The Strange Fate of the .260 Remington
A reader asked, “How come the 6.5 Creedmoor is setting the world on fire while the .260 Remington is barely...
A reader asked, “How come the 6.5 Creedmoor is setting the world on fire while the .260 Remington is barely surviving? Are people nuts?” Let’s answer the easy part of that question first. Yes, people are nuts.
Now for the harder part. Neither the 6.5 Creedmoor nor the .260 Remington are on the top 10 cartridge chart, despite the phenomenal success of the former in the past several years. The .260, because it’s a very useful, low-recoiling little round, has achieved a solid, if modest, success, while the 6.5 Creedmoor, despite everyone going ga-ga over it, is still the plaything of the intellectually advanced.
The .260 was introduced in 1997 by Remington, which has a positive genius for dooming good cartridges at birth (I give you the 6mm, the .280, the .350 Remington Magnum, and probably a bunch of others). It had the bad luck to be introduced in 1997 before the frenzy for everything 6.5mm, and before the boom in long-range shooting.
For some reason, Remington chose to name it .260, which it wasn’t, possibly because they feared contamination by the .264 Winchester Magnum, which was torpedoed early on by Jack O’Connor, who snorted and farted and pronounced it NO GOOD. So people beheld the .260 and said, “Huh? What?”
On top of that, it had to compete with the well established 7mm/08, which is nearly identical in size and power.
Despite the fact that the .260 was developed as a target round, Remington didn’t regard it as such, and loaded and sold it as a hunting cartridge.
The .260 had just about everything going against it, and the fact that it’s done as well as it has is testimony to what a good cartridge it is.
The 6.5 Creedmoor, on the other hand, was as shrewdly thought out and designed as any cartridge I can remember. It debuted in 2007, just as the 6.5mm craze was getting into high gear, and just about the time that the shooting world went tactical.
Hornady, whose brainchild it is, designed it as a low-recoil, high-accuracy, long-range, cheap ammo, cartridge, and that’s exactly what they produced. It got off to a quiet start, because there’s not a mid-range or long-range target shooter lurking under every bush. So the competition shooters had it as their sole property for a while, but then word began to dribble out to the hunters, and they found that despite its low recoil and modest ballistics, the Creedmoor would stand Bambi on his nose, even at long range. The rest is history.
And, because it’s still primarily a target round, with much more stringent accuracy requirements than hunters demand, the ammo companies have kept the quality standards for Creedmoor components very high, which makes everyone happy.
Over the past two summers, I’ve done a great deal of shooting and handloading of the Creedmoor, and I can tell you that all the stories are true. If it’s not a super cartridge, it’ll do until the super cartridge comes along.
And a word or two about the 6mm Remington. In 1955, after prodding by Warren Page who hunted a lot with a cartridge he called the .240 Page Super Pouper (and yes, that is the spelling Lefty used, not Pooper), Remington came out with the .244, which used a .243 diameter bullet. It was based on the .257 Roberts case, and lacked the powder capacity and velocity of the Super Pouper.
Remington saw it as a long-range varmint load that people could use for deer, loaded it with 75- and 90-grain bullets, and gave their .244 rifles a 1-12 twist for the lighter slugs.
Winchester, in the same year, announced the .243, which was based on a necked-down .308 case. The Big Red W saw the .243 as a light-recoil deer cartridge that people might want to shoot varmints with, and they guessed right. They loaded 80- and 100-grain bullets, and rifled their barrels with a 1-10 twist, which gave the heavier slugs greater accuracy.
The .243 became hugely popular while the .244 limped along, went through at least one name change, and had its bullets and rifling twist changed. I’ve owned and used both, and the Remington round is the better cartridge.
But life is not fair, is it?