The .338 Lapua Magnum (8.6×70mm or 8.58×70mm) is a specialized rimless bottlenecked centerfire cartridge developed for military long-range sniper rifles. The Afghanistan War and Iraq War made it a combat-proven round with ready and substantial ammunition availability. The .338 Lapua is a dual-purpose anti-personnel and anti-materiel round; however, its anti-materiel potential is limited, due to the bullet's lower kinetic energy compared with that of the .50 BMG's 35.64-to-55.08-gram (550.0 to 850.0 gr) projectiles. The loaded cartridge is 14.93 mm (0.588 in) in diameter (rim) and 93.5 mm (3.68 in) long. It can penetrate better-than-standard military body armour at ranges up to 1,000 metres (1,094 yd) and has a maximum effective range of about 1,750 metres (1,910 yd). Muzzle velocity is dependent on load and powder temperature and varies from 880 to 915 m/s (2,900 to 3,000 ft/s) for commercial loads with 16.2-gram (250 gr) bullets, which results in about 6,525 J (4,813 ft·lbf) of muzzle energy.
Non-C.I.P. conforming British military issue overpressure .338 Lapua Magnum cartridges with a 91.4 mm (3.60 in) overall length, loaded with 16.2-gram (250 gr) LockBase B408 very-low-drag bullets were used in November 2009 by British sniper Corporal of Horse (CoH) Craig Harrison to establish a new record for the longest confirmed sniper kill in combat, at a range of 2,475 m (2,707 yd).
In addition to its military role, it is increasingly used by hunters and civilian long-range shooting enthusiasts. The .338 Lapua Magnum is capable of taking down any game animal, though its suitability for some dangerous game (Cape buffalo, hippopotamus, white rhinoceros and elephant) is arguable, unless accompanied by a larger "backup" caliber: "There is a huge difference between calibers that will kill an elephant and those that can be relied upon to stop one." Certain sub-Saharan Africa countries have a 9.53 mm (0.375 in) minimum caliber rule for hunting the Big Five. It also cannot be used in countries which ban civilian use of former or current military rifle cartridges.