Capitalizing on the well-documented field success of the .338 Lapua Mag, Zel Custom offers their Tactilite upper receiver, shown here on a C3
Defense AR lower. The hyper-accurate .338 is proving to possess outstanding anti-personnel capabilities at jaw-dropping ranges in excess of 1,500 meters.
f nothing else, the Global War on Terror has provided an excellent proving ground for testing guns and gear, thus determining what really works. A few weeks before beginning this review, a British Army sniper in Afghanistan set a new long distance sniper record by killing not one, but two enemy combatants at a distance of 8,120 feet (verified with GPS). The previous record, held by a Canadian sniper, was 7,972 feet. What cartridge did the Brit sniper use to break the record? Nope, it wasn’t the .50 BMG — it was the .338 Lapua.
Officially designated by the manufacturer as the “.338 Lapua Magnum,” the cartridge has actually been in the developmental stages since the early 1980’s. The .338 Lapua was spawned at the request of the U.S. Military for a long-range sniper cartridge, with the need for a round to be effective at distances up to 1,500 meters.
Made from 4340 alloy steel, the Tactilite bolt retracts into the vacant buffer tube. Rounds are loaded singly into breech via a push-feed mechanism.
While it might not have the equipment-crushing power of the .50 BMG, the .338 Lapua using 250- and 300-grain projectiles has serious long-range anti-personnel capabilities. Ballistic coefficient numbers are impressive. The 250-grain BTHP has a 0.61 BC and the 300-
grain calculates to 0.73. By comparison the 175-grain .30 caliber BTHP is 0.54 BC. Before getting buried in numbers, it helps to take a look at the hardware.
Question: What is the most versatile rifle available today? Answer: The AR-15 and its myriad clones. Hundreds of thousands of AR variants are in circulation. Dovetailing with the popularity and success of the “black rifle,” Zel Custom Manufacturing is offering specially designed upper receivers in several large rifle calibers.
The initial offering from Zel Custom was the Tactilite T1 in .50 BMG. I had the opportunity to work with one of these rifles last year and found it to be a quality item. Zel surveyed the market and asked the public what caliber they’d like to see next, and the overwhelming response from the public was the .338 Lapua.