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338 Blaser Magnum

338 Blaser Magnum

It’s been four years now since I first got my switch barrel, Mauser M03 Extreme and I have few complaints. The rifle is a little different as I have been chopping and changing barrels/calibres. I started off with a 30-06 and a short (20”) 223 Rem. The 06 has now gone to be replaced by a 6.5x55 Swedish and the 223 substituted for a longer 23.5” version as I was not getting the speeds I wanted out of the original.

The stock is now the new version, with adjustable-height comb and their Mag Safe system in the African PH sand colour. The main reason for getting rid of the 30-06 was that I also bought an 8.5x63mm REB (essentially a 338-06 with a more Ackley-like shoulder design) as a boar and big game calibre so making the 06 a bit redundant. The bore size in English is .338”, which is a highly versatile calibre and available in a number of options – 338-06, 338 RCM (Ruger Compact Magnum), 338 Win Mag and of course 338 Lapua Magnum. The newest addition to this hard-hitting family is 338 Blaser Magnum.

Match Tube

Blaser has developed a number of calibres all made by Norma and using various bullet manufacturers with the 338 being one of them. I rate it highly and my 8.5x63 Solid barrel for my MO3 can shoot weights from 185-grain (Barnes TSX) up to 250-grain Nosler Partition. In terms of power it’s in the upper/middle class and offers just that bit more weight, strength and mass than a comparable .30” calibre. But still does good duty on smaller deer with no real problems either.

I’d seen the 338 Blaser at IWA and asked Mauser about borrowing a barrel and getting some ammo, which duly came across courtesy of UK importers Open Season Ltd. The tube was their 26” Match fluted, which is a medium/heavy build. Along with this to facilitate the swap was a new bolt head and magazine. If you are not aware the M03 is a switch barrel rifle and a calibre change takes under two minutes.

The ammunition was loaded with a Barnes 210-grain TTSX, similar to what I use but with a ballistic tip instead of a hollow point. This should improve down range performance yet give the same devastating results on animals as the original. I matched the rifle up with a Night Force 3.5-15x56 scope with their new ZeroStop elevation turret.

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Quote and Real

This first taste of the 338 Blaser was just to get some figures and see how it shoots. Truth is calibres like this are a bit wasted on the more run of the mill deer species, as they are a bit over kill. For me it’s more an African, longer range and larger species hunting round.

Norma quotes the following specification for the 210-grain TTSX load: Velocity - 900 MPS (2952 fps), Energy - 5514 Joules (4066 ft/lbs). On paper these are some pretty impressive figures and using the mighty 338 Lapua Magnum as a yard stick firing a 250-grain bullet we get 2903 fps/4678 ft/lbs. I have kept the bullet light to try and get near the 210-grainers used by the Blaser. These figures are not that comparative but the nearest I could get to give a working idea of the differentials.

Well Behaved

Factory quotes are just that and I have always found real time figures to be more realistic! From the Mauser the 338 was doing this - 2824 fps/3733 ft/lbs, which is not dissimilar to the 338 Win Mag, though a bit shy of what Norma print on the box. Compared to my 8.5x63, which gives 2718 fps/3035 ft/lbs with the 185-grain load and 2376 fps/ 3133 ft/lbs with the 250 Partition, the 338 shows a significant energy increase of around 600-700 ft/lbs. All this in a reasonably pleasant cartridge too.

On the range and like my 8.5 the 338 feels like a big 30-06 in the shoulder and it’s well-mannered enough to shoot prone with no unpleasant recoil affects. The fluted Match barrel is not as heavy as say a pure varmint type and heats up quite quickly. Hardly surprising given the amount of powder the Blaser is using! For zeroing I tended to treat it like a sporter and shoot two rounds at a time, If I shot a 3-round group then the last one would usually step out a bit, which to me indicates rapid heat build-up, which causes it to deviate from its cold position.

Accuracy was most acceptable printing between ¾-1”; given the caveat of the 2-round group. So providing you can do your thing then a serious 400/500-yard performer at worst. At 400 it’s giving 2124 fps/2103 ft/lbs and at 500 - 1961 fps/1793 ft/lbs. At 1000-yards it’s still supersonic at 1290 fps/775 ft/lbs. Given this is a Blaser cartridge then I would guess that something like their R93 LRS (Long Range Sporter) with a full heavy barrel could really push the envelope.

For me the 338 Blaser is a pure hunting cartridge and one that offers a practical, accurate, effective and longer range big hitter…

  • 338 Blaser Magnum - image {image:count}

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  • 338 Blaser Magnum - image {image:count}

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  • 338 Blaser Magnum - image {image:count}

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