.338 Federal On A Roll

Hotshot Cartridge Gains Ground Among Shooters, Gun Makers.

.338 Federal Ammunition
.338 Federal Ammunition
Federal Premium

USA – -(Ammoland.com)- After scoring high marks from critics and drawing legions of loyal fans since its debut in 2006, the .338 Federal continues to gain widespread favor among big game hunters across the continent.

Legendary gun maker Savage Arms is further fueling this rising tide by chambering six of its most popular rifles to fire the high-performance yet low-recoil cartridge.

None of which surprises Mike Holm, ammunition product line manager for Federal Premium Ammunition, which developed the hard-hitting round in conjunction with Sako.

“The .338 Federal may be the perfect big game cartridge,” he said. “It fits in short-action, lightweight rifles and delivers the range and terminal energy to take down any North American big game animal. I have also witnessed it performing perfectly on plains game in Africa.”

A Star Is Born

Built on the .308 case and “necked-up” to hold a .338-diameter bullet, the load offers hunters a faster muzzle velocity than traditional favorites like the .308 Win., with a heavier bullet to boot. But the true beauty of the .338 Federal, Holm explained, is that you get near .338 Win. Mag. performance out to 400 yards, without the brutal recoil of magnum rounds.

Ballistics data bears this out. For example, the 200-grain Vital-Shok Trophy Bonded Tip .338 Federal packs a punishing 1,891 foot-pounds of punch at 300 yards, yielding an only slightly lighter sting than the 2,213 foot-pounds delivered by a 210-grain .338 Win. Mag. Nosler Partition.

On the flip side, the .338 Federal produces just 23.9 foot-pounds of recoil, compared to a shoulder-smashing 36.1 for the Win. Mag. Plus, the .338 Federal zips along at 2,064 feet per second at 300 yards, virtually tailgating the magnum cartridge, which clocks a cruising speed of 2,180. And trajectory is nearly a dead heat, with the .338

Federal dropping 9.1 inches at 300 yards, compared to 8 inches for the Win. Mag.

“Short-action rifles are lighter and easier to carry in the field, making that shot on a trophy animal that much better,” Holm added.

“There is also a wide selection of .338 caliber bullets to choose from, which only adds to your performance options.”

Indeed, the company offers seven .338 Federal products, ranging from 185-grain American Eagle soft-point target loads and Fusion MSRs up to 210-grain Nosler Partitions. Heavy hitters in the family are housed in the Premium brand’s Vital-Shok lineup, which includes the Trophy Copper and Trophy Bonded Tip options.

Federal Premium Vital-Shok Trophy Copper Ammo
Federal Premium Vital-Shok Trophy Copper Ammo

Trophy Copper inflicts devastating downrange damage, thanks to an all-copper bullet that features a tipped cavity for seamless expansion across the velocity spectrum. As a bonus, the bullet’s grooved shank engenders accuracy in a variety of firearms, while the copper-alloy design yields up to 99 percent weight retention for the deepest possible penetration in an expanding bullet.

Trophy Bonded Tips, meanwhile, blend stellar weight retention and penetration with impressive ballistics. They also boast a bone-crushing solid copper shank and expansion-boosting exterior skiving.

“Another benefit of the .338 Federal is that it not only works great out of bolt-actions, it makes a fantastic hunting cartridge for modern sporting rifles as well,” Holm noted.

“Whether you’re hunting deer, elk, moose, bear, caribou, and even African plains game, it offers real advantages. In fact, we liked it so much, we chose the .338 Federal to be the first centerfire cartridge to bear the Federal name.”

Savage Embrace

Savage Arms
Savage Arms

Iconic American gun maker Savage Arms agreed with Holm’s assessment, adding the .338 Federal to six of its flagship big game rifle platforms for 2015, including the Model 11 Hog Hunter, Model 11 Long Range Hunter, Model 16 FCSS Weather Warrior, Model 16 Bear Hunter and the Model 11 and Model 16 Trophy Hunter XP.

“As you can see, we've added this caliber to a wide variety of products, from key niche guns to higher-volume, general-purpose models,” said Marketing Director Bill Dermody.

“The .338 Federal is a great caliber with a lot of potential that fills somewhat of a hole in our lineup,” Dermody added. “It provides great energy with heavier bullets, but without the magnum recoil. While it's a great all-around cartridge, it's a particularly good fit in the Model 16 Bear Hunter and the Model 11 Hog Hunter. I personally can't wait to try it out in the field.”

All six feature Savage’s ingenious AccuTrigger system, which allows the shooter to dial in the perfect trigger pull to fit their personal preference.

