Remington's Secret .260 Caliber Deer Slayer

By Ron Spomer

The .308 Winchester is one of the most popular mild shooting cartridges sold these days, but for shooters seeking a deadly deer rifle with flatter trajectory and almost no recoil, I think Remington has a better option.

Meet the .260 Remington.

Never heard of it? You're not the only one. But keep reading and you'll be one of the new converts to this remarkably efficient little round.

The .260 Remington has been on the streets since 1997 when it was officially released as a commercial round. Prior to that, various wildcatters had built it by simply necking the .308 Winchester case down to hold a .264, or 6.5mm, bullet. This is how a lot of new cartridges are made. Neck the .308 Win. down to .284 and you have the 7mm-08 Remington, a superb deer taker. Squeeze it to .243 caliber and you have the .243 Winchester, a cartridge many extol as ideal for young shooters and small-framed, recoil-sensitive shooters. And it is.

But the .260 Remington is better because it fires a much heavier bullet (140-grain vs. 100-grain). This really adds up at longer ranges. This ballistic chart compares the trajectory (bullet impact from line-of-sight) and remaining energy of the 140-grain Nosler Partition in the .260 Rem., the 150-grain Partition in the .308 Win., and the 100-grain Partition in the .243 Win., all using 24-inch barrels. All were zeroed at 250 yards, which is why they strike about 3 inches high at 100 yards.


Velocity (ft./sec.), 100 yds 300yds 400yds 500yds 600yds

.260 Rem. 2750 3/2,041 -4/1,529 -18/1,315 -40/1,126 -72/960

.308 Win. 2820 3/2,215 -4/1,534 -19/1,261 -43/1,029 -78/837

.243 Win. 2960 2.8/1,628 -3.9/1,132 -17/934 -38/764 -70/622

The first question is why does the lighter bullet from the .260 Rem. start slower than the 150-grain from the .308 Win. when both burned the same quantity of powder? And the answer is bore diameter efficiency. The increased bore area of the .308 enables its bullet to extract more energy from the expanding gas.

.260 Rem comparison to .243 Win., .308 Win, and .30-06

The .260 Rem. on the left is made from the same case as the

.243 Win. to its right, and that case is the .308 Win., third from left.

Far right is a .30-06 for comparison.

The second question is why the lighter bullet, which starts off with less energy, retains more downrange and drops less. And ballistic efficiency is the answer. Because the 140-grain, .264 size bullet is longer and narrower than the 150-grain, .308 bullet, it suffers less atmospheric drag. In short, the fatter bullet wastes more energy pushing air out of its way.

What about recoil? When fired through a typical 8-pound rifle, the .260 Rem. will generate 12.6 foot pounds of free recoil energy. The .308 will kick with 14.4 f.p. and the .243 Win. just 9 f.p. To put this in perspective, a .30-06 shooting a 150-grain bullet churns up 18 f.p. of recoil energy.

Like most things in ballistics and shooting, these are compromises. As I see it, the .260 Rem. offers the optimum compromises for a mild-shooting, flat-shooting deer rifle. It matches or exceeds the punch of the .308 Win. with flatter trajectory (and less wind deflection) while nearly matching the trajectory of the .243 Win. And it does this with recoil almost anyone can tolerate. Finally, the long 6.5mm bullets it shoots are famous for penetrating deeply.

To reduce recoil even more, you can shoot 120-grain and even 100-grain bullets in the .260 Rem. The 100-grain loads are great for coyotes and chucks. Use a tough, controlled expansion bullet of 140 grains and the little .260 Rem. becomes an effective elk, bear and even moose rifle. Because recoil is so minimal, shooters can aim and fire the .260 Rem. with precision and confidence, and that's worth all the downrange energy in the world.

Visit Sportsman's Guide's for a great selection of .260 Rifle Ammunition and other Rifle Ammunition.

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