Having been heavily involved in the .338 Lapua Mag world for many years, a number of rifles have crossed my path. Early on, choices were pretty limited and mostly foreign. Any American-made weapons were typically custom. The .338 Lapua is a stout round, not necessarily in terms of recoil, but certainly in terms of pressure. Depending on the load, chamber pressures can get pretty close to the 60,000-psi level—not something you want to cut corners on. It is also a bit long for some of the standard long actions, so it was anything but a simple barrel swap.
In time the entire precision rifle market really caught fire and many custom actions have been developed to handle the round with ease. For a few years, the .338 Lapua sort of languished as the cost of ammunition is pretty high, but a couple of wars in the desert turned things completely around.
With no bolt to manually work, the smooth semi-automatic action allows the shooter to stay in position with the scope and keep eyes on the target for rapid, accurate follow-up shots. The Bad News .338 Lapua disassembles quickly for easy cleaning, then reassembles with no loss of zero.
For many countries this truly became the perfect intermediate round, bridging the gap between the 7.62mm and the .50 BMG. It allows for a standard-sized rifle, yet yields solid accuracy and plenty of energy on soft targets out to 1,200 meters and beyond. With the appropriate muzzle brake or suppressor it can be used comfortably for high round counts, and does not hugely affect the soldiers combat load. High quality barrels also yield acceptable barrel life, especially compared to many of the wildcat rounds. Several countries have abandoned their 7.62 sniper rifles altogether and replaced them with the .338 Lapua Mag, bringing about to the cartridge’s latest impetus.