The .338 Lapua Magnum (Lapua for short) has now been around for a while in the sniper community, but it does have the distinction of being the first cartridge designed specifically for sniping. The 338 Lapua was developed back in 1983 but it wasn’t until the later 1990’s that it gained in popularity and started to become more widely used. The cartridge was designed to arrive at 1000 meters with enough energy to penetrate 5 layers of military body armor and still make the kill. The effective range of this cartridge is over 1 mile (1609 meters) in the right shooting conditions as has been demonstrated in recent conflicts with confirmed kills in excess of 2000 meters. Realistically, 1500 meters is within the range of a trained sniper. This cartridge is based off of the .416 Rigby Case, necked down to .338 caliber, and is designed primarily as a military extreme range anti-personnel round and there really is no Law Enforcement applications, unless you need a super penetrating round for either armored vehicles or barricaded suspects. There are not a lot of rifles chambered for the .338 Lapua but the list continues to grow. The availability of match ammo has also grown to where there are a handful of manufacturers making good match grade ammo. The recoil of these heavier extreme range cartridges, such as the 338 Lapua, can be high so a good muzzle brake is required.
Recommendation: For military extreme long range anti-personnel purposes the .338 Lapua is an excellent choice. This cartridge is not recommended for close range Law Enforcement use.
Note: We have selected three different 338 Lapua loads to demonstrate here. The 300gr loads have become more popular and typically is the choice for extreme ranges beyond 1500 meters where the extra weight and high BC start to make a bigger difference. But for the 300gr bullets, a 1:10″ twist will be needed. We included the Blackhills 300gr, the Lapua 250gr and the HSM 230gr T-50. These three loads cover a wide spectrum of missions and capabilities and all tend to be very accurate.
- BH300 = Sierra Match King 300gr at 2800fps
- Lapua250 = 250gr Lapua Scenar at 2970fps
- HSM230 = 230gr T-50 Solid at 3137fps
|Bullet Drop (Inches)|
|Energy (Muzzle – BH300 – 5222Ft-Lbs., Lapua250 – 4896, HSM230 – 5025)|
|Wind Drift (Inches) 10 mph Crosswind|