May 1st, 2013

.284 Win Redux — The Lure of the ‘Straight .284 Win’

Editor: With Jerry Tierney steering a straight .284 Win to victory at the recent NBRSA 1000-Yard Nationals, we thought readers would appreciate a “second look” at this story. Our friend Bruce Duncan talks about the .284 Win and explains why it has proven so successful in long-range competition.

By Bruce Duncan, MT Guns

Building a Straight .284 Winchester
Sometime back–at least two years ago–Jerry Tierney confided in me that he was givng up on the 6.5s, and moving to the 7mms. “If you could only shoot one 7mm, Jerry,” I asked, “which would it be?” … “Straight 284 Win,” he answered.

So when I was thinking to rebarrel my 6.5×47 Lapua, in the fall of 2010, the .284 Win came immediately to mind. I am not about to argue the primacy of any chambering. I look at the dominance of the 6mm Dasher, at Missoula, say, or the recent NBRSA 600- and 1000-Yard Nationals and wonder.

And I’m reasonably convinced that none of us ever makes an entirely rational decision — one based purely on fact, and void of prejudice and emotion. But I knew a bunch of the U.S. F-Class guys were moving to 7mm, and decided to build one myself. This would be a NBRSA Heavy Gun, using my existing Barnard PC twin-port action, and my existing Shehane MBR Tracker stock. Going to the 7mm made sense to me — an accurate heavy bullet with a high BC, such as the Berger 7mm 180gr Hybrid, has a good chance of getting where one wants it to go. That’s particularly important when you’re shooting in tough wind conditions.

I ordered a 1:9″-twist barrel from Bartlein with 5R rifling and 1.250″ straight contour. (By the way, MT Guns has racks of Bartlein barrels if you need one right away.) I spoke at length with Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T), who has immense experience with the .284 Win, and his fingerprints on a lot of winning rifles. Ray was supportive.

Bruce Duncan .284 Win Winchester

“The .284 Shehane isn’t enough bang for the buck”, Ray suggested. I sense he was telling me that I could achieve what I wanted with a standard .284 Win, without the cost of custom-run dies or the hassle of case-forming. I had David Kiff of Pacific Tool & Gauge cut me a reamer with a .313″ neck. I hadn’t decided on a bullet — I shoot Bergers exclusively — but watched the results from Phoenix in 2011, and noticed Bryan Litz did well with his .284 Win, shooting the Berger 180 Hybrid, as did Danny Biggs, shooting a 7mm RSAUM. I did some preliminary 100-yard load testing, and settled on a few loads I wanted to try (at longer range) with the Berger 180.

Shooting in good conditions on an Ojai, California morning, I tried three, five-shot groups with three different loads at 600 yards. One load in particular gave me two groups out of three at 1.8xx”. That’s pretty darn good at 600. The only surprise was that the bullets were seated to have the ogive just kiss the lands, rather than the slight jump that most were using.

Bruce Duncan .284 Win WinchesterIt turned out that my load development wasn’t a fluke. The gun shot well, taking Third Place, 6-Target Aggregate Heavy Gun Group at the 2011 NBRSA 1000-Yard Nationals in Sacramento. Together with my 6×47 Lapua Light Gun, I took Third Place Overall. (The LG also featured a Barnard Action, Bartlein barrel, and Shehane stock.)

Great Accuracy Is Possible
So I was not surprised when Ed Docalavich, one of MT Guns clients, wrote to say how happy he was with the .284 Winchester we built for him. He attached one of the proverbial “Wallet Targets” from load testing. You can see it at right. There are five (5) shots at 100 yards, in a ragged hole you could practically cover with the Excedrin tablet in the photo. Not bad for a stout-recoiling rifle. Ed’s gun features a Barnard P action, Bartlein 5R 1:9″-twist, 1.250″-straight barrel, chambered for a no-turn neck.

Like I said, I’m not about to argue the primacy of any particular chambering, and my hat is off to the 6mms that do so well at 1000 yards. But I like the idea of a heavier bullet; the Berger 180gr Hybrid seems like magic. And as you might imagine, I don’t think it’s any coincidence at all that Ryan Pierce recently set a new 1000-Yard F-Open Record shooting the straight .284 Winchester. (READ Pierce Record Story).

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