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GUNS Magazine November 2010 - Page 28
POWER ON A BUdGET Weatherby ammo now offers a value line. ack in the early 1960s I read a book from the library of the little B village school I attended called Between the Elephant’s Eyes by Robert Scott, a renowned fighter pilot. It was about an African safari using mainly Weatherby rifles. The glowing terms in which he described the awesome power of the .300 Weatherby might have embarrassed even Roy Weatherby. Glamorous ads in Outdoor Life showed the wonderful glittering Weatherby rifles. The price was $289 and from my perspective it might as well have been $289,000,000. The current standard Weatherby Vanguard rifles are, I believe, the best buy in a hunting rifle today and one loading. The ammunition isn’t cheap. Being able to afford a quality rifle chambered for a glamorous cartridge is nice, but if you can’t afford the ammunition “our situation has not improved” as Professor Jones said to Indy. Not every situation requires premium bullets. Weatherby now has ammunition for these two cartridges using Norma bullets. At $39 a box it is still more than what you can find .30-30 and .30-06 ammunition on sale for, but it is more in line with other popular magnum rounds. Brass, powder, primers, and quality control are identical to premium loads, only the bullet is different. The Norma bullets are a .257 100 grain, and 180 grain in the .300 Wby. The website calls them “spitzer” bullets though the profile is a bit rounded. I’d be more inclined to call them semi-spitzers. I chronographed both loads in four Weatherby rifles, two Vanguards with 24" barrels and two Mark Vs with 26" barrels. With their slightly rounded profiles, these bullets have a somewhat lower ballistic coefficient than spirepoints of the same weight. As a result, bullet drop is a bit more at longer ranges. The chart shows bullet drop at 400 and 500 yards from a 300-yard zero with the Norma softpoint bullet compared to a spirepoint bullet. Bullet construction of the SP loads is standard “cup and core” design. Norma has been loading these bullets in other cartridges for a long time, evidently with no complaints from hunters. I haven’t shot a single head of game with them; for all I know maybe all they do is tickle the animals being shot and send them giggling on their way. Doubt it, though. The .257 loads gave 3-shot groups averaging under 1 MOA while the .300s averaged around 1-1/4". In both cases the Vanguards gave the best groups though by a skinny (and statistically insignificant) margin. Currently, the standard Vanguard with synthetic stock starts at $439. of the best buys ever. Several years ago, Weatherby began offering the Vanguards for two popular Weatherby cartridges, the .257 and .300. Weatherby cartridges are loaded by Norma of Sweden, often using premium hunting bullets made in the USA and shipped to Sweden for WiththeuseofNormabullets(and,Davesuspects,cuttingmarginstothebone)Weatherby ammunitionfor.257and.300isavailableatpricesunmatchedinalmost30years.Davecalls thebulletprofilemore“semi-spitzer”than“spitzer.”Velocitiesmeasureduptofactoryclaims andaccuracyprovedexcellent. GUN, CARTRidGE (mOdEl & CARTRidGE) VANGUARd .257 WBY mARK V .257 WBY VANGUARd .300 WBY mARK V .300 WBY CARTRidGE .257 WBY .257 WBY .300 WBY .300 WBY 28 Notes: CED Millennium Chronograph screens set 10' from the muzzle. BARREl lENGTH (iNCHES) 24" 26" 24" 26" BUllET (WEiGHT, GRAiNS) 100 100 180 180 AdVERTiSEd VElOCiTY (FPS) 3,500 3,500 3,150 3,150 ACTUAl VElOCiTY (FPS) 3,534 3,611 3,043 3,144 BUllET 100 Norma SP 100 Spirepoint 180 Norma SP 180 Spirepoint BUllET dROP (iNCHES) 300 YARdS 400 YARdS 500 YARdS 0 –10.1 –28.5 0 –7.7 –21.0 0 –10.9 –30.0 0 –9.0 –24.4 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • NOVEMBER 2010