338 RUM vs. 338 Lapua for Long-Range Precision and Hunting

338 rum vs 338 lapua

The selection of the right cartridge is pivotal in the realm of precision long-range shooting and big game hunting. Each cartridge comes with its unique set of characteristics, including ballistic performance, recoil, and suitability for various hunting scenarios.

Among the plethora of options available to marksmen, the 338 Remington Ultra Magnum (RUM) and the 338 Lapua Magnum stand out as premier choices. Both cartridges are renowned for their exceptional long-range capabilities, offering precision and power that appeal to both competitive shooters and avid hunters.

Comparison Table for 338 RUM and 338 Lapua

Feature338 RUM (Remington Ultra Magnum)338 Lapua Magnum
Ballistic PerformanceExcellent long-range performance with high velocity and energy. Suitable for big game hunting and long-range target shooting.Superior long-range ballistic performance, slightly outperforming the 338 RUM in terms of velocity and energy. Widely used in military sniper applications and big game hunting.
RecoilSignificant recoil, challenging for shooters without proper technique and preparation.Also features substantial recoil; however, many 338 Lapua rifles are specifically designed to mitigate this through advanced recoil reduction systems.
Ammunition CostAmmunition is generally less expensive than the 338 Lapua, making it a more cost-effective option for frequent shooters.Ammunition is more expensive due to the specialized nature and military-grade specifications, potentially limiting frequent use for some shooters.
Rifle AvailabilityA wide variety of rifles available for hunting and shooting, but somewhat less than for the 338 Lapua.Extensive availability of high-precision rifles designed for military and long-range shooting applications.
Barrel LifeComparable to other high-powered rounds, but continuous high-volume shooting can lead to faster wear.Similar to the 338 RUM in terms of barrel life, with proper maintenance and moderate use ensuring longevity.
ApplicationFavored for its versatility in hunting large North American game and for long-range shooting sports.Preferred for its exceptional accuracy and performance at extreme ranges, making it ideal for military snipers and dedicated long-range hunters.

Key Features Compare Between 338 RUM and 338 Lapua

Historical Background and Development

Historical Background and-Development

338 RUM: The 338 Remington Ultra Magnum was developed by Remington in the late 1990s as part of the Ultra Magnum series, aiming to provide shooters with a cartridge capable of long-range performance superior to existing options.

It was designed to bridge the gap between traditional magnum cartridges and the newer, more powerful magnums on the market, finding a niche among hunters and long-range shooters seeking high velocity and energy in a standard-length rifle action.

338 Lapua Magnum: Originally developed in the 1980s for military long-range sniper rifles, the 338 Lapua Magnum has a storied history rooted in its design to achieve superior accuracy at distances beyond 1,000 meters.

Its military origins have influenced its development into a civilian cartridge, where it has gained widespread acclaim among long-range competitive shooters and big game hunters for its exceptional ballistic performance and consistency.

Technical Specifications

The 338 RUM and 338 Lapua differ notably in their specifications, influencing their performance and applications. The 338 RUM, with its large case volume, supports heavy bullet weights, typically ranging from 225 to 300 grains, allowing for high velocities and significant kinetic energy. Its design facilitates remarkable long-range shooting capabilities while maintaining a standard action length.

Conversely, the 338 Lapua Magnum is optimized for even heavier bullets and higher ballistic coefficients, contributing to its famed long-range accuracy and wind resistance. Cartridge dimensions and case volume are meticulously calibrated to maximize efficiency and performance, particularly in specialized long-range rifles.

Ballistic Performance

Velocity and Energy: Both cartridges exhibit impressive ballistic performance, with the 338 Lapua generally achieving slightly higher velocities and energy levels due to its optimized case design and efficient powder burn. This results in flatter trajectories and more retained energy at extended ranges.

Long-Range Capabilities: The 338 Lapua Magnum is particularly noted for its superior long-range accuracy, capable of engaging targets beyond 1,500 meters with precision. The 338 RUM, while slightly less celebrated in extreme long-range scenarios, offers formidable performance up to and beyond 1,200 meters, making it a powerful option for long-range hunting and shooting.

Recoil and Shootability

Felt Recoil: The powerful nature of both cartridges means that shooters can expect significant recoil, which can influence shootability and shooter comfort during extended sessions. The 338 Lapua Magnum, in particular, is known for its stout recoil, necessitating effective recoil management strategies and equipment.

Shootability Factors: The design of the rifle, including stock ergonomics, rifle weight, and the use of muzzle brakes or suppressors, plays a crucial role in managing recoil and enhancing shootability. Shooters of both cartridges often prioritize heavy, well-balanced rifles and employ advanced recoil mitigation technologies to enhance endurance and accuracy over long shooting sessions.

In summary, while both the 338 RUM and 338 Lapua Magnum offer exceptional capabilities for precision long-range shooting and hunting, their differences in ballistic performance, recoil management, and technical specifications cater to slightly different preferences and requirements among shooters.

Rifle and Ammunition Availability

Market Availability of Rifles: Rifles chambered in 338 Lapua Magnum are widely available from numerous manufacturers, reflecting the cartridge’s popularity among long-range precision shooters and hunters.

Brands like Savage, Barrett, and Accuracy International offer high-quality rifles designed specifically for the 338 Lapua, catering to both the tactical and civilian markets. The 338 Remington Ultra Magnum (RUM), while enjoying less mainstream recognition than the Lapua, is supported by Remington and a select group of custom rifle builders.

The 338 RUM can often be found in versatile platforms that emphasize both long-range performance and hunting utility.

