Throwback Thursday .338 Lapua on the Cheap

By CTD Rob published on in Firearms

Customers often ask us what the best long-range rifles are. This is a loaded question since most calibers have a niche they fill or job they do particularly well. In the world of long-range precision, the .338 Lapua has overtaken most of the other calibers in popularity. Despite the lower kinetic energy when compared to the .50 BMG, the .338 currently holds three places in the top 10 longest confirmed sniper kills. It fills the role of an anti-personnel and anti-material round nicely. Civilians and military alike have embraced this cartridge as a young legend, and it is only growing in popularity. However, the .338 Lapua has one distinct disadvantage—it is outlandishly expensive.

For the average shooter who takes their .270 or .308 to the range on weekends, the .338 Lapua is like a Ferrari Enzo. Without devoting a lot of time and resources, the cost of owning and maintaining a rifle in that caliber is too great for the payoff. However, being the stubborn sort, I figured there had to be a way to shoot the .338 while not having it rip a Grand Canyon-sized dent in your wallet.

The Gun

Savage 110 in .338 Lapua

Savage 110 in .338 Lapua

We will start with the easy part. If you can find one in stock, Savage makes excellent quality bolt action .338 rifles for 1200 to 1500 bucks. I know that may seem like a fortune to pay for a bolt gun, but when you compare that price tag to some of the other custom .338 rifles on the market, you know you are getting a smoking deal. For example, Steyr’s SSG-08 rings in at around seven grand. With the Savage 110 or 111 Hunter, you get a detachable box magazine, muzzlebrake, AccuTrigger, Picatinny rail, and one darn accurate rifle.

.338 Lapua Hornady Custom Match BTHP

.338 Lapua Hornady Custom Match BTHP

The Glass

Everyone says not to skimp on the glass. I agree. Like many things, when it comes to scopes you get what you pay for. One consideration to maintain is the .338 Lapua has a fair amount of recoil, much more than your .308. However, with that muzzle brake, the recoil won’t be out of control, but stay away from the bargain basement scopes since they tend to not hold up. An SWFA SS 10×42 scope for around $300 will hold up to the recoil and give you an outstanding mil-dot reticle. For a little over $400, you could grab a Vortex Viper. It gives you a BDC reticle and a stellar reputation for an outstanding scope. Don’t forget to pick up some quality scope rings either. I like the quick detachable models in steel or aluminum. The steel rings tend to be stronger, and since this is already a heavy rifle, you won’t notice the extra weight steel rings bring to the party.

The Ammo

This is by far going to be the most expensive part of running this rifle. If you are not reloading your ammunition, you’re wrong. Start reloading and learn what your rifle likes to eat. If you purchase regular factory ammunition, a box of 20 rounds can cost well over $100. But if you can reload that brass, you’re going to save a lot of money.

Even though getting into the .338 Lapua game can get expensive, it isn’t out of reach if you are determined to get it done. There are plenty of lower cost options to give you a leg up. Who knows, you may start to outshoot the less expensive components of your setup and start investing in some seriously heavy-duty gear.

Are you a .338 fan? What’s your longest range shot? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (37)

  • T B

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    Oh, also for Doug. Would the brass, bullets and powder be cheaper if you bought the TRG? Just trying to understand the difference.

    Reply

  • T B

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    I have the Savage 110FCP HS and love it. It’s box stock, with Aadland rings and a Super Sniper 5×20 Mil Rad scope on it (glass and mounts from SWFA–A+). I am still “breaking in” the gun and have not shot it past 300 yds yet. The 7th-8th-9th bullets out of the barrel made one hole at 200 yards. Not bad for 300gr Matchkings that shouldn’t be stable yet. I bought it for 1000+ yd fun and think it will work great for the $$$. For Doug S, did you try another scope or just assume it was the rifle? Seems like a barrel that far off would be noticable? Sorry yours isn’t running like mine.

