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GUNS Magazine June 2010 - Page 16

RIFLEMAN • DAVE ANDERSON • KING QUARTER BORE The .257 Weatherby. he .257 Weatherby is a remarkable cartridge. In its particular T niche it has few rivals, and no equals. It has an incredibly flat trajectory with the bullet weight, diameter and retained velocity to hit hard even at long range. And it does so with moderate recoil. It wouldn’t be my first choice for moose or elk, but if I was going after either, and a .257 Wby was what I had, I for dang sure wouldn’t stay home. It might be a little light for really big animals but for whitetail or mule deer, pronghorns or many of the smaller African antelope species, it has the ability to reach out like nothing else. A few cartridges come close (such as the .25-06 Rem and .264 Win Mag) but considering the whole package— trajectory, power, recoil—the .257 Weatherby brings more to the table than anything I can name. The cartridge is one of the Weatherby originals, dating to 1945, yet is still on the cutting edge of performance. Finally after 65 years the .257 is getting the recognition it deserves. For decades the .257 Wby was available only in the upscale (and rather pricey) Mk V rifles, limiting its popularity. A few years ago Weatherby began offering it in the popular Vanguard. The synthetic-stocked Vanguard currently retails at around $399. The Vanguard is one of the bestmade and most accurate production rifles available at any cost. At $399 it is simply an incredible value. Maybe the last factor holding back potential buyers was the price of ammunition. Weatherby ammunition is loaded by Norma of Sweden. Many of the loads use premium American-brand bullets from Barnes, Hornady and Nosler. Buying and shipping bullets to Sweden, having them loaded and shipped back, adds to the cost. These are excellent bullets, obviously, but Norma makes good bullets too. Recently Weatherby announced new loads for the .257 and .300 Wby Magnums, loaded with Norma bullets. Not only does this save shipping and inventory costs, it means Norma can run off a batch of loads whenever the workload permits rather than waiting for bullets to be delivered. Weatherby is buying in bulk to get a price break, plus I suspect they have cut their profit margin to the bone. The result is Weatherby ammunition in these two calibers costs $39 per box rather than the $59 to $79 per box for the premiumbullet loads. This is the lowest price for VANGUARD SUB MOA MAKER: HOwA MACHINERY LTD 1900-1 SUKAGUCHI, KIYOSU, AICHI, 452-8601 jAPAN www.HOwA.CO.jP IMPORTER: wEATHERBY, INC. 1605 COMMERCE wAY PASO ROBLES, CA 93446 (805) 227-2600, www.wEATHERBY.COM ACTION: Bolt action CALIBER: .257 Weatherby Magnum (tested, 15 others) BARREL LENGTH: 24" CAPACITY: 3+1 OVERALL LENGTH: 44" wEIGHT: 7-1/2 pounds STOCK: Fiberguard composite, pillar bedded PRICE: $999 Weatherby ammunition since 1982. The Norma bullet used is a cup-andcore spitzer design intended for light to medium game. Another new load in .257 has an 80-grain Barnes TTSX at a smoking 3,870 fps muzzle velocity. This is in a 26" barrel. I chronographed 20 rounds from the 24" barrel of a Vanguard and got an average of 3,860 fps. I keep hearing how the .257 Wby “needs” a 26" barrel. Well, the .257 will give higher velocities in a 26" barrel. So will a .25-06 or .270 for that matter, and a 28" barrel will shoot even faster. But velocities from a 24" barrel are perfectly adequate, the rifle is a bit shorter and handier, and the Vanguard in my experience is not only much cheaper than the Mark V, it is often more accurate. I used the 80-grain load in a Vanguard VICTORY 2.5-10x42 VARIPOINT T* MAKER: CARL ZEISS OPTICAL 13017 KINGSTON AVENUE CHESTER, VA 23836 (800) 441-3005, www.ZEISS.COM MAGNIFICATION: 2.5X-10X TUBE DIAMETER: 30mm EYE RELIEF: 3.54" CLICK ADjUSTMENTS: 1/3 MOA LENGTH: 13" wEIGHT: 18.5 ounces PRICE: $2,500 DaveshotthispronghornbuckontheTillard55RanchinWyomingatabitover300yards.The WeatherbyVanguardSubMOAin.257WbyistoppedwithZeiss2.5-10x42scopeinTalleyrings. Weatherbyammunitiontoppedwith80-grainBarnesTTSXbulletwasfiredfromproneusingthe Harrisbipod. 16 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JUNE 2010

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