Best Rifle Caliber: 300 Win Mag vs 338 Win Mag

300 Win Mag vs 338 Win Mag

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Choosing the best rifle caliber is considered an important task in the hunting arena, and even more so when hunting deer or elk. This rifle comparison will explore 300 Win Mag vs 338 Win Mag in trying to determine which one comes out as the best fit.

Picking one between 300 Win Mag or 338 Win Mag usually leaves hunters with indecision. The deciding factors ultimately come down to power, range, and the personal preference of the hunters. Both of these calibers are unique in their own features, specifications and applications.

Historical Background

.300 Winchester Magnum

The .300 Winchester Magnum was introduced in 1963 by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Commonly known as 300 Win Mag, it has remained popular for a long period of time because of its versatile nature. For big game hunting and long-range shooting, this cartridge is the preferred choice for many hunters. It is the hunters’ favorite when it comes to high velocity and precision.

.338 Winchester Magnum

Introduced in 1958, the .338 Winchester Magnum was crafted to deliver a heavy bullet at a high energy level. Also called 338 Win Mag, it is ideal to hunt large game at longer distances. Hunters who are pursuing larger North American game fancy doing it with this cartridge.

Performance Comparison


300 Win Mag Ballistics

The 300 Win Mag has a flatter trajectory and a precise long-range shot. It fires a 180-grain bullet at around 3,000 fps. This cartridge is great for hunters who are looking for accuracy instead of sheer stopping power.

338 Win Mag Ballistics

The 338 Win Mag typically fires a 250-grain bullet at 2,800 feet per second (fps). It does not offer flat trajectories like the 300 wm, but it does deliver higher energies upon impact. This makes the cartridge ideal for big game hunts where deeper penetration is key.


300 Win Mag

Popular for its flexible recoil, the 300 Winchester Magnum offers quick follow-up shots. When hunting over longer distances, its recoil makes it easier for hunters to be more precise with their shots.

338 Win Mag

The 338 Win Mag has an increased amount of powder charge and a heavy bullet. This sometimes creates more recoil which is not ideal for the hunters, particularly shooters who are new in the hunting arena or sensitive to recoil.

“Recoil energy of the .300 Winchester Magnum is approximately 20 ft-lbs, which most of the hunters manage easily, while the .338 Winchester Magnum generates almost 30 ft-lbs of recoil energy.”

Effective Range

300 Win Mag

The 300 Win Mag is super effective, with a range of up to 1,000 yards due to a flat trajectory. This is great for target shooting as well as long-range hunting.

338 Win Mag

The 338 Win Mag also returns great results at extended distances. It is brilliant at delivering energy to the target that is 600-800 yards away. The heavy bullet it shoots retains a lot of kinetic energy – more than that of the 300 Win Mag.

“The .338 Winchester Magnum retains almost 2,000 ft-lbs of energy at 500 yards, while the .300 Winchester Magnum retains 1,500 ft-lbs of energy at 500 yards.”Long Range Hunting


Best for Deer Hunting

300 Win Mag

The 300 Win Mag balances accuracy with power. It is great for whitetail and mule deer, and many professionals in the firearm industry refer to it as the best deer hunting caliber. The shots hunters take over long distances are also very precise as compared to the other cartridges.

338 Win Mag

The 338 Win Mag can be used for deer hunting, too, but it might not be suitable for smaller deer species. This is because it is overpowered and made to hunt larger game specifically.

Best for Elk Hunting

300 Win Mag

The 300 Win Mag is well-suited for elk hunting, offering greater power and deep penetration needed to bring the large animals down. Well-placed shots are key in this regard.

338 Win Mag

A lot of seasoned hunters consider the 338 Win Mag as the best caliber for elk hunting. This is because it provides penetration and superior energy, which make it great for powerful animals and long-range shots.

Cost and Availability

300 Win Mag

The 300 Win Mag ammunition is readily available and can be found in most sporting goods stores. It is low on price and high in value – a very tasty combination for the hunters.

338 Win Mag

338 Win Mag has a few availability issues in some areas, but the ammo can be bought easily. It might not be the go-to option for new hunters due to its high prices, which is its only drawback.

Final Verdict: 300 Win Mag vs 338 Win Mag, who wins?

So the comparison ’300 Win Mag vs 338 Win Mag‘ is really tight – coming down to the hunter’s specific preferences and needs. The 300 Win Mag is a great all-around caliber, with which hunters get versatility, precision, and a flexible recoil. It is ideal to hunt deer and shoot over longer distances.

The 338 Win Mag is ideal to hunt larger games (like elk, whitetail deer etc.) Deeper penetration and superior energy make it the perfect choice for big game hunting.

Both the calibers have unique features, and ultimately your hunting plans will aid you in picking one for the hunt. Whether you pick the 300 Win Mag or the 338 Win Mag, you need not to worry as both are great cartridges, and super reliable too.

Additional Considerations

When choosing rifles and ammunition, you should consider the following:

  • the terrain you are planning to hunt in,
  • your average shot distance,
  • and how comfortable you are with the recoil.

Also, try and set up different shooting drills, focusing on certain areas that are tougher, in order to master the art of hunting.

This piece covers a detailed comparison between the 300 Win Mag vs 338 Win Mag, so you can make informed decisions on your next hunt and make it a successful one. For more insights, tips and tricks on the best calibers for hunting, don’t forget to check out our other blogs on Gunners’ Review. Happy hunting!

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