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338 Win Mag vs 5 Popular Cartridges (Ballistic Tables and Graphs)

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Let’s explore the 338 Win Mag vs 5 other popular cartridges using ballistic tables and graphs out to 500 yards. 338 Win Mag’s velocity, trajectory, energy, wind drift, and recoil are compared to all 5 cartridges providing a clear and data-driven perspective on how the 338 Win Mag stacks up.

With new cartridges coming onto the market, it is interesting to see how this tried and true cartridge still stacks up. It’s also nice to be able to visualize how the 338 Win Mag compares to other traditional cartridges.

In this article, the 338 Win Mag (200 gr) is compared side-by-side with the:

  1. 338 Lapua Magnum (250 gr)
  2. 300 Win Mag (220 gr)
  3. 30-06 Springfield (180 gr)
  4. 308 Winchester (180 gr)
  5. 300 PRC (225 gr)

How To Use This Blog Post:

The Ballistic Graphs

I used similar grain bullets for most cartridges (180-200 gr) for many of the cartridges. I chose to use 250-gr bullets for the 338 Win Mag for a more apples-to-apples comparison to the 250-gr 338 Lapua Magnum.

Keep in mind that with different bullet grains, you will get slightly different results than shown below. But you can use the information below to determine the potential of each caliber.

The Ballistic Tables

If you want a 1 on 1 comparison of each cartridge to the 338 Win Mag, you can find that in the Graph Summary (after the graphs), this is where you’ll find the ballistic tables.

Let’s jump into the graphs first because they’ll answer your broader questions fastest:

Velocity Comparison Graph: 338 Win Mag vs Popular Cartridges

Below are velocity ballistic graphs of all 6 cartridges. The 338 Win Mag is shown as a black line.

338 Win Mag Velocity vs Popular Cartridges
338 Win Mag Velocity vs Popular Cartridges

Trajectory Comparison Graph: 338 Win Mag vs Popular Cartridges

Below are trajectory ballistic graphs of all 6 cartridges. The 338 Win Mag is shown as a black line.

338 Win Mag Trajectory vs Popular Cartridges
338 Win Mag Trajectory vs Popular Cartridges

Bullet Energy Comparison Graph: 338 Win Mag vs Popular Cartridges

Below are bullet energy ballistic graphs of all 6 cartridges. The 338 Win Mag is shown as a black line.

338 Win Mag Bullet Energy vs Popular Cartridges
338 Win Mag Bullet Energy vs Popular Cartridges

Wind Drift Comparison Graph: 338 Win Mag vs Popular Cartridges

Below are wind drift ballistic graphs of all 6 cartridges. The 338 Win Mag is shown as a black line.

338 Win Mag Wind Drift vs Popular Cartridges

Recoil Comparison Graph: 338 Win Mag vs Popular Cartridges

Below is a recoil graph, the red dotted lines show the recoil energy and recoil velocity of the 338 Win Mag compared to the other popular cartridges.

338-Win-Mag-Recoil-vs-Popular-Cartridges

Summary of Graphs: 338 Win Mag vs Popular Cartridges

338 Win Mag vs 338 Lapua Magnum

The .338 Winchester Magnum (338 Win Mag) and the .338 Lapua Magnum (338 Lapua) are two of the most formidable cartridges but they serve slightly different roles. Let’s compare these two powerhouses across key ballistic aspects.

Velocity

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Pushing a 250 gr .338 caliber round it still offers 2660 fps muzzle velocity.
  • 338 Lapua (250 gr): With the same 250 gr bullet, the 338 Lapua has 2950 fps muzzle velocity, a 290 fps difference. At 500 yards the 338 Lapua has 468 fps more velocity showing the 338 Lapua maintains its velocity better than the 338 Win Mag.

