The Strange and Tortured Career of the .284 Winchester

The whole idea was to stuff a lot of powder in a short case, and to this end, the W-W designers gave the .284 a fat body, a sharp 35-degree shoulder, and a rebated rim that would fit a .30/06-size bolt face. It was, at the time, the only rebated rim in the panoply (!) of American cartridges. It failed because the 88 and the 100 were doomed anyway, and because Winchester seated the .284 bullets so deeply that they took up a lot of that wonderful powder space.

Browning chambered some BLRs for the .284, and Savage made some Model 99s for it, but otherwise it died as a commercial round. What saved it was the fact that it drove wildcatters mad. Show them a .284 case and they would start to shake all over and proceed to neck it up, down, and sideways. It may be the most-wildcatted case of all time. In 1967, my friend Russ Carpenter built himself a 6mm/284 on a Ruger Number One action, and put a scheutzen stock on it. It was his antelope rifle, and did a fine job.

However, the .284 fell on harder times. Because of low demand, Winchester let the quality of the case tooling slide, and it became nearly impossible to get decent brass. It was saved again by the development and rapid blossoming of the 6.5x284, which is more popular among target shooters than leather jackets with lots of straps in the front. Hornady and Norma now load this cartridge, and turn out fine brass to boot.

So the .284 story has a happy ending after all.