Barrett M98B .338 Lapua Mag

The Barrett M98B bridges a big gap. Small arms carried…


The Barrett M98B bridges a big gap. Small arms carried by most operators have to fit parameters that make it possible to conduct CQB missions or engage enemy infantry across a battlefield. Barrett accomplished this with their hard-hitting REC-7 in 6.8mm SPC. Then you have specialized marksmen that must detonate IEDs (improvised explosive devices) from a safe distance, stop smugglers on the open water, counter vehicular threats or penetrate enemy snipers hiding behind cover. And for these circumstances, the Barrett .50 caliber M82 has accomplished these missions for more than 25 years.

The gap lies between these two roles. Many law enforcement agencies and military units have dreamed of obtaining a rifle capable of hard target interdiction that is also practical for anti-personnel activities.unknown-1.gif Competitive shooters and hunters alike continue to search for another accurate rifle, or one capable of providing effective standoff firepower in a lightweight package. Barrett has responded with the new M98B chambered in .338 Lapua Mag.

Gun Details
The M98B goes down as one of the most impressive examples that I’ve ever fired. Both fit and finish is top notch. For a rifle of this caliber, it only weighs 16 pounds (gun, bipod, scope and empty magazine), making it suitable for carry during extended stand-off situations. The aluminum receiver contributes to its lightweight handling quality, and the anodized finish is a tactical matte black.

The edgy and angular shapes on the M98B are true to the Barrett heritage but the reduced dimensions, components and weight only borrow in concept from other Barrett weapon systems. The forend and Picatinny rail are cut from the same piece of metal as the receiver. An inherent advantage is that the barrel is truly independent of contact or stress that the receiver endures. Cuts and recesses throughout the receiver and the barrel not only shave weight, but are functional in many places. Oval slots in the forend encourage air circulating the breech-end of the barrel while venting heat. I’ve never seen the need for flutes on small caliber semi-automatic rifles or barrels on bolt actions but the .338 Lapua Mag can generate quite a bit of heat. The flutes help cool this barrel while contributing to the shaved weight of the overall system.

The muzzle brake does just what it is designed to do. Once the bullet has exited the muzzle, gases behind the bullet escape and hit the walls of the muzzle brake, changing direction with great force. The muzzle brake not only protects the crown of the muzzle, but also pulls the rifle in the direction that the bullet travels, away from the shooter. Recoil felt by the shooter is reduced to something similar as a 20 gauge shotgun, making it easy to recover, engage or identify other potential targets.

The bolt assembly is a well-thought-out design. When looking through the naturally positioned scope, the right hand comes up and finds the bolt handle naturally and lifts, unlocking the bolt. When pulling the bolt to the rear, exposing the chamber, it rides very smoothly atop the remaining cartridges in the magazine and seems as if it only moves to the rear a few inches. It strips a new cartridge from the magazine seamlessly and locks it into the chamber without having to slap the bolt handle down.

The adjustable trigger is possibly Barrett’s most significant innovation to the M98B. It is a first for Barrett in a production rifle. The trigger is ideally shaped for a straight rearward pull and it broke exactly at 1.5 pounds with each squeeze. Although this measurement may seem light, I felt that it required deliberate activation while shooting without disturbing sight picture. Two nuts prevent the adjustment screws from moving and can be accessed from the top with the receiver broken down shotgun-style.

The grip is unique to Barrett and ergonomic to the hand with finger grooves and pebbled traction for a moist hand. A subtle shelf for the thumb and arch for a high grip makes the relationship of the trigger finger to the arch of the trigger shoe ideal. If an operator has a different grip preference, the design of the receiver accepts aftermarket AR grip assemblies. Conveniently located near the shooting hand is the selector that features a white tick mark on the right side of the receiver to indicate what status (safe or fire) the rifle is in. Keeping consistent with the ergonomic theme, a downward push on the shelf of the selector takes the rifle off safe for single-shot operation.

barrett.gifThe triggerguard has a slight downward slant towards the muzzle, illustrating that Barrett considered a gloved shooter might operate this rifle. In front of the triggerguard is a paddle-latch that captures and releases the polymer magazine. Inserted in a straight upward motion into the magazine well then pulling the rear up locking it into place, the rounds in the magazine are in perfect relationship to the ramp into the chamber making for reliable feeding. Unlike an AR magazine, which is locked in from the side of the magazine, this design means that a shooter pulling back on the front of the magazine with their support hand will not effect the reliable feeding when charging a new round.