Both the Bear Hunter and Hog Hunter—along with Model 11 Long Range Hunter—are members of Savage’s Specialty Series, which is geared for specific applications.

Savage Arms Model 11 Hog Hunter in .338 Federal
Savage Arms Model 11 Hog Hunter in .338 Federal
Savage Arms Model 11 Hog Hunter in .338 Federal
Savage Arms Model 11 Hog Hunter in .338 Federal

The Hog Hunter features a green synthetic stock, carbon steel barrel with black matte finish, adjustable iron sights, medium-contour, threaded barrel and internal box magazine.

Savage Arms Model 11 Hog Hunter in .338 Federal
Savage Arms Model 11 Hog Hunter in .338 Federal

Designed to reach out and touch a variety of big game, the Long Range Hunter features the AccuStock bedding system, which cradles the action three-dimensionally in a rigid shooting platform. It also features a black carbon steel barrel and matching synthetic stock, hinged floorplate magazine and adjustable comb and muzzle brake.

Savage Arms 16/116 Bear Hunter Rifle
Savage Arms 16/116 Bear Hunter Rifle

The Bear Hunter also offers AccuStock, along with a synthetic camo stock, stainless barrel, adjustable muzzle brake and hinged floorplate magazine.

Built for the harshest conditions, the Model 16 FCSS Weather Warrior sports a stainless steel action and barrel to banish corrosion, plus a lightweight synthetic stock impervious to moisture.

The Model 11 and Model 16 Trophy Hunter XP belong to the Package Series, which offers tack-driving performance out of the box. Both feature AccuTrigger, factory-mounted and boresighted 3×9 Nikon optics, detachable box magazines and synthetic stocks. The Model 11 has a black matte carbon steel barrel, while the Model 16 sports stainless steel.

A Cartridge on Target

With a proven track record, numerous benefits and a promising arsenal of exciting new firearms accommodating this high-performance cartridge, it’s safe to say the .338 Federal is a stronger ally than ever for big game hunters everywhere.

  • 24 thoughts on “.338 Federal On A Roll

    1. Can you shoot the338 Federal in a 308.the cartridges on the outside are identical.
      I have. Three boxes I mistakenly ordered thinking they were the same as the 338 mag. There are no returns on them.

      1. Glad you asked before trying . That’s the exact purpose of a forum like this. The short answer is NO. Period. Regardless, get yourself a 260 Rem and 338 Fed and enjoy!

    2. The 338 Federal is a superb round! I have hunted with all of the big game calibers in North America and you cannot beat this caliber for what it is designed to do- accurate, hard hitting inside 400 yards, lower recoil than other similar calibers,, designed for a light rifle set up, and easy to reload. As far as ammo, you can find all the ammo you want online and cheaper than the retail stores too! Today with the ability to buy online, no one has an excuse about not finding ammo at Wally World! Like all good hunting trips- you should be planning ahead of time for equipment and buying enough ammo to shoot and hunt with.

    3. 338 Federal:
      You can buy all the 338 federal ammo you want online check ammoseek. If you go hunting with not enough ammo or forget your ammo at home, it sounds like a personal problem and you don’t belong in the field.

    4. I love the cartridge, but I, too, like to go with the “Walmart Rule”. If it’s not readily available at the local big box store (including, say, Dick’s) then that is a negative. Also, as noted, two of the original companies chambering it have dropped it. Have yet to see it in a Remington gun or ammo box. Genuinely a shame, since I can’t stand the 338 Rem Mag – too much recoil/muzzle blast as I get up into my 60s. If needed, I would depend on the my 35 Whelen, for which I bought over 200 rounds of ammo through a supplier.

    5. This article is absolutely full of propaganda. The problem is I love my Kimber Montana in 338 Fed. Several of the posts are spot on. You can’t find ammo anywhere in the Salt Lake City area except maybe every two months at Cabela’s where it’s routinely $5 or $10 a box more than other retailers (when they used to carry it that is). I’m starting to reload because I just can’t get the bullets I want and I am seriously concerned this great cartridge is about to go extinct. Ammunition with the trophy copper? Hah! I’ve been on the Able Ammo waiting list almost two years! It’s like they’re a legend rather than a retail product. On a roll indeed. Here’s hoping half the country goes out and buys a new savage in 338 Federal to give this much maligned but also much loved cartridge a second chance.

    6. I Think the 338 fed. looks very impressive and definitely fills a niche as a low recoil big game cartridge. As for budget, when Rolls Royce starts making a car I can afford I’ll continue driving my Yugo:) Thank you savage.

    7. No experience with the .338 Federal round but it seems to be a winner. As to Savage not offering a Left Hand rifle in the chambering…..call their custom service folks and talk with them. They offer special services like they can screw a .338 caliber bbl onto an existing LH action of your choice…of those same as RH offerings I’d think. I had that done when I wanted a .204 Ruger in LH in the 12 series of varmint rifles.

