For better or worse, long range shooting is all the rage today. I find that there are several camps that exist in this particular division of the gun culture, and each has their own favorite cartridges and rifle types. Today we are going to be taking a look at what is perhaps the largest and most powerful commonly owned long range caliber, the .338 Lapua Magnum, and where it sits today.
The .338 Lapua Magnum was developed in the 1980’s as a dedicated round for military sniper rifles. The .338 Lapua rifle became something of an intermediary between the long-standing .308 Winchester and .50 BMG cartridges in widespread western service, but has now branched out worldwide to the militaries of over 30 countries. It outclasses most other long range rounds, including the fearsome 7.62x54R which, despite being a design dating back to the 1890’s, is a near omnipotent and overwhelming threat in modern warfare.
.338 Lapua rifles were purpose-built as sniper weapons in the early years of the cartridge. That has changed as the round has become more popular with civilians and as a result it has seen widespread production by companies like Remington, Savage, Ruger, Barrett, and others. Common bolt-actions include the Barrett MRAD, Savage 110, Ruger Precision Rifle, and Remington 700. Semi-automatic rifles are also available from Noreen, Alexander Arms, and DRD Tactical.
While these are not typically true military sniper rifles, they are generally quite accurate and affordable relative to their military brethren. The downside to many ‘military’ .338 Lapua rifles is that they are inordinately expensive for no other reason than, at least to me, to be discriminatory to the purchaser base.
The popularity of the cartridge in long ranges circles stems from its use as a military sniper round. As a result, it has developed a healthy cult following in many long-range circles and among competition types, but is banned from use in certain games. I suspect the reason for the bans are that the .338 Lapua, in a 300gr or larger load, produces an unfair ballistic advantage over other cartridges. Indeed, most gaming rounds like 6.5mm and 6mm Creedmoor are put to shame by the .338, but have advantages in terms of recoil and cost. A competitor with money to burn would outclass most others by using the .338 Lapua.
From a practical civilian perspective, the .338 Lapua makes little sense. It’s a very, very powerful round that is difficult to master, even in a quality bolt action rifle. I have had the privilege to fire a number of top-shelf .338 Lapua guns over the years and, while they were extraordinary in their own right, they were certainly not worth the base price of the rifle or the $5/round ammo cost considering the ranges most people shoot at.
It is my opinion that the .338 is expensive just because it can be and the idea that it’s pricier because it uses a non-standard action and bolt face is only an excuse in the age of advanced manufacturing.
I understand the fascination with the .338, but it’s a bit misplaced in my mind. There are a number of end users who have need for an accurate round that can deliver a 250-300gr bullet at a mile away, but they are few and far between.
The excessive cost of the .338 Lapua is the major issue. Even handloads are expensive for most shooters due to the fact that most loads use upwards of 100gr of powder, which is four times what’s used in most 5.56mm loads and over double a .308 Winchester. Bullets are expensive too, usually double the price of comparable .30 caliber options.
To compare it with another common cartridge, the .300 Win Mag, the .338 Lapua is still excessive. The .300 Win Mag can be handloaded with 220gr+ bullets that closely resemble the 300gr .338 Lapua, but at less than one third the price. The .300 Win Mag uses about 25% less powder and bullets that are about 50% less expensive to achieve a similar effective range and trajectory. Brass is also much cheaper for equal quality.
The rush to long range rounds has created a false sense of what long range really is. Everyone loves to talk about the ballistic charts and the numbers surrounding their favorite round, but the reality is that most people will never make full use of the effective range of their 5.56 and 9mm, let alone 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Win. I consider long range targets to be in the 800-1,200 yard range and long range hunting to be ethically limited to ranges inside 500 yards. A .338 is essentially overkill in terms of power and price for these ranges.
The average shooter in America will likely never be able to commit the time and resources to reliably or repeatedly hit their intended target at ranges past 500 yards. Pessimistic, I know, but it’s the truth based on my experience. The long range community is comprised of a dedicated few with dedicated equipment and even then, they typically lack the disposable income to fire cartridges that exceed $5 each. For the everyman, three rounds of .338 Lapua is more than the cost of a case of beer.
The trend to smallbore rounds like 6.5mm and 6mm has resulted in a decline in the overall popularity of the .338 Lapua due to the fact that the cost of punching paper is significantly less with the smaller bore and bullets. Match quality barrel life is similar to the 6mm and 6.5mm Creedmoor at 2,500-3,000 rounds, however I spoke to many good .338 shooters before writing this article and they claim their choice round has an accurate life that exceeds 7,000+ rounds.
I know one man who shoots matches weekly with two Sako TRG rifles, one in .338 Lapua and one in 6.5 Creedmoor. He claims he has had to re-barrel the 6.5 Creedmoor (formerly a .308 Win) yearly due to his round count, around 2,500 a year, but hasn’t had to touch the .338 in ten years of shooting.
He claims to be at the 6,500 round point and has yet to have an issue. His lifelong load for the .338 Lapua is the classic Sierra 300gr SMK in Lapua brass with 90gr of H1000 powder. He claims to fire about 50 rounds a month plus matches, which is significantly more than most shooters will ever fire through their own .338 Lapua. I don’t consider this typical, as most .338 shooters I spoke to don’t fire more than 100 rounds a year.