The tested rifle came with a Harris bipod that featured spring-loaded, adjustable legs and permitted easy magazine changes in the prone position with a 45-degree cant to the right or left. This cant also proved beneficial when trying to look through the scope while shooting with a vest or helmet.

The stock of the M98B is very special. Like many adjustable stock systems, it has a rubber buttpad helping in the felt recoil department and a soft cheek rest for a comfortable cheek weld, even during long surveillance missions. A clover-like knob can be loosened on the side to adjust the height of the cheek piece, secured by tightening it. All edges of the stock are smooth and beveled with a skeletonized aluminum construction to keep weight to a minimum. This system has an adjustable vertical pod that can be operated naturally with the support hand while a shooter looks through the scope and dials in the target. When I was shooting the M98B beyond 500 yards during testing, this adjustment pod helped support the rear weight of the rifle and allowed fine adjustments as I compensated the target’s range utilizing the scope’s mil-dot system.

The rail systems on the M98B were well researched and constructed. The top rail extends from the stock to the end of the forearm. This design permits the attachment of any size scope, night vision devices, laser sighting systems or magnifiers in front of the standard optic’s bell. Two smaller rails came attached to the right and left sides of the forearm, allowing accessories such as a sling attachment point or high-intensity illumination tools.

Shooting Performance
Testing was done at one of Blackwater’s KD (known distance) ranges in North Carolina with a group of police officers on hand for input. The testing became extreme by early morning with temperatures climbing to 105 degrees with 90 percent humidity. After 200 yards, heat waves had to be considered when looking through the scope during accuracy testing as they radiated and distorted part of the target.

barrett3.gifOften times I use circular targets for accuracy testing but for longer ranges and testing of weapons that could be used by the military, I like to use silhouette-type paper targets. In this case, the mil-dots referenced perfectly with the head of the silhouette when compensating for bullet drop out to 800 yards.

We started the morning off confirming the factory zero at 100 yards. Each of us that fired these first shots stood up with a smile and said, “I want one.” Walking down to the pits, we were very impressed with our 3-shot groups, averaging 0.75 of an inch (center-to-center) among four different shooters. I took notes and pasted up our holes before driving back to 200 yards. At 200 yards, the average group size increased to just 1.30 inches and I adjusted the zero for this range. It was time to jump back.

The 27-inch match grade barrel is nonchrome lined with a twist rate of 1-in-10 inches helping to stabilize a variety of bullets that can travel in excess of 3,000 feet per second (fps) beyond 1,000 yards. Zeroed in at 200 yards, the .338 Lapua Mag cartridge only dropped 32.5 inches at 500 yards while holding an average group of 3.7 inches at that range. The best group fired came from a box of Hornady Custom .338 Lapua Mag 250-grain ballistic tip hollow points. The muzzle velocity of this ammunition measures 3,100 fps and held a group of 1.95 inches at 500 yards.

From testing in this heat, I discovered that the M98B just began to show its potential at 500 yards. I particularly enjoy shooting at this range because this is typically where the gap exists begins between infantry-style rifles and long-range, hard-target rifles like Barrett’s M82 .50-caliber. Shooting ammunition from Lapua and Hornady, my groups hovered near 3-inches with both brands. I activated Barrett’s BORS system and easily programmed the ammunition I was using according to the manual supplied with the scope. The tick on the screen became helpful at this range while I tried to level out the rifle for each shot. Although there was a no-value wind or inclination angle with respect to my targets, the BORS did compensate for the extreme heat. A click to the elevation turret kept my rounds impacting near the center of the target at every distance.

The M98B performed flawlessly at 600 to 800 yards. The barrel was too hot to touch, thanks to the direct sunlight and internal barrel temperature, but I couldn’t perceive a thermal effect on accuracy. At 800 yards, our best of five 3-shot groups measured 4.05 inches center-to-center. I second-guessed the BORS sighting system on the scope and dropped the aiming point one mil-dot at 800 yards. Driving down to inspect the targets, this proved to be a mistake as the rounds impacted the hip-region of the silhouette. Although this drew some criticism from my counterparts, a shot to the hipbone will take anyone out of a fight. That was my defense.

barrett2.gifThis rifle was performing like a tackdriver. Although it is very capable of effectiveness beyond 800 yards, the effect of the extreme temperatures were taking a toll on the shooters and we had to cease testing as most of us were showing signs of an oncoming heat stroke. It was time to clean up.

