Load Data Tables/Internet Sources Below
Retailers are often asked by firearm purchasers "What's the best caliber?" or "What's better, 9mm or 40-cal?" What's a good deer
round? Which caliber has the most 'knock-down' power. As often as not, the answer is whatever stock the retailer needs to move
most. Most of the time that answer is the product of several functioning circumstances: one, he really does need to move the
stock; two, the best answer will take too long and time is valuable; and, three, there's a real time practical limit to how much effort
he can devote to educating the customer.
Another circumstance that inhibits answers other than cosmetic, commercial answers is the fact that by the time a person is ready
to purchase a firearm, he or she has already formulated preconcieved notions about firearms and calibers based on war stories,
mis-information and out-right fabrication. Nothing a bit of practical education won't cure.
To best answer the question the person asked needs to know two essential things (basically, defining 'best'): 1) what do you
expect the firearm to do; and 2) under what circumstances will it be performing the task?
1. One cannot ask a firearm to do something it is ballistically incapable of doing.
2. One cannot expect a firearm to perform a task for which he or she does not possess the skill.
3. No firearm can overcome poor tactics.
4. Configuration is dictated by purpose.
5. Once 1-4 are decided, any final decision will be purely subjective (in short, what feels good in your hand).
Myths and Legends (that really need to be overcome)
1. The United States won WWII, therefore, the .45 ACP 1911 is the best handgun in the world. Or, .45 ACP is the only really
effective, only real man-stopper handgun cartridge.
First, the US did not win the war alone and most of our allies did not field the 1911. In fact, in WWII and globally since then,
more people have lost their lives to the 9mm Luger (9x19) than any other cartridge. This fact is based not on the premise that the
9mm is more effective than the .45ACP but largely upon the fact that a larger number of people found the 9mm adequate to the
task, easier to shoot and ballistically more efficient.
Still, The debate rages on over whether or not the 9mm Luger (9x19 ‘parabellum’) has enough stopping power to merit our
attention—mainly in regions populated by 1911 fans and aficionados and almost nowhere else in the world. Of the 220 some odd
countries on earth, the vast majority issue their police and military with handguns chambered for 9mm—including the US. Here’s
Ballistics tell the tale:
Cartridge Bullet Wt. Velocity Muzzle Energy Penetration*
.45 ACP 230 grain 900fps 414 ft/pounds 13 inches
.357 Mag 125 grain 1600fps 711 ft/pounds 12.75 inches
.40 S&W 135 grain 1440fps 622 ft/pounds 10.9 inches
9mm 147 grain 1135fps 420 ft/pounds 40 inches
Cartridge Bullet Wt. Velocity Muzzle Energy Penetration
.45 ACP 230 grain 835fps 356 ft/pounds 27 inches
.357 Mag 158 grain 1235fps 535 ft/pounds 27.5 inches
.40 S&W 180 grain 950fps 361 ft/pounds 24inches
9mm 115 grain 1350fps 465 ft/pounds 14.2 inches
*Ballistic gelatin, per Fackler: 1 part 250 bloom gelatin in 9 parts of warm water (by mass) chilled to 4° Celsius (39° Fahrenheit).
Analysis: The ballistic charts above seem contradictory but in fact illustrate certain external ballistic principles. Things begin to
fall into place when one considers the role of bullet configuration and the effect of velocity. Faster hollow point bullets that open
up in ballistic gel do not penetrate as far as slower moving round nose full metal jacket bullets. Faster hollow point bullets impart
more impact energy than slow moving round nose FMJ's.
It should be apparent from the ballistic charts that none of these very popular and effective cartridges is ballistically superior
enough to set it apart as 'better' than the others or label it 'the best' cartridge to the exclusion of the others. They are all adequate to
the task at hand--self-defense.
Regardless of ballistics, it is still sage wisdom to pick the largest, fastest caliber you can comfortably fire with adequate precision.
If you flinch, you’ll miss. If you miss, caliber and power are irrelevant.
Another consideration is availability of the ammunition. 9mm (9x19 Luger) is –bar none—the most plentiful handgun ammunition
on the planet. Since, ballistically it holds its own with most other calibers and chamberings and yet is more plentiful, it may well
edge out the competition. Certainly, one should not overlook its advantages—cartridge availability, quicker recovery time (back on
target quicker after recoil), adequate stopping power and phenomenal penetration.
Last but not least, the decision may come down to the size of the firearm that shoots the cartridge. Size, weight, barrel length, grip
size and ergonomics--in short, where you want to carry it and how it feels in your hand--are often the deciding factors in
choosing a handgun.