The truth about the .338 Lapua is muddy due to the fact that the most good, accurate guns are too expensive and most cheaper guns don’t justify the excessive cost of ammo given their accuracy potential. The .338 Lapua rifle is a status symbol for many and is usually a safe queen as a result. I have seen what it can do as compared to smaller calibers, but I fail to see what it does better for the price given that you could afford both a long range gaming caliber rifle like 6mm Creedmoor and a .300 Win Mag for hunting for substantially less cost than one .338 Lapua rifle.
All that said, if your heart desires a .338 Lapua rifle, by all means go out and get one. It’s your American right to choose, but be aware that it’s a high-cost, low-volume rifle/ammo combination that offers only marginal benefits to the average shooter.
338 LM rifles are mislabeled. They are not chambered for the 228 LM cartridge, they are chambered for $5 bills.
In reality, 300 Norma Mag has replaced the 338LM for long range shooting.
It’s a no wonder why we’re about to become a third world country. Balls Gents! That’s what is needed in our Nation, enough of gender changes to our young children, communists, socialism bullshit that our Nation has been fighting against for how many years.
I love my Savage 110 in .338. I can ring steel at 3200 meters, and I can outshoot 300 Norma, .50 bmg, and even the vaunted 6.5 Creedmoor all day. More importantly, I took an elk last month in Montana at 990 meters.
That said, I practice a great deal, and I can afford to. Without practice, caliber is irrelevant.
Savage 110, 338LM 3200 meters. I thought it was December, not April Fools day?
Luckily for me, your opinion does not change the facts of the situation.
Not to pick only on you Ruthless, but hunting elk at 900m is not hunting. It is sniping. You might have been successful but there are plenty of wounded elk out there due to your fellow less skilled (or less lucky) snipers.
That all said, I too took an elk in Montana with my .338. However I was in western Idaho when I took the shot.
Awe man, I really didn’t want to defend Ruthless because of his 6.5 Creed comment which leave me puzzled.
But, who made you king shit on what constitutes Hunting Big Sky?
I did. And my friends in congress.
People like you are no different from the Fudds who run around saying “oh you don’t need that type of weapon” you’re an anti hunter who still thinks he’s not, you are just as much an enemy to hunting as peta.
Might want to look in a mirror JMR.
“Hunting” at a thousand yards is not hunting. If you would rather divide and fall over that simple fact, then you, my friend, are the enemy.
I never defined guns or gun ownership. Just pointed out that if you cannot see the game at the hunting distance, then you are not hunting. An elk at over half a mile is a brown speck with a white dot on its butt. But go ahead, burn down our 2A house. That’s what people like you do.
I took an 8×8 point elk in Colorado, this last October with a 338/378 Weatherby magnum, while I was sitting on my porch in Florida, shooting from a bench rest…..
A bench rest is cheating, you’re not a real man …
No big sky you should take a look in the mirror, the only one here who has proclaimed what Hunting is and isn’t is you, i’ve Said no such thing.
What I said is that you’re the type of person that has to be fought because you don’t like how someone else does something. You’re the type of person that things giving an inch will appease the other side, on the instances when you’re in the middle, and your the type of person that is in the other side in some instances.
At this point you don’t even know what my opinion is of of long range hunting, you have assumed it.
I imagine when you’re not on the Internet telling people what they’re doing is wrong, your sitting in you’re rocking chair in the front porch yelling at kids to get off of your lawn while they stroll down the sidewalk.
You are an enemy of freedom.
I would say this escalated quickly, but the fact is, it devolved.
Fudds calling other fudds fudds.
Hey, I once shot a white tail fawn (they’re smaller) from over 450 yards (um, I mean meters, I think) from here in Phoenix. With my Ruger 10/22, with iron sights. Using Winchester white box ammo. In the rain. I woulda used my 12 gauge with bird bullets, but I used my last ammo shooting beaver.
And anyone who says I didn’t, isn’t a real hunter.
Big Sky is right. It is not truly in the spirit if hunting if the game in question cannot be aware of the hunter or mount an escape in the way of fair chase. Long range hunting is categorically immoral and is not praiseworthy. All it shows is that the individual in question is by definition a sociopath who has no degree of concern for the living thing being shot at. We as hunters have nothing to do with the 2A, as it is not about hunting in a basic sense. As far as being an enemy of freedom, the right to bear arms is an individual basic right to prevent tyranny, where hunting is a privilege wherein game is strictly regulated by the state as a natural resource, so Big Sky is no foe in any sense. A long range shot is not skill based, but rather based on a set of predictive elements that are at best close guesses as far as trajectory and terminal performance are concerned. In short, a simple error in wind estimation at 900m is the difference between a heart shot and a gut shot. We are morally obligated as hunters to give the game a quick and merciful death, with anything else constituting moral bankruptcy. There is absolutely nothing admirable or courageous about long range killing and it is corrosive to the spirit of the hunt, which is not at all about the distance at which an animal is killed, but rather the surety of the hunter to make a patient shot.
