture
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.338

The Browning does use a 26" barrel which is a tad longer than some others tend to use for the .338. A couple things you might do. The Ruger 77 Hawkeye uses a 24" barrel which might suit you better. It also has the absolute best scope mounting system going too, IMHO. Of course, you could also simply buy the X-bolt and have a couple inched cut off the barrel. I once did that with a Remington 700 in 8X57 that came with a 24" barrel. At 22" after being trimmed, the rifle simply felt a lot better to me, so I know how you feel about the added length. Yes The shorter barrel will not effect the rifle's accuracy potential at all.

Another option might be to choose the X-Bolt in .325WSM instead of .338WM. Their performance is very similar with the 220gr/.325 load giving very near 4,000 FPE at the muzzle. The .325 comes with a 23" barrel in the X-Bolt. Just a thought.

And good luck on your Alaska trip. I made a trip there last spring and really enjoyed it. Good luck!

 

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Ruger offers a M77 .338 Ruger

Ruger offers a M77 .338 Ruger Compact Mag. which may fit your bill.  Barrel is 20" and from what I've read, it is close to the .338 WM in performance.  Might be worth looking at and comparing to other rifles.

expatriate's picture
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need help choosing a .338

Check into the Remington 700 XCR II.  If you're going anywhere near a coastal area, you'll be dealing with moisture and salt air.  When I hunted browns up there, I found that if I didn't clean and oil my shotgun and bipod on a daily basis, I'd have rust in no time.  But my XCR?  Never a hint of corrosion.  The thing was absolutely impervious, no matter how much salt air, rain, and river dunkings it took.  The XCR II is even better, because it has a matte black coating that makes it less visible than the XCR's stainless finish.  In my opinion, the XCR/XCR II is the best bet for dealing with Alaska's environment.

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If you like the x-bolt, a

If you like the x-bolt, a barrel chop and recrown isn't going to be a terribly expensive gunsmith modification.  Personally I would stick with the 338 WM, finding ammo is going to be easier than the later short and compact magnums.

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I respectfully withdraw my

I respectfully withdraw my ealier post and agree with bitmasher.  I never considered availability of ammo, and I know firsthand that .338 RCM ammo is difficult to comeby and expensive.  I believe, only Hornady offers .338 RCM ammo.  I lived up in AK for a few years and hunted there also.  One memory serves me - where you hunt, there's normally no towns within driving distance, at least where I was.  And if you're going for Brown Bear, you'll most likely be pretty deep.  If you happen to lose ammo or need more, stores you find that carry ammo will most likely only have popular cartridges like the .338 WM.

expatriate's picture
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.338 ammo

AFHunter is right.  I've been all over Alaska, from Barrow to Juneau.  Ammo availabity can be an issue.  My advice would be to take your own ammo with you regardless...planning to buy ammo is a bad plan if your outside of Fairbanks or Anchorage.  If it's there and  you don't need it, great.  But if you need it, you may be SOL.

Interestingly, if you get into native areas, you might find .338 tough to come by, too.  I saw a lot of .30-06 and .270 in Barrow.  Natives often aren't as keen on the big magnums because they're more confident in ability, big rounds ruin more meat, and big rounds are more expensive.

Overall, once you get outside the big cities, the best bets for local ammo are .30-06, .300 WM, and .338 WM.  If you go bigger, .375 H&H is the dominant round.

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