Know Your Cartridge: .338 Lapua Magnum

Hornady-338-Lapua-285gr-ELD-Match-copyIn 1983, Research Armament Co. in the U.S. began development of a new, long-range sniper cartridge capable of firing a 250-grain, .338-inch diameter bullet at 3,000 fps. After preliminary experiments, a .416 Rigby case necked down to .338-inch was selected. Brass Extrusion Labs Ltd. (then of Bensenville, Illinois), made the cases, Hornady produced bullets, and Research Armament built the gun under contract for the U.S. Navy. Subsequently, Lapua and Norma have put this cartridge into production. It is now a CIP standard chambering; since CIP and SAAMI have reciprocal agreements in place (at least in theory), that makes this a standard SAAMI chambering, as well. You have to burn a lot of powder to launch a 250-grain bullet at 3,000 fps. The .338 Lapua Magnum, as it is known commercially, or the 8.58x71mm, does just that. The full metal jacket, boat-tail military bullet is reportedly very effective at 1,500 meters. The commercial soft-point bullet is intended for hunting very heavy game. Cartridge cases are brass with Boxer primers. Guns for this cartridge are bolt-actions, but at least one gas-operated M-16-style rifle has been developed (RND Manufacturing, 14399 Mead Street, Longmont, CO 80504; (970) 535-4458).

Editor’s Note: This brief is an excerpt from Cartridges of the World 14th Edition


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