Precision shooting requires a combination of skill, technique, and the right equipment.

And when it comes to long-range shooting, the choice of caliber can make all the difference.

Enter the 338 Lapua.

Comparing it to other popular calibers on the market is important because it allows you to understand how the 338 Lapua stacks up against its competition.

338 Lapua vs. Other Calibers: Which Reigns Supreme?
.338 Lapua Barrett PSR rifle (Photo: Bryan Jones via Flickr)

For example, you might compare the 338 Lapua to the 308 Winchester or 300 Win Mag, which are both popular calibers for long-range shooting.

By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each caliber, you can make an informed decision about which one is best suited for your particular shooting needs.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the 338 Lapua, exploring its history, characteristics, and performance on the range. Whether you’re a seasoned precision shooter or just getting started, read on to learn more about this powerful and versatile caliber.

History of 338 Lapua

The .338 Lapua Magnum, also known as the 8.6×70mm, is a rifle cartridge that was developed in the 1980s by Lapua of Finland.

The goal of the cartridge was to provide military snipers and long-range shooters with a round that could effectively engage targets at extreme distances.

Officially, the project was to develop a target rifle and cartridge for 1000 yards, but in reality, the purpose was more likely to develop a 1500 meter sniper rifle.” – Lapua

The design of the .338 Lapua Magnum was heavily influenced by the .416 Rigby cartridge, a popular big game hunting round.

Lapua engineers necked down the .416 Rigby case to accept .338 caliber bullets, resulting in a cartridge with a long, streamlined case and a sharp shoulder angle that helps with reliable feeding and efficient powder burn.

The .338 Lapua Magnum was officially introduced in 1989, and it quickly gained popularity among military snipers and long-range shooters around the world.

The cartridge’s combination of high muzzle velocity, flat trajectory, and long-range accuracy made it ideal for engaging targets at distances of over a mile.

Today, the .338 Lapua Magnum is used by military and law enforcement snipers, as well as civilian long-range shooters and hunters. It has proven effective in combat situations and has been used by snipers in the US, UK, Canada, and other countries.

Additionally, the cartridge has become a popular choice for long-range shooting competitions and has even been used to set world records for long-range shooting.

338 Lapua Ballistics

The 338 Lapua Magnum is a powerful and popular cartridge used for long-range shooting and hunting.

It was specifically designed to offer exceptional accuracy and performance at extended ranges, making it a popular choice for military and law enforcement snipers as well as civilian long-range shooters.

338 Lapua Sniper Rifle
Mini Hecate .338 Lapua Magnum sniper rifle (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The ballistics of the 338 Lapua cartridge are impressive, with a high muzzle velocity of around 2,800 to 3,000 feet per second, depending on the load. This high velocity allows the bullet to maintain its velocity and energy over long distances, making it effective at ranges of up to 1,500 meters or more.

The bullet itself is typically a heavy, long-range projectile, with a weight of around 250 to 300 grains, and a high ballistic coefficient.

This high BC helps the bullet maintain its velocity and energy over distance, resulting in flatter trajectories and less wind drift. The 338 Lapua also has a relatively low drag coefficient, further contributing to its long-range performance.

What is a ballistic coefficient? The ballistic coefficient (BC) is a quantifiable indication of a bullet’s ability to resist the effects of air resistance and wind. Essentially, it measures the bullet’s aerodynamic efficiency. A high BC is desirable because it implies that the bullet can buck the wind easier along its flight path.

Typically, heavier bullets possess a higher BC because they require more force to disturb their flight than lighter bullets.

In terms of recoil, the 338 Lapua can be quite heavy, with recoil energy of around 35 to 40 foot pounds, depending on the rifle and load. This can make it challenging to shoot accurately, particularly for smaller or inexperienced shooters. However, many shooters find that the high performance and long-range capabilities of the 338 Lapua make it worth the added recoil.

Overall, the ballistics of the 338 Lapua Magnum make it a formidable cartridge for long-range shooting and hunting, with exceptional accuracy, performance, and range.

How far can 338 Lapua shoot?

338 Lapua Magnum has a maximum effective range of about 1,750 meters (1,910 yards) with C.I.P. conforming ammunition at sea level conditions. – Wikipedia

Common 338 Lapua Statistics

  • The muzzle velocity of a typical 338 Lapua Magnum cartridge ranges from 2,800 to 3,000 feet per second (fps), depending on the load and barrel length. – Guns and Shooting Online.
  • The typical bullet weight for a 338 Lapua cartridge is 250 to 300 grains. – Sniper Country.
  • The ballistic coefficient (BC) of a typical 338 Lapua bullet is around 0.6 to 0.7, depending on the bullet design. – Berger Bullets.
  • The maximum effective range of a 338 Lapua cartridge is around 1,500 meters (1,640 yards), although this can vary depending on factors such as bullet weight and environmental conditions. – Cheaper Than Dirt.
  • The trajectory of a typical 338 Lapua cartridge is relatively flat out to around 500 meters (547 yards), after which it starts to drop off more rapidly. At 1,000 meters (1,094 yards), the bullet drop is typically around 30 MOA (minutes of angle). – Guns and Shooting Online.
  • The energy of a typical 338 Lapua cartridge at the muzzle is around 4,500 to 5,000 foot-pounds (ft-lbs), depending on the load and barrel length. – Sniper Central.

338 Lapua Ammo vs Nato Rounds

When it comes to selecting ammunition for long-range shooting, there are various factors to consider. Two popular options are the 338 Lapua Magnum and NATO cartridges.

Both have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice ultimately depends on the intended purpose of the ammunition.