The recent trend in Europe and elsewhere is to experiment with micro-caliber, barnburner pistol/carbine caliber hangun cartridges
like the FN 5.7, the intention being to develope the smallest body armor peircing round possible for the purpose of feeding high
capacity magazines, reducing the number of combat mag changes and so forth.
Certainly, if one can anticipate which up and coming cartridge will prove most popular and therefore most plentiful, it will help to
make choices in firearms procurement. But, the trend to 'get smaller and faster' seems to have plateaued, perhaps even wained.
This is due in large part because research and developement has failed to produce the 'magic cartridge.' There have also been new
developments in 9mm projectiles.
The new Russian 7Н31 (7N31) / PBP ammunition, for example, pushes a 125 grain steel core bullet to 1969 fps, produces 558
ft/pds of muzzle energy and will easily penetrate the US PASGT Kevlar helmet. This is accomplished by a hardened (sub-caliber)
steel penetrator core, enclosed by a bimetal jacket, with the space between the core and jacket filled with polyethylene.
Pick the handgun you like best in a caliber that is comfortable to shoot, accomplishes the task you expect, for which ammunition
is expected to be always available.
2. .223 Remington/5.56 NATO and .243 Winchester are not good deer cartridges.
This is a misconception that is also cleared up by ballistic facts, good field craft and practical tactics.
Bullet Bullet Wt. Velocity Energy/Muz. Ft./lbs
.44 Magnum (320 grn) 1300 1201
5.56 NATO (69 grn) 3160 1333
.243 Winchester (105 grn) 2986 2080
Both the 5.56 NATO and the .243 Winchester are still producing more energy beyond 100 yards than the .44 Magnum at the
muzzle. In spite of this fact, some states prohibit the use of .22 caliber firearms for deer hunting while allowing the use of the .44
In spite of non-sensical laws, the question remains, will these cartridges do the job? The answer is yes; in fact, all three have taken
their fair share of deer and other game in expert hands--and therein lies the key.
With effective field craft and tactics, all three will take game within 100 yards and, with varying degrees of effectiveness, out to
200 yards. There have been more deer taken in the US with a lever action .30-30 Winchester than any two other cartridges
combined. The typical load is a 170 grain bullet, traveling about 2200 ft/sec, producing just over 1800 ft/lbs of energy at the
muzzle--more than the 5.56 but less than the .243. That leaves only shot placement and range, both aspects of tactics, as the
leading culprits in the mis-conceptions about ballistic performance and adequacy as a deer cartridge.
Final Analysis: Both .243 Winchester and 5.56 NATO (.223 Remington) are equal to the task of deer hunting, perhaps even
superior, to the .44 Magnum Carbine or .30-30 Carbine, when used under the same hunting tactics and technique.
See also: The Search for Better Ballistics by S. A. Roach, below.
3. For large and dangerous game only the biggest, most powerful cartridges are sufficient.
While bigger is usually better, it is not always necessary--or, necessarily better.
Even though many deer hunters frown on the use of the .243 Winchester as a primary deer cartridge, for example, the Inuit
regularly use it as their heavy rifle for taking Polar bear and Walrus. And while great safari guides of yesteryear and today boast
the virtues of shoulder-fired cannon like the .458 Winchester and Nitro Expresses, W. D. M. Bell took over 1,000 elephants with
the 6.5Mannlicher-Schoenhaur and 7X57 Mauser. The effort here is not concerned so much with the lethality of cartridges under
the rare auspices of hunters of this caliber but with the ballistic expectations of ordinary use and capability. [See also, The Best
Hunting Rifle According to Ross Seyfried]
In big game/dangerous game circles the reputations of .460 Weatherby, .458 Win. Mag., .458 Lott and a host of Nitro Expresses
are well-established. Brown Bear, Grizzlies, Rhino, Cape Buffalo, Elephant--these are the touted quarry, the dangerous animals
these shoulder-cannon were imagined, designed and perfected to best. And conventional wisdom has it that only hunters with
nerves of steel and these ballistic beasts in hand should go after such quarry. Certainly, the optimum standard has been set at the
very upper end of human tolerance. And who are we to argue with conventional wisdom?
But, if the question is what is the smallest, least powerful caliber these feats can be accomplished with then that, too, is well
established in anecdotal evidence. In addition to evidence provided by Safari Hunters like Bell and writers like Jack O'Connor, there
is the statistical evidence of poaching on virtually every continent of the world. More elephants and rhinos are taken illegally each
year with AK47's (7.62x39) and FN FAL's (7.62x51 NATO) than are taken legally with double rifles and big turn-bolts.
