Thursday, December 9, 2010

Available Medium Game Calibers

Cost Effective Rifle Cartridges Part 15: Available Medium Game Cartridge Chamberings

The medium game share of the global rifle market is the most complex, and seems to show some expansion (as discussed in our analysis of chambering distribution by category), at the expense of centerfire varmint rifles and 30 calibers.

There are few significant changes in the category. The 243 remains the most popular chambering in the category, and is becoming the rival of the great .30s in overall popularity. The excellent 270 Winchester shows astonishing strength, and is near to rivaling the 243 in new chambering popularity. What in interesting breakthrough for a cartridge that celebrated its 85th birthday this year! While it has always been a common cartridge, we are not sure to which cause we should attribute this new-found increase in popularity for the 270. Whatever the reason, we feel that the cartridge deserves this attention, with its very flat trajectory, its ability to take down good size game, and its deserved reputation for accuracy.

The next most common cartridge, stable in popularity, is the well-known 7mm Remington Magnum, the most popular of the magnum cartridges, also deservedly so, as it combines the punch of the 30-06 (and its significant recoil) to the flat trajectory of the 270 - some consider it the ultimate long range cartridge. Following is the efficient 7mm-08, a cartridge that seems to become more popular every year, and which shows signs to gain further in the next few years, with a relatively increased amount of new chamberings. The 7mm-08 is an excellent cartridge, with low recoil, and the ability to take almost any North American game at a reasonable distance with good bullet placement. Behind the 7mm-08, and last of the truly popular medium game cartridge, with find the hot shooting 25-06, still popular and very available.

The next tier of cartridges sees decent stable availability from the 270 WSM, the 7mm WSM, and the 280 Remington, none of which are significantly growing in share. The surprise in new chambering growth is the 257 Weatherby Magnum, way behind all the others, yet most available of all Weatherbys, with 21 new chamberings available at Bud's. We find the 257 Weatherby the best of all Weatherbys, with excellent punch, superb trajectory, yet without the fearsome recoil that has made Weatherby cartridges enemies of shoulders and corneas worldwide. While it is an excellent cartridge to the experienced and discerning shooter, the 257 Weatherby Magnum's overall low availability, however, does not allow us to make it a general recommendation.

The other cartridges in the category display little activity if any, sometimes to our great disappointment. The 6mm Remington, the 257 Roberts, the fine 6.5x55 Swede with excellent sectional density,  the 260 Remington, the 264 Winchester Magnum, the new 6.8mm SPC, the 7x57 Mauser of military fame, and the 7mm Weatherby Magnum all show few signs of life. While we regret seeing such excellent cartridges as the 257 Robert, the 6.5x55 and the 7x57 Mauser languish, particular regret goes towards the condition of the 6.8mm SPC, a extraordinarily efficient cartridge with a very small case (equivalent to the 223), outstanding accuracy, and capability way beyond its size - we would like to see this cartridge much more successful than it is today.

  • Most available medium game chamberings: 223, 270, 7mm Rem Mag, 7mm-08, 25-06
  • Best low recoil medium game chamberings with high availability: 243, 7mm-08
  • Best all purpose medium game chamberings with high availability: 270, 7mmRem Mag, 7mm-08

Next we analyze availability for .30 caliber rifle chamberings... So come back soon!

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