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)

  • DTBorden

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    There’s a Lapua; and there’s “cheap”. But there is no “cheap” Lapua. I see it as an indulgence, and I DO indulge myself. I’ve earned that. But, I also shoot a lot of .22 rimfire. But no cheap guns. I find only frustration in a gun that sprays projectiles wherever.

    Reply

  • Ed Garner

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    Throwing money away, interesting. Each and every one of us live a differt lifestyle. To get set up in reloading is expensive and finding all the components to reload is getting harder and harder to come by. I can afford factory production ammo, maybe you can not. My 338, Rem 700 shoots damn good. Good enough for a 1,000 yard Elk and Antelpoe shot and that is what I wanted out of the rifle. Reload away, not a problem, I’ll buy mine! Save your stamp and envelope!!

    Reply

  • Heath82

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    Also, if you aren’t reloading by now.. Your way behind the curve anyway! If you enjoy throwing money away and settling for subpar performance, then so be it. If you feel like emptying your wallet though, I can give you my address, I’ll send you an envelope..

    Reply

  • Heath82

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    I used the .338 LM in the Army and love this round! I would prefer it, over the .50 anyday! Also, what is the Alabama comment about?! How would you not have the resources for a Ferrari here? We have dealerships that sell those as well as Bentleys, Lambos, g-wagons, Maserati, etc.. I would think that, coupled with the premium fuel and the parts and servic dept, it doesn’t take much more to keep one in running order. Maybe some better roads would help.. But if you have that car you probably live in Graystone in one of those 10 million dollar homes and drive those nice roads over there anyway..

    Reply

  • Ed Garner

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    Bigsupplyshop.com. 3 boxes on the way now, sold out of 338 Lapua, 250gr,HPBT, Hornady $67.99. Sorry you guys missed out, get on the notification list!

    Reply

  • Bill Gallagher

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    The .338 Lapua AR-30 from Armalite is a pleasure to fire. The muzzle brake makes the recoil feel like a .270. I have not found ammo for $67.00 a box but more like $88.00 for Black Hills. The intial cost for Redding reloading press and match grade dies hurts upfront, but not only can you reduce costs but you’re not a slave to supply and demand pricing or availablity. I will never replace this caliber. Honestly, it’s a much better round than I am a shooter.

    Reply

  • Matt Christiani

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    If you are happy driving a Chevy or a Ford (308 or 300 Win Mag) around all day then, by all means, please do. The reason they make things like the 338LM is purpose driven. When I let one loose out of my Sako TRG-42 the 338LM goes where it is intended to. I’ve sat behind many a 308 wondering if this 1000M poke will hit the target or not… Well there is a big difference between wondering (with a 308) and knowing (with a 338LM). Fast, accurate, consistant. 1500M might as well be Mars for a 308, not so for the 338LM.

    Reply

  • Mike Jaszkewicz

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    @ B. Pullman’s comment that Savage claims warranty is void if you shoot reloads. 1 Was this disclaimer on EVERY ad ever placed any where situated by Savage for this firearm? If not I would 1 file a BBB report for false advertising under missing product warranty or limited information. 2 File same complaint with YOUR state AG’s office. 3 I would write a well written documentation of the situation and Savage’s reply and post it in every shooters forum, and facebook page where they won’t pull it down. And if you still feel so inclined or they do not fix the chamber? I would file a small claims court filing in your local court for the cost of the dies. Any company that expects me to pay $200 plus for any product and then tells me tough luck buddy when it does not deliver gets this treatment in escalating levels. I have never had to file any time in small claims court even 1 time with this method. If everyone did this? The customer would no longer get lousy service and or defective products.

    Reply

  • Chuck Moulis

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    Graft and Sons still show several manufacturers and weights of .338 on hand.

    Reply

  • Cort Stevens

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    Has anyone found a good source for primers and powder for reloading the .338 Lapua? It seems every place is out of Hornady 250 gr bullets also.
    It scares me to buy reloads at Gun Trade shows as not knowing if the seller is not a knowledgeable loader that will eventually hurt or kill someone with their workmanship.

    Reply

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