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GUNS Magazine May 2010 - Page 26
RIFLEMAN • DAVE ANDERSON • 6MM REMINGToN VS. .243 WINCHESTER Myth runs smack dab into fact. he dual-purpose varmint/deer rifle was a popular item in the ’50s T and ’60s, and is still a useful tool today. Varmint shooting as a sport got going in the 1930s, but as with many things the Depression and WWII put it on hold until the ’50s. By 1955 the tremendous post-war demand for sporting firearms was slowing down. For most hunters, one centerfire rifle was all they wanted or needed. Many hunters had little opportunity to shoot their big-game rifles in the field. Deer populations were a fraction of what they are today. Elk, moose, and antelope were exotic game for most hunters. For many hunters the idea of a specialized varmint rifle seemed bizarre, if not downright decadent. But they couldn’t help noticing varmint hunters were at least out in the field shooting. Some writers promoted those two good .25s, the .250 Savage and .257 Roberts. From the manufacturers’ point of view there didn’t seem to be much sales potential in either. They had been around for 40- and 20-plus years respectively and demand wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire. Spurred on by wildcatters such as Fred Huntington and Warren Page, in 1955 Remington and Winchester introduced cartridges in the thenuncommon 6mm bore size. Remington based its .244 on the 7mm Mauser case. Winchester brought out the .308 Winchester in 1952 and used the same case for its new .243 Win. The .243 was a hit from the start. Shooters who couldn’t justify a specialized varmint rifle liked the idea of a varmint/deer rifle. Winchester was taking great care in making both rifles and ammunition, and the cartridge quickly earned a reputation for accuracy. The .244 Rem never caught on. You’ve read the story many times. “Remington saw the .244 strictly as a varmint cartridge using 75- and 90-grain bullets. They used a 1:12" twist which wouldn’t stabilize the100-grain spitzers hunters wanted for deer hunting. The 1:10" twist of the .243 Win would stabilize 100-grain bullets, so hunters chose it instead.” Remington dropped the .244 and in 1963 reintroduced it as the 6mm Rem in the model 700, using a 1:9" twist. Ignorance Is Bliss Ah, the 1:12" twist of the .244 cartridge. The twist that launched a 1,000 magazine articles, all of which ignore several factors: (a) The 90-grain load of the .244 shot faster and flatter than a 100-grain .243 and was perfectly adequate for deer, (b) the average hunter twovintageriflesandscopesfromthe1950s includetheremington722in.244rem(left) withamedium-weight24"barrel.Designed asaplain-Jane,nofrillsrifleatmoderate price,theaccuracypotentialofthestrong, rigidactionwasn’tfullyrecognizedatthetime (scopeisaleupoldPioneer4Xinadjustable mount).theWinchester70Featherweight (right)wasamoreexpensiverifle,muchmore nicelyfinished,handsomerandhandier— thoughnomoreaccurateorreliablethanthe 722(scopeisaBausch&lombBalvar2.5-8X inadjustablemounts). 26 FACToRY AMMo PERFoRMANCE 6MM REM VS. .243 WIN LoAd: REMINGToN 6MM REM, 100-GRAIN CoRE-LokT GUN BARREL LENGTH VELoCITY (MAkE & ModEL) (INCHES) (FPS) REMINGToN 722 24 3,129 REMINGToN 600 MoHAWk 18-1/2 2,725 LoAd: REMINGToN .243 WIN, 100-GRAIN CoRE-LokT GUN BARREL LENGTH VELoCITY (MAkE & ModEL) (INCHES) (FPS) REMINGToN 700 22 2,820 REMINGToN 700 24 *2,949 Notes: Advertised velocity for 100-grain Core Lokt 6mm Rem with a 24" barrel: 3,100 fps. Advertised velocity for 100-grain Core Lokt .243 Win with a 24" barrel: 2,960 fps. *Shilen barrel WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MAY 2010