Sometimes life is like a merry-go-round, and with shooting it is no different. In the 1980’s, the .308 Winchester cartridge was about as popular a rifle cartridge as ever there was. It was used extensively in just about every rifle shooting discipline. For instance, in NRA high power rifle competitions, the .308 Winchester was extremely popular, especially with the then renowned 168 gr. Sierra Match-King bullet. The cartridge was shot out of bolt guns, M1A’s, and even M1 Garands. Then came the 1990’s, and a lot of those .308’s began to disappear and were replaced by AR-15’s chambered in the .223 Remington, and “sub-caliber” bolt guns chambered in 6mm, 6.5mm and 7mm cartridges. By the 2000’s, the .308 Winchester had all but disappeared on the firing lines and had become, in many ways, relegated to “dinosaur” status.
Lapua recently introduced its new .308 Winchester Palma brass that has a small primer pocket and a small flash hole.
Just as the merry-go-round comes around, so is the .308 Winchester, once again. In recent years, there has been an increase in shooting competitions where the use of the .308 Winchester is necessary, desired or just practical (such as the annual M1A Springfield match at the National Championships in Camp Perry, Ohio, or F-Class shooting in the popular F-TR category, or long range Palma shooting, etc.). In recent years, this author has been a regular at 3 x 600 yard mid-range matches, and has noticed that .308 Winchester chambered rifles are now appearing on the firing line with increasing regularity.
It now seems that the makers of components and other items are also moving to stay “ahead of the wave”, and the market is seeing a number of new .308 Winchester products. Here’s a selection of some of those items:
Lapua’s New .308 Winchester “Palma” Small Primer Brass
For many years, Lapua has supplied the U.S. shooting market with premium quality .308 Winchester cartridge brass. All of this brass has heretofore been large primer brass which has served accuracy shooters very well indeed. There are those who believe that the use of a small primer in a .308 Winchester size case has some advantages, particularly for long-range target and other shooting. As a result of requests by Palma long-range shooters for such brass, Lapua has now come forward to offer up a new .308 Winchester “Palma” brass. The brass is identical to their prior Lapua .308 Winchester large primer brass, except that it has a small primer pocket. In addition, at the time of this writing, the initial pre-production run of this small primer pocket brass also features a small flash hole (1.5mm or .059"), which requires the use of a small de-capping pin to remove spent primers.
One of the benefits of small primer brass is its potential to withstand pressure better (i.e. more metal in the base of the case and around the primer pocket makes for a stronger case). Long-range shooters, like Palma shooters, generally shoot higher pressure loads because of the need to keep bullet velocities up so as to obtain the best downrange bullet performance, especially in windy conditions, and to make sure that bullets stay supersonic at the longest distances.
The new Lapua .308 Winchester Palma small primer and small flash hole brass (center) sits next to well known high quality large primer and large flash hole Lapua .308 Winchester brass (right). Also shown is a piece of out of production Remington small primer, but large flash hole, BR brass (left) that was made as a .308 Winchester case.
Some other perceived benefits of small primer brass (although there are differing views among the shooting community on this) are that the use of a small primer can yield increased cartridge accuracy and better chronograph numbers (i.e. particularly with the “extreme spread” and “standard deviation” numbers). Testing of this new Lapua “Palma” brass by Palma shooters appears to have provided sufficient corroboration of these benefits to convince Lapua to move forward and make this brass a regular part of their product offerings.
This new brass is beautiful and well made in all respects and worthy of the Lapua name it bears. If you like shooting your .308 Winchester, and you like great quality brass, Lapua’s new offering is worth considering.