Wrong time in history

Some cartridges appeared at the wrong time in history. With others, the wrong decisions were made very early in the piece. As a result, they didn’t live up to expectations. 

The most successful cartridge of the past couple of decades must be the .308 Winchester. Aside from the fact it was a successful military round, the case sired several very successful civilian offshoots, the .243 Winchester and the 7mm-08 to name two.

It is also more than an adequate hunting cartridge. But it also had a bad failure with the .25 Souper, simply the .308 Winchester case necked down to .257 caliber.  The .25 Super could have been very successful, but it simply arrived at the wrong time. 

Its immediate competitors, the .257 Roberts and the .25-06 Remington, plus the .250 Savage, were well entrenched.

Iin addition, the .224 Remington and .243 Winchester provided further competition, and the Souper never had a chance. In reality, there was nothing wrong with the cartridge.

220 Swift cartridges
Mainly due to barrel twist, the 220 Swift was usually limited to 50/55 grain projectiles

Another cartridge that had a hard time was the .225 Winchester, touted as a replacement for the .220 Swift.  

I think some shooters thought the time for rimmed or semi-rimmed cartridges was long gone. 

The .225 was swamped by its rival, the .22-250 Remington. Meanwhile, the Swift fell on hard times due to several reasons. 

It had a bad name as a barrel burner; the steels of the day found it hard to cope with the Swift’s initial speed. Some tried to use it for purposes that were never intended. 

When bigger projectiles and slower powders became available the Swift was out of favor with the shooting public.

Another cartridge that had a hard time right from the beginning is the .257 Roberts. Limited to shorter actions, the cartridge simply had too many of the larger projectiles encroaching into the powder space. 

It seemed to be a common theme in a particular era that persisted over a long period. Fitting cartridges into smaller-length actions to save weight is one thing but when the potential performance of the cartridge is infringed you must wonder why the makers persisted.

Was the internal volume of the case restricted with larger projectiles as a deliberate design factor? Was the restriction necessary because the faster powders of the day did not provide enough case loading density? 

257 Roberts
.257 Roberts overall cartridge length on left in a short action, you can see how the two projectiles on the right would extend into the powder space in a short action.

With more modern powders and projectiles, the Roberts may have given the .25-06 a bit of competition. A lightweight rifle in the standard Roberts (or perhaps the Ackley improved version at around 2900fps) using a Nosler 110gn Accubond would be a very nice pig stalking rifle when fitted with a 3-9x variable.

Matched with a long action to allow the longer cartridges to fit in the rifle’s magazine, with the throat chambered in the Weatherby fashion to keep the pressure down, I suggest such a combination might approach 3000fps. 

Much food for thought: a .25-06 Remington action with a worn barrel that needs replacing would be ideal, or perhaps start from scratch with a long action, fitted with a stainless barrel and use a drop-in stock. Such thoughts are very dangerous!

It is entirely reasonable for the base of any projectile not to be loaded deeper than the bottom of a case’s neck. Perhaps also if a projectile is loaded no deeper than one caliber in length into the neck there is extra room for more powder. 

This is more interesting at present due to the availability of slower powders and heavier projectiles.




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Ron James