338 Win Mag Bullet Velocity vs 338 Lapua Magnum Table

Trajectory

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): The 250 gr 338 Win Mag offers a fairly flat trajectory but the 338 Lapula cartridge shoots much flatter with the same grain bullet.
  • 338 Lapua (250 gr): The 338 Lapua has a flatter trajectory, even a 200 gr 338 Win Mag bullet doesn’t have as flat of a trajectory as the 338 Lapua, although it is much closer. At 500 yards the 338 Lapua has 15.7-inches less drop.

338 Win Mag Bullet Trajectory vs 338 Lapua Magnum Table

Energy

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Delivers substantial energy, 3927 ft-lbs at the muzzle but because it’s such a heavy bullet for this cartridge it drops off fast. Although it still has plenty of energy to ethically kill big game at 500 yards. It does not deal nearly the same energy as the 338 Lapua Magnum.
  • 338 Lapua (250 gr): The Lapua has exceptionally high bullet energy – 4830 ft-lbs at the muzzle which is 903 ft-lbs more than the 338 Win Mag. Not only that, but it maintains 2685 ft-lbs at 500 yards, 1022 ft-lbs more than the 338 Win Mag. This is largely due to the cartridge being bigger in every way. Both cartridges lose their energy at about the same rate with a slight advantage to the 338 Lapua.

338 Win Mag Bullet Energy vs 338 Lapua Magnum Table

Wind Drift

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Does alright with wind drift, but not as good as the 338 Lapua.
  • 338 Lapua (250 gr): Outstanding performance in wind drift due to its high ballistic coefficient bullets. This cartridge is known for its ability to remain stable and accurate in challenging wind conditions, outperforming the 338 Win Mag at all ranges. At 500 yards it has 9.7-inches less wind drift than the 338 Win Mag.

338 Win Mag Wind Drift vs 338 Lapua Magnum Table

Recoil

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): The 338 Win Mag has 44.49 ft-lbs of recoil, which is significant, but still not nearly as much as the 338 Lapua.
  • 338 Lapua (250 gr): This cartridge has 65.47 ft-lbs of recoil, meaning it has 47% more recoil than the 338 Win Mag. It has the most powerful recoil of any cartridge in this comparison. This substantial recoil requires careful management and can be challenging, particularly for less experienced shooters.

338 Win Mag Recoil vs 338 Lapua Magnum Table

The 338 Win Mag provides an excellent balance of velocity, trajectory, and energy with manageable recoil, making it suitable for a broad range of hunting and shooting applications. The 338 Lapua, is superior in every category except recoil. With its superior energy delivery and wind drift performance, is ideal for the most challenging long-range shooting scenarios, including large game hunting and precision shooting at extreme distances, but comes at the cost of heavy recoil.

338 Win Mag vs 300 Win Mag

Comparing the .300 Winchester Magnum (300 Win Mag) with the .338 Winchester Magnum (338 Win Mag) brings us to a discussion of two very capable cartridges. While the 300 Win Mag is revered for its versatility and long-range precision, the 338 Win Mag is known for its formidable stopping power and larger caliber. Let’s delve into a detailed comparison of these two cartridges across various ballistic parameters. If you’re looking for a more apples-to-apples comparison of these cartridges with similar bullet grain weights you can find that here: 300 Win Mag vs 13 Popular Cartridges (Ballistic Tables & Graphs).

Velocity

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Has a muzzle velocity of 2660 fps with a 250 gr bullet, a 150 fps difference. So it pushes a +50 gr bullet only slightly slower than the 300 Win Mag.
  • 300 Win Mag (200 gr): That said, the 300 Win Mag maintains its energy at longer ranges better. At 500 yards the 300 Win Mag is 374 fps faster.

338 Win Mag Bullet Velocity vs 300 Win Mag Table

Trajectory

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): This cartridge has 52.8-inches of bullet drop at 500 yards, an 11.7-inch difference. This is largely due to the bigger bullet, a comparable bullet grain would fly similarly to the 300 Win Mag.
  • 300 Win Mag (200 gr): There’s not much difference in trajectory until past 300 yards, this is when the 300 Win Mag shows its colors.

