September 30, 2010: The Israeli Army is the latest to adopt the Lapua Magnum cartridge, an 8.6mm sniper round used in a variety of rifles. The Israelis selected the HTR 2000 rifle, a 5.1 kg (11.25 pound) weapon with a three round magazine and a 606mm (24 inch) barrel. Israel has long used 7.62mm weapons; the 6.4 kg/14.1 pound Galil and the lighter, semi-automatic (4.5 kg/9.9 pound) M89-SR that is designed for anti-terror operations. But the big deal is Israeli adoption of the Lapua Magnum rifle round, which has become increasingly popular with snipers worldwide over the last two decades.
For example, three years ago, the British Army began replacing most of its 3,000 7.62mm L96A1 sniper rifles with one modified to use the 8.6mm Lapua Magnum caliber round. The Accuracy International "Super Magnum" rifle is basically a L96A1 "Arctic Warfare" rifle modified to handle the larger, 8.6mm round. The new rifle (the L118A1) weighed 6.8 kg/ 15 pounds (without a scope), is 1.27 meters (fifty inches) long and has a 686mm (27 inch) barrel and a five round magazine.
Snipers in Iraq, and especially Afghanistan, have been calling for a longer range round, but find the 12.7mm (.50 caliber) weapons too heavy. The 8.6mm Lapua Magnum round has an effective range (about 1,500 meters) about 50 percent greater than the 7.62mm standard NATO round. The 8.6mm round entered use in the early 1990s, and became increasingly popular with police and military snipers. Dutch snipers have used this round in Afghanistan with much success, and have a decade of experience with these larger caliber rifles. British snipers in Afghanistan are also using the new round with great success.
Recognizing the popularity of the 8.6mm round, Barrett, the pioneer in 12.7mm sniper rifles, came out with a 15.5 pound version of its rifle, chambered for the 8.6mm. There are now dozens of sniper rifles chambered for the Lapua Magnum round.