USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- The 338 Lapua is popular with the military and long-range competition crowds. It’s considered one of the most versatile long-range rifle rounds on the market. And, it packs a massive punch.
But, just because the military and professional shooters love it doesn’t mean that it’s right for you.
338 Lapua rifles are expensive. So, here’s what you need to know before you pull the trigger on one.
338 Lapua Was Developed Specifically For Military Snipers
The 338 Lapua was developed in the 1980s by several companies. Initial development started in response to a request from the U.S. Marine Corps for a long-range rifle round that could penetrate body armor at 1000 meters.
To meet the requirement for body armor penetration at long range, the 338 Lapua was built to fire 250-grain rounds. Though, 300-grain rounds are often used for extreme long-range applications.
So, what does this mean for those of us who aren’t spec ops snipers or professional long-range competitors?
It all comes down to what sort of shooting you do. Most of us don’t need armor penetration, let alone armor penetration at 1000 yards. However, that long-range power is useful for one type of shooting that ordinary humans do: long-range big game hunting.
There are hunting situations that require a round that carries a lot of energy over long-range. But, understand that if you use 338 Lapua for hunting at short ranges or on smaller animals, you’re going to lose a lot of meat.
So, make sure you’re shooting big animals that are very far away.
Additionally, best to use a lighter bullet for most animals. You can get 338 Lapua rounds as light as 225 and 210 grains, which can help reduce the damage to your prey. But, remember that the lighter bullet means that the wind will have more affect your point of impact.
And, that brings us to our next point.
338 Lapua Has Excellent Ballistics
Some shooters have called the 338 Lapua is a laser. It’s not a laser. But, the trajectory is incredibly flat. And, a 250-grain bullet means that the flight path is less wind affected than something like a 270 Winchester.
The flat trajectory is one of the reasons that long-range shooters really like the 338 Lapua. It’s easier to calculate the bullet drop and make adjustments when the bullet’s trajectory is more of a straight line than a rainbow.
And, a less wind-affected round means that it’s easier to make accurate wind calls. This is a big reason why many (if not most) long-range shooters prefer rounds like the 338 Lapua and 6.5 Creedmoor over the 270 Winchester, even though 270 has a rather flat trajectory.
The 270 fires a 150 grain round. The wind shifts your point of impact quite a bit. Most shooters simply prefer a round that moves less in the wind. That way there’s less guesswork in their shooting.
If you’re a competitive long-range shooter or just a long-range enthusiast, you’ll appreciate the stability and flat trajectory of the 338 Lapua. It’s a great option if you’re goal is to put rounds on targets that are really far away.
This is an expensive round
There’s a lot to love about the 338 Lapua. But, not all the news is good.
338 Lapua is a wildly expensive round. Even compared to pricier rounds like 300 Winchester Magnum and 6.5 Creedmoor, the 338 is expensive.
Not only that, but 338 Lapua rifles tend to be quite expensive, versus these ones in other calibers.
So, the financial barrier to entry for shooting 338 Lapua is pretty high. But, that makes sense. It was designed as a military cartridge. And, the military is more concerned with performance than price. “Good value” isn’t really a thing for the military.
Who Is the 338 Lapua Round Good For?
There’s no doubt about it: the 338 Lapua is a great round. And, it’s a very versatile round, despite being overpowered for some shooting contexts.
The 338 Lapua is best for big game hunters and long-range shooters. However, the price point reserves this round for the most dedicated hunters and shooters. Anyone with a modest budget will do just fine with 6.5 Creedmoor or 7mm magnum or 300 Winchester Magnum.
However, the 338 Lapua does offer a slight edge over many of the competing rounds, either in terms of terminal ballistics or in-flight path ballistics. But, that slight edge comes at a steep price. You pay a lot to get that additional performance.
For most people, the cost just isn’t practical. But, if you’re a hardcore long-range shooter or big game hunter, a 338 Lapua rifle will show people just how dedicated you are. Which leaves just one question:
How hardcore are you?
Jay Chambers is a pro-free speech business owner based in Austin, Texas. Having lived through several natural disasters and more than a few man-made ones (hello 2008), he believes that resilience and self-sufficiency are essential in this increasingly unpredictable world. That’s why he started a business! Jay writes over at Minute Man Review.