.257 Weatherby Magnum
Date: Mar 30 2008
While Roy Weatherby once killed a rhinoceros with the .257 Weatherby Magnum, most people use it on smaller game, especially larger varmints such as coyotes and open-country big game from pronghorns to mule deer to, yes, even elk. It is still the fastest commercial cartridge of its bore size, something that used to be true of every Weatherby Magnum – and these days is the second-most popular chambering in Weatherby rifles, next to the .30-378 Weatherby Magnum.
In general, cartridges with larger powder capacity for their bore size tend to be less accurate – or perhaps we should say more demanding. Certainly the .257 Weatherby has a lot of powder capacity, but it has also long had a reputation for accuracy. Perhaps this is due to the fact that .25-caliber barrels have more steel around the hole than do barrels for larger bores, making them stiffer. And perhaps not! At any rate, for a super-zapper, the .257 Weatherby tends to be quite accurate and easy to handload, one reason it’s so popular among today’s deer hunters.
It’s capable of startling muzzle velocities. The 75-grain Hornady V-MAX, for instance, can easily be pushed to 3,800 fps with a number of powders and makes a tremendous varmint load – if you don’t care much about saving predator pelts. And even 120-grain bullets, the heavyweights of .25, can be pushed to 3,400 fps in 26-inch barrels.
Many hunters, however, stick to 100-grain bullets for everything. These can be started at 3,500 to 3,600 fps, depending on the bullet and barrel, and shoot really flat. My own 24-inch Weatherby Vanguard Sporter, for instance, starts 100-grain bullets at just over 3,500 fps with its favorite load of Ramshot Magnum. When sighted in 2 inches high at 100 yards, it’s still an inch high at 300, and only about 4 to 5 inches low at 400. This means I can “hold on hair” out to 400 yards, even on a coyote, and make a solid chest hit.