300 Norma Mag Background
The 300 Norma was selected by SOCOM for the new Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR) competition because of its impressive external ballistics.
You may be asking, “Isn’t every round selected because of its ballistics?” Well, yes and no.
As you may know, there are three types of ballistics, internal, external, and terminal.
- Internal ballistics refers to what is going on inside the firearm
- External ballistics refers to what is going on between the gun and the target
- Terminal ballistics refers to what happens when the bullet interacts with the target
Often rounds are chosen (by an individual, police department, or military group) because of their size, weight, internal ballistics, and/or terminal ballistics.
Internal ballistics is important when things like minimizing recoil or maximizing barrel life are important. And terminal ballistics are an important factor when there are concerns about self-defense or hunting “stopping power.”
The size of a cartridge is important if the user is trying to maximize capacity or minimize the size of the firearm’s action. The weight of a cartridge is important when many rounds must be carried for long distances/periods of times.
The 300 Norma mag is based off of the 338 Norma Mag case necked down to accept a .30 caliber bullet. It is also based off of the same parent cartridge as the 338 Lapua mag….the 416 Rigby. This means that a bolt with a large face is needed which often means a large action (and a large/heavy rifle).
300 Norma Mag Ballistics
The 300 Norma Mag launches a 220gr .308 bullet at just over 3,000 fps. That’s 4,400 ft/lbs of energy!
The 300 Norma Mag really shines when it is shooting either the 230gr Berger Hybrid bullet – this bullet has an out-of-this world 0.743 Ballistic Coefficient (BC)! (If you’re looking to learn about BC, check out Chapter 10 of the Long Range Shooting Handbook) When loaded up to 3,000 fps, this bullet from the 300 Norma Mag will stay supersonic out to 1,500 meters! This is as far as a much heavier 300gr SMK shot out of a 338 Lapua can make it before it goes subsonic! Even though the 300 Norma will only have 80% of the energy of the 338 Lapua at that distance with those bullets, it can still make it there accurately, with considerably less recoil. Another benefit to the 300 Norma Mag is the overall length is shorter than the 338 Lapua Mag – it is effectively the same length as the 300 Win Mag.
It shoots flatter and has less wind drift than it’s closest counter-parts, the 338 Lapua and the 30 Nosler.
However, it is a larger diameter cartridge than the 30 Nosler (bigger bolt face/action and less magazine capacity), it falls behind on the terminal ballistic energy of the 338 Lapua (until it catches up close to 2,000 yards), and, perhaps my biggest criticism, it is not a uniform cartridge…. it is not used by other groups in our military nor any other military.
So, the 300 Norma is a wonder-round on paper. And, it is lighter recoiling than the 338 Lapua. However, I’m not convinced that it is wise to chase the latest/greatest and best performing round. After all, there’ll always be something that comes along later that will boast better external ballistics. And when that happens, the military (especially) shouldn’t race to adopt the new round at the cost of new rifles, new ammunition supply, and training.
Let’s see the 300 Norma Magnum’s ballistics out to 2,000 yards:
|Yards||Drop (MOA)||Wind (MOA)||Velocity||Time (Seconds)||Energy (ft/lbs)|
That may or may not look impressive to you. Let’s compare it to some other calibers for perspective.
300 Norma Cartridge Comparisons
Below, we’ve compared the 300 Norma Mag to the cartridge it is trying to replace, the 338 Lapua Mag.
However, many of you may be interested to see how the 300 Norma Magnum compares to other cartridges such as the 30 Nosler. We’ve made a full comparison for you (complete with charts!) here: 300 Norma Mag vs 338 Lapua Mag vs 30 Nosler
300 Norma VS 338 Lapua
338 Lapua Magnum is the king of long range precision cartridges. Or, at least it was… we’ll have to see if the 300 Norma Mag takes over the 338 Lapua as the premier long range cartridge.
The 338 Lapua Mag packs a wallop (at both ends) whereas the 300 Norma has less recoil, and less energy at the target until the fat 338 slows down enough at around 2,000 yards where the energy of the two bullets is close to the same.
Let’s look at some stats to compare.
As you can seen, the velocities of the two cartridges are about the same. Note, however, that the 300 Norma is shooting a lighter bullet than the 338 Lapua. You may not think that this is a fair comparison, but the 338 Lapua is meant to shoot bigger bullets.
The 300 Norma gains on the 338 Lapua at 2,000 yards because the more efficient smaller bullet maintains its speed better.
|Bullet Weight||Velocity at 100 yds||Velocity at 1,000 yds||Velocity at 2,000 yds|
|300 Norma Mag||230 gr||2859 ft/s||1868 ft/s||1122 ft/s|
|338 Lapua Mag||250 gr||2868 ft/s||1800 ft/s||1060 ft/s|
The same speed with different weight bullets is why you see the difference in energy of the two rounds. Up close, the 338 Lapua has 10% more energy than the 300 Norma. But, as the 338 Lapua slows down at extreme distances, the energy starts to even out between the two rounds.
|Bullet Weight||Energy at 100 yds||Energy at 1,000 yds/span>||Energy at 2,000 yds/span>|
|300 Norma Mag||230 gr||4171 ft/lbs||1780 ft/lbs||642 ft/lbs|
|338 Lapua Mag||250 gr||4562 ft/lbs||1800 ft/lbs||623 ft/lbs|
The best advantage that the smaller and more efficient bullet of the 300 Norma has is how little it drops and is blown by the wind at distance. Typically heavier bullets resist the wind better than lighter bullets. However, if the lighter bullet gets to the target faster, then it doesn’t have as long to be affected.
|Bullet Weight||Drop at 1,000 yds||Wind at 1,000 yds||Drop at 2,000 yds||Wind at 2,000 yds|
|300 Norma Mag||230 gr||-22.47 moa||4.49 moa||-76.70 moa||11.55 moa|
|338 Lapua Mag||250 gr||-23.07 moa||4.92 moa||-81.69 moa||12.85 moa|
300 Norma Mag Bullets
There’s a couple options available when selecting the right bullet for your brass. Here’s some of our favorites:
Berger Bullet- Hybrid Tactical 30 Caliber OTM : Best for Long Range Performance
Hornady- 225 Match ELD 30 Caliber : Best for Target Shooting
Scirocco II- Bonded Bullets 180 Grain 30 Caliber : Best for Hunting
300 Norma Mag Rifles
The 300 Norma is currently only available in high-end tactical style sniper rifles or custom rifles.
There are two major manufacturers that make 300 Norma Mag rifles: Barrett Firearms and Accuracy International
I used to be a huge fan of Accuracy International until I learned of their politics and started gaining experience with Barrett products other than their semi-auto 50 cal (not a fan). Now I recommend Barrett over AI.
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About Ryan Cleckner
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