Firing 338 Lapua cartridges isn’t like firing most other bullets. These larger, heavier rounds are ideal for sniping at long distances, and you need a high-quality scope if you’re going to make accurate shots with them. Here are our top picks for the best scope for 338 Lapua cartridge users, as well as more information about what to look for when you’re shopping.
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As a sniper cartridge, the 338 Lapua is a bullet for hitting targets significantly farther away than a human can quickly identify. Even experienced snipers need a high-quality scope to land shots past a specific range, and that’s taking into account professional training and years (or decades) of experience.
In summary, you cannot shoot this cartridge without a scope. Riflescopes are optional on some shorter-range rifles, serving as a backup or a rangefinder to experienced shooters. That’s not the case when you’re shooting the 338 Lapua from any rifle. Scopes are mandatory, so if you’re shooting this cartridge at all, it’s worth getting the right scope for the job.
Yes! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to get a top-end scope to shoot the 338 Lapua well. High-quality scopes help land precise shots at longer distances and in competitive shooting events, but even budget models can offer excellent performance once you’re used to them.
The primary thing to consider here is your shooting environment. Soldiers in wartime environments have very different needs from a scope from hobbyists who shoot entirely indoors. That said, if you want to shoot at the maximum range of a 338 Lapua cartridge, the higher-end scopes tend to have the best magnification.
Here are some things to look for when buying the best scope for 338 Lapua cartridge shooters.
The 338 Lapua is a long-range cartridge, and attempting to shoot it at shorter ranges defeats the purpose. This means your scope needs a decent magnification range, preferably going up as high as possible.
For most shooters, this means getting a scope with at least 10x magnification, and preferably 20x or more. The minimum magnification can be lower and should be if you want to scan the battlefield better, but the maximum should never be below 10x.
As a sniper cartridge, the 338 Lapua often has a lot of recoil when you shoot it. That energy doesn’t go exclusively into your body or its stand. A little bit of that recoil will travel up to hit the scope, and if your scope isn’t attached well, the shot could knock it a little out of alignment.
Experienced snipers know that even slight changes in a scope’s mounting can significantly impact accuracy. That’s why scopes with excellent recoil resistance are fundamentally better than anything that will be shaken loose.
Reticles on the first focal plane are better for shooting bullets like the 338 Lapua. These reticles functionally change in size to match your magnification, making it easier to land accurate shots at higher magnifications.
Reticles on the second focal plane are usable but not quite as good at longer ranges.
Here are our top choices for scopes for firing 338 Lapua cartridges.
Buyers consider this a top scope, which is no surprise since it’s the top choice on our list. They report that it works exceptionally well at ranges from 500 to 1000 yards, with generally high image clarity. However, a few buyers do report a bit of blurriness at maximum power.
This scope stands out to us, thanks to its overall quality. It’s accurate, durable, and performs well in the field. It’s somewhat expensive, but not unreasonable for a sniper scope, which are already among the most expensive scopes on the market.
We also like the high-end features, including its precision systems, the fast-focus eyepiece, a CRS zero stop, and its general durability. The unlimited lifetime warranty is the clincher since it lets you protect your purchase much better than a regular store warranty. Vortex is a great brand, and this scope deserves our top spot.
This scope offers an outstanding balance of cost, performance, and features. While it’s not the single best scope on the market, it’s a fantastic choice for most owners who want to shoot 338 Lapua cartridges.
Buyers like that this scope is rugged and durable, meant for real-world hunting. The glass is particularly clear, and it works great in low-light conditions. A few buyers expressed concerns about its illumination levels during the day, but this is likely because different models offer somewhat different performance.
This scope stands out as the best performance-focused scope in the premium price range. This isn’t for casual buyers, but it offers outstanding precision for shots if you want to shoot at your rifle’s maximum range.
5x to 20x is an excellent magnification range for shooting 338 Lapua cartridges, too. Anything beyond 20x tends to become a little blurry with current manufacturing techniques, so it’s a reasonable upper range that skilled shooters can work with. No scope is perfect, but our problems with this scope are quibbles at best.
If price isn’t an issue, this is the top-performing scope on our list and easily the best choice (even more so than our top overall pick, above). However, budget issues can put it out of reach for some buyers, so we can’t recommend it to everyone.
Buyers like the way this scope sits on rifles, with shots landing accurately at 300 to 600 yards. It offers excellent illumination while firing, although most models don’t have an illuminated reticle. That can make it a little harder to use at night.
There’s no such thing as a genuinely budget-model sniping scope. If you’re sniping at all, precision is the most important factor, and any scope that can’t perform well enough isn’t worth buying. That requires a certain minimum build quality, and therefore a minimum price, on scopes for 338 Lapua cartridges.
With that in mind, this scope performs exceptionally well at its job, although we don’t like it quite as much as our first two choices. Its magnification range is decent, but ending at 15x means this scope won’t perform quite as well at longer distances. However, its shorter minimum range means it’s better for closer shots than many of its competitors.
This is a durable and reliable scope. While not truly cheap, it has several sub-$1000 options, and that’s a good range for sniping scopes.
Buyers particularly like the glass on this scope, which isn’t much of a surprise in its price range. Buyers also like how easy it is to set things to zero.
This scope stands out to us as a top premium choice. It’s easily the most expensive option on this list and has part quality to match, with outstanding performance for most buyers. That said, it doesn’t offer any huge improvements over our best long-range scope above, so it’s difficult to recommend this scope unless cost isn’t an issue and every small improvement matters.
This is a high-quality scope sold at a premium price. While somewhat excessive for hunting, it’s worth considering for competitive shooting and other environments where small improvements can make all the difference.
Here are some of the top benefits of getting a high-quality scope while shooting 338 Lapua cartridges from your rifle.
This is the main benefit, beating all others by a significant margin. Better scopes mean higher accuracy, which also means fewer wasted shots and a higher feeling of satisfaction from firing your rifle.
High-quality scopes can expand your shooting opportunities by allowing you to shoot at different times or ranges. These work particularly well when you use the correct type of 338 Lapua bullets. Lapua manufactures different cartridges for sport and hunting needs, so pairing cartridges with scopes can further expand your opportunities.
High-quality scopes are reliable for hundreds of shots over extended periods, which is more than we can say about the low-cost scopes available for other types of firearms. There’s no point in shooting a rifle if you can’t hit your target, so having a good scope can mean the difference between taking down your target or giving up and going home.
Shooting rifles that use 338 Lapua cartridges requires a high-quality scope. Different scopes work better with different guns and in different environments, so even more than scope quality, you should consider your shooting environment and let that guide your decision in choosing the best scope for 338 Lapua users.
Here are some common questions people ask about shooting
The right scope depends on your shooting environment. We like the Vortex Viper HS-T 6-24x50mm for most people thanks to its excellent balance of build quality, performance, and price. The Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20×50 is a better choice for buyers who want a top product, while the Steiner T5Xi 5-25x56mm is better for competitive shooters.
The effective range of a 338 Lapua cartridge depends mainly on your gun. That said, it has a maximum effective range of about 1900 yards from most guns.