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GUNS Magazine January 2013 Digital Edition - Page 12
FOrgOtten Speed demOn tHe .264 wincHesteR mAgnum HAs mAny AttRiButes todAy’s sHooteRs demAnd. dave anderson cases averaged 86-grain water capacity, compared to an 87.5-grain average for fired Weatherby/Norma .257 cases, an insignificant difference. Bullet diameter difference is just .007", really not very much. Mind you—the same .007" difference between the .270 Win and .280 Rem has fueled many an argument. Originally it appeared the .264 Mag would be a solid success. In addition to the Winchester 70, Remington, Savage, Sako and Browning offered rifles in .264 Mag. T he .257 Weatherby Magnum and .264 Winchester Magnum are remarkable cartridges. They deliver very high velocity with ballistically efficient bullets, with tolerable recoil. Many shooters were intrigued by the .257’s ballistics, but not enough to lay out the bucks for a Mk V. When Weatherby began offering the Vanguard in .257 Weatherby, demand exceeded all expectations. The Weatherby Vanguard is one of the best sporting rifles available and, at current prices, a fantastic value. The popularity of the .257 is probably higher now than it has ever been. Other factors include increased interest in long-range shooting; more choices in slow-burning powders, slippery low-drag bullets, monometal bullets which maintain their integrity even at high impact velocity. The increased popularity of the .257 seems to have renewed interest in the .264. They are about as alike as two cartridges can get. My fired W-W .264 run oVer Then came 1962 and the new 7mm Rem Mag. While the .264 was considered a varmint/deer/antelope/sheep cartridge the 7mm Rem was promoted as a big-game round for everything from whitetails to moose. So popular was the 7mm Rem it even surpassed the .30-06 for a time, and it just swatted the .264 aside. The .264 Mag wasn’t so much a failure as it was a victim. It was alive and well right up to the moment the 7mm Mag ran over it. The original Winchester 70 Here’s a memorable 1962 Winchester ad for the .264 Magnum Westerner. Dave doubts current ads would show a down-the-muzzle perspective or use terms like “a man’s rifle.” Dave’s Model 70 was made the same year as the ad, though it took 50 years before it came his way. They aren’t kidding about the noise. If you want ultra-flat trajectory, power, and tolerable recoil the Weatherby Mk V Ultra Lightweight .257 Weatherby (top) and Winchester 70 Westerner (1962 production) in .264 Win Mag (bottom) deliver. Both wear Leupold VX-III 4.5-14X scopes with B&C reticles. On big game you don’t even have to think about trajectory from zero to at least 350 yards. Westerner was nearly 45" long with a 26" barrel. “Field ready” (with scope, mount and rings, cartridges, sling) weight pushes 10 pounds. Outstanding for long-range shooting, stable and accurate, but not much fun to carry on long hikes. The first Winchester ads touted “.264 country” as “up where the high sheep grazing seem to flow in and out of the clouds.” Very lyrical, but a 10-pound rifle over 44" long isn’t so appealing to the hunter up among the clouds. Winchester then offered the .264 in the Featherweight model. Its 22" barrel didn’t seem well suited to Magnum performance. Moreover the original Featherweight barrel contour had a very short shank section. Cutting a magnum chamber in this barrel contour didn’t leave much steel surrounding the case. Initially two W-W loads for the .264 were offered, a 100-grain bullet at 3,700 feet per second and a 140-grain Power Point at 3,200 fps. Currently W-W offers just the 140-grain load rated at 3,030. Articles I’ve read where some say W-W has cut back the load. I think the difference is they now report velocities in 24" barrels (plus the original claim may have been enhanced a bit). 12 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • JA N UA RY 2 0 1 3