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.