Yeah and you’re all using rifles so shut up. “The spirit of hunting” can go fuck itself along with any noble sentiments you think you carry because you like to get close enough to spook game. I mean unless you’re carrying a spear made from a branch you found the day you went hunting and didn’t use any calls or scents or range cameras or scopes, who cares? You like your way and he likes his, neither are wrong unless you’re just trying to be a dick over choice. Next, you’ll be arguing the size of rounds is against some bs code you have. Only real men shoot whatever round because my grandpappy said you must have a small dick if you use over 223. Sound like a kid playing call of duty getting mad some guy with a sniper rifle is camping. Did he kill it? That’s all that matters.
Also I made a similar shot from Ohio into Washington.
I guess if it was a bit bigger than a man sized target then it would be possible. Big piece of steel, good scope but most of all a good trigger finger. I don’t have more than 330 yards to practice at but with my Savage 110 338LM I can consistently break 4″ clays all day.. 3″ clays about every other time but when I miss its just barely, so I’m an average moa shooter. I don’t see why I couldn’t shoot much further, maybe without wind… I haven’t got that down at extreme distances. I shoot with a suppressor and it makes it feel like shooting a 7.62 NATO.
Your suppressor reduces recoil?
Sorry, I guess if you were aiming for a bus at 3200 meters, a factory Savage 110 would be fine
The issue isn’t the maximum distance at which you can reliably make the shot. It’s whether the animal can move far enough during the flight time of the bullet to turn a shot that would kill quickly into one that causes a protracted, agonizing death.
Interesting point. If the bullet’s average velocity along the entire 990 meter path was 2,400 fps (which is probably optimistic), it would take that bullet about 1.4 seconds to hit the target. Unless something spooked the animal, I don’t think it would move very far in 1.4 seconds if it was grazing.
Not more than 2 or 3 feet…
Also, the wind can be quite variable over the course of 1082 yards (990 meters). You can have a 10mph crosswind from left to right at your location and a 12mph crosswind from right to left at the elk’s. And you’ve got the basic problem with standard deviation. Is this bullet coming out of the barrel at 2700fps or 2680? Or 2720? And is this shot at a downward angle of 8 degrees or 10? And am I shooting to the east or west, because the rotation of the earth will make the bullet (in effect) rise if I’m shooting to the east and fall to the west (or did I get that backwards?). Every 3.28 feet (meter) farther you go the variables compound. 1000 yard shots are rarely made on the first shot in the field.
What Ruthless Objectivity failed to mention about his ability to ring steel targets at 3,200 meters is that his steel targets are 16 feet in diameter!
And by ‘ring’ he didn’t mean to ring the steel like a bell but rather to place his shots all around the steel to form a ring around it.
Well said in reply to not so big in Big Sky, I appreciated your truth in this sportsmen are sportsmen and until we can all embrace the fact we all have to stand together as one, will we continue to divide ourselves until we fall. Common sense isn’t so common in this day and age.
3200 meters is a long way to drag an Elk back to the Ford pickmup.
Hell yeah brother
I definitely should have a .338 Lapua, but I need that 3200 yard range first. Pretty sure I could afford one of them, but it would not be the range.
3200 *meters*? Even worse. And I also need EDIT!!
Should you buy a .338LM?
Sure. The more the merrier.
I still think the CheyTac rounds, tho, adapt better to more actions. Once you’re into a .338LM, your options in rifle actions narrows considerably.
Rounds like .338 LM are a Jump the Shark moment for most shooters. At the point you could buy a good 338 is the same point you could buy an accurate entry level 50bmg. And who doesn’t want a 50? Alternatives to the 338 are quickly becoming apparent to the 2k+ yard shooter like the 300 Norma mag, 300 PRC and 30 Nosler 2here the projectiles are as good if not better than their 8mm cousins, and cost slightly less.
I think the primary utility of anything beyond .300 Win. Mag. is being able to stop trucks, airplanes, and helicopters. And at that point, I imagine .338 Lapua Magnum is a bit light for taking down airplanes and helicopters. And since there is marginal cost difference if you step up to .50 BMG, you might as well step up to .50 BMG and know that you have a platform that will bring down an airplane or helicopter.
Of course my comments above only apply to a wartime scenario. So the utility question really becomes, “Do I expect a wartime scenario on U.S. soil?” That is an entirely different can of worms.
(Disclaimer: please do not construe my comments here to suggest that I am discouraging anyone from purchasing a rifle in .338 Lapua Magnum for any and every reason. I am simply speaking to the utility of a rifle in .338 Lapua Magnum.)
Essentially why I purchased a fairly high quality .50BMG rifle. I do expect a wartime scenario on US soil in my life time and wanted a rifle that can stop armored vehicles and perform well with anti-material work.
Unfortunately, I didn’t stock up nearly as much as I should have on ammo when the prices were down a few years ago. Prices look like they have increased. used to be around $2.50 for cheap stuff, now its $2.90-3.40 for lower end of bulk ammo.
Good point. This is why I have and load both.
The only times I’ve used .338Lap was at a range that stopped at 800 metres. Ringing 12” steel was easy at that range. Even better as several manufacturers were trying to sell their “sniper systems” to organisation I used to be with the ammunition was free.