When it comes right down to it, the agument could be made that nothing bigger than a .338 is absolutely necessary for the most
dangerous jobs; and--for that matter--any animal on the planet can be taken with the venerable .30-06 and the right bullet.
The Search for Better Ballistics
by S. A. Roach
The Search for Cartridges based on the .308 Winchester Case
Several cartridges have been developed using the .308 Winchester as a parent case, some becoming very popular for hunting,
particularly in North America. These are the .243 Winchester, the .260 Remington (aka 6.5-08 A-Square), the 7 mm-08
Remington, the .338 Federal, and the .358 Winchester (aka 8.8x51mm).
The first thing to consider about ‘parent cases’ in general is to answer the question of why there are other chamberings based on
the parent case in the first place. The easy answer is that the original cartridge already had significant advantages to begin with,
that it is plentiful enough to warrant wildcatting and that someone desired to increase (or at least alter) its performance. One
obvious goal has been to duplicate or improve ballistic performance while reducing recoil—which usually results in necking down
the case to a smaller caliber. Another goal is to ring out as much down range impact energy as possible—which ordinarily means
expanding the neck up to a larger caliber and going to a much heavier bullet.
Necking down a cartridge usually produces flatter trajectories which when combined with longer, slimmer projectiles with higher
ballistic coefficients result in more down range energy, sustained over a longer distance.
Necking up to a larger diameter bullet increases the bullet cross-section, imparts more impact energy and results in more ‘knock-
down’ power but sacrifices flatter trajectory and ballistic performance at longer ranges.
For the shooter who wants to ring as much ballistic advantage as possible out of a single cartridge case the goal then becomes a
search for those chamberings with advantages significant enough to justify the purchase of replacement barrels or new firearms.
Why the .308 Winchester Case?
The pursuit of this goal is rooted plainly in the continued availability of the 7.62x51 NATO cartridge case as a mainstay military
cartridge globally for the foreseeable future (and thus its availability to reloaders long after gun-bans, etc.). Theoretically at least,
anyone in possession of a firearm chambered for a cartridge whose parent case is the .308 Winchester will enjoy case availability
long after ammunition is no longer available for other cartridges.
Although not identical, SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute) has declared .308 Winchester and the
7.62x51 NATO cartridges virtually the same ballistically. As the author has reloaded both cases and used them interchangeably in
the same firearms without encountering any safety issues, both cartridges will be referred to from this point on as .308.
Universal Shooter: .308 Winchester by S. A. Roach at Kindle/Amazon
The goal here is to find a cartridge based on the .308 case that will significantly out-perform the .308 Winchester/7.62x51 NATO
cartridge. Since the concept of ‘significance’ is highly subjective, for our purpose here there will be emphasis on two things (with
some consideration of a third)—trajectory and impact energy out to 600 yards, with some consideration of these features out to
1000 yards. Those cartridges that significantly outperform the .308 will be strongly considered.
The ‘performance issue’ then becomes the focus to find those cartridges with the added advantage of better performance, giving
those with the desire to increase performance the information necessary to decide which calibers to procure next while keeping
the logistics of reloading simple.
The caveat established quite arbitrarily here by the author as an additional ‘performance issue’ is to exceed the performance of
today’s standard infantry issue—namely, the 5.56x45, 7.62x39, and 5.45x45 assault rifle cartridges.
Finally, as a matter of clarification, this will be a discussion of numerical values, ballistic coefficients and facts, with the smallest
emphasis on subjective qualities like ‘felt recoil’ or the ‘best rifle configuration.’ While the author is aware of much of the
anecdotal evidence given in war stories, trade journals and campfire embellishments, this is a discussion of external and terminal
ballistics and trajectories.
Those with smaller diameters
243 Winchester uses a 6.2mm bullet at an average weight of 55 to 105 grains, at an average speed of 2900 fps, and develops an
average of around 2000 foot pounds of impact energy—all at very modest recoil. An excellent varmint and small to medium game
cartridge, it reaches the limits of its ballistic and terminal capability at whitetail deer-size game. [see also: remarks in #2, above]
The .260 Remington uses the .308 Winchester case as its parent cartridge which is simply necked down to accept a .264 caliber
bullet with no further changes made to the case. As the cartridge follows a modern design, it has little taper which allowed its
parent cartridge to feed reliably through auto-loading rifles such as the M-14, FN-FAL and the H&K G3. The .260 Remington has
a case capacity of about 3.47 ml (53.5 grains) H2O.
