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September 05, 2007

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The Strange and Tortured Career of the .284 Winchester

Back in 1963, when Winchester was in its second set of death throes, its engineers came out with a remarkable new cartridge. They called it the .284, and it was designed to bring .270 ballistics to the flawed Model 88 lever-action and the horrible Model 100 semi-auto rifles. For a hidebound company like Winchester to come out with something as radical as the .284 was as radical as Buffalo Bill showing up for a buffalo hunt with a phaser.

The whole idea was to stuff a lot of powder in a short case, and to this end, the W-W designers gave the .284 a fat body, a sharp 35-degree shoulder, and a rebated rim that would fit a .30/06-size bolt face. It was, at the time, the only rebated rim in the panoply (!) of American cartridges. It failed because the 88 and the 100 were doomed anyway, and because Winchester seated the .284 bullets so deeply that they took up a lot of that wonderful powder space.

Browning chambered some BLRs for the .284, and Savage made some  Model 99s for it, but otherwise it died as a commercial round. What saved it was the fact that it drove wildcatters mad. Show them a .284 case and they would start to shake all over and proceed to neck it up, down, and sideways. It may be the most-wildcatted case of all time. In 1967, my friend Russ Carpenter built himself a 6mm/284 on a Ruger Number One action, and put a scheutzen stock on it. It was his antelope rifle, and did a fine job.

However, the .284 fell on harder times. Because of low demand, Winchester let the quality of the case tooling slide, and it became nearly impossible to get decent brass. It was saved again by the development and rapid blossoming of the 6.5x284, which is more popular among target shooters than leather jackets with lots of straps in the front. Hornady and Norma now load this cartridge, and turn out fine brass to boot.

So the .284 story has a happy ending after all.

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Comments

Clay Cooper

The 284 Winchester is not really a bad cartridge. It’s a 7mm bullet, 120 grain @ 3200, 139 grain @3100, 154 @2900 and a 175 @2700fps. Would I use it for Elk? You bet! For a lever or auto, it’s a great choice actually. Perhaps if they renamed it the 7mm Winchester or 280 Winchester? Saying 284, it’s a bet of a mouth full to say compared to 280.

Blue Ox

What irks me is that manufacturers will come up with a new bullet and then go and call it whatever they want. (Here's the new such & such for your super-duper whiz-bang specially made to go after this & that!) Guy at work tells me: "Hey! I just bought a new .300!" Well, a .300 what? Weatherby? Savage? Win-mag? Short-mag? What?! And if you do try to look up a chart of 'american calibers', not sure of exactly what you're looking for, you'll probably find yourself so utterly lost in that steaming pile of illogic that even Coop might not be able to rescue you.

Trae B.

Would ya'll recomend a .284 because ive thought about buying one but i want to check if its a gun that will hold up for me real well.

Dickie

For those of you interested in the 6.5X.284 the web page "6mmBR.com" has a wealth of info on the round. Click on the "6.5X.284 Info Page" and it'll give you more detail on the cartridge (brass, powder, bullets, load data, etc.) than you ever wanted to know. It's geared primarily to benchrest shooters, but the info is just as valid for a hunting round. I had one made up a few years ago on a long action M700 and it's a great deer/anelope round. VERY accurate! If you're gonna have one made, be sure and use a long action for the same reason Dave mentioned (he's smarter than he looks): you don't want those long 6.5 bullets to eat into your powder capacity. And if anyone knows of any other sites for 6.5X.284 loading data, please pass it along. Good luck.

Mike

Dave, such hatred for the Win model 88 a classic deer gun! What a fine gun it is despite its weight, poor trigger, and Rube Goldberg action!

SilverArrow

As loaded by Winchester the .284 Win just wasn't offering any real advantage in a crowded field of 7mm cartridges. A panopoly indeed!
The M100 Winchester was a feeble attempt to compete with Remington's 740, friend of mine had one in .308 Win, with the right load it was ok, but otherwise finicky, feeding issues were only the start. The trigger was awful; we never gauged it but guessed it at about 7 lbs with a lot of gritty creep.

