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How To Choose Between 338 Norma And 338 Lapua For Long-Range Shooting

How To Choose Between 338 Norma And 338 Lapua For Long-Range Shooting - GunSkins
How To Choose Between 338 Norma And 338 Lapua For Long-Range Shooting - GunSkins

Long-range shooting requires precision, power, and accuracy. And when it comes to selecting the perfect cartridge for this purpose, one can easily get confused among numerous options available in the market. 

Today we ‘re talking about two of the most widely used cartridges in long range shooting: the .338 Norma and the .338 Lapua. Both are powerful, accurate, and capable of reaching extreme distances. 

However, as they are similar in so many ways, it may seem intimidating to pick the best one for long range shooting/hunting. Through this article, we’ll explore the differences between the .338 Norma and the .338 Lapua cartridges, and help you make an informed decision on what to choose for your long-range shooting needs.

Let’s get right into it! 

What about the 338 Lapua

Also known as the “.338 LM” or “.338 Lapua Magnum”, the .338 Lapua is a high-powered, long-range cartridge designed for military snipers. They were invented in the late 80s and quickly became popular after being introduced to the civilian market.

These powerful cartridges rapidly climbed to the top as one of the most commanding rifle rounds in the world, thanks to their ability to give high energy in long-range shooting. In the hunting world, they are known as "The King" of long-range shooting.

Let’s meet the 338 Norma

The .338 Norma is a long-range, hard-hitting round that debuted in 2009 and became the official supplier for the US military. These rounds were developed by the American sport shooter Jimmie Sloan and the Swedish ammunition manufacturer Norma Precision.

These powerful rounds were created to outperform the .338 Lapua as a better long-range alternative, and the .338 Norma does its job gracefully.

338 Norma Vs 338 Lapua: How Do They Differ

Now, let’s dive down into the “338 Norma Vs 338 Lapua” comparison to find out what will suit you the best in long-range shooting. 

Ballistic Coefficient

Ballistic Coefficient (BC) showcases the bullet’s power to withstand air resistance and wind draft. As the .338 Lapua was designed to pierce through various types and layers of body armor over a long distance, it naturally has a high BC count. 

The .338 Norma is no joke either. Both these cartridges offer exceptional performance in hunting big games over a long range. It can fight the .338 Lapua toe-to-toe in this segment. 

However, as the successor, the .338 Norma surpasses the .338 Lapua with slightly higher BC over long distances. 

Recoil

Recoil has a huge impact in long range shooting. Almost all of the long-range cartridges feature significant recoil force. Some rounds will kick your shoulder where others will push your shoulder. Trust me, you’ll get the difference once you shoot long-range cartridges. 

Anyways, as both .338 Lapua and .338 Norma were designed for dedicated long-range hunts they offer significantly lower recoil than most large caliber rounds. 

Being the ancestor, the .338 Lapua has a slightly higher recoil, meaning the kick on your shoulder will surely be noticeable.

Trajectory

Here’s to another toe-to-toe competition between the 338 Norma and 338 Lapua. Both of them offer a comparatively flatter.  

Both the .338 Norma and the .338 Lapua offer a flatter trajectory than most other long-range cartridges.

However, as the older .338 Lapua falls a little behind in terms of firepower, the winner here is the .338 Norma. 

We’ve noticed that the .338 Lapua drops about 3-5 MOA more at 1500 yards, and 8-10 MOA more than the .338 Norma at 2000 yards.

Price

When it comes to the price, the newer .338 Norma rounds are usually a bit cheaper than the .338 Lapua rounds. You’ll need to spend around $5-10 for each round of .338 Norma mag cartridges. 

On the other hand, .338 Lapua rounds are slightly higher in price. Although you’ll find both cartridges for an average of $6, the price of a .338 Lapua round can range between $5-12.

The variation and availability also counts. .338 Lapua offers a wider range of cartridges to choose from, whereas your options will be limited with the .338 Norma rounds. 

338 Norma Vs 338 Lapua: Which One to Pick

Now that you’ve known all the important factors that separates .338 Norma rounds from the .338 Lapua, it’s time to figure out which one will work the best for you. Let’s get into it. 

As you’ve already known, the .338 Norma mag rounds were designed to outperform the “king” of long range shooting rounds, the .338 Lapua; and it does it’s job beautifully. Some hunters are already naming it as the “Next King” of long-range cartridges. 

However, they almost performed identically in our tests, with the .338 Norma holding a slight edge. It provides a higher BC count, less recoil energy, and a slightly flatter trajectory. On the other hand, the .338 Lapua offers satisfactory performance, more variation and comes at a cheaper price point. 

So, it all comes down to personal preference. If you want to stick with the traditional king of long-range shooting, go for the .338 Lapua. It’ll give you reliable performance, cheaper rounds, and enough firepower to take down even the largest game in North America. 

On the contrary, if you want to embrace advanced performance, go for the .338 Norma. Side with the future king of long-range shooting cartridges, and bring power, accuracy, and precision to your long-range hunts. 

And with that, we’ve reached the end of our today’s discussion. I hope the article proves to be helpful for those who are confused as to which one to choose. No matter what you end up choosing, keep in mind that your performance also depends on you. 

Take care of your rifles regularly, pair your weapon with the best scope for 338 Lapua/Norma and follow your state regulation while hunting. Thanks for reading this far. Feel free to share which cartridge is your favorite and why in the comment section below. I wish you all a great weekend ahead, and happy hunting to you.  

5 comments

  • A Yocich : May 04, 2024
    Author's avatar image

    Go with the Lapua ..more case capacity equals higher velocity & dies ,brass & ammo everywhere…

  • Bob: March 12, 2024
    Author's avatar image

    This is a HORSESHIT AI generated article. Absolute garbage.

  • Scott Cheatham: December 29, 2023
    Author's avatar image

    Under “Price” you state the .338 NM as cheaper then the .338 LM. Yet in the closing statements; you mention the “king” .338 LM as the “cheaper option”. That’s a rather confusing & contradictory clash of information there.

  • Jacek: October 24, 2023
    Author's avatar image

    This is a reply to Joe. Why would you want a 4000 fps 5.56. The 77gr MK262 by Black Hills Ammo can reach out to 1000 meters out of the SPR, accurately. It can do it out of the M4 with a 14.5" barrel to around 700 meters.
    As for the mini-gun, they’re in 7.62×51 NATO or .50 BMG for the GAU-19. I really doubt the US Military uses the XM214 micro-gun in 5.56 as a viable mini-gun platform.

  • Joe: August 14, 2023
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    Will .338 Norma ammo or brass get cheaper with the US Army adopting it for their machine guns?

    Will the .338 Norma cartridge be adopted by NATO? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_cartridge

    Will the US army make a hybrid cartridge version of the .338 Norma for 80,000psi like the 6.8×51mm (.277 Furry) for heaver bullets? Maybe something closer to the .416 Barrett range?

    Will the US Army make a hyper velocity 5.56×45 cartridge 4000fps at 80,000 psi? for mini guns

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