Throwback Thursday .338 Lapua on the Cheap

.338 Lapua Hornady Custom Match BTHP

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

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.

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.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (39)

  1. I own a savage 110fcp 338lm this is the best long range rifle ever. It is topped with a nightforce scope oversize bolt handle and a cheek riser.
    The best 1545.00 I ever spent. The ammo is high priced the magazine cost a pretty penny.
    All in all not bad

  2. I own a Savage 110 Stealth and it’s a nice rig for the cost.
    It has a chassis system with an adjustable stock. Not the best adjustable stock but it serves the purpose. The trigger comes in at a little over 2 lbs. I took the Nightforce NXS off my 300 Win Mag and put it on the 338. A Harris bipod gives some front support. It’s a monster of a rig coming in at 18 lbs.

    I do enjoy my 338 Lapua. I take it along when I go to the range and take about 10 rounds or so. A few for me and friends. I actually enjoy letting other folks at the range shoot it. How often do you get a chance to shoot a beast like that? However it’s not my favorite rifle to shoot in the collection. It has a good thump and blast which wears on me quickly. I would rather shoot my Creedmoor or my AR15. The Lapua is not really practical for me as the closest range I could really push it’s limits of the 338 is over 2 hours or so from me. But it is a nice range toy anyway.

  3. I have a .338 Lapua short and long barrel suppressed setup for my Desert Tech SRS rifle and wouldn’t trade it for anything. VERY accurate round for long distances and BIG game. Worth every penny!
    Test and see what works best. My rifle doesn’t like Black Hills 300 gr as much as it likes Nosler Trophy Bonded 300 gr., which becomes apparent in inches beyond 200 yds. If you can afford the rifle to shoot long distances, shop the net to get the best deal but get good ammo or reload.
    I couldn’t agree more on getting good glass that matches or exceeds the ability of you or your rifle IF you can afford it. Good glass can make you a better shooter. I run a Nightforce NSX 5.5-22×56 which is a good match for the distances shoot. Don’t ever intend to sell my rifle!

  4. I fell in love with my ,338 after you get it all dialed in it never failed to impress. It is easer to shoot on our GOV. dime but if you can put in the time you will grow to love your investment, Longest still target, just under 1000 M , longest moving prob. just over 600 M. n
    Now where I live it’s leagle to hunt supprest I hope to be ready for next dear season with my ,338. It also helps to have the room to let it stretch it’s legs. U.S Army Ret.

  5. Morning fellow enthusiasts. I have read all the above comments. I currently have a weatherby 338 vanguard. I have a very capable local gunsmith and have talked with him about transforming my vanguard to a 338 Lapua or an 338 Edge. I’m being told that the wildcat 338 Edge will have an “edge” lol, on the Lapua? Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated. I currently have a 300 win mag that was reworked to a 300 ultra mag that shoots like a dream. I just want a gun for the extended range for both hunting and target fun.


    1. You might want to check out the .338 Ultra Mag. It is the ballistic twin of the Lapua, and costs considerable less than the price for brass and loaded rounds both. The cartridges are almost identical and the case capacity is only one grain different. Also, the Remington 700 Wilderness Rifle is chambered for this cartridge with a suggested retail of $1150.00. That leaves you with some extra money for a good muzzle break and extra money for a Shepherd scope with the proper bullet drop reticle. Also, more money to buy brass and bullets for reloading.

  6. As a new reloader I can attest you are missing out if your nour not reloading.
    You do not know what accuracy is until you reload PERIOD
    I was using superformance 165 gr ammo from hornady for my 308 and got 1/2 in groups at 200 yds
    I started reloading with 165 gr hornady sst with imr powder and stuck 3 through the same hole at 200 yds
    As for reloading equipment ebay and amazon have anything you could want.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!!

  9. 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..

  10. 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..

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. @ 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.

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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. …

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  21. 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…

  22. 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.

  23. …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

  24. 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

  25. 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.

  26. I purchased the Savage 110FCP-HS just before Christmas 2012 for a present to myself. The rifle currently is back at Savage HQ in Massa2shits because it won’t hit the broad side of a barn. At 100 yards & my windage on my NF 5-22×50 NXS buried to the right, the rounds impacted 7 mils to the left of center bulls eye!!! NOT Happy! In addition, 100 new Lapua cases costs $265.00! 250 Berger 300gr. OTM hybrid bullets is $150.00. 1-lb of H1000 powder is @ $30.00. My old Savage 10FP in .223 is a laser out past 600 yards. Should have saved up and bought a Sako TRG-42 in .338 Lapua & cried once. Just my opinion.

  27. Nah! Most firefights occur at it furtherist of 100 yards with the next at 50. I think this is an ego thing going. Check out the Russian chick who took out over 300 men with a 7.62×45.