Fun to shoot occasionally but too dear and too big for regular use.
How is it possible that the long-range accuracy of
the .338 Lapua is better than the .50 BMG?
“How is it possible that the long-range accuracy of
the .338 Lapua is better than the .50 BMG?”
Better BC than the .50 BMG, perhaps?
(Long and thin, slides right in ;)…)
Hornaday .50 750 gr A-MAX® BC of 1.050
Nosler .338 300 gr HPBT BC of .80
Clearly the BC of the “fifty” is much better……
There’s a little footnote that should be used when comparing G1 Bc’s, however:
The G1 form function isn’t valid when looking the new VLD bullets. It is more appropriate to compare G7 Bc’s, because the G7 form function is based on what these modern bullets look like: boattail bases, long ogives, sharp points. The G1 form function is for older, flat-based spitzer bullets, with a much blunter point on the front.
The .338 bullets available have higher Bc’s. A higher Bc pill gets pushed around less by the wind, and retains more velocity to the target.
When looking at long-range shooting, my advice has always been: “Pick the best bullet you can launch first, then let’s worry about what cartridge you use to launch it.”
There are 300 grain bullets in .338 that have very, very nice Bc’s.
The only way you’re going to achieve better Bc’s in the .50 is to increase bullet weight to probably over 800 grains…
You sir, are wrong.
Were you going to give any evidence of same, or just give a proof by assertion?
‘For the everyman, three rounds of .338 Lapua is more than the cost of a case of beer.’ – As much as I love to shoot, there’s no way I’m letting it cut into my beer budget. That’s where I draw the line.
The reason a .338 Lapua bar rel might last longer than a Creepmoor is that you’re more likely to put rounds through in fairly rapid succession with the Creepmoor giving it less time to cool and that leads to throat erosion.
“As much as I love to shoot, there’s no way I’m letting it cut into my beer budget. That’s where I draw the line.”
Now THERE’S a man with his priorities in order. Bravo!
I’m not an alcoholic, but I am addicted to beer.
While Ben Franklin really did not say “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”, he should have. 8>)
Josh is one of the reasons that I still visit the site.
My 300 winmag is a safe queen because it doesn’t do anything for me that a 30-06 can’t do. I can’t see owning a 338 LM or anything Creedmore.
No .338 Lapua for me, not at $5.00 a shot. 7.62x54R at 20 cent’s a round works for 99.9% of anything under 900 yards, and under 150 yards a .17 HMR is pretty devastating.
Thanks but this is a useless argument starting statement and followup discussion by you. I’ll buy and shoot whatever the heck I want because I can. I’m not a sniper or a wannabe Seal Team 6 member but I do hunt and like to shoot a lot of different guns. I’m probably going to get another useless Pre 86 keeper machine gun and a Barrett 50 with next years tax refund check, I’m writing off home damage not covered by insurance over the next few years and get all my Federal tax paid back for now).
Just because I can.
Lets get back to fighting the enemy and the possible upcoming bump-stock ban which could lead to a ban on binary triggers, competition triggers and eventually dangerous and ugly looking semi-automatic guns like my Ruger 10-22.
Get f’ing real with your posts, especially at this point in time… we don’t need anymore “Is the .45 dead” or “9mm vs .40 – the story the FBI doesn’t want you to know” articles… Do your job, get everyone on board against “them” for now and you can play stir up shit later…
I’m rapidly tiring of these articles.
Amen. It Appears the Armchair Quarterbacks have changed sports and now fighting over the coaching positions. I currently Live in Maine with access to anything with hooves. with that said, My Norma Magnum has Not been fired since I crossed the state line. a couple reasons, Hurts like hell and expensive to reload. There is no living creature available to which I would want to ruin 10 lbs of meat to shoot it with at available safe hunting distances. Whats a SAFE HUNTING DISTANCE? One where I can Glass Past the target to feel assured im not about to shoot a person I cannot see while Im trying to put meat in the freezer, a hide on the wall etc. Never hunted with or around those that hunt long range for the reason previously stated. I cannot afford S&B Glass so I wont hunt beyond 500 even with the norma. My Best deer shot is 350 to date. I just cannot be assured no one is on the other side looking in my direction or their back to me. 900 Yards? Good Luck with that. Ive popped steel out beyond my 1k meter rangefinder so what, anyone with time and ammo can eventually do the same. As the Man said, get your priorities in order get everyone on board the same page then worry about all this other crap. If you lose your rights while fighting for the coaching chair you likely wont have a porch to sit on afterwards.
“including the fearsome 7.62x54R which, despite being a design dating back to the 1890’s, is a near omnipotent and overwhelming threat in modern warfare.”
Hahaha. Please tell me I’m not the only one who gets this statement.
What wrong with 54R? I wouldn’t want to be in range of that, would you? Will take down any creature in North America , 4 or 2 leg variety. New is not necessarily better. Russian military still using it.
Nothing wrong with it at all. It’s a great round. What I was referring to was the perception it has created in western military’s minds, since Afghanistan. The whole military desire for “overmatch”.
I know this is about 2 years later l, but I thought that was one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever read from a gun author. Am I missing something?
