I don't get too excited anymore when I hear the military is considering a new round. The 6.8mm SPC was going to fix many of the problems, but never really got off the ground. The 45acp was going to make a come back, but who knows. Maybe the 338 will have better luck getting into service and staying there, but military doesn't change it's mind on calibers very often.
They are with contractors. The spec ops units still get pretty much what they want but the standard issue STA guys kind of get the short end of the stick. Most everyone on the ground agrees that there are better tools for the job at hand but as you say the military is slow to change for the masses.
The "Military" isn't getting 338's. SOCOM Units (those that don't already have them) "might" get 338's. Then again they might not. Most just got the 300's, and a lot believe that the new rounds are outperforming the 338.....
The trick to getting the 338's to "preform well" for soldiers is a good suppressor , this both greatly reduces recoil and all but eliminates muzzle flash.
I can't see in any way how a 190gr Sierra Match King launched at 2900-ish fps is gonna make a better round than a 300gr SMK launched at 2800 fps , they can be built on the same rifle so the size and shape is the same the rounds are both big and the Lapua isin't that much bigger than the 300 Win so being big and bulky realy isin't a viable excuse.
In my oppinion ALL sniper rifles should be suppressed , their no reason not to other than another piece of equiptment to keep up with but a good suppressor never has to be taken off the weapon except to clean.
The "outperforming" is a "use" thing. The belief is 1,500 is about the realistic maximum. When one factors in the range requirement, lower weight, lighter recoil, less blast, with the new loads that are doing VERY well to that range......
The USMC just put out a bid for a 338 that will go corps wide so at least half the military is covered in this bid.
the new 338 Xtreme really looks like a winner and hot contender for that type bid. That is based of a 505 Gibbs case and 266 gr lathe turned bullet.
They have got the mftr down for their own proprietary bullets, brass, actions and barrels and that work with both SMKs and their bullets and do not copper shut in 15 rds. Looks like it runs rings around most everything else BC and distance wise and more than holds its own in accuracy. Brass is getting 15-20 reloadings too.
Plus Norma is going to release their new 338 Norma in Sep. Tim North of Broughton barrels was firing one this weekend at the PA World Open. He only had it two days so loads not totally tweaked. Looks like slightly shortened Lapua case that fits "standard mag box" with 300 gr SMKs and runs them 2850 out of 26" barrel. That makes it interesting for sure. with 25K of brass released first run in the US.