Blue Ox

you'll probably find yourself so utterly lost in that steaming pile of illogic that even Coop might not be able to rescue you?

That’s no joke!

chuckb

Any writer who can use the word "panoply" in a gun blog is truly a man of letters.

Steve C

PT Barnum didn’t actually say it but it’s still true.

The .284 (and Models 88 and 100) are examples of a company trying to do no more than fan the flames of sales. Everyone company Harley-Davidson to Apple to Ford to Callaway puts some more lipstick on the pig and launches a warmed-over product like it’s the answer to some burning consumer question.

Even thought there hasn’t been a rifle cartridge launched in decades that has filled any meaningful gap, gun and ammunition manufacturers will continue to do this as long as they can separate customers from their money.

Ralph the Rifleman

"Even thought there hasn’t been a rifle cartridge launched in decades that has filled any meaningful gap, gun and ammunition manufacturers will continue to do this as long as they can separate customers from their money."

Well said Steve C.

O Garcia

Dave,

With respect, I think you left out the ending.

"...and then Winchester killed the .284 for good by introducing the WSM case, which took out a big chunk of the wildcat demand for the round."

Now, maybe we can begin the discussion of the 6.5 and .350 Remington Magnums, the first "short magnums" in history. In spite of the many missteps that Remington took with these two rounds which meant they would never ever sell well or even be fondly remembered by many (which Remington further compounded by totally botching the SAUM line), the 6.5 and .350 have some devout followers.

Colonel Jeff Cooper, who believed there was no real use for the .280 Rem., 8mm Rem. Mag. and even the sainted .338 Win. Mag (I have the G&A magazine issue to prove he wrote this), believed the 6.5 and .350 were real innovations (yes, I also have the G&A mag where he wrote something to that effect). The late colonel even felt confident to use the .350 on anything short of elephant. It was his favorite lion cartridge.

Remington so totally screwed these short magnums even an influential guru cannot rescue them.

If Remington were to issue the .350 in a left-handed Model Seven, ... I'll stop there before I say something obscene.

WA Mtnhunter

"Even thought there hasn’t been a rifle cartridge launched in decades that has filled any meaningful gap, gun and ammunition manufacturers will continue to do this as long as they can separate customers from their money."

Take a look around. Everyone out there is trying to separate you from your money. Legally or otherwise!

jstreet

Steven C wrote:

Even thought there hasn’t been a rifle cartridge launched in decades that has filled any meaningful gap, gun and ammunition manufacturers will continue to do this as long as they can separate customers from their money.


Field and Stream - sign this guy up. It would be nice to hear from a guy on a monthly basis that doesn't believe the latest widget is the savior of shooting or hunting and that your life isn't complete without going into debt up to your eyeballs for 150 fps more.

Jim

dillonaero134d

the only real use for the .284 is to neck the brass down to .22, that is what you call a wildcat

Steve C

This is actually a good topic for a future blog:

Opinions on the last cartridge that was introduced which filled a legitimate gap in hunting performance.

...or...

Which gap still exists?

Chad Love

What, no love for the Model 100? Granted, it looked like a dog and by all accounts was, but my father has one in .308 that will inexplicably shoot tiny groups all day long. Go figure. He does some light gunsmithing for a local shop and picked this one up for a song. He's so impressed with it he said he might hunt with it this year, which for a rifle snob like my father is something.

WA Mtnhunter

With all the .270 Win vs. 7mm Rem Mag vs. .280 Rem debates over the years, one can only surmise that it is to keep the gun scribes gainfully occupied and off the welfare rolls. Not to mention keeping the ammunition plants busy separating us from our cash. The same ballistic characteristics are continually repackaged in short fat, super short, super short ultra something or others all the time.

No one will ever convince me that seven thousanths of an inch makes any real difference in the effectiveness of a bullet. Some cartridge names are just plain "cool", or whatever. Some are doomed from the start.

What's that Coop says? "It's the arrow, ..."

