Gun Review: Ulfberht, the Semi-auto .338 Lapua Magnum Rifle

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Ulf….what? Only Alexander Arms would name their semi-auto .338 Lapua Magnum rifle with an unpronounceable ancient Viking name. Ulfberht is a type of mythical Viking sword that were carried by few high ranking Viking elites and chieftains.

The .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge was specifically developed by Lapua for long range sniper and target rifles. Its 8.6x70mm size makes it a large round but it’s still significantly smaller than the 12.7x99mm BMG and the 12.7x108mm Russian, the two .50 calibers that are often compared to the .338 Lapua Mag.

 

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This is not exactly a review of the Alexander Arm’s semi-auto .338 Lapua rifle but it’s more of a first impression piece. I had the chance to shot the Ulfberht at the Big 3 East and couple of other industry events.

 

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The Ulfberht is being used for testing two Hi-Lux Micro-Max B-Dot mini red-dot sights at the Alexander Arms’ testing facility. Both the Ulfbertht and the optics were frozen in a cryogenic chamber overnight to -85 degree F before the testing.

 

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The Ulfberht features an all metal construction with a monolithic steel receiver and continuous top 1913 rail. The aluminum forend is modular to allow mounting of picatinny rail sections or direct attachment of accessories like the bipod in the picture. All metal components are melonite, Ionbonded or hard anodized finished. The stock is a modified Magpul PRS with a side-folding mechanism and adjustable cheekpiece.

 

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The action of the Ulfberht. The bolt, bolt carrier and the long-stroke piston are all constructed from Ionbond coated hardened stainless steel alloy. I was surprised to find that the Ulfberht’s action is basically the same design as the Degtyarov DP-28 light machine gun from World War II. The two large locking flaps lock to the steel receiver wall when the Ulfberht is fired.

According to Alexander Arms, the Degtyarov flap lock action is a better action for large calibers than the typical rotating bolt design. It facilitates a less violent bolt opening after the cartridge is fired and it also spreads out the recoil impulse throughout the whole receiver instead of just the barrel extension. The design also prevents firing out of battery, as the firing pin must pass through and activate the two locking flaps before hitting the cartridge primer.

 

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I shot the Ulfberht out to 800 yards on steel plates. The recoil is mild for a .338 Lapua Mag rifle. Just happened that at two shooting booths over there was a CZ 550 bolt-action rifle also in .338 Lapua Mag. The felt recoil between the two is day and night difference even the CZ has a huge muzzle brake to help mitigates the recoil. From Alexander Arms’ own testing, the Ulfberht is capable of four consecutive hits on a 12-inch target at a distance of 1,400 yards in only 3.5 seconds.

 

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Image credit: David Fortier, Shotgun News

 

I had no problem shooting the Ulfberht in standing. It recoils no worse than the usual AR-10 clones. I could only describe the felt recoil is akin to that of firing a .45 ACP pistol but on a larger scale. There’s good amount of recoil but it’s more of a soft long push than a sharp jump. The Ulfberht is a controllable gun to shoot especially for one that’s chambered in the .338 Lapua Magnum caliber.

Jokingly, I suggested to Bill Alexander about making a full-automatic Ulfberht and it will be like a BAR in .338 Lapua. He said full-auto shouldn’t a problem with the Ulfberht’s very strong Degtyarov action and steel receiver. However, probably not many could afford shooting it that way since the Black Hills Ammunition .338 Lapua ammo that we were using costs $6 a round.

More info on the Ulfberht on Alexander Arms’ Ulfberht page, technical specification and custom ordering page.

Alexander Arms will have a SHOT Show 2015 promotion for the Ulfberht. During the week of SHOT Show, it will be $1300 off the list price. If you are interested, I would suggest to call them up to confirm the discount and let them know that you hear it on TFB.



Writer and gear editor with articles published in major gun publications. A five year combat veteran of the US Marine Corps, Tim is also part of Point & Shoot Media Works, a producer of photography, video and web media for the firearms and shooting sport industry. Tim’s direct contact: Tyan.TFB -at- gmail.com


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  • That is one sexy bolt carrier/piston

  • SP mclaughlin

    Gee Ulfberht, the gods let you have two reflex sights?

  • Riot

    Hhhnnnnn…….

    On a more serious note: two optical sights? I still want to get my hands on one looks very interesting.

  • Esh325

    I wonder when we will see semi autos completely replace bolt actions as sniper rifles?

    • Jared Vynn

      Likely about the time 3d printing technology for consumers matures.

  • tro-jan

    I think the reason for the TWO reflex sights was because they were testing the sights on the gun….reading, it’s fundamental! 😉

    • FightFireJay

      Correct. If I recall correctly one of the batteries failed or a lens cover cracked or something minor, but both sights survived the punishment.

  • Drapetomanius

    Just to be pedantic, +VLFBERH+T (the plus is part of the logo) are NOT a type of sword.

    +VLFBERH+T and INGERLI were names stamped into the sides of hundreds of swords made in the early middle ages, The markings were so common, and were manufactured over such a long period that they couldn’t have been made by the same smith. They are thought of my some as a very early corporate brand name; kind of like the golden arches or the Nike swoosh.

