6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum

A flat-shooting, wind-bucking laser beam!
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The Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic in 6.5-.300 Wby. Mag. has a 26", #2 contour barrel with 1:8 twist. Overall length is 46-1/2"; weight as pictured is 9 lb. 4 oz.

When Weatherby announced the 6.5-.300 cartridge in 2016 you just knew it was going to be the biggest, fastest, flattest-shooting 6.5 on the planet. Its roots go back to the early 1960s and the wildcat 6.5-.300 WWH. The second “W” was Lt. Col. Paul Wright, a rifle enthusiast and competition shooter; the “H” was for Alex Hoyer, a respected Pennsylvania gunmaker and long-range shooter. Wright used it at the famed 1,000-yard Wimbledon Cup match in 1962. He didn’t win, but placed respectably and did win several 1,000-yard state matches.

The 6.5-.300 Wby. Mag. has its roots in competition yet I see it more as a superb hunting cartridge. Originally released in the Mark V rifle, it is now available in the Vanguard line. The Vanguard Synthetic has an MSRP of $649 although a little Internet searching found street prices in the $500 range. I consider the Vanguard by Howa one of the best (not just best for the money) sporting rifles available today. It’s amazing you can have the thunderbolt speed and power of the 6.5-.300 for such a moderate cost.

Moderate to the max! The affordable Weatherby Vanguard by Howa still deserves a quality optic such as the Nightforce NXS 2.5-10x42 on a Leupold 20 MOA rail.

For medium game up to elk-sized, the 6.5-.300 Wby. Mag. is perfect where ranges are long and the wind is unpredictable.

The Rules Of The Game

Target shooting and big game shooting have many similarities but also important differences. In target shooting we fire multiple shots, usually at known distances, for score or group size. Often there are wind flags to help read wind speed and direction. Recoil fatigue is a factor. Power is less important since the bullet only has to ring steel or punch paper, though we do want enough velocity to keep the bullet supersonic. We also want a reasonable barrel life.

The current trend among long-range competitors is slippery, high ballistic coefficient (BC) bullets at medium-high velocity, with calibers from 6mm to 7mm being especially popular. The 6.5 Creedmoor has been so successful because it does many things well — excellent accuracy and down-range performance combined with moderate recoil and long barrel life.

In big game hunting the objective is not group size or score, but a first-shot, cold-bore hit. Recoil fatigue is not a big factor, but power is; the bullet has to arrive with sufficient power to ensure a quick, clean kill. There won’t be any wind flags. Even if we have a laser rangefinder and know the range, there may not be time to dial in the appropriate come-up on the scope turret. Barrel life is less important. For most of us, a barrel giving only 800 accurate shots is sufficient for a lifetime or two of big-game hunting.

Dealers I’ve talked to say they have been pleasantly surprised at the demand for this hotshot cartridge and making it available in the Vanguard line should make it even more appealing. I hope Weatherby adds to the appeal with a less expensive factory load option as they did with several of their more popular cartridges.

The Vanguard 6.5-.300 Wby. Mag. shown here is the Synthetic, a blued carbon-steel model. The barrel is the #2 medium contour, 26" in length with a 1:8 twist. Out of the box weight is 7 lb. 10 oz. while adding a Nightforce 2.5-10x42 scope in steel rings with a Leupold 20 MOA rail brought the weight to 9 lbs. 4 oz. empty. Length overall is 46-1/2". I wouldn’t use a rifle of this size and weight for still-hunting in heavy cover — it is better suited to shooting from a stand or for stalking game such as mule deer and antelope in big open country.

At 300 yards the best three-shot group with the 130-gr. Scirocco factory load was right at 2", the worst just over 3" — Sub-MOA accuracy!

Five excellent 6.5mm cartridges (from left): 65-.300 Weatherby Magnum; .264 Win. Magnum; 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser; .260 Rem.; 6.5 Creedmoor.

Reaching out

The only ammunition my dealer had available was loaded with the 130-gr. Scirocco bullet, factory rated at 3,476 fps and averaging 3,455 over the Oehler 35 chronograph screens pitched 10' from the gun, which would indicate 3,465 fps at the muzzle. Using a G7 BC of 0.251 (as measured by long range guru Bryan Litz) the JBM ballistics calculator showed sighting in at 300 yards would keep the bullet within 3" of line of sight out to past 350 yards, and only about 7" low at 400!

With cartridges costing about $5 each, I used just a couple at 25 and 100 yards to be sure of getting on paper at 300. Sighting in at 300 on a lovely calm day, I got three-shot groups of from 2" to just over 3". To help keep the barrel from overheating I spaced shots at least a minute apart and kept the bolt open so air could circulate. Out of the box, the two-stage trigger had a crisp, clean break averaging almost exactly 3 lbs. Recoil is hard to describe as everyone seems to feel it differently, but to me it was similar to the recoil of an 8-lb. .30-06.

Currently my favorite deer rifles are lightweights: a Sako Finnlight .243, Kimber Adirondack 6.5 CM and a Tikka T3 Stainless Lite 6.5x55. However, if I am lucky enough to draw another tag for mule deer or pronghorn in big open country, where wind is both a constant and unpredictable factor, I think this flat-shooting, wind-bucking laser beam will get the nod!

http://www.weatherby.com/

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