The .260 Remington being a .264 caliber (6.5 mm) has certain advantages: sectional density and bullets of good weights. Factory
ammunition usually are loaded with bullets weighting anywhere from 120 gr (7.8 g) to 140 gr (9.1 g). Bullets available to the
reloader range from 90 gr (5.8 g) to 160 gr (10 g). The 120 gr (7.8 g) bullet has a sectional density of 0.246 which is similar to a
165 gr (10.7 g) .308 caliber (7.62 mm) bullet. The 140 gr (9.1 g) bullet has a sectional density of 0.287 which is similar to that of
a 190 gr (12 g) .308 caliber (7.62 mm) bullet. The 160 gr (10 g) bullet which has a sectional density of 0.328 is similar in sectional
density to a 220 gr (14 g) .308 caliber (7.62 mm) bullet. As sectional density plays a large factor in penetration, the .264 caliber
(6.5 mm), though a diminutive caliber from a North American point of view, has had excellent results in the field.
The .260 Remington while having a slightly lesser case capacity than the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser, is loaded to higher pressure
levels. This fact has allowed the .260 Remington to outperform the Swede as far as factory manufactured ammunition is
concerned. Typically, the .260 Remington is loaded with a 120 gr (7.8 g) bullet at 2,890 ft/s (880 m/s) and the 140 gr (9.1 g)
bullet at 2,750 ft/s (840 m/s). In contrast the Norma of Sweden loads the 6.5x55 SE with a 120 gr (7.8 g) bullet at 2,822 ft/s (860
m/s) and the 140 gr (9.1 g) bullet at 2,690 ft/s (820 m/s).
7mm-08 Remington works well in most hunting environments, including dense forest areas and large open fields. It has a flatter
trajectory than the .308 Win. and .30-06 Springfield at similar bullet weights because the slightly smaller-diameter 7mm bullet
generally has a better ballistic coefficient (BC), and is thus less affected by drag and crosswind while in flight. Its trajectory is
comparable to the .270 Winchester.
Its recoil is a bit more than a .243 Win. and less than most loads in a .308 Win. This mild recoil, when coupled with excellent
ballistics, makes it suitable for youth and adults who are new shooters; however, the cartridge serves experienced shooters and
hunters equally well.
The .338 Federal is a rifle cartridge based on the .308 Winchester case necked up to .33 caliber. It was created by Federal
Cartridge and Sako in 2006 and intended as a big game cartridge with reasonable recoil for lightweight rifles.
In terms of performance, the .338 Federal compares favorably with cartridges that have similar capacities and purposes. It has
less recoil yet similar muzzle velocity and energy compared to the 7mm Remington Magnum in bullets of the same weight while
having greater energy than the .30-06 Springfield. The .300 Winchester Magnum is also a worthwhile comparison despite the .
300's considerably higher recoil. Also included in the table below is the older .358 Winchester, another cartridge based on the .308.
Cartridge Bullet Weight Muzzle velocity Muzzle energy Load Recoil in 8 lb (3.6 kg) rifle
gr g ft/s m/s t•lbf J gr g ft•lbf J
.338 Federal 210 14 2,630 800 3,226 4,374 47 3.0 21.71 29.43
.338 Federal 180 12 2,830 860 3,202 4,341 47 3.0 19.27 26.13
7mm Rem Mag 175 11.3 2,860 870 3,178 4,309 63 4.1 22.44 30.42
.300 Win Mag 180 12 2,960 900 3,502 4,748 73 4.7 27.12 36.77
.30-06 180 12 2,750 840 3,022 4,097 56 3.6 20.48 27.77
.308 Win 180 12 2,600 790 2,703 3,665 45 2.9 16.02 21.72
.358 Win 200 13 2,490 760 2,753 3,733 49 3.2 19.08 25.87
Legend: gr (grains), g (grams), ft/s (feet per second), m/s (meters per second), ft-lbf (foot pounds), j (joules)
[Cartridges of the World 11th Edition, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.338_Federal; retrieved 082112, 12:40pm.]
