ELR – Go Big or Go Home?

By Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU

When a shooter steps up from long range shooting (1,000 yards) to extreme long range (1,500+ yards) he or she is also stepping up to some heavy fire power – with the emphasis on HEAVY.

The rifles that have been winning at the King of 2 Miles (Ko2M) are in the 40-pound category with .416 Barrett being the ruler of the roost.

Team GPG Mark Lonsdale

Team Global Precision with their 2019 winning .416 Barretts complete with BAT actions, McMillan Beast stocks, and Bartlein barrels 

But when you get serious about ELR shooting, you are also investing in a purpose built rifle. In the early days of ELR shooters were running their .338 Lapua Magnums, but then stepped up to .375 Chey Tac. Both are excellent ELR calibers, but they have their limitations; so much so that the minimum caliber for consideration for the Ko2M is now .375 CT.

While bullet weight and BC are considerations, one of the biggest advantages of the bigger calibers is being able to see the splash at extreme ranges. This is important since it is all but impossible to read wind accurately at 2,000 to 3,000 yards, so the best wind indicator is the dust kicked up by an impact in the dirt or on the rocks – the splash.


.416 Barrett in the back; .338 Lapua Magnum in front – both with Accu-Tac bipods 


While the .338 Lapua Magnum, in the 14-16 pound range, is a practical sniper rifle for military operations, the 40+ pound .416 Barrett is not practical for field operations. It could, however, be used in fixed position defense. 

The effective range for a .338 LM is in the 1,500 to 2,000 yard range. The .375 Chey Tac has proven effective out passed 2,500 yards. But the Ko2M goes to 2 miles / 3,520 yards.

Now it is possible to score hits at longer ranges with the .338 and . 375 under ideal conditions, but when we talk about “effective” it should be defined as the range at which a rifle and competent shooter can score 80% hits. In other words, it may take one or two shots to get on target and read the wind, but then the next series should be solid hits on a 36″x36″ ELR target.


.375 Chey-Tac, in the back, built by Hill Country Rifles on a Stiller’s Action and McMillan A5 Super Magnum stock, weighing in just under 25 pounds. Three inches shorter, the .338 LM in the foreground weighed in at 16 pounds, both with Accu-Tac bipods  

So before you invest several thousand dollars in an ELR rifle, it is important to understand the limited use you may get out of a purpose built rifle. Not too many shooters have access to shooting ranges out passed 1,000 yards, and even fewer to 3,000 yards.

But if you have the time, inclination, and disposable income, ELR is a real challenge and a lot of fun.



About Mark V

Dedicated shooter, seeker, traveler, teacher, trainer, educator
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