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

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.

Sale ends July 21, 2019

Sale ends July 21, 2019

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 (38)

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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