I was going to write: “An Unbiased Comparison of the 9.3 x 62 and the .338 Winchester Magnum”, for that is the intent of this piece. But that would have meant a title too-long for a single line.
And the idea of “an unbiased comparison” between the two might raise the eyebrows of some and snickers from a few! Why? Because MOST journalism in recent times has a stamp of “no confidence” due to journalistic prejudices! There is, in reaction to that, a lot of “critical thinking”, so-called, which in itself has the same taints of journalistic prejudice, or political manipulation.
So it is “A Comparison…”, not “An Unbiased Comparison…”, leaving the reader (you) with biases of your own to make a judgement on the fairness of this comparison.
As a basis for this analysis, as often mentioned, I’ve owned a couple of .338s with barrel lengths of 20″ and 26″. In between those two, I assisted my son, Phil, in the development of handloads for his .338 Win Mag in an M700 Remington with a 24″ barrel. Regarding my two rifles: The first was a Sako FS with the 20″ tube. After prolonged trials involving several bullets, primers and powders, I was able to attain a maximum safe load at 2715 fps from the 250gr Sierra BT – with acceptable accuracy. None of the other 250gr bullets tried surpassed the factory claim of 2660 fps from 24″ barrels. Other bullet weights tested included 200s, 225s and the Speer 275gr. Again, as recently stated, I reached a high of 2841 fps from the 250gr Hornady SP from my 26″ Browning A-Bolt SS (LH). That was from a book load of RL-19. My son’s Rem 700 with it’s 24″ barrel gave an easy hunting load of 2735 fps from the 250gr Hornady SP. Due to a time limit for developing a moose load, we settled on that before heading to “The Far North”.
As given in my recent blog on “The .35 Whelen and other Mediums”, I published the ballistics for my 9.3 x 62 in comparison with my .340 Wby load on that moose hunt. The conclusion was that apart from the .340 having a somewhat better trajectory due to the 250 Nosler Partition leaving the muzzle at 3000 fps, there would be no advantage in “killing power” between the two all the way to 500 yards. The 9.3 x 62 would have less recoil, less weight and better handling.
< The .340 Wby in the “Far North”.
In a recent search of the website of a prominent outdoor store in our area, looking for how many 9.3 x 62s were being offered, there were several used, but in “good” condition Euro models, ranging in prices from below $400 to up around $700. Then, also a few of recent manufacture by the likes of Sauer with the sky the limit! During that search I also noted several offerings in .338 Win Mag – some of new manufacture, including one having the same name and style as my Tikka T3 Lite in 9.3 x 62. Hmmm…, I thought: “It has a 24″ barrel. I wonder how that would have compared to my choice of the same basic rifle with a 1.5″ shorter barrel chambered in 9.3 x 62 instead of .338 Win Mag?” Would I have been better off with the .338 Win Mag? One well-known character on the forums, though a fan of the 9.3 x 62 that he claims to have used extensively in Africa, insists that his .338 Win Mag is better for long-range shooting of elk in the West! Of course, there are elk, and then there are ELK!
So here is my “unbiased” comparison between my TIKKA T3 Lite with a 22.44″ barrel and an honest .338 Win Mag load from a 24″ barrel in a TIKKA T3:
We’ll invite the .338 Win Mag in a TIKKA T3 to shoot its “best” first:
Cartridge: .338 Winchester Magnum
Barrel length = 24 inches
Primer: Federal 215
Powder: 71.5 grs H4831
PSI @ 64,000 (?)
Bullet: 250gr Nosler Partition
COL = ? (the same action as mine with a clip allows a maximum of 3.370″; SAAMI = 3.340″)
(*Ballistics are from the Nosler Manual #4 which, based on some personal experience, I think are realistic.)
