A Rifle Company Is Born?

By Mike Hudson

It is not rocket science. Take a bullet of 200 grains or better, push it to a muzzle velocity of 2000 feet per second or better, for an energy of at least 2000 foot-pounds, limit your range to 200 yards and you have a killing machine suitable for anything that breathes in North America and most of Africa, as well.

The .30-06 will do it, although most tyros these days load theirs with 150-grain bullets, and so will the 8x57mm Mauser. The technology to create the 200-2000-2000-200 "magic bullet" has existed for well over a century.

What's with all the new calibers? Why do non starters like the 7-30 Waters even come into existence? Of what additional use are the .260 Remington and 6.5mm Creedmoor in a market that is already covered by the excellent 6.5x55mm SE, 6.5x57mm Mauser and 6.5x54 M-S?

Don't get me wrong, the .260 is a fine cartridge. However, the .260 and 6.5mm Creedmoor cannot do anything that can not be done with any of the European 6.5s, which fire the same size and weight bullets and have been sold commercially since before the invention of the airplane.

It is called marketing and companies like Hornady, Nosler, Remington and Winchester are expert at it. A few years ago, "bean field" rifles were all the rage. Has anybody even seen a bean field? Hunted in one? If they did, the ultra-high velocity cartridges in the .257 or 7mm Magnum class might come in handy, but God forbid they should venture into the woods and have to shoot at a deer or a bear they can barely see through heavy underbrush, even though it's standing less than 50 yards away.

Recently, a staff writer at one of the major outdoors print magazines wrote an article recommending the .22-250 as a viable deer cartridge. I could only think he must be a young man, too young to have read about the spectacular failure of the excellent .220 Swift when used in such fashion back in the 1930s, or the equally spectacular flop of the .223 WSSM a decade ago.

The 7mm-08 Remington was another unneeded development, as long as 7x57mm Mauser ammo is offered for sale. The big selling point of the 7mm-08 is that it could be chambered in short action bolt rifles.

According to the Company's advertising over the years, the short action Model 70 has an overall length of 39.5 inches and weighs 6.5 pounds with a 20 inch barrel. This compares to the standard length action Model 70, which is 39.5 inches long with a 20 inch barrel and weighs . . . you guessed it . . . 6.5 pounds. The advantage of the "short action" is what again?

Meanwhile, perfectly good and even excellent existing cartridges fall by the wayside. It boggles the mind.

It has occurred to me, in fact, to bring out a lightweight and inexpensive single shot rifle chambered for the old .32-40 High Speed cartridge. I would not call it the .32-40, however. I'd blow out some of the body taper, give it a sharp shoulder and some exotic new name. The ".321 Van Ryan Express" would do, and I would increase the bullet weight to 185 grains.

The Van Ryan Arms Co. would introduce it with much fanfare, sending every prominent gun writer in the country a rifle and 100 cartridges. We would invite the most prominent among them to a three-day, all expense paid hunt on some Texas boar ranch, where each could get a taste of the .321 VRE's effectiveness on live and ornery targets.

Booze and girls would be optional, of course, but I have known a few gun writers in my day and think these options just might add to the enthusiasm with which they would tout the new product. It certainly could not hurt. (Gee, I hope for once I get invited. -Editor)

Full page ads in the major print magazines and on Guns and Shooting Online would ensure that the writers did not forget about the rifle, the cartridge, the pig hunt, the booze, or the girls once they returned to the serenity of their home offices. The money would roll in.

After the first million was in the bank, other obsolete cartridges could receive the same treatment and be brought out under new names. The old .35 Winchester would become the .358 Van Ryan Express, the 6.5mm Arisaka the .264 VRE and so on.

The same guys who now cannot find ammunition for their oddball .22 Remington Jet, or their 7mm TCU, would again come out in droves to buy something new to stick in their closet and collect dust. Hey, it worked for Roy Weatherby!

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