To provide a reliable source of military ammunition for the Finnish Army, the Valtion Patruunatehdas (VPT) ammunition factory in Lapua, Finland was opened in 1923. VPT ammunition soon earned a reputation for excellent reliability and accuracy, especially with its match ammunition.
By the start of the Winter War against the Soviet Union in 1939, VPT was producing ten million cartridges per month. Even prior to the Winter War, VPT was already producing the D46 bullet, which became legendary for its accuracy in matches, beginning with the Helsinki World Shooting Championship in 1937.
In 1946, the cartridge factory was incorporated with the Finnish Government Metal Factory, Valmet, later the producer of Finnish military assault rifles. In 1955, the cartridge factory was absorbed by the Finnish Ministry of Defense.
After an explosion at the original cartridge factory, a new plant was built five kilometers away from the city center. The Lapua State Cartridge Factory is now part of the Nordic Ammunition Group (Nammo), generally known in the USA as Nammo Lapua.
In 1988, the .338 Lapua Magnum was first produced after years of development by Lapua. Now widely used as a long-range sniping round, the .338 LM with Scenar bullet is renowned for its accuracy.
The Scenar OTM (Open Tip Match) was also introduced by Lapua in 1988. Development of the Scenar bullet has continued with the current Scenar-L bullet being introduced in 2011 by Nammo Lapua.
Because I shoot the .338 Lapua Magnum quite a bit, I have used at least half a dozen commercial loadings in this caliber. All have been exceedingly accurate, but the Nammo Lapua Scenar load is as good as or better than any of the others.
I have also recently tried Lapua 7.62x39mm and 7.62x51mm NATO ammo and been impressed.
The Nammo Lapua .338 250-grain Scenar loads were recommended to me by DRD Tactical for the self-loading Kivaari .338 LM sniping rifle I wrote about in this column (LONG GUNS: DRD Tactical Kivaari Takedown Rifle, February 2018 S.W.A.T.). The load was reported to be reliable in the self-loading rifle and quite accurate. This proved true on both points.
The Kivaari is advertised as a one MOA rifle, and with the Scenar rounds, it more than lived up to that description, my best group putting five rounds into two inches at 300 yards.
Since Nammo Lapua has more experience with the .338 Lapua cartridge than any other manufacturer, such performance is to be expected.
Even more than the .338 LM, the Lapua caliber I was most anxious to try was 7.62x39mm. Ever since Finland adopted the RK 62 Valmet in 1965, 7.62x39mm has been the standard Finnish military cartridge. I wanted to see if their commercial ammo in this caliber was as good as I expected it would be.
To give the ammo the best possible test, I used my SIG Sauer 556R in 7.62x39mm. This rifle mounts a Leupold scope with dials for this caliber from the Leupold Custom Shop. My very first string of six shots at 100 yards went into 1.75 inches. I consider this quite good for a 7.62x39mm self-loading rifle, even if it is a SIG Sauer with a Leupold scope.
I’ve also fired this ammo in my semi-auto Valmet M62. This rifle is not scoped, but my best 100-yard group with the iron sights, which are fairly good ones, was just over three inches for five shots.
I shoot Century Red Army Standard 7.62x39mm 124-grain FMJ ammo in my SIG Sauer and it has been more accurate than other loads in that caliber. At 200 yards, I usually can keep five-shot groups between four and five inches, and at 100 yards between two and 2.5 inches.
The Lapua 123-grain FMJ 7.62x39mm loads are really good and perform even better. But I should point out that it is also more expensive than Red Army Standard.
I have tried Nammo Lapua .308 185-grain HPS Scenar in my DSA Para-Model FAL. A semi-auto battle rifle, the FAL’s accuracy is not at precision level, though my DSA is the most accurate FAL I’ve fired.
With Federal 168-grain match ammo, I have fired five-shot, two-inch groups from the DSA Para. I didn’t quite manage that with the Lapua loads, but I did do 2.5 inches consistently. I did not try the .308 167-grain Scenar load that is supposed to be especially accurate.
I fired the Lapua .308 185-grain Scenar load in my SIG AMT rifle using open sights. In one string, I put three shots into .7 inch at 100 yards. Full disclosure: These were the third, fourth, and fifth of five shots, as I was having trouble getting used to the AMT’s peep sight after not having fired the rifle for a couple of years.
Based on the three calibers I’ve tried, Nammo Lapua lives up to its reputation for accuracy. US Lapua doesn’t stock the entire line of Lapua ammunition, but I expect other calibers can be ordered.
In addition to the calibers I’ve mentioned, .223 Remington and 6.5x47mm Lapua appear on the website. Brass and bullets are also listed.
Leroy Thompson has trained hostage rescue, close protection, counterinsurgency, and anti-terrorist units in various parts of the world. Prior to Operation Desert Shield, he trained U.S. Army protective teams and hostage rescue units. He is the author of over 50 books on weapons and tactics.