Me personally, no. Many local ranges don’t allow them as it either exceeds their bore size limit in their license or the range operators will ban it specifically by name.
But 30-cals, including Winchester and Norma magnums, are considered fine and can be used anywhere.
A couple of years ago I was at Bass Pro gun counter and a young couple was talking to the guy behind the counter. The wife was probably raised hunting and the man not. He was looking for his first rifle, more or less a do all rifle. Might do a little deer hunting down the road. The gun the salesman recommended was a 338 Lapua. He said ammo is a little expensive, but if you start reloading, its not too bad. I just shook my head and left.
You never know when the civil war will start. Can we depend on 6.5 Creedmoor to win it for us ?
Successful insurgencies still depend on rusty old bolt action rifles firing obsolete cartridges, so… no.
If you want to win that civil war, let out enemies have the 5.56mm NATO and we’ll use the old 30-06 Springfield for the win.
You pickup all the dropped .06 ammo you can find and I’m sure I can pick up all the 5.56 I need.
Lets both hope we’re not coming across 5.8x42mm.
Had the SAKO TRG in 338, Rock chucks & Coyotes, and dinner plates. Loaned it to my son, I think he thinks I gave it to him. The TRG is AWESOME, but to shoot it you MUST reload. At this point I don’t really care if I get it back, been over 75 years, and it is way to heavy !!
I was talking to a friend of mine last night who asked me if he should ditch his Rem 700 in .300 WinMag for a .338 Lapua for hunting elk. Short answer, no. Long answer, NOOOOOO!
I can’t see why anyone would bother hauling a .338 Lapua into the field for hunting, when a .338 WinMag will reliably take down anything in North America. I mean, if you want to, go ahead, but by the end of a hunting trip, you’ll probably be wishing for something lighter to pack around. Somewhere over 10lbs, rifles become very, very heavy by the end of the day…
I have a Remington 700LSS in 338 RUM that’ll do anything the Lapua will do and it only cost me $675. I got 5 boxes of ammo for $100 at a gun show, and my hand loads group at less than “.75. I’ll stick with that.
Try .325WSM if you already have enough long-action dinosaurs in your arsenal.
It’s funny you put it that way. It was that train of thought that led me to owning two 325wsm rifles when I wanted something flatter shooting and harder hitting at longer ranges. Great cartridge!
Will .338 LM that is commercially available to civilians be able to defeat level IV body armor or intercepter vests? If not, what will besides 50 bmg?
.338 doesn’t make much sense as a long range competition or hunting cartridge, but in a post-rule of law situation, being able to stop cars or armored attackers and still be man-portable would be an asset.
If you can afford one get one and learn to reload. I enjoy shooting my Savage Stealth. The 338 gets people’s attention at the range since you don’t see them every day. But I don’t shoot it a lot when I do. It does have a hefty muzzle blast from the brake and nice recoil but it does wear on me. After about 10-15 shots or so I am done. At that point I am ready to shoot my 6.5 Creedmoor or something else not so over the top. But it is a great caliber for those who don’t want or have to place to shoot a 50 BMG since some ranges don’t allow the big 50.
Best discussion on TTAG ever.
What a pity party. I thought this would be discussing details of the .338 Lapua, not 15 out of 17 paragraphs whining that “it sucks cause it’s so expensive!!”
No 338 lapew for me, my 06 does everything I need done. more guns is always good if you can afford them. I’m kinda spending most of my ” gun money” on ammunition at this time.
I don’t hunt terrorists half a mile away with Uncle Sam buying the equipment so no on .338 Lapua for me.
My lowly .308 Savage Axis is good enough for hunting and target shooting and it was less than 5 bills.
I thought this was a really goid article, and I liked the discussion.
I love long-range shooting, and I have guns dedicated specifically to that, but damn, even in Colorado it’s not the easiest thing to do. The clubs to which I belong are maxed out at 300 yards…the longer ranges are up in Wyoming or more than 2 hours from me. No complaining…just the truth. I ‘m repurposing an old .22LR bolt action for NRL competition…that 2 1/2 inch steel at 100 yards is a challenging shot (.22s in the wind is a laugh riot).
Hunting, we made the decision to cap the distances on the shows I produce at 500 yards, and we have gone to some lengths (working with the great instructors at FTW Ranch in Texas) to show what is necessary for first shot kills when the distances get pushed out. Nothing against long range hunting, but we think it’s important that the hunter HONESTLY understands his or her limitations. Oddly, the better I have gotten at long distance shooting, the less interested I am in long distance hunting…have hone back to handguns and lever action rifles. Go figure…
Contact TTAG’s email address and tell Dan to forward my contact information to you. I believe I am the only mainstream journalist talking about (and against) the unethical drive to long range hunting and would be happy to share my experience and insight with your audience.
I came here to get an honest answer for 300 win mag vs 338 lapua. Not a bitch fest.
The .50 bmg is illegal here in CA. Our deer are runts. Our ranges are mostly under 300 yards. I personally see no need for anything heavier than a .308, .30-06 if you don’t travel for your hunting.
But, you do you. I don’t tell folks what is right for them.