338 Win Mag Bullet Trajectory vs 300 Win Mag Table

Energy

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Delivers substantial energy, 3927 ft-lbs at the muzzle, which is over 421 ft-lbs more. That said, because of the heavy bullet the energy dies off fast. The 338 Win Mag is more powerful at closer ranges within about 220 yards in this cartridge.
  • 300 Win Mag (200 gr): At 500 yards, the 300 Win Mag has 1967 ft-lbs vs the 338 Win Mag’s 1664 ft-lbs has 3812 ft-lbs, a difference of 303 ft-lbs. This shows the 338 Win Mag is a more powerful option past 220 yards with this lighter bullet.

338 Win Mag Bullet Energy vs 300 Win Mag Table

Wind Drift

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): This cartridge has 23.9-inches of wind drift at 500 yards, a difference of 9.1-inches.
  • 300 Win Mag (200 gr): At 500 yards this cartridge has 14.8-inches of wind drift. The smaller, lighter, faster bullets have less wind drift.

338 Win Mag Wind Drift vs 300 Win Mag Table

Recoil

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Has 44.49 ft-lbs of recoil, which is 19% more recoil than the 300 Win Mag.
  • 300 Win Mag (200 gr): The 300 Win Mag has 36.01 ft-lbs of recoil, but it is less than the 338 Win Mag.

338 Win Mag Recoil vs 300 Win Mag Table

This heavier grain bullet for the 338 Win Mag is more powerful within 220 yards, I think this is where this cartridge shines. However, the 338 Win Mag can throw a 200-grain bullet the same as the 300 Win Mag can throw a 180-grain bullet with a larger diameter hole. The question is – is the increase in recoil worth it?

338 Win Mag vs 30-06 Springfield

When comparing two legendary cartridges like the .338 Winchester Magnum (338 Win Mag) and the .30-06 Springfield, there’s a rich history and a wealth of ballistic data to consider. Both cartridges have proven their worth in various shooting disciplines, but how do they stack up against each other? Let’s examine their performance in terms of bullet velocity, trajectory, energy, wind drift, and recoil. my article 30-06 vs 9 Most Popular Rifle Cartridges (with Ballistic Graphs) compares the 30-06 Springfield against more cartridges.

Velocity

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Has a starting muzzle velocity of around 2660 fps, which is slightly slower than the 30-06 Springfield, however, the 338 Win Mag retains its speed at longer distances better. At about 165 yards the 338 Win Mag has a higher velocity. Remember, though, that the 338 Win Mag does this while having a 70-grain heavier bullet.
  • 30-06 Springfield (180 gr): The 180-grain bullet has a muzzle velocity of 2700 fps, overall the two cartridges have very similar velocity ballistics out to 500 yards.

338 Win Mag Bullet Velocity vs 30-06 Springfield Table

Trajectory

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Offers a slightly flatter trajectory, but overall has an almost identical trajectory to the 30-06 Springfield out to 500 yards. Only about of inch or difference at 100 yards.
  • 30-06 Springfield (180 gr): The 180 gr 30-06 Springfield trajectory is almost identical to a 250 gr 338 Win Mag.

338 Win Mag Bullet Trajectory vs 30-06 Springfield Table

Energy

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Bullet energy is where the 338 Win Mag shines vs the 30-06 Springfield. It has just over 1000 ft-lbs more energy at the muzzle. It does lose its energy faster than the 30-06, but it still has 553 more ft-lbs energy at 500 yards.
  • 30-06 Springfield (180 gr): Produces good energy levels (2913- ft-lbs at the muzzle) but falls short of the 338 Win Mag out to 500 yards. That said, the margin between energy at further falls. For example, at the muzzle, there is over 1000 ft-lbs difference, but at 500 yards there is only a 555 ft-lbs difference, meaning the 30-06 Springfield retains its energy better.

