E-tip vs Accubond in 338 WM


May 10, 2017
Hello all,

First time posting on this board. I'm an experienced reloader and hunter with years of experience with 30-06 based cartridges, but felt that I needed a big thumper for an upcoming 2018 elk hunt. I originally bought a 300 Wby and used 180 Accubonds with H4831SC to develop a great load (sub-MOA) fairly quickly, but the rifle was a bit too barrel heavy for my liking and I sold it.

I ended up with a Tikka T3 Lite SS in .338 WM, but it has been much more finicky to develop a load in than any other rifle that I have owned, and copper fouls quickly no matter what bullet is used. I wanted to stay with a bullet in the 200-210 grain range due to recoil in such a light rifle, but I can't really find a load that really makes me happy with the following: 210 TSX, 200 Hornady SP, 185 GMX, 225 AB, I4350, RL17, RL19, RL15, factory 225 SST Superformance, Factory Winchester 200gr HP Bonded. Maybe I need to pick just one bullet/powder combo, but I really thought that was I4350/210 TSX, and could only tune a consistent 1-1.5 MOA (usually around 1.25 MOA) group out of it, leading to trying the others. I'm used to sub-MOA consistently with a quality rifle in all other calibers.

I tried some 180 AB loads with RL19 that my dad had loaded for his Browning x-bolt, and they shot great, so I decided to try 200gr Accubonds for bigger game (yet to start load development). Ive had great success with ABs in 30-06s and .270s in the past, so I have a lot of confidence in finding a load for these. I've also found 201gr E-tips for a really good price, but have heard that they can be finicky to develop and pressures build quickly before reaching lead core velocities. I'd really prefer a monolithic bullet in this light-for-caliber application due to weight retention and penetration, but don't want to buy more headaches in load development. Is:

A) the E-tip finicky and slow, or
B) is the AB plenty tough enough for an elk shoulder and I should just stick with developing a load for it?

Also, while I'm at it:
I have CCI250 and Fed215 primers, recommendations?
RL19, 15, 17, or I4350, or H4831SC?

Thank you and sorry for the long post, but I wanted to hear from folks with more experience with these bullets and caliber.
Welcome to the board and don't feel alone about not being able to get tiny groups out of the 338Wm since I have the same problem. But I did find that the 200gr AB will shoot well once you find the correct seating depth some where between .050"-.100" and sometimes farther off the lands Partitions .010"-.020" usually work but each rifle is different. R17-R19-R15 and I4350 have all been recommended to me. My rifle is a M77 Hawkeye all weather and I think the Hogue stock is holding it back but I'm not sure till I can get it back to the range for some testing.
The .338 has a lot of torque when fired and I believe it needs a solid foundation to shoot well.
Good luck with finding the sweet spot.
Welcome aboard; pleased to see a great first post. I've taken quite a few elk over the past years. Among my favourite bullets is the 130 grain E-Tip launched from a 270WSM. I've never needed a second shot to date. I like the E-Tip; it has performed quite well for me in a variety of cartridges. I wouldn't hesitate to use the 200 grain E-Tip in a 338 Winchester Magnum. In fact, it is one of the bullets I'll be working up for my 338 Federal. The 200 grain AccuBond is assuredly more than adequate for elk in the 338 WM; it will work very well. As far as that goes, the 180 grain AccuBond will work well in that cartridge.
Dr. Mike is correct. That e-tip in your 338 should work fine. It really preforms in my son's 6mm Remington! He took a cow elk at 350 yards with the 90 gr. E-tip. It hit her tight behind her right shoulder and angled forward slightly and EXITED her left shoulder, breaking it on the way out. She went about 20 yards and tipped over!
I load for a T-3 also. I have found good loads with 225 TSX and R-19. I also worked with 225 Sierra bullets and Ramshot Hunter, IMR4350, H4350 and superformance. I was able to get 2" or less groups at 220 yards. The key with light rifles is a firm consistent hold.

I have 200 E-TIPS ordered and will report on loads when I get a chance to shoot them.

PS. 225 Nosler partitions and IMR 4350 with the Nosler book accuracy load shot very well.
Thank you all for the quick and friendly replies. I'm going to give the ABs a whirl since I've done so well with them before. I was just a bit concerned that my once on a lifetime shot on a bull would be a quartering-to shot and that the 200gr AB would not be enough bullet. I'm not concerned with that shot with a 165 or 180 AB out of my 30-06, but a big bull elk is quite a bit tougher.

I am really interested to hear about load development with the e-tip in your Tikka 338
The only worry I could see using a 200 AB in a 338wm for elk would be do I smile or look serious in the elk down pictures. :grin: A 200 AB will work very well in your 338 make no mistake about it. I run a 200 AB in my 300 rum and have never had an issue killing elk with that bullet. If you have 215 primers I would try them as I have had great luck with them.
Have the E-tips been hard to develop loads for? Have you been able to reach full lead-core velocity?
Each rifle is an entity unto itself. Some of my loads with E-Tips have been developed in one trip to the range, and some have taken several trips. I have never had a group that was much over MOA; velocities were always good to excellent.
My E-Tip experience is like DrMike. Accuracy and speed have both been good and reasonably easy to reach.
A few questions first...