I liver in the Poconos so 200 yards is very long range for me. I fully understand the “legend” aspect of the .338 Lapua as a military round. And I understand the bigger is better mindset of some shooters, and that is all good if that is what makes you happy. For me personally, all my hunting needs are met with my lowly 30-30 or 44 magnum lever guns in the rack. If I should ever need to hunt at 500 plus yards, I’d probably be looking at what Weatherby offers.
Howdy neighbor. I use a 30-30 and 44 mag. also in the Poconos. Funny, I’ve often thought the same about a Weatherby. But I got 30-06 and 325wsm that I rarely grab to go in the PA.
woods. There are spots where I can use them but I still grab the lever actions for our northeast woods. I live in Florida mostly now , and got to watch for hungry alligators rather than hungry black bears- lol. But I still own my Poconos home and get out up there. As for 338 Lapua , I only see them at the range once in a while.
Say hi to the guys at Dunkelbergers.
Nope! You should buy a 50BMG.
I don’t need such a rifle. If I need to kill something that far away, it’s time for artillery or buying a Ma Deuce
I figure 3200 meters is around 2 miles as the crow flies. Personally, beyond 2500 meters I favor the 81 mm mortar with 6 charge. It’s a bigger upfront cost but, overall I save on $5 per round 100 round practice sessions not to mention the Swarovski scope and sundry accessories. Gives me a little more flexibility, range and radius. Windage is less of a problem too. It also makes packing out the elk a whole lot easier than having to quarter it when I find the downed animal(s). Nitrile gloves (I’m allergic to latex) zip-loc bags and Kool-pacs make for an easy trek.
I use a similar technique when fishing. Grenades save me money on worms and tackle. All I need is a boat, net and a cooler. I guess being lazy is its own reward! But hey, it’s all about the meat
338 Lapua is totally useless for most shooters, I know and found out just how by owning one! I love how the author mentioned that most of us aren’t coming even close to maxing out 556 or 9mm. The truth is that the majority of shooters are restrained to either 25 yard commercial indoor ranges or max 2-300 yard outdoor ranges at their rod and gun club with the lucky ones having access to 500 yard outdoor range. Never mind this silly 6.5 fad lately, even 556 or at most cheap milsurp 7.62 NATO does just fine within those limits if you’re ever lucky to shoot that far!
Worst gun money I ever spent was a Savage 110BA in this silly caliber when a friend bought a large plot of land that eventually ended up falling through. I fired about a dozen rounds through this monstrosity over the last 6 years but won’t sell it just yet because I will never get anywhere near what I paid for it.
The trigger is so soft you never know when it’s going to go off which makes it terrifying because when it goes bang it feels like I got hit with a grenade between the fierce and sharp recoil as well as the offensive muzzle blast, even with double ear protection. The gun is so damn heavy the only thing it’s good for is bench rest shooting. This makes it scary to imagine how painful or hard a more “normal” or portable 338 that doesn’t weigh 20lbs that you could use for hunting or more realistic shooting scenarios instead of being a prisoner of the bench would kick. The ammo indeed is obscenely expensive as well and it’s not really any more accurate than a halfway decent 556 at 200yd or less. Honestly how many times have you even had to dope for windage at the 200yd rifle range at your rod and gun club with your 556 or even pistol caliber carbines?
I have enjoyed on some level almost all the guns I have shot in my life: not the 338 Lapua. I don’t recommend it unless you have access to this ultra long range stuff and the preparation, study, expense, dedication is so focused and singular on just one thing that is so not applicable to anything real world or practical it takes a very particular owner. I want to keep it as flattering as possible and am readily willing to admit my own deficiency of intellect ailing me when I had the hairbrained idea to buy one but 338 fever reeks of a deadly combination of too much money and too much time meeting insufficient brains.
I moved to Musella Ga from Washington state in 2007. I have a few rifles. and a couple gassers, the 2 Sass rigs 556 and 762 respectively were not used all that much and only at home as I had 55 acres and a 680 yard power line. the hunting rigs, 270 win, 308 bolt gun savage I think plastic baseball bat with a trigger and My Norma Mag. from 207 till i left in 2018 I fired maybe 12 rounds with the last 2 at a pack of dear 200 yards from the porch. both shots hit multiple animals and the mess was sickly limbs missing etc. I had never shot a Deer with the norma before, we had elk in washington. That norma mag hasnt been shot since. My Neighbors had other ideas as they needed to own a bigger gun than the guy up the road, they bought I think 3 over time. It was very sad. they expected them to shoot better than Me forgetting that they had to input ingredients to get cake. After several busted eyes and noses for smooching the south end of the northbound Bessy they shied off and didnt mention them much after that. I wanted a 338lm. but I already got a $5 a pop gun with almost no where to shoot it and zero qualifying animals around here to hunt with it. Its a 10 – 700 yard Elk Beast slayer, 700yrds my personal limit on long shots as its a fer piece. Norma Mag in the 308 built by Guy Smith Akron Ohio, Eddy stone Action 26″ bull barrel, deadly as sin and heavy as hell. Im getting old Loooking at it. we done here, nothing to see ut safe queens and wannabees…
I don’t own a 9mm or a 5.56 or 6.5 Creedmoor. I do however own a .308 and .300 win mag and a .50 and recently purchased a Ruger 338 LM. I am not an avid hunter like most, and when I do hunt it’s with my 12 gauge or 45/70. I use the .50 and .338 for what they were meant for, long range shooting. Someone’s experience is of no matter to me, it’s my experience and skill with these guns that does. Yes, I have an expensive habit, but I’m good at it and I enjoy it.