338 Win Mag Bullet Energy vs 30-06 Springfield Table

Wind Drift

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Shows better resistance to wind drift, at 500 yards there are 23.9-inches of wind drift.
  • 30-06 Springfield (180 gr): More affected by wind, requiring the shooter to compensate more for windage at longer distances. The difference is not substantial, it’s only about a 3-inch difference at 500 yards.

338 Win Mag Wind Drift vs 30-06 Springfield Table

Recoil

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): The recoil energy is 44.49 ft-lbs which is notably higher recoil than the 30-06 Springfield.
  • 30-06 Springfield (180 gr): Offers moderate recoil (26.50 ft-lbs), almost 20 ft-lbs lighter or about 40% less recoil which is substantial.

338 Win Mag Recoil vs 30-06 Table

In summary, the 338 Win Mag generally surpasses the 30-06 Springfield in velocity, trajectory, energy, and wind drift resistance, making it a superior choice. The biggest advantage of the 338 Win Mag va the 30-06 Springfield is energy. On the other hand, the 30-06 Springfield, with its more manageable recoil and still respectable ballistic performance, remains a versatile and popular choice among hunters and shooters.

338 Win Mag vs 308 Winchester

The 338 Winchester Magnum (338 Win Mag) and the 308 Winchester (308 Win) are another topic of interest. Let’s dive into the analysis of these two cartridges, examining their performance in terms of bullet velocity, trajectory, energy, wind drift, and recoil.

Velocity

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Starts with a faster muzzle velocity of 2660 feet per second (fps), but not by much. The speed is maintained better over distance than the 308 Win too.
  • 308 Winchester (180 gr): Begins at a lower velocity of 2570 fps. The velocity of the 308 slows at about the same rate as the 338 Win Mag, there is only about a 150 fps difference from 0 to 500 yards.

338 Win Mag Bullet Velocity vs 308 Winchester Table

Trajectory

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): The 338 Win Mag maintains a flatter trajectory from 0 to 500 yards. At 500 yards 33 Win Mag has 7.9-inches less drop.
  • 308 Winchester (180 gr): Exhibits a more bullet drop, more evident at ranges around 400+ yards. This necessitates greater compensation for bullet drop when engaging distant targets, which can be challenging for long-range precision hunting and shooting.

338 Win Mag Bullet Trajectory vs 308 Winchester Table

Energy

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): The 3927 ft-lbs of muzzle velocity devastates the 308 Win. This high energy translates to much greater stopping power and effectiveness on larger game, as well as improved terminal ballistics at extended ranges.
  • 308 Winchester (180 gr): Starts with 2640 ft-lbs of energy out of the muzzle, which is a 1286-ft lbs difference. The margin does shrink over distance since the 308 maintains energy better. However, it still cannot compete with the 338 Win Mag in terms of energy.

338 Win Mag Bullet Energy vs 308 Winchester Table

Wind Drift

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): The 338 Win Mag has less wind drift at each distance.
  • 308 Winchester (180 gr): More susceptible to wind drift. Shooters using the 308 Win must account for greater windage adjustments, especially under windy conditions and at longer ranges. There is 5.5 inches of difference in wind drift between the two cartridges at 500 yards.

338 Win Mag Wind Drift vs 308 Winchester Table

Recoil

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Notably, it has a higher recoil (44.49 ft-lbs) compared to the 308 Winchester.
  • 308 Winchester (180 gr): Offers WAY better recoil (19.77 ft-lbs), about 56% less recoil. The 308 Winchester has the best recoil of all calibers in this article.

338 Win Mag Recoil vs 308 Win Table

In summary, the 338 Win Mag offers superior performance in terms of velocity, trajectory, energy, and resistance to wind drift, making it an excellent choice for hunting big game. However, this comes at the cost of much more recoil. The 308 Winchester, while not matching the long-range capabilities of the 338 Win Mag, offers a more comfortable shooting experience with much less recoil.