  28. I would love to have one but the best,lowest cost, no recoil, and inexpensive med. range round that anyone can own is the 6.5 grendal. It can be a thousand yard round in a light gun in bolt or AR format and very easy on the budget. It is also a great Deer gun and long range varmint. I have three and it is a step up from the 308 on the cheep. Tom Miller

  29. I wanted a .338L for a long time and just could not justify the overall cost, so I stepped down and bought a Rem 700 series 300 win mag. What a fantastic weapon. Looking at ballistics the 2 are so close. It has a 26″ Schneider heavy barrel, and I am having
    a brake installed. Ammo is much less. I don’t think I will be reaching out and touching someone at 1400 meters, but I feel a 1000 yard shot is quite possible. I am going to replace the trigger but need some help on picking one out. I like one that is self adj and will brake crisp at about 2.5 lbs.
    If I can get some recomendations I would be very gratefull. As many before me have said it takes away almost half the cost of ammo, and you get to design the round that rifle likes to eat.

  30. What is the cost for tempering and distressing, does Savage already due that w/ the fluted barrel? I’ve owned the 110 model for about 6 months and could not be happier with it. Gun Tests news letter did a side by side with it against another well known brand that ran over $6000.00 and they said the Savage held its own and for the money, it is a steal.
    I’m still playing with different scopes, I may end up going with the Vortex Viper.
    I’m also still waiting for my Tax Stamp approval for the ThunderBeast Suppresor, they say it will also benefit the accuracy- jumping out of my boots with anticipation of its arrival.
    Just starting to reload, anyone out there that has sound advise regarding this, please touch base w/ me to help keeping it safe and any info that is germane to the Savage would be appreciated.
    Stay safe and make our government adhere to the 2nd and 3rd amendment!

  31. I have been shooting the .338L for some years now and find it to be the best of the mid-long range calibers currently in use. I still use my .300 Win Mag for much of my day to day work from ranges of 100 to 1100 meters. If “Long distance, the next best thing to being there” is what your after then I suggest you aquire one of the Barret .416’s. I have found this long gun to be the antithesis to reaching out. However, My prefered platform is the Sako TRG-42, toped with a Nightforce NXS 3.5-15×50 Zero Stop NPR1 Reticle, with the High Speed .25 MOA Turrets and currently using my Barret Bors system. Consistent accuracy and on target strikes are attained in the 1250 to 1400 meter distance, on the bags or bi- pod. The factory munitions for this caliber are very accurate and extra care and QC seems to be taken with their production to produce above average product. Very expensive! Reloading is a must if you plan to shoot more than 20 or 30 rounds a year. Your cost decrease a great deal and you can produce exactly what you need to feed your system. Brass is available but get it now before the goverment makes outlaws out of us. This is a costly system to buy, maintain and feed. Quite frankly, if your not using it for its designed purpose or for long distance hunting. You should think about sticking with the .308, .300 WinMag, or .338 WinMag.. They cost less to aquire, there’s more of the available, cost less to feed and even in the sporting versions may be used to reach out to that 1000 meter mark. I have shot the Savage chambered for the Lapua round and was very pleased with the results. Get the very best optics you can afford. You won’t be sorry if you do, ever. And two last thoughts, give a look at a product made by XADO for gun barrels and consider sending you guns to have Cryogenic Tempering and De- stressing done. The function and accuracy doing either or both of these is the difference between night and day. That’s my two bucks worth.

  32. I agree the .338 is the preferred little brother to the .50. However, the brass for .338 is at the top of the list for ammo control by the regime. True one can reload policed brass (as long as primers and points are available) a limited number of times. However, like all high power cases, the brass will start to split and a shooter will find themselves with a very expensive club. Purchasing and humping/tubing a sufficient amount of .338 ammo NOW will be cost prohibitive and become a liability instead of an asset. This is like having that Ferrari Enzo as your prime mover in Podunk Alabama where there are no resources for keeping it running when a Chevy pickup would make more sense. Don’t get me wrong… In a perfect world, I would prefer the .338 over any other range round. However, I believe the .308 still makes the most sense as the brass is plentiful and with the right weapon, I can use foreign surplus military rounds if my source for Win dries up.

  33. If you’re not, quite, up to a .338 Lapua lifestyle, you can make do with the poor man’s version–the .325 WSM, which should be accurate if you want to push it out to 1200 – 1300 meters or so. It has similar pressures, and Savage makes several with muzzle brakes starting at around $900.

  34. I don’t see the cost of this gun and or ammo at such a price. I have tried a top line one in AZ with high grade ammo. Not impressed. 50 cal still has me hooked.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.