March 2007

Medium-Bore Hunting Ri?es: Savage’s 116FHSS Gets an ‘A-’

The $602 Savage .338 Win. Mag. only needs a better buttpad to be superb, and we also favored Ruger’s Hawkeye, $749, in the same chambering. We give a “C” to Browning’s .325 WSM.

The idea of using just one caliber for all one’s hunting and fun shooting may best be met by what we call medium-bore rifles. These include the various .325s, .338s and some .35s, but not the .375 H&H Magnum and its like, which are a lot more powerful. Of all these over-.30 and under-.375 Mag calibers, one of the most versatile is the .338 OKH, also called the .338-06. The new .338 Federal is the .338 on the .308 case, and while we’re very interested in it, we haven’t been able to obtain test rifles yet.

In the meantime, we chose two .338 Winchester Magnums to go against one .325 WSM in this report. We picked a new Ruger Hawkeye ($749) and the Savage 116FHSS ($602) in .338 Win. Mag; and the Browning A-Bolt ($824) in .325 WSM.

Reloaders like the medium bores for their versatility. There are plenty of good bullets out there in .338, ranging from 185 up to 300 grains if you look hard. A variety of powders can make the .338 Mag talk about any talk a shooter might need, from fun at the range to taking big game. The .325 WSM, on the other hand, is a short cartridge with no belt. The case is a short .404 Jeffery size, and takes bullets of 0.323-inch diameter, the same as various 8mm cartridges. Bullets ought not to be a problem for the reloader. The .325 case held 83 grains of water, filled to the top of the case. The .338 Win Mag held 89 grains, which is 7-percent greater capacity. But how do they fare against each other?

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