MV = 2780 fps/ 4290 ft-lbs/ 120 TE
100= 2597 fps/ 3743 ft-lbs/ 105 TE/ +2.93″
200= 2421 fps/ 3254 ft-lbs/ 91 TE/ +2.42″ (Zero @ 250 yds)
300= 2252 fps/ 2816 ft-lbs/ 79 TE/ -4.02″
400= 2090 fps/ 2425 ft-lbs/ 68 TE/ -17.3″
500= 1935 fps/ 2078 ft-lbs/ 58 TE/ -38.6″
Recoil from an 8# rifle ready to hunt = 43 ft-lbs
The following results are the same as published on July 31, 2021 for the 9.3 x 62:
Rifle: Tikka T3 Lite, 22.44″ barrel
Cartridge: 9.3 x 62mm
Powder: RL-17 (70 grs)
MV = 2640 fps/ 4425 ft-lbs/ 142 TE
100 = 2466 fps/ 3861 ft-lbs/ 124 TE/ +3.37″
200 = 2299 fps/ 3355 ft-lbs/ 107 TE/ +2.74″ (Zero at 250 yards)
300 = 2138 fps/ 2902 ft-lbs/ 93 TE/ -4.47″
400 = 1984 fps/ 2499 ft-lbs/ 80 TE/ -19.3″
500 = 1837 fps/ 2143 ft-lbs/ 69 TE/ -43″
Recoil from 7.7 lb rifle = 48 ft-lbs
PSI = approximately 64,000 based on QuickLoad.
(*I’ve published 2631 fps MV from this load in the past, but a new 1 lb can has increased that slightly on average.)
<by seating the 286gr Nosler to a COL of 3.37″ to work smoothly from the clip magazine, I was able to use more RL-17.
While there isn’t enough distinction in kinetic energy to have a serious argument over, yet any advantage in Terminal Effect (TE) is the result of a slight, but significant, increase in KE, a 17% greater cross-section area of the 286gr in .366-caliber over the 250gr in .338-caliber, and 8.6% greater momentum starting out at the muzzle and 8.6% more momentum at 500 yards. In other words, there will be 8.6% more momentum at any range, and 17% greater bullet cross-sectional-area from muzzle to impact. At impact the TE is 19% greater for the 9.3 x 62 than the .338 Win Mag. It all counts for something (though we may not know exactly by how much), not just the KE numbers that slightly favor the 9.3 x 62. The TE (terminal effect) number is the result of a particular formula. If we should use the TKO formula instead, the comparison between the two would be somewhat the same, still favoring the 9.3 x 62. The TE formula gives a 19% edge to the 9.3 x 62, and the TKO gives an 18% edge to the 9.3 x 62.
TKO = Bullet wt. X Velocity X Caliber/7000.
So: 2780 x 250 x .338/7000 = 33.5 TKO @ MV; and 1935 x 250 x .338/7000 = 23.4 TKO @ 500 (for the .338 Win Mag)
So: 2640 x 286 x .366/7000 = 39.5 TKO @ MV; and 1837 x 286 x .366/7000 = 27.5 TKO @ 500 (for the 9.3 x 62)
Both bullets have very good sectional densities at .313 for the 250gr and .305 (Nosler says .307) for the 286gr, so a very slight advantage in SD goes to the .338 cal.
The 9.3 x 62 has a 12% increase in recoil over the heavier .338 ( the TIKKA T3 in .338 Win Mag with a slightly longer barrel will add a few ounces) plus the 9.3 x 62 is using a 14% heavier bullet, but recoil for the 9.3 x 62 can easily be modified by adding more weight or choosing a 250gr. Both of the above loads would have similar recoil effect to a “normal” .375 H&H at 9 lbs firing a 300gr at 2550 to 2600 fps.
There you have some of my reflections on why the Tikka T3 in 9.3 x 62 would not be improved on, or replaced, by a similar rifle chambered in .338 Winchester Magnum. They are both very good cartridges that when handloaded can be effective on any BG in North America and most of the world…. Well, you know the 9.3 x 62 was created way back in 1905 by a German gun maker, Otto Bock, for European settlers in East Africa. And it became famous there for cleanly killing anything that needed killin’! And, what more can be said of the very popular .338 Win Mag, an honest descendant of the great .458 Win Mag, which was created for any large and dangerous African fauna, and its offspring being born two years later for any large and dangerous Alaskan fauna!
And, Oh! I almost forgot to mention that I had the option of purchasing a Remington 700 in .338 RUM with a laminated stock and SS 26″ barrel and action for the same price suggested for my Tikka T3 in 9.3 x 62! I handled them side by side and the TIKKA went home with me! You see… don’t you, I already knew the ballistics of the .338 RUM since I’d owned and used a .340 WBY for ten years prior to that. Plus the 338 RUM was almost 5-inches longer and nearly 2 lbs heavier!
Til the next… Comparing the .338 Winchester Magnum with the renowned .375 H&H.
“Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will never lack any good thing.”
Psalm 34: verse 10 (NLT)