The .338 Lapua Magnum was birthed out of a need for the
military to have a sniper cartridge capable of firing a 250-grain, .338-inch
bullet at 3,000 feet per second while penetrating five layers of body armor at
1,000 meters. Research Armament Industries of the United States was the first
to begin development in 1983. RAI uses Brass Extrusion Labs to initially make
the 8.58*71mm cartridge cases.
However, when the cases by B.E.L.L. did not meet the
requirements, and their deadlines from the military were near, RAI uses a
Finnish company called Lapua. However, after RAI’s financial problems and the
lack of the power needed in the case, the .338 project was cancelled. IT would
be 14 years before the project was picked pack up.
The second time around, the project was developed between
SAKO, a Finnish rifle manufacturer, and a British Company called Accuracy
International. Lapua also contributed the second time around as well. Because the
walls of the first designed had flaws which would cause them to cave under
pressure, Lapua put their attention to strengthening and thickening the case
walls. The three companies were able to eventually meet the desired
requirements for the round and it is quickly becoming popular for both military
and civilian shooters. It’s actually a favorite among many US Navy snipers,
being used in the McMillan Tac-339 by Navy Special Ops teams.