The overall rifle and barrel prove simple to clean with a shotgun-like break down. The upper receiver pivots with the barrel on a single pin just forward of the trigger guard and is separated after a latch under the receiver near the stock is depressed. The bolt assembly just pulls right out. This is as far as we needed to break it down. After running patches and solvent through the bore, a close inspection with a Hawkeye borescope revealed no serious scratches to the rifling. Even after shooting for eight hours in extreme heat, the barrel still looked new.

Final Notes
As a cartridge, the .338 Lapua is ideal for any entity, whether it be military, law enforcement, hunting, or recreational uses. It can take on any medium-to-large size game, enemy personnel and, with the right cartridge it can serve as an effective tool for hard targets. The weight and handling characteristics of the M98B make this the perfect platform for the .338, bridging the gap that many agencies and units face in today’s tactical world.


Load Comments
  • Fernando Bernardino

    Thanks. You sold me on it! Picking one up Tuesday.

  • hunter bob

    got the 98b also. but, i killed a bear at 3 miles

  • Patrick Martin

    After purchasing the 98 Bravo it was very easy to adjust the trigger pull, no need to send it in. I adjusted mine to 1.5 lbs. The Sear review is .030 from the factory so the distance pull is not much. It shoots like a dream with a wisp of a pull yet it is well with specifications for safety; that is no accidental discharge.

    Nightforce makes a scope 5.5X5.5X56 which accommodates the bores system. The BORES will range the target and you only need to dial in that range. It will account for all conditions including incline or decline or cant with one acceptation and that is cross wind which is fast and easy to calculate. The BORES works out to 2500 meters and makes for fast firing solutions.

    All I can say is the 98B platform is easy to work with and draws from the M-16 in many respects so you fell comfortable right from the get go. This weapon is simple, clean lines and well built; five stars in my book.

    As far as the 338 Lapua Magnum round, wow and wow again. They make a special hunting round which saves meat. You can also get armor piercing rounds (250 Grain) that travel at supersonic speeds past one thousand meters and will take out an engine block. All of the Lapua projectiles made my Lapua in Lapua Finland are calculated to hit at the same point so there is no need to re-zero the scope. You can find their spec’s for this on their site if you wish to reload and save a ton of money. However using reloaded ammo will void the warranty from Barrett.

    There was an error in the article above about the ammo used in the accuracy test. It’s not ballistic tip hollow points; it’s boat tail hollow points manufactured by Hornady which they received the best accuracy results from.(Hornady 250 Grain BTHP) Boat tail means the rear portion of the bullet is tapered which is why it glides through the air so efficiently. I recommend S&B 338 Lapua ammo for accuracy if you don’t buy the Lapua brand itself. S&B is a Russian Military ammo contractor and has recently released tons of the 338 in our market. The quality is excellent and the accuracy is better than that. The price is the lowest I’ve seen and with that quality I’d go for it if I were you.

    As you know it comes with a bi-pod but it also comes with an adjustable mono pod on the stock taking the work out of making a steady shot in the prone position or off a bench for target practice. Not that you would want to do this but you can actually shoot this weapon (off Hand), yes it’s light enough to shoulder this baby if need be.

    A note the the guy who left the message here that he shoots deer from two miles away with the 98Bravo. Dude the world sniper record is 2707 yards, 1.53 miles so if your knocking off deer at two miles you need to be in a record book so make sure you get this on film with reliable witnesses because you are so awesome people will flock to get your autograph. Robert Furlong who has the second place confirmed sniper kill at 2550 meters along with a couple of other well know snipers are teaching a long range shooting coarse in OK in October, contact him and you can teach with those guys, I’m sure they would welcome someone who can nail a deer at two miles away, awesome job dude.

    I feel that if you acquire the 98B you will not be disappointed and especially if you can take game from two miles away, lol.

