.223 Winchester Super Short Magnum

Wary Of The .223 WSSM

Q.  I’ve been offered what looks to be the bargain of a lifetime.  If it was in any other calibre, I’d have jumped at it. It is a  Model 70 Winchester Featherweight in .223 WSSM (I call it WSFU –  short, fat and ugly). It comes with bases, rings, die set, 40  factory rounds and  20 fired cases. I’m a sucker for a bargain,  but the Hornady Manual says that when they developed loads for  the cartridge, their test rifle had the throat badly eroded after  about 350 rounds. Consulting with people on the internet, and we all  know that the internet has high standards to prevent  people  posting things they know nothing about, the consensus is that .223 WSSM rifles have problems with feeding, accuracy, barrel  life and so on. The barrel is very light and thin and I can  imagine it would glow like a light sabre from Star Wars after a  few rounds. If it were any other calibre, say .223 Rem., I would  grab it so fast – except it would have already been sold. Would  this calibre handle goats with the 60gn Nosler Partition? What  loads and bullets would you suggest. I have noticed that in the  Nosler and Hornady manuals standard ADI powders do quite well.  The gun is pretty, it’s light and almost new. What is your  advice?
– Richard Meyer

 I don’t think that a Model 70 Winchester in .223 WSSM is much  of a bargain at any price. Barrel life is likely to be about  1,000 rounds (if you are lucky) and the rifle can only be  rebarreled for one of the WSSM cartridges – .223, .243 or .257.  The .257 is the best of a bad lot, and equals the ballistics of  the .25-06. Your faith in the stuff you read on the internet is  touching, there’s more rubbish about  guns posted on there than  anywhere else. When it first appeared, I tested a Model 70 in  .223WSSM. It was accurate enough and gave no problems with  feeding, but judging by the capacity of the case, I knew that  barrel life would be short. Later I had a Ruger Number One  in .223 Rem. rechambered to .223 WSSM and it worked just fine,  but the rifle was just too heavy and clumsy, so I sold it to a  true believer. I shot a number of pigs and goats with the Ruger  and it killed well with the 64gn Winchester bullet designed for  it. My best loads were: 55gn Nosler Soid Base and 39gn of AR2208  for 3650fps; 60gn Hornady SP and 47gn Re-22 for 3520fps; and 64gn  Winchester and 47gn Re-22 for 3430fps. My opinion (not for the  internet) is that the WSSM carridges were a disaster which is  obvious from the way they died at birth. I’d leave some other  sucker buy that gun if I were you and breath a sigh of relief at  missing out on owning such a dreadful turkey.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.