Dan – Exactly!
The whole tone of the article became “you don’t need an AR-15… er… 338”. I do need a 338 for the same reason that I need an AR-15. I need one in order to better protect your & my freedom if any of the world’s governments decide to try and attack our freedoms. Even with greentips, my AR is a bit limited vs an APC. But 338 AP is a whole different story. When did we go from JFK’s support of the CMP to gun writers telling folks they have no need for military capable arms?
I’m with you in regard to the need or necessity of having an AR. I think the point was to apply a bit of reality to the ownership of the .338 Lapua.
Ninety Eight percent of shooter are completely overwhelmed by this caliber.
The 338 Lapua requires exceptional skills to make the weapon useful. It also requires time, dedication, opportunity, a range capable of testing this firearm. Not even to mention the cost alone. At approximately Five Dollars per round. It can get expensive to shoot. Investing 1K to fire off 200 rounds in an afternoon, is not something most can afford. That fact compels many to consider reloading their own ammo. The consequences of any mistake with this load, could prove fatal.
The military invests enormous amounts of time and money to train their specialist to tame this weapon. Of course their goal is not to hunt game but hunt the enemy. Knowing the weapon is out there can make the enemy behave differently. Giving your team an advantage.
Long range accuracy and effectiveness can be easily achieved with so many other caliber weapons. Most are common and easily affordable.
Snipers for years have used these familiar calibers effectively for decades.
The 338 Lapua is an effort to reinvent the wheel. But it’s seriously impractical for most shooters. Inevitably, most people that purchase this rifle end up owning it for bragging rights or “shits and giggles”. Never coming close to it’s full capabilities. Only momentarily did I consider this weapon, but quickly came to my senses. The 338 Lapua is neither practical or affordable. The cost for the rifle is the least of concerns. It’s the equivalent of owning a Ferrari. The cost to service or just replace a wheel or tire will set you back a couple grand. Much like an afternoon and shooting off a couple hundred rounds of .338 Lapua.
Folks, I own a Savage 110 FCP .338. This is definitely not a beginners rifle. However, it is a decision you really need to give some thought into before making this type of purchase. Two reasons I bought the rifle along with all the reloading accessories, is simple. I’ve been a rifle shooter most of my life. The second reason is the .338 shoots very far and hits hard. If your going to buy a .338, I would suggest you first have the resources to afford this type of rifle and second, make sure you have enough experience in shooting rifles, your going to need it. You will be making a commitment that requires time and patience. If you get to this point, shooting the .338 will be one of the best experiences you have every had. One more thing, switch out the muzzle brake. Get a Terminator or Super Beast. You definitely need to tame the .338.
I don’t consider myself a novice shooter by any stretch but the Lapua is total overkill. At the ranges available to most shooters (2-300 yards and less) it doesn’t really give you anything the normal cartridges don’t already offer but it increases everything you don’t want. It’s a bear to shoot and the brakes don’t help at all because they take the obnoxious recoil and turn it into obnoxious noise. Instead of a punch in the shoulder you get a punch in the face and flinch just as much.
Honestly the only thing the Lapua does well is noise and you can do that more efficiently and cheaply with a short barreled AR pistol and a muzzle brake. You can still make tons of noise and piss off all your neighbors at the range but saving a lot more money and resale value.
You really have to have access to things that most people don’t and have the time and resources to engage in that ballistics stuff. I have advanced degrees in chemistry and physics with good knowledge of mathematics and you have to be so painstaking with it that the process bores me to tears. All it takes is one little mistake or one moment of inattention and you’re solution is totally off. Multiply that by 20x if you’re going down the rabbit hole of reloading as now you’re betting your hands, face and life.
I am sure the 338 could be a suitable round for a handful of people. My mistake in getting one tells me that number is going to be tiny.
“The average shooter in America will likely never be able to commit the time and resources to reliably or repeatedly hit their intended target at ranges past 500 yards.”
Go to a service rifle match sometime and you will see plenty of folks cleaning (that means all 10’s) the target at 600 yards with iron sights and a 5.56 AR.
I prefer the 375 Cheytac but that’s even more expensive .
Big Sky when you accept the reality no one values the standards you define in any scope (pun intended) you will see (pun intended again) you are so far beneath everyone else, you will need a scope to reach up to the lofty heights the rest look down on you from
I’ve only read a few entries into this article, and have noticed the same thing that seems to take place in every category. You get one person with the tall tale “Fishing story” from someone, then you get the internet warrior that threatens and calls him out on every aspect. I don’t have a lapua, but was interested just for the sake of having one, just like all of my other guns. I don’t need it, but man it looks cool sitting next to all the other ones that look cool. Do I hunt with them? of coarse. How I prefer to hunt is all choice, doesn’t make me more or less of a man. I can hunt long range as well as I can with a bow. But, I will leave it up to the hunter on how her wants to take his shot.
