Monday, March 10, 2014
26 Nosler, Something New…or Not So Much
What it is-
A very large cased 6.5mm cartridge intended for open country shooting. It's 129 Long Range Accubond bullet is rated at 3400 fps at the muzzle and the company claims it shoots flat to 415 yards.
What it isn't-
Magic or, particularly, new.
While few cartridges shoot as flat as this- there are many when zeroed at 300 yards will shoot within a few inches of what this one does and a couple even shoot flatter. I'm not against a company throwing a better mousetrap out there and I do think this would make an excellent sheep, deer and antelope cartridge when paired up with an accurate rifle of moderate weight. Nosler's M48 fits the bill on that one. But it's not that much different from a lot of existing cartridges in it's class. Immediately the .264 Winchester Magnum and the 7mm Remington Magnum come to mind and well as some of the excellent Lazzeroni and Weatherby magnums. When one crosses the pond the 6.5 has some great numbers like the 6.5x68.
I've got a couple of concerns just reading the press release:
1. Barrel life- it's gotta be short. That much overbore is going to be darn hard on barrels and while I'm a hunter first and 700-800 rounds might present a lifetime of hunting… there is no denying that a lot of rounds downrange will take it's toll. That's something of a trifling detail since barrels are better than ever but the next point is more concerning to me.
2. Bullet performance- the LR Accubond is somewhat softer than the company's excellent Accubond that I've used to great effect the last several years. It has to be to expand reliably at long range (it's raison d'être). at the muzzle though I'm very concerned that soft bullet when coupled with high speed impact will result in bullet fragmentation. I'm also concerned that up close the meat damage will be fearsome much like my partners 300 RUM shooting the 150gr Scirocco.
3. That 6.5 bore- there is no denying that in the US the 6.5 (.264) bore is about as popular as the clap. The wonderful 6.5 Swede has next to no following here. The .264 Win Mag is for all intents and purposes deader than fried chicken expect for it's cult following and the equally good .260 Remington is in much the same boat. The 6.5 Remington Magnum is part of cartridge history. The 6.5 Creedmore and the 6.5x284 have some following among the F Class crowd but outside of the enthusiast's circle they have little following. While the 26 Nosler is likely a technically fine cartridge, Americans have shown little interest in the bore size going back a century.
I'll admit I do have something of an interest in the cartridge as a specialist's weapon for mountain hunting but I'm also more pragmatic and have little interest in owning a bunch of specialized weapons for different hunting scenarios and absolutely no interest in long range shooting at all. In fact, one can browse what I've written and see my interest largely lies in more general purpose pieces and a decided hatred of long range shooting.
While the gun press has broke blood vessels yelling the new cartridge's praise…the word on many of the shooting and hunting forums and among the gun buying public is greeting this offering with either a decided yawn or outright derision. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this one in the next few years.