In this article, we will compare and contrast the 338 Lapua ammo and the NATO round, examining their ballistic characteristics, accuracy, recoil, and availability, among other factors.

Let’s take a look at the 338 Lapua versus a few common military rounds.

300 Win Mag vs 338 Lapua

The .300 Win Mag and .338 Lapua are both popular cartridges used for long-range shooting, but there are some key differences between them.

The .300 Win Mag is a powerful cartridge with a bullet diameter of .308 inches, and it’s widely used for hunting and target shooting. It has a high muzzle velocity and a relatively flat trajectory, making it an excellent choice for long-range shots out to 1,000 yards or more. It also produces less recoil than the .338 Lapua, making it more manageable for many shooters.

The .338 Lapua, on the other hand, is a larger cartridge with a bullet diameter of .338 inches. It’s designed specifically for long-range shooting and has a flatter trajectory and greater accuracy at extended ranges.

300 Win Mag vs 338 Lapua
300 Win Mag (Left) 338 Lapua (Right) — (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

It also has significantly more power and energy than the .300 Win Mag, making it a preferred choice for military snipers and extreme long-range shooting.

Sniper Country did an outstanding job of breaking down the comparison between the two cartridges and making a case for the 338 Lapua.

In summary, the .300 Win Mag is a versatile cartridge that’s widely used for hunting and target shooting, while the .338 Lapua is a specialized cartridge designed for extreme long-range shooting and favored by military snipers. The choice between the two largely depends on the intended use and the shooter’s personal preferences.

338 Lapua vs 50 BMG

These two military cartridges push the boundaries of long-range shooting: the 338 Lapua Magnum and the 50 BMG.

The 338 Lapua Magnum and the 50 BMG are two powerful NATO cartridges that have demonstrated their effectiveness in combat numerous times over the last few decades.

In terms of differences, the 50 BMG is a larger cartridge that propels a heavier bullet with greater kinetic energy than the 338 Lapua Magnum. Even though the 338 Lapua has a smaller case capacity than the 50 BMG, it has similar muzzle velocities.

The most noticeable difference between these two cartridges is their size. The 50 BMG is significantly larger than the 338 Lapua Magnum, with a case length of 3.91 inches compared to 2.724 inches.

The difference in size is further amplified by the overall length, with the 50 BMG measuring 5.45 inches while the 338 is coming in with an overall length of 3.681 inches.

The 50 BMG is still widely utilized by militaries worldwide and has played a significant role in various conflicts, from World War II all the way through the War on Terror. It’s on record for achieving 7 out of the 10 longest confirmed sniper shots in history and can be effective at a range of almost 2 miles.

The 338 Lapua Magnum serves as an intermediate cartridge, designed to fill the void between the 300 Win Mag and the 50 BMG.

With the ability to penetrate hard body armor at a distance of 1,000 yards, the 338 Lapua provides marksmen with a long-range hunting and target shooting cartridge that offers a flat trajectory and exceptional terminal ballistics.

338 Lapua vs 308

There is no doubt that the 338 Lapua Magnum displays superiority when put up against the 308. The fact that it can easily penetrate body armor from a distance of 1,000 yards, almost effortlessly, damn near seals the deal.

In fact, it remains deadly even at distances beyond 2,000 yards, as proven by Corporal Craig Harrison during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2009.

To be fair, the 308 Winchester round doesn’t have the capacity to match this level of power and lethality.

That in no way, however, means the .308 Winchester is ineffective or outdated.

So what does the 308 have on the 338 Lapua? It offers excellent ballistic capabilities in a smaller, less expensive, and less recoil-intensive package that has been effectively used in both combat and hunting for more than half a century. It remains the preferred choice for many military snipers and police department marksmen.

The fact is that the vast majority of shooters do not require the overwhelming power of the .338 Lapua. A .308 is more than capable of handling 99% of most shooters’ needs.

308 Win 168gr. HPBT

However, if you require the ability to accurately engage targets at distances of over 1,000 yards you’ll need the additional power and velocity of the .338 Lapua to do so.

Cheapest 338 Lapua Ammo For Sale

When it comes to long-range shooting and big game hunting, the .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge has gained a reputation for delivering exceptional performance.

However, to get the best accuracy and terminal ballistics from this cartridge, selecting the right ammunition is crucial. With so many options available on the market, finding the best 338 Lapua ammo at a decent price can be a daunting task.

In my experience, Ammo Seek is the ultimate online destination for sourcing ammunition. It functions much like Google, but specifically for ammunition. This website acts as an aggregator, compiling all online ammunition retailers into one easy-to-use platform.

To find your desired ammunition, simply input your search criteria and click ‘seek’. The website will generate a comprehensive list of all online retailers that stock the ammunition you’re searching for.

For example, we did a search for the top 20 .338 Lapua Magnum ammo that is currently available.

cheapest 338 lapua ammo for sale
Here are the first five results of the list of top 20. Click on the image to see the full list!


RELATED – Best Places To Buy Ammo Online [2023]


The 338 Lapua Magnum stands out as a powerful and accurate cartridge with superior ballistics compared to other NATO rounds. It offers long-range capabilities and excellent accuracy, making it a popular choice among long-range shooters and military snipers.

While other NATO rounds such as the 308 Win, 300 Win Mag, and 50 BMG have their own advantages and applications, the 338 Lapua Magnum is unparalleled in terms of its range, energy, and accuracy for its size.

It’s a versatile cartridge that can be used for a variety of applications, including long-range shooting, big-game hunting, and military operations.

If you’re looking for a powerful and accurate cartridge that can handle shooting at distances greater than 1,000 yards, the 338 Lapua Magnum is definitely worth considering.


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