The new .338 Spectre in various guises shown flanked by the 5.56x45 (left) and 7.62x39 (right). Left to right - 160 gr Barnes X, 200 gr Ballistic Silvertip (both "natural" and "tactical black") and the Sierra 300 gr HPBT MatchKing for subsonic applications requiring minimal signature.
CQB: Barnes 160 gr X Spitzer, 16" barrel, 1,800-2,000 fps
Small Game: Comb. Tech. 200 gr BT, 20" barrel, 1,600-1,700 fps
Minimal Signature: Sierra 300 gr HPBT MK, 1,000 fps
(the latter employs standard 9mm suppressors to ensure a truly minimal
signature for the discerning professional)
Like the .458 SOCOM, the .338 Spectre cartridge was developed specifically for the AR-15 family of gas-operated, detachable-box magazine-fed firearms. The cartridge is intended to fill the gap between traditional pistol caliber cartridges and existing rifle cartridges used in this weapon system.
It shares rim size with the new Remington 6.8 x 43mm SPC cartridge,
allowing use of OEM bolts in this caliber.
By offering ballistics similar to the .357 Maximum, the .338 Spectre offers great potential as a single shot, silhouette and small game cartridge. By using .338 caliber bullets, the cartridge offers a nice variety in projectile choice, ranging from 160-grain Barnes X Spitzers, through 180-grain BST to 300-grain HPBT MatchKing rifle bullets. Furthermore, it allows the user to employ existing suppressors for the 9mm without modification, providing enhanced tactical firepower.
AR-15 SBR in .338 Spectre using PRI 6.8 x 43 magazine,
side-charging upper receiver and custom installed Carbon-15 hand
guard and rail.
with 200-gr BST rounds and Walther P22 with Gemtech Outback II.
The .338 Spectre replaces the earlier designed .358 CQB. The .358 CQB uses the difficult-to-obtain .30 Remington case as a parent case, and head spaces on the case mouth. We felt a more easily obtainable case should be used, and thus the .338 Spectre cartridge is based on the Starline 10mm Magnum case. As before, the case has minimal taper, but now headspaces on the shoulder for improved accuracy. Overall loaded length is similar to the ubiquitous 7.62 x 39 M43 and .223
Standard .223-caliber AR-15 magazines will accept a limited number
of .338 Spectre cartridges, whereas the 7.62x39 magazines are fully
compatible. Due to the fact that the cartridge shares rim and
head dimensions with the new 6.8 x 43 SPC, the preferred magazines
are those made specifically for the 6.8 x 43 by PRI. Tthe standard .223 lower receiver for the AR-15 can be used without
modification and the rifle will function in both semi and full automatic
modes. In addition to the AR-15 weapons platform, several other types of firearms can be made to accept this cartridge, including the Mini-14, T/C Encore and various bolt and pump action rifles.
carbine in .338 Spectre using hybrid 7.62 x 39 magazine,
flip-up sights and AK-type muzzle brake.
Ballistic performance is comparable to the .357 Herrett, .35
Remington or even the 180-grain load for the .44 Magnum. In the
16" barrel carbine, the .338 Spectre will launch the 180-grain
BT at 1,800 ft./sec., approaching 1,300 ft-lbs. of energy. By
loading the 300-grain Sierra HPBT MatchKing bullet at subsonic
velocities (1,040 ft/sec.) for suppressed applications, the muzzle
energy measures 720 ft-lbs., surpassing both the high velocity
115-grain load for the 9mm Parabellum as well as the 240-grain .300
Whisper ® load.
A .338 Spectre ultra short (8.5") PDW built
by ADCO Firearms using one of our barrels. Click the
link below for footage of this PDW version firing 300 SMK
subsonic loads with a Yankee Hill Machine "Wraith"
Factory loaded ammunition for the .338 Spectre
may be bought from Reeds
Ammunition and Research. Ron has done some extensive
loading and testing of the .338 Spectre using the upper shown above
and is offering a variety of loads. Both accuracy and terminal
ballistics have proven to be outstanding and the table below
summarizes his testing and development:
In addition, Southern Ballistic
Research carries factory loaded .338 Spectre ammunition AND brass with
For the sportsman, the .338 Spectre offers a user-friendly cartridge in terms of brass forming and reloading, with light recoil and excellent performance on small to medium size game. For the law enforcement professional, it offers solid terminal ballistics from one of the most-widely used weapons platforms with minor modification. The wide range of available projectiles should appeal to both the recreational shooter as well as the professional. Reloading dies for the .338 Spectre can be obtained from CH Tool and Die
well as the Hornady Custom Shop.