New Hunting Cartridges for the Major Ammo and Rifle Manufacturers
By Chuck Hawks
Unlike some gun writers, I don't see any glaring gaps in the current commercial cartridge line. All calibers seem adequately represented and most are over represented. However, there might be an opportunity for the introduction, or broad adoption, of a few genuinely useful niche rifle cartridges. They are the subject of this article. Here are some "new" rifle cartridge suggestions.
.240 Weatherby Magnum (Ultra long range)
The .240 Weatherby, at present a proprietary cartridge available only in Weatherby rifles and ammunition, should be adopted as a standard offering by the big rifle and ammo manufacturers. It is based on a belted .30-06 size case with the same standard .473" rim diameter as the .243 Winchester, so no special magnum action is required for this fast, ultra flat shooting, 6mm cartridge. The actual bullet diameter is .243", the same as the .243 Winchester and all other standard 6mm cartridges.
The .240 is the lightest kicking of the ultra long range cartridges. It recoils a couple of foot-pounds harder than the .243 Winchester, but is still well below the 15 foot-pound line (about 13.5 ft. lbs. in an eight pound rifle), meaning it is easy to shoot accurately and recoil should not be a problem for the great majority of shooters.
It is a great cartridge, offering genuinely better performance and killing power than the .243 Winchester and 6mm Remington. Weatherby factory ballistics show 100 grain bullets at muzzle velocities from 3200-3400 fps from a 26" barrel, depending on the specific load.
.270 Marlin Express (Lever action, single shot and double rifles)
The .270 Marlin Express is a wildcat proposed by yours truly several years ago in a previous Guns and Shooting Online article. It is based on the .308 Marlin Express rimmed case simply necked-down to accept standard .270 caliber (.277" diameter) bullets.
A .270 would complete the Marlin Express line of high performance cartridges for Marlin lever action rifles, which now includes only the .308 and .338 calibers. (The Marlin Express cartridges could, of course, also be used in Winchester, Mossberg, Henry and other lever rifles with .30-30 length actions.) The .270 Marlin would shoot flatter and kick less than the .308 Marlin, while killing Class 2 (deer size) game just as well. It seems like a no brainer to us. Marlin and Hornady need to get to work and add this caliber to the LeverEvolution ammunition line. At present, there is no standardized .270 cartridge designed for use in traditional lever action, single shot and double barreled rifles.
Suggested ballistics for a 130 grain FTX bullet would be 2800 fps muzzle velocity and 2263 ft. lbs. muzzle energy. Recoil energy should be a modest 11.5 ft. lbs. in a scoped Marlin XLR rifle weighing eight pounds.
.338-06 A-Square (All-around medium bore)
The .338-06 wildcat was SAAMI standardized by A-Square, but it has been ignored by all of the major rifle and ammunition manufacturers. This is a shame, because it is a great medium bore cartridge that compares favorably with the .35 Whelen (the .30-06 case necked-up to .35 caliber). Somewhat less powerful than the popular .338 Winchester Magnum, it also kicks less and kills almost as well. The .338-06 is suitably powerful for hunting the largest North American game and all Class 3 game around the world. It is, in particular, a great elk caliber.
Similar in performance to the .338 Federal with light for caliber bullets, the .338-06's big advantage is that its bigger case with a longer neck allows it to handle the heavier 225-300 grain bullets that made the .338 caliber's reputation on heavy game. A-Square factory loads drive a 250 grain bullet at 2500 fps with 3496 fps muzzle energy. The .338-06 is probably as close to an "all-around" medium bore cartridge as it is possible to get and it deserves to be adopted by the major manufacturers.
.416 Taylor (Standard length Class 4 dangerous game cartridge)
Designed as a wildcat by Robert Chatfield-Taylor in 1972, the .416 Taylor is formed by simply necking-down the .458 Win. Magnum case to accept standard .416 bullets. It has been adopted by A-Square, but ignored by all of the major ammunition and rifle manufacturers. This is a shame, because it is a powerful .416 that is suitable for Class 4 game around the world and legal for all dangerous African game.
Most of all, it is a standard length cartridge designed for standard (.30-06) length actions. This means it could be chambered in any production rifle offered in 7mm Remington Magnum or .300 Winchester Magnum. Unlike the .416 Remington Magnum and .416 Rigby, no extra long or extra fat action is required for the .416 Taylor.
Recoil is right up there, but a bit less than the .416 Remington Magnum. A-Square ballistics drive a 400 grain bullet at 2350 fps with 4905 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy, so close to the performance of the bigger .416 cartridges that your elephant will never know the difference. I have a feeling that it might also become popular with Alaskan bear guides as a "stopper" caliber, since the .416 Taylor can be chambered in standard length rifles.
Copyright 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.