Unlike other sniper rifle rounds, the .338 Lapua Magnum was developed primarily for long-range sniping. Although it is sometimes listed as a dual-role cartridge, anti-personnel and anti-materiel, it is nowhere near as effective in the anti-materiel role as the .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) cartridge. A sniper armed with a .338 Lapua rifle might take out a piece of precision electronic gear with a shot, but he would be more likely to take out that equipment’s operator!
However, the .338 Lapua does have good penetration. It can penetrate most military body armor or helmets at 1,000 meters and is considered effective to 1,750 meters. Development of the round began in 1983 using a necked-down .416 Rigby case and a 250-grain .338 bullet. Improvements were made to the case and Lapua put the round into production.
Since rifles only slightly longer and heavier than .308 versions can be chambered for the more powerful .338 Lapua, it is a popular choice with special ops snipers who may have to jump, swim, boat or hump their rifles into the AO (Area of Operations). Military snipers also like the fact that .338 Lapua barrels stand up to quite a bit of shooting, because they shoot a lot of rounds. The round is also renowned for its accuracy at long range. Many manufacturers of precision ammunition now offer effective .338 Lapua loads.
I shot the four .338 sniping rifles most widely used by military special ops units, and all are superbly accurate. The Blaser TAC-2 that was sent to TW for testing is so accurate that it’s hard to believe. With this rifle, I shot some of the best groups I’ve ever attained.
TAC-2 Details and Design
The TAC-2 is available in .308, .300 Win Mag, and .338 Lapua. To illustrate the point about the difference in length and weight between a .308 rifle and .338 Lapua rifle being negligible, the .308 TAC-2 is 46 inches overall while the .338 Lapua version is 48.4 inches overall. Those lengths are with muzzle brake, definitely a desirable option on the .338 Lapua!
Weight without the mag is 11.9 pounds for the .308 and 12.6 pounds for the .338. For that slight difference in size and weight one gets much greater performance. The 27-inch barrel of the .338 Lapua TAC-2 has a 1-in-10 twist with six rifling grooves. Trigger pull for the TAC-2 is adjustable between 2.2 and 3.3 pounds. Capacity of the detachable box magazine in .338 Lapua is four rounds.
Blaser’s straight-pull action is smooth and fast for repeat shots. When the bolt is closed, a 360-degree radial collet expands into the locking groove on the barrel. This enables the bolt to auto-center and self-headspace. As a result, the straight-pull action requires minimal movement and no rotating parts. This creates a truly precise shooting platform.