Cost Effective Rifle Cartridges Part 8: Medium Bore Cartridges
The medium bores constitute one of the weakest categories, with their own share of contradictions and surprises. There is only one truly available cartridge in that batch, the excellent but heavy recoiling 338 Winchester Magnum, with an expensive cost of $55 per box. Every other medium bore cartridge was flagged for spotty or low availability - that was our first surprise. In particular, we were expecting to see reasonable availability from the 338 Federal - we were disappointed. Our second surprise was that the second most available cartridge (albeit still spotty) in the category was the largely unknown (in the US) 9.3x62.
Despite the 338 Win Mag's excellent availability, its cost of $55 per box was actually one of the highest in the category, while practically all other cartridges in the category were significantly cheaper: this was the third surprise of the category. The most cost effective round was the traditional 8x57, at $36 per box, followed by the 338 Federal and the unpopular but very good 9.3x62, both at $42 per box. The 338 Win Mag is actually the most expensive cartridge that we are recommending across all rifle rounds.
All cartridges in the medium bore category deserve some interest. The 8x57 and 9.3x62, both European cartridges, have a lot of history and are sensible cartridges. In fact, the 9.3x62 can take CXP4 African game. The 35 Whelen and the 358 Winchester are US cartridges linked to some of the big characters of US hunting history - and represent solid hunting cartridges to boot, large enough to go after any CXP3 game. The 338 Federal, also a US cartridge, is an effective medium bore cartridge, good for 250 to 300 yards (depending upon the bullet and load), and with significantly lower recoil than the 338 Win Mag. As for the 340 Weatherby Mag, it is an outstanding medium bore Magnum with heavy punch, long range, and even heavier recoil. We like all of these cartridges, to varying degrees, but we cannot recommend them on the basis of availability.
It is worth noting that the 375 H&H Magnum is often - although not always - binned with the medium bores. We decided that, primarily because of recoil and of CXP4 capability, it really belonged with the big bores as far as we were concerned.
- Best, although expensive, medium bore cartridge: 338 Win Mag
- There is no second among the medium bores
Next we review big bore cartridges... So come back soon!