  • David Davis

    Why doesn’t boxer rob just say what he’s thinking? I always love listening to someone who has what they need , in a department who can furnish what they need, pick personnel for a job from a list 100 men long. For us poor country guys living life on the border having to do with what we can either steal or pay for ourselves we know that for at least for an hour, if we don’t have what we need there is no help. Because of rual conditions and financing we don’t attact “highly trained” ex-military types. We’re here cause we like it here and do a pretty good job. Learn to take care of ourselves with very little and what I need is in my backpack. And knowing the cartel has use of everything from RPG’s and 50 calibers means I have two .308 and a .338 lapua. Most days I can see for 30 miles so we have alot of open areas, throw in a few mountain ranges for laughts. But I also hate being in a spot trying to do something while being second guessed by someone who has never done it or forgot what its like to be hot and tired.

  • BoxerRob

    The germane comparison(.50 BMG vs. .338 Lapua vs. 308) relates to the target and the firing team. Targets other than man favor the 600+ grain projectile weapon system. A two man team with formal training and state of the art ammo(both rare availability) are required to appreciate either of the big rifles. $1-2 hundred thousand in training and gear(again, very restricted access) is required to make relevant such specialized, very hi power weapons systems. I have been close to a few LE/other agencies who have implemented .338 Lapua and .50 BMG caliber systems. None, in my admittedly small data group, lacked capability with the .308 weapons they already had(my conclusion). There was a small conversation from a couple of rifleman for semiauto .308’s. In one callout(CONUS/LE), the availability of a Barrett 82 on scene may have actually been a hinderance to operations(opinions of two on scene rifleman). I have evaluated the notes and interviewed several riflemen re. callouts for several CONUS agencies and one ‘other’ type agency. I intentionally speak just to the fire teams and do not take notes. .308 Winchester system horsepower was never a limiting factor in mission success(opinion of nearly all the rifleman as well as my opinion). The ranges were 40 to 200 meters, mix of shots taken/cover only scenarios. I have not found afteraction reports of greater distances in fired shot scenarios in CONUS. I have not found .308 riflemen addressing specialized ammo for ‘hard targets’ Sportsmen considering rifle systems with very hi power/very long range are cautioned. Hi quality .308 systems(easy availability) are the maximum horsepower any non-DOD rifleman can appreciate. An ‘eagle eye’ at the 200 meter range with department equipment, preferably with hunting/DOD background, is going to be your best rifleman. So many factors other than the gun. A shooter who never drinks alcohol will outshoot an even occasional drinker, other factors being equal. Also true, but less effect, for caffeine. Hard core meds, such as seizure meds, behavior meds are rarely found on the job, but do affect fine brain/motor function. But consider the example of blood pressure pills, not a disqualifier for duty. They do compromise willful slowing of pulse(an advanced skill, not in all programs) and may cause dizziness upon standing. Eye performance is rarely studied in team applicants beyond the common crude tests. Anyone with refractive correction surgery has crummy vision in low light, and almost always sees more than one reticle thru a scope. Tests to identify those among us with above average vision, and under what conditions, are available at better eye clinics. If this is to be a tool to select the best applicant, it is important to send everyone to the same clinic and use the same testing gear. Perhaps of greater importance is to screen for below average vision, which is technologically easier and less affected by different gear/clinics. Beware that is quite possible to cheat on either type of exam. Eye doctors can structure cheat proof exams if requested. There are a lot of folks on the job with very bad vision, unknown to the brass. Training should have the possibility of flunking out for poor performance. FBI sends HRT dudes to USMC Sniper School, however there is no flunk out possibility for them. ‘Attended’ vs. ‘Passed”. What BS. Here are a few nuggets, some from conversations with precision riflemen and some my own thoughts: Short, simple rules of engagement seem to improve accuracy. Done right, riflecraft requires much concentration. 