338 Win Mag vs 300 PRC

The .338 Winchester Magnum (338 Win Mag) and the .300 Precision Rifle Cartridge (300 PRC) are two high-performance cartridges that have garnered attention in the shooting world for their impressive capabilities. Let’s see how they stack up.

Velocity

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): The 250-grain bullet has a much slower initial muzzle velocity starting at 2660 fps.
  • 300 PRC (190 gr): Boasts a faster muzzle velocity of 3000 fps which is a difference of 340 fps. It’s also more efficient and maintains its energy better. For example, at 500 yards the 300 PRC has a 498 fps difference in speed.

338 Win Mag Bullet Velocity vs 300 PRC Table

Trajectory

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Offers a relatively flat trajectory, but it not nearly as flat as the 300 PRC. The slower speeds of the larger bullet don’t help its trajectory.
  • 300 PRC (190 gr): Engineered specifically for long-range shooting, it provides a very flat trajectory. Its advanced bullet design and optimized case capacity allow for efficient flight dynamics, exceeding the trajectory performance of the 338 Win Mag.

338 Win Mag Bullet Trajectory vs 300 PRC Table

Energy

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): The 3927 ft-lbs of muzzle energy beats the 300 PRC, but who cares because at about 75 yards the 300 PRC quickly takes the lead.
  • 300 PRC (190 gr): The 300 PRC’s ability to shoot high-BC bullets efficiently gives it an edge in energy retention, especially at extreme ranges. It has a muzzle energy of 3797 ft-lbs and maintains 2095 ft-lbs out to 500 yards. It has more energy than the 338 Win Mag at 75 yards, and at 500 yards it has 431 ft-lbs more energy which is substantial.

338 Win Mag Bullet Energy vs 300 PRC Table

Wind Drift

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): Exhibits decent resistance to wind drift, but not as good at the 300 PRC. There is 23.9-inches of wind drift at 500 yards.
  • 300 PRC (190 gr): Its superior aerodynamic efficiency gives it an advantage in wind drift resistance. The 300 PRC’s ability to use very aerodynamic bullets means it can be more predictable and accurate in windy conditions compared to the 338 Win Mag. There is 14.2 inches of wind drift at 500 yards, a 9.7-inch difference.

338 Win Mag Wind Drift vs 300 PRC Table

Recoil

  • 338 Win Mag (250 gr): The 338 Win Mag has a lot of recoil (44.49 ft-lbs), even more than the 300 PRC.
  • 300 PRC (190 gr): Has 39.82 ft-lbs of recoil, which is 10% less recoil than the 338 Win Mag.

338 Win Mag Recoil vs 300 PRC Table

The 190 gr 300 PRC outperforms the 250 gr. 338 Win Mag in every category. Additionally, a 200-grain 338 Win Mag bullet competes better but still does not match the performance of the 300 PRC in any of these categories.

Final Thoughts

After researching this cartridge, I found that the 250-grain 338 Win Mag is a powerhouse within 250ish yards. After that, the bullet is so big it starts to not perform as well. Unlike the the 338 Lapua Magnum which is above and beyond all the cartridges in the comparison and can push these bullets exceptionally fast, flat, and powerfully to far distances.

I think a better cartridge would be a 200-grain 338 Win Mag which would perform almost identically to, but slightly better than the 180-grain 300 Win Mag, but with a bigger .338 diameter bullet. This 50-grain drop in bullet weight will allow that 338-caliber bullet to get more speed behind it and have better long-range performance.

If you want to learn more about how the 200-grain 338 Win Mag stacks up against these cartridges and more, check out my article: 300 Win Mag vs 13 Popular Cartridges (Ballistic Tables & Graphs). You’ll find the 338 Win Mag in this article and all of the other cartridges that are in this article as well.

I also think there are better cartridges on the market, like the more efficient cartridges. These include options like the 300 PRC and 7 PRC.

What are your thoughts? Share them in the Forum or the Facebook Group.

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Article Written By: Jason Tome

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