I have a Win pre 64 .338 with a custom K E Smith barrel and a 4x Redfield scope, the bluing is very good, it has a few handling marks that are from handling while hunting. It has been a safe queen for the last 25 years, and had less than 50 rounds through it. we can exchange phone #'s and talk if interested Stan
If you are going for brown bear, a .338 is an excellant cartridge. A minimum 225 grain bullet, or better yet a 250 grain, and you are in business. If you are just going for black bears, anything over .25 should do. A .308, 30-06, .270 - these will all put down black bears quite nicely. I have killed a black bear with 1 shot from a .308, using a factory 180 grain Remington CoreLokt, and another one with 2 shots from a 30-06, using handloaded 180 grain CoreLokts. Black bears aren't hard to kill, if you can put a bullet in the vital area - heart and lungs. If you can't put a bullet into that area, a bigger caliber probably won't help, and the added recoil will probably make your shot placement worse.
For my money, the best deal out there right now for a .338 is the Savage Weather Warrior series. I have had a Browning Stainless Stalker, a blued Winchester Model 70, and am now shooting a Savage. With the Accu-trigger, stainless action, and stainless fluted barrel with integral muzzle brake, it is the ideal light foul weather firearm. I have a Leupold VX11 3-9x40 scope on it, and it is dead accurate further than I am really comfortable shooting. For me, it is an easily carried rifle, and the stainless makes for easy care during extended hunts.
The .338 isn't a violently recoiling cartridge, more like a really stout loaded 30-06 in a light rifle. I have spent a day at the range, trying various loads and bullets, and have gone through a load of shells, and felt no worse than if I had shot 300-400 rounds of 12 guage wearing a T shirt. I was tired, but not really sore. If you are going for dangerous game, I would recommend that you shoot your .338 without the lead sled, at least as much as with it. You have to know how much recoil it has, how to cycle the bolt and get back on target, and get off your next shot, if necessary. If you only use the sled, or mostly use it, these actions won't be automatic in the bush, if you need them. If you aren't used to the recoil, you tend to flinch in anticipation, and that can spoil your shot, big time.