I’ve got a thing for the more unusual calibers. Probably because I’m a reloading addict. I just don’t care that commercial rounds of .300 AAC Blackout cost over a buck each. Or that .357 Sig pistol ammo is crazy expensive relative to 9mm. Or that no one stocks 6.8 SPC ammo. I don’t know why, but these oddball cartridges are some of my favorites.
When I had a chance to start some serious tinkering with a .257 Weatherby Magnum, how could I resist? Word is that the .257 Weatherby Magnum was Roy Weatherby’s personal favorite, and that’s saying something. Developed starting back in 1944, it’s a belted cartridge derived from a .375 H&H Magnum case. That’s a lot of case capacity for a .25 caliber bullet. It likes projectiles in the 85 to 120 grain weight range with 100 grain bullets being the most common.
All that case capacity is put to good use as the .257 Weatherby is a true speed demon. An 85 grain bullet will move at over 3,800 feet per second, while a 100 grain projectile cooks along at just under 3,600 feet per second. Yes, you have to be considerate to your rifle barrel. Proper cleaning and cooling will extend its life.
If you look at energy, the “standard” .257 load exceeds both the “standard” .308 Winchester and .30-06 loads with over 2,900 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
If you have to say just one thing about the .257 Weatherby Magnum cartridge, that’s easy. It’s a flat shooter. How flat you ask? If you fire a 100 grain projectile from a .257 Weatherby Magnum parallel to the ground, it will drop about 46 inches by the time it reaches 500 yards. A .30-06 150 grain projectile will drop about 66 inches over the same distance.
I recently got my hot little hands on a new Weatherby Vanguard 2 Synthetic Package. As the name implies, you get everything you need with this model except ammo. The factory mounts and bore sights a 3-9x42mm Redfield Revenge scope, adds a sling and packages it all in an injection molded rifle case. The price of the complete package has a suggested retail of $999.00.
The stock is a monte carlo style with soft inserts in the grip and fore end areas. These felt great, improved grip and seemed to help dampen recoil impulse to the hands. The stock has a raised comb and contoured cheek rest area which positioned my face perfectly at scope height.
The barrel is 24 inches, cold hammer forged and features a 1 in 10 inch twist rate. Magazine capacity is three, plus a fourth round in the chamber. The magazine features a hinged bottom for easy dumping of unused rounds.
The trigger was crisp and clean. The face is flat with serrations and had no detectable creep. It’s a two-stage design with about ⅛ inch of take-up immediately followed by a clean break. It’s also adjustable down to 2 ½ pounds of pull weight.
The rifle with scope mounted weighed in at 8 ¾ pounds, although it felt lighter to me. It’s a nice handling rifle with a great feel.
Accuracy and velocity
I couldn’t bring myself to shoot factory ammo out of such an interesting gun, so I decided to give it a variety diet of carefully hand loaded ammunition. Being a brand new rifle, I broke it in very carefully. For the first 10 shots, I fired, cleaned and allowed the barrel to cool down between shots. For the next 20 rounds, I cleaned the bore after every several shots while still monitoring barrel temperature to guard against accuracy loss (and excess wear and tear) through overheating.
In my first outing, I recorded velocity of a variety of hand loads, and just for the heck of it, fired 5 shot groups. As the rifle was still in a break in period, I didn’t expect perfect accuracy performance (yet) but was curious about how it would shoot right out of the box.
I loaded a half dozen combinations for initial trial using Hornady 117 grain SST, Nosler 100 grain Ballistic Tip and Barnes 100 grain TTSX bullets. Powders were IMR 4351, Hodgdon 4350 and Reloader 25. While I won’t publish load data here (I’m a stickler for getting load data from manufacturer sources only) my load data was sourced from Barnes, Hornady and Hodgdon.