Ballistics (comparisons based on highest standard bullet weights at highest recommended speeds)
.243 Winchester-- 105 gr (6.8 g) BT@ 2,986 ft/s= 2,080 ft•lbf
.260 Remington--Remington PRC260RB (140 gr (9.1 g) Core-Lokt)@ 2,750 ft/s= 2,351 ft•lb
7mm-08 Remington--150 gr (9.7 g) Speer Hot-Cor SP@2,650 ft/s=2,339 ft•lbf
.308 Winchester--180 gr (12 g) Nosler Partition@2,620 ft/s=2,870 ft•lbf
.338 Federal-- 210 gr (14 g) Nos Partition@ 2,630 ft/s= 3,226 ft•lbf
.358 Winchester-- 250 gr (16 g) SP@ 2,200 ft/s= 2,687 ft•lbf
The ballistic comparisons above are based on the commercial industry standard loads for the cartridges in question. The star of the
show then for the industry standard loads is the .338 Federal with its significantly higher impact energy. As honorable mentions
for their flat trajectories and significant contributions in energy retention at 600 yards and beyond, the 7mm-08 Remington and .
260 Remington cartridges stand out.
Two questions then remain. The first is whether or not to value trajectory over impact energy. The second is whether or not the
reloader can produce a load that gives the best of both.
Tweaking Performance with Safe Reloads
The final verdict then resides in whether or not reloading at the highest, safest velocities and/or going to a different bullet weight
may afford the shooter the best of both worlds—flatter trajectory and highest terminal energy at 600 yards or more (with some
emphasis on how much performance can be rung out of a cartridge out to 600 yards). It will be at best something of an arbitrary
verdict based on the shooter’s personal desire either to simply achieve the best results at all ranges or the absolute best result up to
600 yards—thus giving him the highest possible 200 yard advantage over today’s best assault rifle cartridges.
To be fair for example to the .358 Winchester, Hornady lists a 250 grain bullet (#3520SP) with a bullet coefficient of .375 at 2300
feet per second in front of 39.6 grains of H4198. This yields a muzzle energy of 2936 foot-pounds—almost 250 ft.lbs more than
the chart above. The fastest 250 grain bullet, in front of 48 grains of Accurate 2520 @ 2390fps produces 3170 ft-lbs.
But the cartridge is at its useful limit at 600 yards, dropping some 101.7 inches from a 300 yard zero at the 600 yard range at its
top speed of 2400fps (if you can safely get it that fast). This kind of performance can be achieved with a minimal rise of less than
8 inches at 200 yards but the over 100 inches it drops puts crosshairs in the holdover well above a man-size target.
Although the .358 is an excellent brush cartridge out to 200 yards, it moves down a notch as a replacement for the .308 because
of its limitations at 600 yards.
On the other side of the coin, the 7mm bullet at about 168 grains has what is perhaps the highest ballistic coefficient of all.
Berger, for example, lists a 168gr VLD, HPBT bullet with a BC of .617. A .308 bullet of the same weight and shape, the Hornady
#3050 BTHP National Match for example, has a ballistic coefficient of about .450; and to approach the 7mm’s BC, the .308 has to
get a lot longer and heavier. Bullet length limits the .308 to about 190 grains. Berger lists a 190gr VLD at a ballistic coefficient of .
570 which does not quite match the 7mm in aerodynamic efficiency.
There are higher ballistic coefficients in both calibers but anything longer in either starts to reduce velocities by taking up powder
space in the respective cartridge loads. The comparison then is based on the longest bullet with the highest BC for caliber that can
be loaded in the case.
7mm-08—168gr Berger VLD@2670fps=2658ft-lbs at the muzzle
.308 Win.—190gr BergerVLD@2543fps=2727ft-lbs at the muzzle
With less than 100 ft-lbs separating the two at the muzzle, performance starts to separate them at extended range. The question
remains, is it more significant before or after 600 yards.
.308 Win.—(300yd zero)@2600fps drops 73.7 inches at 600 yards
7mm-08—(300yd zero)@2700fps drops 65.3 inches at 600 yards
With a difference in drop of 8.4 inches—one minute of angle at 600 yards is 6.282 inches—that constitutes a difference at range
of 1.34 minutes of angle—a difference of just over two inches, a tad more than one click, or a holdover adjustment just slightly
more than the thickness of the fine hairs in the average 30-30 reticle.
Aficionados of either cartridge are left to argue the advantages. The 7mm retains more energy at distance; the .308 bucks the wind
better at the same distance. But, the question is does the 7mm’s slight advantage under the established parameters warrant our
continued interest or justify purchasing a new gun or barrel? That, the reader will have to decide for himself.
