The Federal cartridge 338 Fed does have some buzz going at this time and is available in short action bolt rifles. I know Ruger M77 Hawkeyes and Sako/Tikka rifles are available in 338 Fed. Does anyone have actual experience with both cartridges that they can share their preference between them? What I read sounds very good but they do say Federal loaded them to where recoil is a factor.
I own both and hunt with both. I happen to have both chambered in M77 Hawkeyes. The biggest difference between them for someone looking for a medium, to me, would be the availability of factory loads for those who do not handload. When I shoot my .338F with the 200gr Fusion load (2650 FPS) alongside a 30/06 with typical 180gr loads in like rifles, I see zero difference in recoil to my shoulder. I found this Fusion load to be very accurate (sub MOA) in my Hawkeye and also performs very well on game. The .338F is a much flatter shooting cartridge than the .358 shooting Winchester's factory offering. Move up to Double Tap or Buffalo Bore for the hot .358 loads and it will even out, but at a cost, $$$$.
My Hawkeye in .358 is now loaded with stout 250gr loads and does recoil a bit more and more on a par with my .35 Whelen shooting hot (2874 FPS) 200gr loads. A hotly loaded .358 Win will match or even exceed the Remington 200gr Whelen factory load, although Winchester's 200gr .358 load is only rated at about 2500 FPS. It is still a very good round at that slower speed, but taken to Whelen levels it becomes a different beast, IMHO. The .358 is a great round for a handloader.
Both are fine rounds, but limited to only factory loads, I'd choose the .338F and it's more numerous, more decently priced and more readily available offerings. You can use weights of 180-210 in factory loads, with the 210gr being a Nosler Partition. There's also a 160gr load (TTSX @ 2900FPS) that is a very flat shooter available from Double Tap. For the ultimate performer, I still prefer the performance of the Whelen over all my other mediums and they have now added two new factory loads for it; a 200gr Superformance (2910FPS) and a 180gr Fusion load that looks to be a very good deer loading.
I sure would like to see Browning add the .338F to their BLR line-up and perhaps even their BAR Short -Trak line-up too.
Pics: M77/.358 with Lam stock, M77/.338 SS/wal, both rifles with new stocks replacing the original Ruger synthetics