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GUNS Magazine October 2011 Digital Edition - Page 24
• J O h N B A R S N E S S • No longer the “king of .30s,” this powerhouse is still a capable round. ntil recently, the .300 weatherby held the reputation as U the most powerful .30-caliber Magnum in existence. It was so famous (or notorious, take your pick) that its reputation often exceeded ballistic reality. Many years ago, I was a guide on a ranch in central Montana. One year, during mule deer season, my client, a guy named Tom, was one of those globetrotters who’d hunted many places, from Alaska to Africa. There were three other guys in camp, all from the same small town in Michigan, and the only place they’d ever hunted outside the Upper Peninsula was this very ranch in Montana. Late one evening, everybody was sitting around talking and the conversation drifted to hunting rifles. It turned out all the fellows from Michigan were shooting 7mm Remington Magnums. The leader of their pack even made the comment that they all used to hunt with .30-06s, but the Big Seven “made the ought-six look sick.” I shrugged. “It’s a good round, but not exceptionally powerful.” The guy raised an eyebrow and asked, “So, do you use something bigger?” “Sometimes. Lately I’ve been hunting with a .338 Winchester Magnum quite a bit.” The guy nodded. His buddies didn’t even blink, perhaps because of the hour, and perhaps because of several Budweisers. The guy then turned toward Tom. “So what do you use in Alaska?” “Well, the last time I hunted brown bear, I used a .300 Weatherby.” ThE .300 WEAThERBy MAGNUM huge? One of the half-asleep Michigan guys suddenly bolted upright and half-shouted, “That’s huge!” All three then bombarded Tom with questions and comments: “Boy, it must have knocked that bear on his butt.” “How long did it take your shoulder to heal?” Presently, the .300 Weatherby is available in affordable, accurate rifles, such as the Vanguard Sub-MOA. “Is it mounted in a turret?” etc., etc. In reality, of course, most experienced hunters would consider the .338 Winchester to be somewhat more powerful than the .300 Weatherby, if only because it can use heavier bullets of slightly larger diameter. But the .338 was never the beneficiary of Roy Weatherby’s promotional genius, he made sure his rifles ended up in the hands of Hollywood actors and globetrotting trophy hunters, none shy about publicity themselves. Today the .300 Weatherby isn’t exactly forgotten, but it’s lost its glow. The .300 Remington Ultra Magnum is a little bigger, hence it’s capable of a little more velocity; friends at Weatherby tell me that Roy’s .300 isn’t even the best-selling .30 chambering in their line anymore, coming in behind the .30-.378. Despite all that, the .300 Weatherby remains relatively popular, partly because it’s chambered in Weatherby’s “affordable” Vanguard rifles, including the least expensive model, the Synthetic. All the Vanguards have the reputation of being very accurate, and it no longer takes the income of a movie star to purchase a .300 Weatherby. In fact, all the Weatherby rifles are more accurate than they used to be. Partially due to tighter throats, especially the long “freebore” throats in the chambers of most Weatherby rounds, including the .300. Over the past decade, my experience is that Weatherby rifles shoot extremely well. I’ve shot several extensively, both Vanguards and Mark Vs, chambered for the .257, .270 and .300 Weatherbys; all have been capable of putting 3 shots into well under 1" at 100 yards with the right ammo, including Weatherby factory ammo. One advantage Weatherby magnums have over some other factory rounds is Norma loads their ammo in Norma cases; it is some of the most consistent brass made. Some handloaders have complained that Norma brass is “soft,” and while that may have been true in the past, at least in some cartridges, I use a lot of Norma brass and generally find it plenty hard, especially the Weatherby line. 24 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • OCTOBER 2011