In any community we are typically here to share information and experiences which is intended to help each other out or maybe even support the enjoyment in what we do.
Long range hunting is proving to leave more wounded game that is not harvested. It is a known fact by many. It will not bode well for hunting in the long run. It certainly can not be the same as stalking and getting in closer.
Nowadays there are many capable long range shooters. They are impressive. There are many
long range shooters that are not as impressive.
Hence they are doing an injustice to our majestic American game and also to hunting. If you are going to go long for your quarry, try to make sure you got a 95% kill zone percentage on all your cold bore shots at the range you are firing. Also, consider that you are more talented if you can get your game closer. It’s not such a big deal having a ballistic app calculate a firing solution. It is a big deal to stalk within close ranges.
Scuse me but:
As for the gentleman that made the comment about long distance shooting? Uhhh… Try it sometime. It is one hell of a lot harder than one might think. It is also not as simple as having the numbers down either. There is skill involved here, and an assload of practice! As for hunting that long a distance? Myself, I would like to be a bit closer to make sure of a kill. If you have that kind of skill to make those kind of shots? More power to you and have at it…
I would like to try my hand at long range shooting. But to be honest. That would not be realistic for me at this point in my life, as my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. But my son, does like the idea and has shown interest in long range shooting. He has always shown a knack for hitting what he aims at. He has often mentioned that he wanted to get a rifle cambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. I decided to fulfill his wish and buy him a rifle as Christmas gift. The 6.5 Creedmoor has been given a good deal of attention these last couple years, but my research showed that the .300 Win Mag was a better round for the same kind of money. I think he was a little disappointed with my choice, but he will come around. It sometimes takes a while to admit that I may have been right. So I got to thinking that maybe the .338 Lapua would have been better. This article and all the comments, opinions and arguments, have been a huge eye opener for me. I knew the the Lapua was rather expensive to shoot and finding a range or a place to shoot this would be an issue. I never did much research into how difficult that could be. I can now say that I am no longer interested in the .338 Lapua. Thanks for all the info. It has been entertaining.
How can you have an article about the .338 Lapua cartridge, mention all of the manufacturers making copies in this caliber, but fail to mention the first company to develop an iconic rifle in this round? The Green Meanie by Accuracy International was ahead of its time and was the first to establish features still copied by today’s modern rifles:
Thumb loop grip
Modular, minimalist, purposeful appearance
Integrated thumb-adjusted butt spike
Josh Wayner, call me a Sociopath, or otherwise, but…
Here is why you may not want to be underpowered in your choices of weapons…
There are a number of arguments here about the sensibility of hunting at very long range.
Many years ago, my manager returned from a trip. He was bragging about shooting elk from the top of a bluff. In my mind, that’s not in the spirt of hunting. Hunting is about stocking your freezer. To hunt means to kill game for food. Anything else is just sport. Shooting elk from a bluff is not sport. It’s the actions of a psychopath. The most likely result will be a badly injured animal. In one second, I can move 5 feet. In the time it takes for the bullets flight from those distances. You can never be sure of anything. Wind or animal movement. It seems to me, it becomes more about the shooter’s selfish need to find out what they can accomplish, then it does about a clean kill.
With that said. I’m not into hunting for one simple reason. I don’t see how hunting with
a rifle is sporting at all. It become more about luck and location. Most hunters never bag
a deer because they don’t practice or they are only out there to get away from the wife and kids and have a few beers with friends. With today’s optics and weapons. Shooting a deer inside of 200 yards is not much of a test. Your biggest test will be remembering to click off the safety. If you remembered to put the safety on in the first place. There are way to many people out there during deer season that have no business being out in the woods.
They stand a greater chance of shooting themselves or a friend then they have of dropping a deer.
Bow hunting is the only real true test of hunting skill. You need to get close. That is the real test. Can you remain quiet enough to get close enough for a clean shot. Bow hunters get one shot and it has to count. This takes skill and dedication to the sport.
The entire article simple highlights the real truth about a caliber like a .338 Lapua. It’s only true and practical application would be military. A military sniper would seldom set up a shot without a high probability of a kill. But even if they miss. They would scare the living crap out of your target, and they would scurry back into the hole they crawled out of.
The difference is the target. A miscalculation with a partial hit would be devastating to a human target. Not the same with a wild animal.
I reloaded my 338 lp brass to 300 wind mag specs using 250 grain bullets in my savage rifle less pounder less recoil at 200 yards I had good luck with that , I am not recommend this to anyone else ‘ but it works for me .
Commie sissies. There’s nothing like that bump of a kick, seeing your contrails in the distant, very distant while that bad boy is cutting through the air and then…a large pink mist of where the head was just sub seconds prior, or the darker matter of a center mass shot. All the while all of Allahs other goat lovers freaking out and trying to figure wtf just happened to Muhammad. I love my Lapua mags. And yes, I have 3 in Remington 700’s (M7) makes for one hell of a good workout, Totting them around them around the mountains. Got to love that and the Barrett A2, these little rounds that are so popular now a days do have some decent ballistics, it’s just not the same at all. Hooah!!!