    Reply

  • Bruce

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    i have the savage 110ba 338lapua it was $ 1700 shooting stock. Ammo was 1 min angle but win start. Reloading for it. five shots same hole and 1000 yards three inch group its about two bucks to reload and case last about 10 times before need to replace them the and also.i Have. The 416 barret it doses not shoot. In the same ballpark at all the hipe of the 416 not good. At all but with eight hundred dollars. Difrent powders and Difrent bultet it getting groups of 12inch at thousand yards i all reload for it to for the money go with the savage 110ba you will not regrat it. …

    Reply

  • Chuck Moulis

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    I’ve own a Savage 110BA with Vortex Viper and have had no proglem with the .338 Lapua round. I load all mine with 106 grains of US869 and Hornady 250 grain HP Boatail Match. The Forester Co Axe press with optional large jaws fit the case and the Hornady .338 Laupa die set is the best on the market.

    Reply

  • Don k

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    The 338 Lapua is the caliber that holds the record for the worlds longest confirmed kill shots and it was’nt 1 it was 2 and a third hit at 8120 ft. of distance. I would think in order to Obama this gun you would have to physically take it but the bullets could say hello from close to 2 miles away with the right set-up and shooter, kinda makes black guns seem friendly from a distance, people trained and good with these calibers can take out small armies and create massive fear in them while doing so. I would recommend elk, moose or bear instead of small armies unless necessary. Remember heat treat your brass every few reloads, keep your recipe under $50/ box, ring the bell at 1000 and always buy the best mounts available for you optics. Have fun I know I do

    Reply

  • JBev

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    In a small-arms conflict, distance is life. An M-16 wouldn’t stand a chance against a good marksman working a well-scoped and accurate .338 Lap at 1000+ yards… and, everything being equal, man-on-man, a .338 has the same lethality to a human at any range that is realistic for a human sniper system. The .50 BAR may, “blow your head clean off”, but the guy with the .338 stuck in his noggin will be just as dead.

    Out beyond 1500 yards… you may find yourself in the sights of an A-10 or Predator/Reaper, or, at least wind-up swallowing a mortar, anyway… 99% of the time, urban combat requires nothing larger than a 300 Win Mag. which still outreaches an M16. But, the rate of fire still sucks…

    Reply

  • Ed Garner

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    The part about the 338 , box of 20 factory loads being over $100.00 is wrong. Hornady 250gr is around $67.00 and ammo factories are at top production and the powder and primers are going to their assembly lines. If you are not well stocked on reloading supplies you will pay a premium because of so may are taking advantage to line their pockets. Greed has taken over and always will in time of shortages. Just glad I got my large supplies before all the school problems.

    Reply

  • B Pullman

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    …also, if you are not shooting it at least at 800 yards, there is no point to it, and to shoot like that, you have to cultivate the skills to utilize the rifle’s potential. Dad sold his b/c there were’nt any ranges near buy and it was a lot of money to shoot a only a few hundred yars. So, unless you liive near a 800+ yard range to build up the skills, skip it and save your money

    Reply

  • B Pullman

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    my dad’s savage chamber was out of spec, too small, and reloaded cases got stuck after firing. He had to have a custom small base die made to size the brass down they way factory loaded ammo comes . THrough it all Savage said, too bad so sad and your warranty is void b/c you shoot reloads so quit bothering us.

    Yeah, like anyone is NOT gonna reload

    Reply

  • Ben

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    When I asked my friend why he chose .338 lapua he said, because it shoots a mile and its not a .50. He to has a sako TRG-42, some $2100 NF on it and reloads using HRatumbo and H1000, Laupa Brass and 290 and 300 grain bergers. I was lucky enough to drop the hammer on it a few times and I was VERY impressed. As a high power guy I enjoy the .30cal projectile in many forms. However I restrict myself to 1000 yard shooting, I have as much fun with that as shooting .22s at 100 yards.

    Also, I agree… Once you shoot a .50, everything else seems tame.

    Reply

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