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.338 Lapua vs .30-06

30-06 vs 338 lapua Blog Feature

When it comes to long-range shooting and hunting, the choice of cartridge can make all the difference. Among the myriad of options available to marksmen, two names stand out for their history and ballistic capabilities: the .338 Lapua Magnum and the .30-06 Springfield. Each has its legion of supporters and has earned a formidable reputation in both military and sporting circles. In this comprehensive guide, we delve deep into the histories, pros and cons, ballistics, and comparisons between these two titan rounds, helping shooters make an informed decision for their next purchase.


A Tale of Two Cartridges: The History


.338 Lapua Magnum: The Modern Marvel

The .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge was born in the 1980s, designed to bridge the gap between .300 Winchester Magnum and .50 BMG for military snipers. It was the result of a joint effort between the Finnish rifle manufacturer SAKO and the British ammunition company, Lapua Ltd. This cartridge was meant to provide a high level of accuracy and penetration at distances over 1,000 meters, and it has not only met but exceeded those expectations, becoming a favorite among long-range competitive shooters and elite military units.


.30-06 Springfield: The American Legacy

The .30-06 Springfield’s story began much earlier, in 1906, and it quickly became a staple for the United States military. It saw extensive use across both World Wars and numerous other conflicts. The .30-06 (pronounced “thirty-aught-six”) was developed as an improvement over the earlier .30-03, the .30-06 reigned supreme in the U.S. military until the adoption of the 7.62×51mm NATO round. Despite its military retirement, the .30-06 has remained a popular choice for hunters and sport shooters due to its versatility and widespread availability.

PPU NEMO 300 Win
PPU NEMO 300 Win

The Pros and Cons: A Side-by-Side Comparison

When weighing the .338 Lapua against the .30-06, each cartridge has its set of advantages and drawbacks, which can greatly affect the shooting experience.


.338 Lapua Magnum: Power at a Distance



  • Long-Range Precision: The .338 Lapua is renowned for its long-range accuracy, maintaining a flat trajectory over great distances.
  • Stopping Power: With a larger bullet and higher energy, it’s capable of taking down larger game and penetrating better at longer ranges.
  • Military Pedigree: Its adoption by military snipers speaks volumes about its reliability and performance under demanding conditions.


  • Recoil: The .338 Lapua’s powerful performance comes with significant recoil, which can be a disadvantage for less experienced shooters.
  • Cost: Typically, .338 Lapua rounds are more expensive than .30-06, reflecting their specialized nature and construction.
  • Rifle Availability: There are fewer rifles chambered for .338 Lapua, and they tend to be more expensive than .30-06 rifles.


.30-06 Springfield: Versatile and Accessible



  • Versatility: The .30-06 can be used for a wide range of hunting applications, from deer to elk, and even bear with appropriate loads.
  • Ammunition Availability: There is a wide variety of .30-06 ammunition available at virtually every sporting goods store.
  • Affordability: Generally, both the ammunition and the rifles chambered in .30-06 are more affordable than those for the .338 Lapua.


  • Range Limitations: While still an excellent long-range round, the .30-06 doesn’t match the extreme distance capabilities of the .338 Lapua.
  • Less Stopping Power: For the largest game or hardened targets, the .30-06 may not provide the same level of stopping power as the .338 Lapua.


Breaking Down Ballistics

The ballistics of a cartridge are critical to understanding its performance. The .338 Lapua Magnum has a higher ballistic coefficient and muzzle velocity, leading to less wind drift and drop at extended ranges. It’s loaded with heavier bullets, often 250 grains and above, and can maintain supersonic speeds past 1,500 meters. The .30-06, on the other hand, typically fires lighter bullets ranging from 150 to 180 grains. While it has a respectable range and accuracy, its performance starts to diminish beyond 800 meters, especially in comparison to the .338 Lapua.

Sierra Matchking 30-06
Sierra Matchking 30-06

Comparative Field Performance

In the field, both cartridges show distinct strengths. The .338 Lapua has become a go-to for extreme long-range shooting competitions and is favored for its superior performance at such distances. Its penetration capabilities make it suitable for large and dangerous game, where a quick and humane kill is necessary. The .30-06, with its rich history as a reliable cartridge for almost any game in North America, offers greater practicality for the average hunter. Its recoil is also more manageable, allowing for quicker follow-up shots if needed.


Final Thoughts: Which Should You Choose?

Choosing between the .338 Lapua and the .30-06 Springfield is not just a matter of comparing numbers; it’s about considering the shooter’s needs and preferences. For those who are into extreme long-range shooting or require the additional stopping power for large game hunting, the .338 Lapua Magnum is unmatched. However, for the everyday hunter looking for a versatile and cost-effective round, the .30-06 Springfield remains a classic choice that won’t disappoint.

As a discerning shooter, it’s vital to consider your priorities, be it cost, recoil, rifle platform, or the specific game you are hunting. At True Shot Ammo, we understand the importance of choosing the right cartridge for your shooting endeavors. By providing a wide selection of ammunition directly from the manufacturers, we ensure that you have the best options available to fit your ballistic needs.

Whether you are drawn to the modern precision of the .338 Lapua Magnum or the time-tested reliability of the .30-06 Springfield, we offer a variety of brands and loads to suit your specific requirements. Visit us to explore our extensive collection and find the perfect match for your next outdoor adventure or shooting competition.



Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website trueshotammo.com, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.

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