Factory Ammunition Options: The 338 Lapua Magnum benefits from a broad selection of factory-loaded ammunition, ranging from match-grade to hunting-specific rounds. This variety allows shooters to select ammunition tailored to their specific needs, with prices reflecting the premium nature of the cartridge.

The 338 RUM, though it has less factory ammunition variety compared to the 338 Lapua, still offers a respectable selection from major manufacturers like Remington and Nosler. Ammunition cost for the 338 RUM is generally comparable to the 338 Lapua, with price variations based on the bullet type and quality.

Applications in Hunting and Long-Range Shooting

Hunting Application

Hunting Applications: Both the 338 RUM and 338 Lapua are capable of taking down large game at considerable distances, thanks to their high energy and ballistic efficiency. The 338 Lapua, with its slightly better ballistics and more consistent factory ammunition options, is often preferred for hunting in open terrains where long shots are common.

The 338 RUM, offering similar power and a slightly higher case capacity, excels in hunting scenarios that require heavy bullets for large game such as elk, moose, and bear, providing devastating performance at ranges out to 800 meters and beyond.

Long-Range Shooting Performance: In competitive long-range shooting, the 338 Lapua Magnum has established itself as a favorite due to its exceptional accuracy, minimal wind drift, and reliable performance. Its military pedigree and subsequent civilian adaptation have resulted in widespread adoption in precision rifle competitions.

The 338 RUM, while less commonly used in formal competition, offers remarkable long-range capabilities for shooters interested in pursuing custom rifle builds and handloading to achieve optimal performance.

Cost and Reloading Considerations

Shooting and Maintenance Costs: Operating rifles chambered in either the 338 RUM or 338 Lapua can be expensive, with costs influenced by ammunition prices, rifle maintenance, and the potential need for specialized optics and accessories designed to withstand the recoil and power of these cartridges.

Factory ammunition for the 338 Lapua tends to be on the higher end of the price spectrum, reflecting its specialized nature and demand among precision shooters. The 338 RUM, while potentially less costly per round, still represents a significant investment, especially for active shooters.

Reloading Components and Custom Loads: Both cartridges offer substantial opportunities for handloaders to tailor their rounds to specific performance criteria. The 338 Lapua Magnum benefits from a wide availability of high-quality brass, bullets, and reloading data, enabling shooters to fine-tune their loads for maximum precision.

The 338 RUM also has strong support from the handloading community, with components readily available for those looking to maximize the cartridge’s potential. Reloading can significantly reduce the cost per round while allowing for customization that can surpass factory ammunition in terms of performance.

User Experiences and Field Reports

user experience

Feedback from Shooters and Hunters: Feedback from those who have extensively used the 338 RUM and 338 Lapua cartridges in the field tends to emphasize the exceptional power and long-range capabilities of both. Users of the 338 Lapua often cite its precision and consistency at extreme distances, making it a favored choice for competitive long-range shooting and selective hunting of large game across vast open terrains.

The 338 RUM receives praise for its raw power and versatility, with hunters appreciating its ability to deliver swift, humane kills on large game due to the cartridge’s high energy output.

However, some criticisms include the 338 Lapua’s higher ammunition costs and the 338 RUM’s slightly less available factory ammunition and components. Shooters have also noted the importance of having a well-built rifle capable of handling the power of these cartridges to mitigate recoil and enhance shooting comfort.

Professional Evaluations: Comparative tests and professional evaluations often highlight the 338 Lapua Magnum’s superior ballistic coefficients and factory ammunition quality, which contribute to its esteemed status among precision shooters. The 338 RUM, while not as commonly featured in competitive settings, is recognized for offering comparable long-range performance with the right handloads, often at a somewhat reduced cost.


The 338 RUM and 338 Lapua share remarkable similarities in their intended applications, offering long-range shooters and hunters powerful options for engaging targets at extended distances. The main distinctions lie in the 338 Lapua’s slight edge in factory ammunition quality and availability, as well as its established reputation in competitive shooting circles.

Conversely, the 338 RUM provides a compelling choice for those looking for a high-power cartridge adaptable to both hunting and long-range shooting, with potential cost savings in ammunition and reloading.

Final Recommendations

For long-range competitive shooters prioritizing accuracy and consistency, the 338 Lapua Magnum remains the preferred choice, benefiting from extensive ballistic research and a wide selection of high-quality factory ammunition. Hunters and shooters interested in big game hunting, especially in North America, may find the 338 RUM to be an equally effective cartridge, with its power and flexibility being particularly appealing when handloading is an option.


Which cartridge offers better long-range accuracy for competitive shooting?

The 338 Lapua Magnum is generally considered superior for competitive long-range shooting, thanks to its exceptional accuracy, ballistic efficiency, and widespread adoption in precision shooting disciplines.

How do the 338 RUM and 338 Lapua compare in terms of big game hunting effectiveness?

Both cartridges are highly effective for big game hunting. The choice between them often comes down to personal preference, with the 338 Lapua offering slightly better long-range performance and the 338 RUM providing potent energy delivery at closer to mid-ranges.

Are there significant differences in the cost of shooting and reloading the 338 RUM vs. 338 Lapua?

The 338 Lapua typically incurs higher costs for factory ammunition and reloading components due to its specialized nature. However, the 338 RUM can also be costly to shoot, especially for shooters who rely on factory-loaded ammunition.

What are the considerations for first-time shooters looking to invest in a high-caliber long-range rifle?

First-time shooters should consider recoil management, rifle weight, and overall system cost, including optics and accessories. Starting with a cartridge that offers a balance between power and shootability, like the 338 Lapua with its range of factory support, may provide a more manageable introduction to high-caliber long-range shooting.

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