70 pages of shoot/don’t shoot micromanagement from the brass delays good shots and, yes, limits accuracy. Two man teams allows the shooter to concentrate on riflecraft, and the reassurance of a trusted teammate in critical decisions, again, improves accuracy. Shooter should not have a headset/active radio when behind the scope(two man team assumed). Shooter should have freedom to choose/customize his ‘kit’. Helmet/eye protection, bulky vest w/pockets full of pistols/ammo mags/etc may inhibit his positioning. Newer body armor with shoulder/armpit/hi neck panels may restrict positioning. Weapon should be issued until he retires, even if he leaves the shooting team. The benefit comes due to a sense of ownershiip, and the increased sense of responsibility that follows. He will bond with it. A wife vs. a girlfriend. This also allows precise fitting of stock/scope etc. Allow a reasonably light trigger release setting, esp. w/Savage type triggers. Allow him to chuck the bipod, flip-up scope caps, lights and lasers, on-weapon ammo carriers and quick release scope mounts(he will). Regular inspection by qualified gunsmith with recordkeeping of trigger release pressure, safety is functionional, no firing when bolt slammed into battery, no firing when butt impacted, all magazines work in all scenarios. Gunsmith must do the eval at the range with issue ammo. Snap caps with a dab of white paint on the ‘primer’ is not good enough. I know a ‘smith who does all these checks, loaded gun at the range, plus messes with the trigger in all directions with safety on, pulling the trigger with safety off and the bolt a couple of millimeters out of battery, pulling the trigger with safety in a middle position. pushing the trigger left and right and forward on a ready to fire gun, holds trigger back as he runs a round into battery, and lastly fires the round with normal ‘hot’ settings and video tapes the whole test. Shooters cleaning procedures must be observed by gunsmith and tools, chemicals documented. Once an ammo is found to be suited for this particular rifle, buy 4000 rounds of the same lot. and store it properly. It is a well established behavioral phenomena among precision shooters that we do not invest the same attention in a new card workup when we are forced to change lots. Most practice should be done outside of the range, in many, many different setups. If a two man team model, practice with that partner. Best not to practice alongside fellow precision marksmen, esp. if instructor on site. Scores of qualification shoots should be kept confidential, known to one desk brass perhaps and the one guy who observed the shoot. Failed qualifications should begin remediation the very next day, in a private setting and be very comprehensive. Weapon, ammo, gear, shooter should be evaluated with no assumptions. Perhaps a week minimum with one instructor. Not just a ‘reshoot’. Only the instructor and the one brass guy know more than ‘available’ or ‘not available’. This confidentiality in no way limits training with teams or changes the chain of command. Just the qualification shoots. This actually improves decision making by the on scene commander, who is not burdened with irrelevant, distracting data about his resource, especially if he has more than one marksman deployed. The shooters mind is quieter also. Most practice should have no requirement to report results. This is a departure from most training SOP’s, but, again, it improves accuracy and decision making. This is just how the brain works. A dropped/broken rifle must be repaired/replaced with no malice to the shooter. The assumption must be that he broke it in legitimate training. Negative criticism about a damaged tool will distract him in all his shooting activity. This is well known and has ruined/retired good shooters. The females I’ve seen in this craft(3) have been very, very bad. Obvious failures in training and scary on scenes. I fault the brass. Me? Atypical assignments. Last was about 15+ yrs ago. Precision shots? 2 for 2. Chests. Both about 200 meters in ideal conditions. Me standing, braced against a tree. 2 or 3 seconds from visual to first shot. Less than 2 seconds for 2nd shot. Dozens of other effective outcomes at house to house distances. Armed but unskilled opponents. My guys not much better. Verbal rules of engagement. Free to choose gear…Browning BAR w/Boss in 30.06, adjustable barrel harmonics just plain works. Takes a lot of patient work-up via a precise procedure, but it is the most accurizing idea since rifling. Yea, it goes boom. Trijicon 3×9/40. Federals w/165gr Nosler Ballistic Tips. Trijicon’s exclusive ‘Bindin Aiming Concept’ allows quick, close range, aimed fire also. BAC takes a lot of practice to master, and the trigger is pulled before the normal ‘I see it in the scope’ moment, but it is aimed fire. Well, almost. Talked to current active duty guys, Trijicon ACOG’s are universal on DOD AR platforms now. None of them know about BAC, Fully do-able w/ACOG. Must be a brass decision to not teach it. Put a felt tip pen dot on the bottom of a beer glass, decent tool to explain BAC. Great reason to sip a cold one w/the troops too. For me, the Lapua and the BMG close more doors than they open…

  • ed

    where can i get m98-b lowest price as possible?

  • Arek

    I just order it. I can’t wait ….

  • will

    the 98bravo is the best weapon I own or have ever shot bar none. I killed a deer with it from 2 miles away

  • Chris

    Looking for reloading data for 338 Lapua Mag,
    in 285 grain

  • i know someoone who works for barrett i always liked there products but he said the rec-7 is bought piece by piece from other companys and the arent fitted well loose but they have fixed that probablem my point being to much money for me to throw out for junk but if i had millions i’d buy alot of there products.