    Ulfberht

    Ulfberht

    Ulfberht

    • allannon

      And it was neither mythical nor hard to pronounce.

      Say it like it’s spelled (or at least transliterated).

      They have multiple examples of them, and while rare they were just high-quality viking-era swords.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulfberht

    • kyphe

      Only about 40 are real ulfberht swords made from crucible steal, the vastr majority are viking rip offs of a frankish sword. These swords got such a reputation that lots of Scandinavian smiths started faking them to make a ton of money though they were often the highest quality non crucible steal they could make at the time.

    • hami

      There is a documentary on Netflix that addresses it

  • iksnilol

    They finally found out how to solve the problem of red dots not being bright enough!

  • Grindstone50k

    Alexander Arms really like their Scandinavian nomenclature.

  • FightFireJay

    “Ulf….what?”

    Most of us don’t even know the correct pronunciation of Lapua, so what’s the big deal?

    And a single point of contention. The Ulfberht swords weren’t mythical, they were real. Legendary and very rare, but real.

  • EzGoingKev

    After reading the article I quickly scrolled down to read the comments. I skimmed the text at the very bottom and saw SHOT Show, promotion, and $1300.

    I couldn’t scroll back up fast enough to see if that said they were selling them for $1300 at SHOT.

    LOL

    • DIR911911 .

      you know if they can “knock off” $1300 it’s going to be quite a bit more , i’ll make a stab in the dark and predict list to be around $8000

      • EzGoingKev

        From the link at the bottom of the article –

        ” The retail cost of the rifle is
        $6,850.00 and includes a complete rifle, owner’s manual, and four
        10-round magazines shipped in a high-quality hard case.”

        Which is A LOT less than I thought it would be.

  • Grindstone50k

    TFB has one of those stupid c&p features that automatically adds their link to whatever you past to. And somehow Disqus makes it retarded. You pasted Ulfberht about three times into your post.

  • Vitor Roma

    “capable of four consecutive hits on a 12-inch target at a distance of 1,400 yards in only 3.5 seconds.”

    Damn.

  • me ohmy

    it isnt hard to pronounce just say OOF BEHRT ..very easy

  • Mark

    Ask 6.5 Grendel owners about Alexander Arms’ wait times, papers-in-a-binder order system, and customer service.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    four consecutive hits on a 12-inch target at a distance of 1,400 yards in only 3.5 seconds.

    …. Oh, ffs

  • Chase Buchanan

    I’ve done that exact thing more than once.

  • oooooo

  • JumpIf NotZero

    Yea… Daaaaaamn. That. OR….

    Bullshit. I know probably 5 shooters I think can make 1400y shots at all on a 12″ plate without walking them in all day. Let’s pretend that anyone has the follow-through ability to do this on a semi. Let’s prentend wind isn’t a thing and that the action even moves, recoil settles, and user can run the trigger on a 338 in 1.2 seconds considering the target would appear as a quarter would at 100y.

    This is exaggerated marketing BS and I’m stunned how many people just bought it right up. Soon to hear at my local gun store “yea those Nemos are OK, but some special ops comany has a gun that will but 5 rounds at 1500y on a pie plate in under 4 seconds”

    • Timothy G. Yan

      You sure know a lot of how it should work….without shooting one.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        Yea, wow, almost as if I’ve shot extremely long range before. Wierd.

        • Engineeer

          I could hit it in flight….

        • 2jeffersonianideals1

          Have you shot this firearm?

          • JumpIf NotZero

            Nope, handled it at SHOT though.

            About 15lbs of stupid. And I don’t care what the weight is, BS marketing claim is BS. Esp if you’ve shot at 1400y before.

    • Nels

      If you are good enough to walk your shots onto the target at 1000+ yards, you aren’t terrible. You could surely walk it in a lot faster with this gun.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        I would consider anyone “walking it in” at 1000y to still be a terrible shooter. Long range is not about pulling the trigger. Any monkey could walk it in.

        • Nels

          I guess I’m not up to monkey standards, then. I would be hard-pressed even to see my shots at that range. Long range shooting is hard, for me at least, and anything that eases the recoil and increases your chances of getting back on target and seeing the bullet land is a huge plus.

          • JumpIf NotZero

            You need a muzzle brake / silencer and proper form … and/or a spotter 🙂

  • me ohmy

    for the american tongue close e fricking nough..
    how about not happening..

  • BattleshipGrey

    This is a good program, interesting to see how it was done.

  • Sam Pensive

    not sure why but i sort of like this one in the frozen-85temp all silver…
    sort of looks like some ancient Viking carry.

  • Corey B

    Nice rifle, do your homework before you tell us all some more wrong information about the origins of the name.

  • wakeyouupdead

    Can someone say over sized CNC machined AK?

  • MichaelZWilliamson

    Ulfbehrt swords are not mythical. Dozens exist and have been analyzed. They were crucible steel rather than carburized bloomery iron.