.338 Marlin Express

The .338 Marlin Express is a new cartridge developed by Marlin Firearms and Hornady. It is based on the .376 Steyr with a goal to duplicate the venerable .30-06 Springfield's performance in a cartridge compatible with lever-action firearms. The cartridge uses a slightly shorter, rimmed case to function in lever action rifles with tubular magazines. As introduced in Hornady's LEVERevolution line of cartridges, it follows the design logic of the .308 Marlin Express which preceded it. The .338MX fires heavier .338 caliber bullets than the .308 Marlin Express at roughly the same velocity. It is chambered in Marlin's Model 338MX and 338MXLR rifles using the Marlin Model 336 action.[2]

.338 Marlin Express
.338 Marlin Express Right, with .308 Marlin Express (center) and .308 Winchester (left)
Place of originUSA
Production history
DesignerMarlin / Hornady
Parent case.376 Steyr
Case typeSemi-rimmed, bottleneck
Bullet diameter.338 in (8.6 mm)
Neck diameter9.45mm
Shoulder diameter12.60mm
Base diameter12.76mm
Rim diameter13.92mm
Rim thickness1.14mm
Case length47.90mm
Overall length65.62mm
Rifling twist1:12"
Primer typeWLR
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
200 gr (13 g) FTX (Hornady Flex Tip Expanding) 2,565 ft/s (782 m/s) 2,922 ft⋅lbf (3,962 J)
Test barrel length: 24"
Source(s): 338 Marlin Express LEVERevolution at Hornady web site & MidwayUSA and C.I.P. Data[1]

Design History and Cartridge Performance

Whereas the .308 Marlin Express began by modifying the .307 Winchester, Hornady and Marlin engineers started with a previous collaboration between Hornady and the Austrian arms maker Steyr, the .376 Steyr, when designing the .338 Marlin Express. The case of the .376 Steyr was given a thicker web for added strength, then necked down to .338. The .308 Marlin Express, on the other hand, was made with a thinner web than its parent case, the .307 Winchester, for additional capacity. Although the thicker case webbing reduced capacity, new powders allow the .338 Marlin Express to achieve velocities similar to the .338 Federal with significantly lower pressures. Hornady engineers then looked to the projectile for the new cartridge. They settled on the 200-grain .338 projectile from their .338 Winchester Magnum line. The existing bullet was remade with a thinner jacket in order to promote expansion and upset at longer ranges. This 200-grain .338" projectile is able to impart significantly more energy than the 160 gr projectile used in the .308 Marlin Express, despite similar muzzle velocities. Further, the projectile's high ballistic coefficient allows the .338 Marlin Express to maintain velocity to greater distances than big bore lever cartridges such as .45-70, .444 Marlin, or even the high performance .450 Marlin. Although the heavy bullet weight of these cartridges allow them more muzzle energy, the ballistic advantage of the .338 Marlin Express's projectile begins to show beyond 100 yards. After that point the .338 Marlin Express's projectile retains more energy than even the .450 Marlin. Like the .308 Marlin Express, the .338 Marlin Express was designed to be a relatively flat shooting cartridge, taking advantage of the bullets Hornady designed for the rounds. Its trajectory is similar to the .30-06 Springfield.[3]


The .338 Marlin Express was designed to produce performance similar to the .30-06 Springfield. This would give lever-action hunters improved performance over their .30-30 Winchester rounds. The table below shows how the rounds compare. Note that reloading data for 200-grain (13 g) bullets for some of the cartridges is not available. Extensive loading data for the .338 Marlin Express is not yet available. The powder used in the Hornady loading is also not yet commercially available as of Feb '09. This round was designed with an elastomer tip, so that the .338 projectile would be safe for use in the tubular magazines of lever action rifles. Traditional spitzer bullets are not compatible with the tubular magazines. This is due to the danger of the hard, pointed bullet-tip igniting the primer of the round in front of it under recoil impulse. The softer tip eliminates the hazards of stacking pointed rounds end to end in a tubular magazine.

.338 Marlin Express quick comparison
CartridgeBullet Weight (gr)Muzzle velocity(ft/s)Muzzle energy(ft-lbf)BCVelocity (ft/s)/Energy (ft-lbf) @ 400yds
.338 Marlin Express20025652922.4301820/1471
.308 Marlin Express16026602513 [4]?1836/1197
.30-30 Winchester16023001880 [5]
.30-06 Springfield20025422879 [6]
.30-06 Springfield20026253061 [7]
.376 Steyr (Parent Cartridge)21030114229
Other comparable cartridges and loadings
CartridgeBullet Weight (gr)Muzzle velocity(ft/s)Muzzle energy(ft-lbf)BCVelocity (ft/s)/Energy (ft-lbf) @ 400yds
.307 Winchester150gr26932416 [8]
.300 Savage150gr FMJ27652547 [9]
.308 Winchester150gr FMJ28092629 [10]
.30-06 Springfield150gr FMJ29002820
.308 Winchester180gr Nos AccuBond25502598 [11]
.30-06 Springfield200gr SP25422879 [6]
.30-06 Springfield200gr OPP26253061 [7]
.338 Federal210gr Nos Part26303226
.325 WSM200gr Accubond CT29503866
.338 Winchester Magnum200gr SP29503866
.35 Remington200gr Lead Flat Nose20841929
.348 Winchester200gr25302840
.358 Winchester200gr SP25002776
.35 Whelen200gr27983478
.340 Weatherby Magnum200gr SP32214607
9.3x62mm Mauser231 gr Oryx26003550

See also


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