      1. Q I read that Savage Arms will custom make the gun in Lefty. Have you tried to call ? Someone also said Remington will do the same.

    8. 338 Fed… maybe if I had an older 308 rifle with a shot out barrel, I would consider re-chambering along with a new 338 barrel. The 338 Fed isn’t bringing much more to the table than the existing 7mm mag in terms of ft/lbs or the 358 Winchester from days gone by. Not to mention 7mm mag ammo and reloading components are readily available. The so called “economy / budget” rifles currently out there like the Savage Axis, Ruger American, Marlin X7, Mossberg XTR, Remington 770 – I wouldn’t spend my money on them. Go to a gun store and test them out, pick them up for yourself. Better to save up and buy a quality non budget rifle. Do the budget rifles work – of course they do. But you’re not going to see any budget rifles win 3 gun competitions or be used by police or the military. As long as consumers are willing to buy Yugo cars and Metros, there will always be a cheap manufacturer filling the need. Just like the budget rifles.

    9. Already have a Ruger Hawkeye in 338 Fed, and I like it so much, I just picked up a Savage in the same-given I’m partial to Savages. I expect the latter will outshoot the former, but I know it will hit just as hard. Try it, you’ll like it!

    10. I have a 338 Win Mag. I am selling it in favor of the 338 Federal. The ported Win Mag has nasty recoil and even greater muzzle blast. My gunsmith, Mark Penrod, is acquiring a 338 Federal reamer and will be installing a Krieger barrel on a Rem Model 7 action which I have. I expect to use this rifle for elk, moose and whitetails. If I didn’t have the Remington action on hand, I’d grab one of those Savages.

    11. “On a roll”? Sako/Tikka and Kimber both dropped the 338 Fed, I wouldn’t call that being on a roll. Though I like the idea of 338 fed I don’t see the point in buying a budget rifle in a boutique caliber. Who besides federal makes ammo? Anybody ever seen 338fed ammo for sale at walmart or big5?

      1. Yes indeed I have. Walmart, Cabela’s, Rural King and Bass Pro. Horneday is going to add the 338 Fed. to a couple of their lines of ammunition. Same with Remington. There is a large following for the 338 Federal and with good reason. It is a great cartridge for brush busting deer hunting. People who try the 338 Fed. are falling in love with it. You should give it a try sometime. I know I like it. It definitely fills a gap in my safe. I think you would enjoy the on field performance of it. Choppin’ wood and droppin’ game.

        1. Home, home on the range where the deer and the antelope play, where seldom is heard a discouraging word. Until I show up with my 338 Federal.

    12. Punishing recoil? Why?
      I’d bet a friendly twenty that IF the author of the article above EVER shot a major magnum caliber with a suppressor that he would NEVER shoot a big Bertha again without a can. The most profound effect of realized when a suppressor is used is recoil reduction. The standard muzzle brake becomes “enclosed” and the extra baffles cranks up the effectiveness and efficiency of redirecting the terrific recoil forward. NOT BACKWARD, Hello! Cans as a necessity if You want to keep on shooting many rounds without getting kicked from a rented mule each time You pull the trigger WITHOUT.
      Then there is a minor improvement of 5 to 10 percent of an improvement in accuracy as the pressure is downgraded incrementally as it passes through the baffles after the bullet uncorks from the barrel. Last and least, with the db in the mid 160s, a high volume can will reduce the noise factor to below 140 to make the report hearing safe.
      So boys and gurls, to get the most fun out of the that BIG magnum gun, PUT A CAN ON IT. Been there, doing that. Got my 1st can in 1984. Been demo – ing them ever since.
      Mostly, when You get older, 2 things become more important. You want to eat well and Shoot comfortable.A whole lot. Frequently.
      Well, I ain’t fat yet.
      I can do without those damned muffs and unnecessary recoil in magnum or less calibers. A substantially more pleasing experience.
      So, remember………….. put a can on it. You’ll be tickled, too.

      1. A lot of people don’t like to take the time/money to get suppressors for there firearms, me included. Not going to lie, but I like the loud and heavy recoil of large magnum rounds. It gives me a sense of the power behind them. A light padded recoil pad does wonders for felt recoil and I usually forget I’m wearing it. A big bang and a little kick let’s you know your sending out business.

      2. The way the laws are here last I looked is I’d be looking at 30 years if I accidentally hunt illegally with a silencer (like different antler requirements from one side of the creek to the other). No thanks.

        then there is the $1000+ cost and all the red tape involved.

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