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338 Lapua Magnum


In 1989, Lapua introduced its 338. Developed by necking down the 416 Rigby case, the 338 LM is an extremely powerful conventional bottlenecked rimless cartridge that easily delivers more energy to targets 500 yards distant than typical 30-caliber magnums can generate at the muzzle.

The 338 Lapua works at about 61,000 psi and usually has a 26- to 28-inch barrel, factors that allow it to generate more than 5000 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

This is impressive but the main feature making the 338 Lapua so effective at extreme distances is the availability of bullets with extremely high BCs. Until Berger introduced its 245-grain 30-caliber bullet, nothing available in any caliber smaller than 33, came close to matching the BC of the most efficient bullets available for the Lapua.



Of course, no free lunches exist. In a rifle of reasonable weight, without an effective muzzle brake, recoil of the 338 Lapua is far beyond what most shooters can or want to learn how to tolerate. Even with an effective muzzle brake any such gun weighing less than 10 pounds generates more recoil than most shooters want to experience more than once. Despite these limitations, the 338 Lapua is a phenomenally effective chambering.

Having been involved with load development for several of these guns, I can attest it is no trick to achieve half-MOA accuracy at 1000 yards, as my son, Jody, has proven with several rifles.

For the big-game hunter, if the 338 Lapua will not get it done, nothing will.

The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
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