  • Andrew Harrington

    Barrett’s 98Bravo is just amazing. the firepower packed into a easy to handle design is just incredible. if “it” hits the fan and you need to get out of a sticky situation with portable firepower, then this is your weapon.

  • Indy BLS

    I purchased the Barrett M98B and put on the Leopold Mark 4 illuminated ER/T with the new BORS system. I love it, not just for the accuracy at long distances, but it weighs so much less than a good 50cal. Aswell i must admit she sure is easy to look at.

  • Mark Jones

    I must say that I have only heard good things about this rifle and the first thing that I am going to buy when I get back from Iraq is a Barrett 98 Bravo.

  • art garland

    I have nearly a dead mint 2995 Yanaha YZF _R6 with only 12oo miles on it. Some addiditons and all my slider gear, 2 helments,slider boodts.
    Aoppraised. Want to trade for a Barrett 338 . Thanks

  • K. Hunter

    Fantastic! Now to get one or more U.S. Manufacturers to really crank out the .338LM ammo at a ‘reasonable’ price….

  • John

    I have a barrett 338 and it is a great weapon. Its craftsmen ship is just as good or better then any other 338 lapua on the market. If you have 4600 laying around the house i suggest you go out and get you one, you will not be disappointed…

  • jay

    It’s about time the US manufactures came up with a bridge cartridge in a light cary rife. Now how about this same unit in a semi auto version with a rotery magazine as not to have the darn thing hanging out under the rifle allowing ease of carry. And just how does this stack up with the Britts new bridge rifle????

  • JACK

    I think the Extreme Tactical .338 is the most accurate rifle in the market. Bar none.


    I own a Barrett 99 and I love it! Hornady has a 750 grain bullet and it is very accurate with the .50,so I plan on sticking with this brand for the 98.I just picked up a 98 Bravo today from my local gun shop (Dominion Outdoors)and I can’t wait to send some rounds down range! It is so much lighter than the 99 and the trigger pull feels perfect. Once I had the scope mounted and bore sighted, I hunkered down behind it and it fit me like a glove. Now, I just need the ammo to arrive so I can get started!

  • mark paiva

    wanting to set a world record, can’t wait!

  • Wow! I’ve been a fan of Barrett rifles for as long as I’ve known what a Barrett rifle was, but lately they’ve really been impressing me. First the .416 Barrett, then the REC7 (although it’d be nice if they’d make it in 6.5 Grendel as well), and now the ’98 Bravo, I say again – WOW! Comfortable & durable design, excellent accuracy with no bedding to wear out, plenty of rail space for a PVS-22 (if you’re lucky enough to have access to one, it certainly looks like a winner to me – not to mention the coolest looking .338 I’ve ever seen!


    P.S. Has anyone heard anything about the XM500 .50BMG bullpup they displayed a while back?

  • Jim Burkhardt

    How does the M98B performance compare with the Accuracy International .338?

  • Jeremy Allred

    Well next year my big project will be a Fifty Cal of some sort, probably a Bushmaster BA50 or the Halo Arms FTR 50. This is the first Barrett that I have ever been excited about. I’m not a big fan of Barretts, but it is personal preferences.

    If Overloard Obama manages to ban fiftys, which will most likely be the next thing to be banned, before I can buy one I will be taking a good hard look at the Barrett M98B.

  • Sgt L

    I’m in love. lists the MSRP at $4495.00 to answer your question Mario

  • Bumper

    Incredible! Just when you think Barrett Firearms Manufacturing could not engineer another innovative high powered precision rifle, they out do themselves with their engineering and design. Keep up the innovation.

  • Tim

    Where do I get one, how much, and is Barrett hiring?

  • Mario

    how much will this cost

  • Dusty_C

    How does one go about selling a kidney? I’m going to need 8 of those.


  • SPC. S

    Barrett M98B .338 Lapua mag

    Wow….. I do not have any words to say about this weapon. But what i can say is it looks alot lighter and has more precision then the M82. And with this being on of the top weapons of the YEAR. I would mostlikly go with this Weapon of chose. It sounds to me like it will get the Job done.