Winchester introduced their .338 Winchester Magnum in 1958 to a specific group of hunters of large North American game. The popularity of the cartridge soon spread to Africa where hunters used it to harvest medium game and some large animals as well.
The .338 used a .375 H&H Magnum case that had been necked down to take the smaller .338 caliber bullet. This allowed the use of a rather heavy bullet pushed by enough powder so that a 200 grain soft point bullet will nearly reach 3,000 feet per second and have a muzzle energy exceeding 3,800 foot pounds. The Winchester Model 70 Alaskan was among the first rifles that was chambered for to fire cartridge. Winchester designed this rifle with the hunter of big game in Alaska in mind. The .338 has a reputation for being one of the best cartridges for hunting elk in use today, and has also been employed with great success for bear hunting as well. A great advantage of the cartridge is how well it retains energy at long distances. With the right load, it still has nearly 2,000 foot pounds of energy available at 400 yards. This makes the effective range of the .338 better than the .375 H&H Magnum.
All that power and reach comes with a cost. The rifles which fire .338 are built heavily and weigh and average of 8 to 10 pounds. More often discussed than gun weight is the recoil factor. The .30-06 generates recoil in the range of 15 foot pounds, while the .338 Winchester Magnum generates recoil in the range of 30 foot pounds! This is a significant number for recoil, but it's not enough to dissuade the hunters who need the performance that this cartridge presents.
Several major manufacturers sell rifles chambered for the .338 Winchester Magnum. These companies include Winchester, naturally, Ruger, and Remington. Weatherby and Savage also make some of the more well known rifles made to fire the .338. Bolt action rifles are the most common platform, although Browning makes a BAR semi-automatic rifle that is chambered for the .338.
.338 Winchester Magnum ammunition is also for sale from nearly every US ammo manufacturer. Federal and Hornady sell high performance ammunition for hunting that includes their most advanced bullet designs which make this excellent hunting cartridge that much better.