Handloading The .338 Lapua Magnum
The Big Rifles And Big Bullets Are Long On Performance
The .338 Lapua Magnum was developed as a military sniper cartridge to bridge the vast gap between the 7.62 NATO (.308 Winchester) and the .50 BMG. The original search was for a round that could reliably penetrate several layers of body armor at 1,000 meters with a reasonably portable rifle. After some testing, 33 caliber appeared to be the likeliest candidate, and the original specifications were for a 250-grain bullet started at 3,000 fps.
Essentially the .338 Lapua is a necked-down .416 Rigby, with the body slightly shortened. Water capacity with a 250-grain Sierra MatchKing seated to the standard overall cartridge length of 3.68″ is right around 98 grains. This is only about 5 grains more than the smaller .340 Weatherby Magnum case, itself capable of pushing a 250-grain bullet to 2,900+ fps. But the Lapua case weighs over 100 grains more, with very thick, hard brass at the case head, making it more reliable in extreme conditions.
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