Unless you keep a watchful eye on or participate in long-range shooting, you likely missed the introduction of the Hornady .300 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) in 2018. Hornady designed the 300 PRC to be the ideal 30-caliber magnum for long-range precision rifle competition. And when we say “long-range” we are talking 1,500 yards at a minimum.
In the past, if you wanted to shoot that far, you needed to employ the use of the heavy-hitting 338 Lapua Magnum and all its shoulder bruising recoil that it imparts on its victims…err…shooters.
The 338 Lapua Mag was designed to punch through military-grade body armor at 1,000 yards and currently holds the #3 and #10 positions on the ten longest sniper rifle shots in history.
Both rifle cartridges were designed for ELR (Extra Long Range) shooting, but which one is going to be the best option for you? In this article, we will compare the new kid on the block, the 300 PRC, against the military long-range mainstay, the 338 Lapua.
Understand the Difference Between 300 PRC vs 338 Lapua
The 300 PRC and 338 Lapua Mag were designed with one concept in mind: long-range performance.
Both cartridges were designed to fire long, aerodynamic bullets with a ridiculously high ballistic coefficient to make wind drift a mere afterthought. This allows skilled marksmen to maintain MOA (minute of angle) accuracy at ranges up to and over 1,500 yards.
The 338 Lapua provides long-distance shooters amazing terminal ballistics, trajectory, and accuracy, but it does so at the cost of punishing recoil.
Enter the .300 Hornady PRC, which can do everything the 338 can do under 1,500 yards with less recoil.
Ever since the widespread success of the 30-06 Springfield and 308 Winchester, American ammo manufacturers have been working to perfect 0.308” caliber bullets.
And when it comes to 30-caliber magnum cartridges, you have a crazy number of options. Some of the most popular are the 300 Winchester Magnum, 30 Nosler, 300 Weatherby Magnum, 300 Norma Magnum, and 300 Remington Ultra Magnum, just to name a few.
With so many options it begs the question, “What makes the 300 PRC any better than any other 30-cal on the market?”
Although most of the cartridges on that list can shoot ELR, such as the 300 Win Mag and 300 Norma, the 300 PRC was specifically designed and optimized for this purpose.
But is it worth ditching your 300 Winchester Magnum or 6.5 Creedmoor bolt-action hunting rifle to get a 300 PRC? Or is the 338 Lapua the better option?
In the following sections, we will break down the positive and negative aspects of both the 300 PRC and 338 Lapua.
When comparing precision rifle cartridges, it’s a good idea to compare the cartridge specs to gain more knowledge of each.
Descended from the 375 Ruger, the 300 PRC sports a 0.532” base diameter meaning that it requires a full magnum bolt face just like the 338. Furthermore, the 300 PRC has an extremely long overall length of 3.7” meaning that it requires a magnum action rifle and a longer bolt throw to allow for reliable feeding.
Using a long action, like that used for the 30-06 Springfield or 300 Winchester Magnum, would mean that the 300 PRC bullets would enter the chamber at too severe of an angle, causing a jam.
Hornady specifically designed the 300 PRC for the magnum action as they wanted their cartridge to have as long a “head height” as possible. Head height is simply the overall length minus the case length. A longer head height allows for longer, more aerodynamic projectiles with a higher ballistic coefficient (BC) to be used.
A high BC is preferred when shooting long-range and the 1.12” head height of the 300 PRC allows for this. Furthermore, it allows more of the case capacity utilization for extremely high loads.
Speaking of case capacity, this is one area where the 338 Lapua and 300 PRC differ considerably. The 338 Lapua can handle a whopping 114 gr of propellant while the 300 PRC can handle 77 gr loads of powder.
One interesting difference is that the 300 PRC has a slightly longer overall length than the 338 (3.7” vs 3.681”). Though this is a minor difference, it shows the lengths that Hornady went to make the 300 PRC accept extremely long projectiles that are ideal for long-range shooting.
At the time of writing, SAAMI has not proofed the 338 Lapua and does not have an established max pressure for the round. To complicate matters, Lapua and the CIP have been somewhat ambivalent about the max pressure for the cartridge.
There is some scholarly debate as to the max pressure for the 338 Lapua, but the lower limits (and therefore safer) suggest 420 MPa (60,916 PSI). The maximum pressure for 300 PRC based on SAAMI specs is 65,000 psi, making it the higher-pressure round.
However, all that powder, pressure, and heavier bullets have two major drawbacks: recoil and barrel life.
Continue reading 300 PRC vs 338 Lapua: Long Range Shooters Rejoice at Ammo.com.
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