The .300 Norma Magnum may be the newest kid on the block in the long range shooting community, but the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) just selected it as their new Advanced Sniper Rifle Cartridge.
Based off the .338 Norma Magnum (which is in turn based on the .416 Rigby Magnum), the .300 Norma Magnum can push a 220 grain .308 caliber bullet at just over 3,000 feet per second with a whopping 4,400 foot pounds of energy! Now that's all well and good, but why did SOCOM, which encompasses Army Special Forces, the Ranger Battalions, Delta Force, and the Navy SEALS (among other units), select the .300 Norma Magnum as their new Advanced Sniper Rifle Cartridge?
Well, it's because the cartridge combines the incredible accuracy and precision that the .308 Winchester is known for with long range performance similar to the .338 Lapua Magnum.
Don't believe me? The initial paper performance .300 Norma is a significant improvement over comparable cartridges like the .300 Winchester Magnum (used in the XM2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle) and the .300 Weatherby Magnum, and that is just scratching the surface of what the .300 Norma is capable of.
When loaded with a 230 grain Berger Hybrid bullet, the cartridge really shines. Since that bullet has an incredible ballistic coefficient of 0.743 (!!!), it retains energy exceptionally well and stays supersonic out past 1,500 meters!
This compares very favorably to the .338 Lapua Magnum and, while it has slightly less energy than the bigger cartridge, the .300 Norma is still incredibly accurate and has much less recoil than the .338 Lapua. It is also significantly shorter overall, meaning it can fit into a rifle with a shorter action.
There isn't much data out there about the accuracy of the cartridge at extreme long range, but the little bit of information available is uniformly positive. For example, one test using the 230 grain Berger bullet resulted in a 20 shot group measuring an incredible 4" at 1,000m (.36 MOA)! With that sort of accuracy, a well trained sniper could feasibly make a headshot on a stationary target at over 1,000 yards.
For these reasons, the .300 Norma is a great choice for snipers operating on the modern battlefield where Soldiers must be able to make precision shots at long range.