Where are going for your elk hunt?
What is the terrain you will be hunting in?
What is the typical range that you may be expected to shoot at?

These answers may determine if you need lighter, flat shooting loads for longer ranges (as preferred by some for long range shooting) or if heavier loads are fine as ranges will be restricted to 300 yards or less.

If the range may be extended, it is easy tounderstand why you would prefer a more accurate load, but if the ranges are more typical, than your 1.25" load with the 210 TSX will be more than enough for your elk hunt. Like you, I know what is adequate but do prefer my rifles to shoot MOA or better.

Barnes and other monolithic bullets can definitely be more finicky to find good groups with, and some rifles will just not shoot them at all.

Over the years I have seen more used Tikka T3 rifles in 338 WM than any other caliber, and the main reason is recoil. Two options to tame this beast; 1- a Limbsaver recoil pad, or 2- mercury recoil reducers in the stock. Those that have used these methods report a more manageable rifle under recoil, that has also helped in their accuracy. Otherwise, Tikkas prove to be great shooting rifles as a whole.

My 338 WM was a Remington Model 700, and it shot the 210 gr Partitions and 225 gr Hydroshocks very well (Federal factory ammo). My custom Remington 700 338-06 also shoots the 210 gr Partition (Weatherby factory ammo) very well, and the 215 gr Sierra GameKing even better (.5 MOA).

The 215 gr SGK is designed with heavier jackets for better penetration characteristics with the 338 WM in mind. Its higher BC actually provides even better performance at ranges beyong 300 yards from my 338-06 than the 210 gr Partition out of the 338 WM! I used the F215 primers in both with great results. The 4350 and 4831 powders have always been good performers in the 338 WM. I cannot say from personal experience with the Reloder powders as I have not tried any but 19 (with decent results) in that cartridge.

A friend uses a light load with the 200 gr Speer Hot-Cor in his with good results too.

I am a big fan of the AccuBonds, and would try the 200 and 225's to see which your rifle prefers.

As always, shot placement is the key.
Oh I'm sure that 1.25 MOA is plenty, and several time I've shot MOA or better groups from it, but I can't consistently get the smaller groups that give me confidence in my rifle. I've really gotten spoiled by my Savage 116 .30-06, Rem 700 .270, and now a Win M70 .30-06, (not to mention the numerous other accurate rifles that I've had in the past) so much so that sub-MOA just feels like settling for less. I love the rifle, and it's plenty accurate enough for my maximum 400yd shot, but I really just want it to be consistently sub-MOA if at all possible for my confidence.

As mentioned earlier, my preference for the lighter for caliber bullets in this rifle is recoil. I've put a Sims Airtech Limbsaver on it, but it is still a light rifle with a good bit of recoil. It's really more caliber than I need, but I got it for a good price while trying to find a .300 WM in the same rifle, and I really want to hold onto it.

If everyone feels that the 180 or 200 AB are more than sufficient elk bullets, then I will stay with them. I'm going to give RL19 a closer look than I have in the past instead of the I4350. Looking back over some notes today it seems that I had some decent Hornady 200gr SP results with a load that was a few grains off max that I didn't give much credence due to lower velocities. It may act a little different with the same weight AB and give me good groups near max.
You will be just fine with the lighter bullets in your 338 Winchester Magnum. And RL19 will work well for you, without a doubt. Candidly, I wouldn't be particularly concerned carrying a 30-06 for elk. Loaded with a good 165 grain bullet, it will bring home the meat. Sounds as if you're moving in the right direction. Where are you planning on hunting? Wouldn't it be great to secure a tag for elk in KY, in AR or in PA? Such was unimaginable in the near past when I was living in KS; today...
My dad and I have an outfitter in western Colorado lined up for next fall. I'm really confident in my Savage 116 with 180 ABs, but my brother convinced me that I would be more confident with more gun if an elk presented a longer range less than perfect shot.
CO has some fine hunting, without a doubt. Engaging an outfitter is likely wise. Mind you, any excuse to pick up another rifle is legitimate! Here's wishing you success.
A 338 win with a 200g BT going 3000 to 3100 fps is an elk killing machine, I have seen and heard of many bulls taken at ranges between 50 and 750 yards so a 200 g ACC or E tip will definitely do the job. My 338 shoots all three of these bullets real close to the same point of impact. Good luck on your hunt.
Welcome aboard. I shoot a 338 Jarrett for elk. I've only taken 1/2 dozen with the Accubonds since switching from the Partition. The closest was 30 yards through both shoulders. 425 was the longest shot, through the far shoulder. I always try to get at least one shoulder, the Accubonds works well. Accurate too. No experience with the Etip.

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No experience with the ETips but 1.5 moa is not too bad. The 338 is not a finicky cartridge to load but it can be a handful in a light rifle. It's a definite step up in power over 30-06 class cartridges and for me requires a bit more attention to detail off the bench for consistent results. I have no doubt the AccuBond is enough bullet but you didn't mention what i consider possibly the best all round bullet for the 338WM - the 210gr Partition. I use a stiff charge of IMR4350, Win primers and am sub moa out to 300yds.
I want to try the 210 Partition, but my only experience with Partitions in the past led to less than stellar groups from a.270 that shot BTs, ABs, and SHKs lights out. I may try them later, but just have much more confidence in ABs for accuracy