The venerable .308 Winchester cartridge has spawned numerous wildcat cartridges since its introduction, with many of them eventually becoming fully-supported commercial cartridges in their own right. While the .243 Winchester may be perhaps the best-known and most popular of those cartridges, other necked-down variants of the .308 Winchester have also become popular in recent years.
Among those is the .260 Remington, which for decades was known as the 6.5-08 wildcat cartridge. Standardized by Remington in the late 1990s, the .260 Remington went on to become a very popular cartridge among long distance shooters. The ballistic performance of its 6.5mm bullets, combined with lighter recoil than .308 Winchester, made it a great choice for shooters looking to enhance their competitive edge at longer distances.
The .260 Remington is nothing more than a .308 Winchester necked down to take 6.5mm-diameter bullets. 6.5mm bullets have long been known for their superior ballistic performance, as they generally offer higher ballistic coefficients than bullets in just about any other diameter.
The .260 Remington builds on the reputation of 6.5mm cartridges such as the 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser cartridge, which is perhaps the most popular 6.5mm cartridge in the world. The .260 Remington offers similar performance to the 6.5 Swede, as despite its lower case capacity it operates at higher pressures. The .260 Remington can also be chambered in short-action rifles, whereas the 6.5 Swede requires longer and heavier actions.
Because of that, bullets in the 140-grain class are generally the heaviest that are able to be loaded in .260 Remington. The 155-160-grain hunting bullets that gave many 6.5mm cartridges their reputation as effective hunting cartridges are just too long to be loaded effectively in the .260 Remington. Expect to get velocities of 2,900 to 3,000 feet per second from 120-grain bullets, and 2,700 to 2,750 feet per second from 140-grain bullets. That puts muzzle energy around 2,350 to 2,400 foot-pounds, just slightly less than .308 Winchester.
The fact that the .260 Remington is based on the same case as the .308 Winchester makes it easy to use in semi-automatic firearms too. Service rifles such as the FN FAL, AR-10/AR-308, and others that are normally chambered in 7.62x51mm/.308 Winchester can be rebarreled to fire .260 Remington. Magazines will easily accept the .260 Remington cartridge, and the resulting combination of a semi-auto platform with a lighter recoiling cartridge can be very comfortable for many shooters.
The .260 Remington is currently under threat from the new 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge, which has quickly become the “It” cartridge for long distance and tactical shooters. The Creedmoor has numerous advantages, including being able to use longer and heavier bullets. Ammunition for the Creedmoor is also cheaper, able to be found at around 50 cents a round, roughly half the price of the cheapest .260 Remington ammunition.
If you’re already set up with rifles, ammunition, and components for .260 Remington, you probably know that it’s a capable cartridge that can be relied on for both hunting and defense. It will stand you in good stead in any survival scenario. But if you’re looking to choose a new 6.5mm cartridge for your armory, you may want to look at all the different contenders before you make your choice.
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