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. 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.”
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 is you get near .338 Win. Mag. performance out to 400 yards, without the 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 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.