It is virtually the same story with the .260 Remington. The optimum performance for the .260 is a 140 grain bullet at 2755fps
which yields 2359ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle. Zeroed at 300 yards and tweaked to 2800fps by the handloader, the 6.5mm bullet
drops 61.1 inches—about the height of the average man. Even with the best tweaking, the .260 manages only 2436ft-lbs of muzzle
energy (almost 300ft-lbs less) and 12.7 inches less drop than the .308. That accounts for less energy out to range, with a
correction difference of just two minutes of angle to produce the same impact point for the .308. Again, the only advantage to the .
260 is that it shoots flatter by 2 moa and the significance of this advantage will have to be weighed by the reader.
That brings us to the other star of the show, the .338 Federal. The 210 gr (14 g) Nos Partition@ 2,630 ft/s is the first entry to
exceed the .308’s muzzle energy at its optimum bullet weight--3,226 ft-lb of muzzle energy. The question then is what is its
expected performance out to 600 yards?
The Nosler Partition has a ballistic coefficient of approximately .400. To be fair to the cartridge and as an option for reloaders in
tweaking load performance, we will want to search for the highest bullet weight and BC we can find which does not crowd the
case. For this purpose, the Hornady interlock, SST BT bullet at 200 grains has a higher ballistic coefficient (.455) but allows us a
higher velocity while staying under the 62,000psi SAAMI limit for the cartridge.
The 200 grain Hornady .338 at a mean velocity (between the 210 and 180gr bullets above) at 2750fps gives us 3357ft-lbs at the
muzzle—487 ft-lbs more than the .308, at 217fps faster.
Down range performance is even more interesting. The Hornady SST drops 51 inches from a 300 yard zero. It rises to +5.
67inches at its apex at 150 yards. At 600 yards, the .338 Federal still carries 1370 ft-lbs of impact energy—just 49 ft-lbs more
than the .308’s 1321 ft-lbs. At that range the 190gr./.308 drops 55 inches, only 4 inches more than the .338 Federal.
Loaded then with the heaviest bullet that does not crowd the case, at the fastest speed, the .338 Federal then exceeds the .308
Winchester in both energy and trajectory—but, alas, not to a significant degree.
Suppose then we consider both cartridges loading the same bullet weight?
.338 Federal—180gr Nosler Accubond(.372BC)@2900fps=3360ft-lbs
.308 Win.—180gr Nosler Accubond (.507BC)@2661fps=2829ft-lbs
At these velocities and the same bullet weight the .338 produces 531ft-lbs more muzzle energy. At 600 yards, the .308 drops 52
inches from zero and retains 1260 ft-lbs—the .338 respectively, 51 inches and 1124 ft-lbs of retained energy. At the same bullet
weight, the .308 bullet’s higher ballistic coefficient overcomes the .338 bullet’s higher velocity and energy under the parameters
set (600 yards with a 300 yard zero).
The Final Analysis
In the end, virtually every available chambering based on the .308 Winchester as a parent case in some way increases the external
ballistics of the parent cartridge up to 600 yards and beyond but none of them significantly improves all its external ballistics at that
Necking down the cartridge produces higher velocities and retained energy beyond 600 yards but less energy up to that distance;
necking up the cartridge produces more energy out to 600 yards but falls below that of the .308 rapidly beyond 600 yards. Given
these results, smaller calibers produce better trajectories and lethal results beyond 600 yards; and larger calibers produce higher
lethality up to 600 yards—none of them, with the sole exception of the .338 Federal’s devastating muzzle energy, to the degree
they get a significant nod above the .308.
Coupled with the fact that it produces 500-plus foot pounds of energy at the muzzle, an external ballistic quality that remains
significant out to and beyond 400 yards, and the fact that the cartridge length makes it compatible with the AR-15/.308 receiver-
length platform, the .338 Federal gets the significance nod under these parameters. As such, it qualifies as the most desirable
addition to one’s shooting kit. As of this writing, DPMS is the only company offering the .338 Federal upper receivers for the LR-
308 platform; but they are cost-prohibitive at the $1,143 list price and the turnaround time on orders is 6 to 8 months—both issues
likely to be ironed out with increased market demand and a lack of interference from lawmakers.
The good news is that manufacturers like Ruger produce bolt action rifles chambered in .338 Federal at reasonable prices and
aftermarket barrel makers produce good replacement barrels for guns you may already own.
Ultimately, anything a shooter can do to increase the utility of available materials, albeit anything from an old rifle to available brass
and bullets, the more likely he is to continue shooting—no matter what.
Internet Sources for Load Data
Load Data Manuals