Chad Love

Which is exactly why I continue shooting my extremely pedestrian, unfashionable, unshort, unmagnum, unultra 6.5x55s, despite the fact everyone down at my local gun shop thinks I'm riding the short bus to ballistics school.
Last year I briefly thought about building and/or having built a 6.5x.284 but I felt like I'd be betraying my Swedes, and that just wouldn't be haftigt...

Although I was pleased the Gun Nut gave the Swede some props in F&S a few months back

William Giordano

I bought a 284 bolt action from Herter's in the good old days and it shot like a dream. It had the Herter's name but looked like it was made in England [BSA ?] I can only say that I wish I had it now.

Brad Rogers

We purged Zumbo, we now need to purge - He's no friend of NRA. - FOAD Jackson - Joaquin Jackson interview video link- http://www.klru.org/texasmonthlytalks/archives/movies/jackson5_44k.mov

Doghouse Reilly

Call 'em. I just did.

Is this the hub-bub Joaquin Jackson started?

1-800-672-3888 hit 6 on the options, then wait and they'll transfer you to an operator who will in turn transfer you (when you tell her you have a message for the BoD) to an assistant to the Board of Directors. Or I guess you could leave a message on Pres. Sigler's mailbox by spelling out his name after you hit option 6. Whatever.

I told them I watched the original '05 videotaped interview between JJ and the journalist, and read JJ's/the NRA's explanation. I informed them the "clarification" was insulting and unacceptable, mainly because it was painfully obvious JJ was speaking of "AWs", not NFA firearms, and that if JJ was not forced off the board within the very near future (I'll give 'em a few days) I would, very regretfully, resign my membership.

The assistant was polite, and said at one point "so, you read the clarification?" He didn't seem surprised that I wasn't buying it, and promised to forward my comments to the BoD.

We shall see.


mose

the gun companies aren't out to rip you off when they introduce new cartridges. plain and simple, they've gotta eat too. they don't need to be portrayed in a negative light. if you don't like them all you need to do is not buy them. after all there is nothing actually wrong with them.

Chev Jim

Now, I wonder what Dave has against the Winchester Models 88 and 100? I know about the 100's firing pin problem. I bought a Model 100 at a gun show a couple of years ago, and I installed the new firing pin myself. I had always wanted one of these rifles, because I thought they were well-designed and would make an excellent woods rifle. Mine is in .308, and has never failed to feed or fire. Winchester's ads of the time touted the fact that the stock was one piece, and that made the rifle inherently more accurate than rifles like Remington's 742. The Model 88 was supposed to be exceptionally accurate. Both rifles had beautiful lines. Both were, of course, cheapened after 1964. I'm more of a bolt-action rifle fancier, but the Model 100 just attracted me. I've read the opinions of Model 100 owners in various forums, and the opinions are generally very favorable. I'd actually like to see Winchester bring these rifles back. The present Winchester autoloading rifle has the gas piston sticking out of the forend, and is just plain ugly. I think there's a place for autoloaders in the woods, but right now the Browning BAR is the only new one I'd buy.

Danny Boy

"Would ya'll recomend a .284 because ive thought about buying one but i want to check if its a gun that will hold up for me real well."

Trace B,

The .284 Win is not a gun. It is a cartridge. (And a fine general purpose cartridge it is, at that.) Guns consist of lock, stock, and barrel, and are chambered for a specific cartridge. A gun is what shoots a bullet by making the cartridge go bang.

Whether a gun "will hold up real well" has almost nothing to do with whether it's chambered in .284, but a lot to do with the rifle's design, who made it and how well they made it, what materials are used, and most importantly whether it's properly taken care of.

I cannot help but question the ability of one who doesn't know the difference between a cartridge and a gun to appreciate or take care of any well made rifle.

Maybe you're just young or new to the sport, and that's okay as long as you're learning. But if you've been hunting/shooting for years . . . Heaven help us all.

alabamahunter

I have a 308 made by Interarms of Virginia. I've never shot it but it is a bolt with a 24 inch bull barrel. I've finally decided to try to turn this into my greenfield gun. Does anyone have any experience with Interarms? It seems like it should be a very accurate gun. The bolt is of the mauser variety.




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