January 17th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: 6.8 Western — New Cartridge, New Rifles

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM

Winchester and Browning have introduced the new 6.8 Western, a new .277-caliber cartridge designed for long-range hunting. The new 6.8 Western is a high-capacity cartridge with a modern 35-degree shoulder, optimized for a conventional short action. The 6.8 Western is VERY similar to the existing .270 WSM. It shares the same 0.535″ rim diameter, and the same 0.277″ bullet diameter, however the 6.8 Western’s case length is slightly shorter. The .270 WSM has a 2.100″ case length, while the new 6.8 Western has a 2.020″ length. That’s just 80 thousandths shorter. Both cartridges, the 6.8 Western and .270 WSM, share a 35° shoulder, so in fact, the 6.8 Western is VERY close to the existing .270 WSM, just .080″ short. With a 1:8″ twist, the 6.8 Western should be able to shoot bullets up to 175 grains.

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM
CLICK HERE for full 6.8 Western SAAMI Drawing.

In designing this new cartridge, Winchester wanted WSM performance in a slightly shorter case: “The key feature… was to shorten up that shoulder, shorten up the OAL of the cartridge so we could get longer, sleeker, heavy-for-caliber bullets to really drive the G1 BC higher and higher, to get the flattest possible trajectory.” Winchester claims that the 6.8 Western is the “largest [cartridge] on the market to fit into lighter, short-action rifles like the Winchester Model 70, Winchester XBR, and Browning X-Bolt Pro”. That’s a bit deceptive, since the .300 WSM, with a 0.2100″ case length, will fit in many of those rifles with most bullets. Oh well — there’s always some marketing hype.

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM

6.8 Western — High-BC Bullets, Good Knock-Down Power, Tolerable Recoil
What is the real advantage of the new 6.8 Western? Fundamentally it can be loaded with heavier, higher-BC bullets than a 6.5 PRC, while having less recoil than a .300 WSM (with most bullets). (But the same can be said of the older .270 WSM.) WideOpenSpaces.com states that with the 6.8 Western “recoil is much lower than the .300 Win Mag, .300 PRC, and the .300 WSM cartridge. At the same time, the 6.8 is said to deliver more energy to the target than a 6.5 PRC [or] 6.5 Creedmoor[.]” Winchester is even claiming more downrange energy than a 7mm Remington Magnum.

This video, with lots of field footage, explains the main features of the new 6.8 Western:

This video has great cartridge illustrations, with 3D Animations and comparative energy tables:

“When people think of the perfect long-range rifle cartridge, they want many key features — good precision, flat trajectory, large down-range energy, and manageable recoil.” — Keith Masinelli, Winchester

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM

This video shows loaded ammo. Direct comparison with .270 WSM at 8:55 minute time mark.

Why Develop a New Hunting Cartridge So Similar to the .270 WSM?
With interest in long-range hunting growing rapidly, engineers at Winchester and Browning sought a solution that could offer magnum performance with a modern high-BC projectile, yet chamber in a short action rifle for shorter bolt-throw and less weight. The 6.8 Western was “designed to be capable in any big-game hunting scenario and a great fit for those who enjoy long-range target shooting”. For the 6.8 Western, the designers basically shortened the .270 WSM case to allow for longer bullets (with the same cartridge OAL limits), and possibly make the case a bit more efficient.

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM

The First 6.8 Western Rifles from Browning and Winchester

Browning X-Bolt Pro in 6.8 Western
6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning X-Bolt Pro hunting .277 WSM

Browning will release a light-weight, X-Bolt Pro rifle chambered for the 6.8 Western. This will have a 26″ barrel with 1:7.5″-twist, so it should be able to shoot all the high-BC .277-caliber bullets. With a carbon-reinforced stock, this rifle is relatively light-weight — just 6 lbs., 12 ounces before optics. The rifle has a 3-lug bolt with 60° bolt lift. Trigger adjusts from 3-6 pounds, fine for a hunting rifle. According to Wide Open Spaces, the barrel and receiver are finished with Tungsten Cerakote to protect the rig in harsh weather conditions. On Browning’s website, the Browning X-Bolt in 6.8 Western has a $2,469.99 MSRP. At that price, it may make more sense to buy a used X-Bolt rifle and re-barrel it.

“The 6.8 Western cartridge brings a new perspective to long-range hunting and shooting,” said Ryan Godderidge, Senior VP of Sales, Marketing, and Firearms for Browning. “It provides magnum-level performance in our short action rifles, giving the shooter highly effective down-range energy, even at longer ranges, while allowing for a lighter-weight platform.”

Winchester Model 70 in 6.8 Western
6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning X-Bolt Pro hunting .277 WSM

Winchester will release a Model 70 chambered for the 6.8 Western. It will have a 24″ stainless barrel, stainless action with 3-round hinged floor-plate internal magazine. Wide Open Spaces reports: “Right now, it appears the Model 70 Extreme Weather MB is the first 6.8 Western that will roll off their factory floors. The stock is composite with a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad. At 44.25″ overall, this rifle is shorter than the Browning X-Bolts, but weighs slightly more at seven pounds even.” Listed MSRP is $1,599.99 for this new 6.8 Western Model 70.

6.8 Western cartridge winchester browning hunting .277 WSM


CLICK HERE for Outdoor Life 6.8 Western article.

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January 17th, 2021

Click No Bang — Dry-Fire Training with Kirsten Joy Weiss

kirsten weiss dry fire anschutz smallbore

Kirsten Joy Weiss has created a useful video about Dry-Fire practice. Dry-Fire is a method of training without a live round in the chamber. Dry-Firing is effective, Kirsten explains, because “it eliminates all the extra noise and messages that you get when you fire a live round. Without recoil, without the sound of a shot going off etc., all you hear is the click of the trigger. This allows you to focus on your sight picture and your trigger press.” This the lastest installment in Kirsten’s ‘How to Shoot Awesomely’ series. Kisten says: “I hope it helps you, and keep on aiming true!”

kirsten weiss dry fire anschutz smallbore

Dennis DeMille High PowerThe Benefits of Dry-Fire Training
If you are not doing Dry-Fire practice yet, then it’s time to start. Dry-Fire training is essential to the sling disciplines, and very useful for F-Class. Dennis DeMille, a national Service Rifle Champion, told us that, for every minute he spent in actual competition, he would spend hours practicing without ammunition. While in the USMC, Dennis would practice in the barracks, working on his hold and dry-firing:

“The most important thing is to spend time off the range practicing. Most of what I learned as a High Power shooter I learned without ammunition — just spending time dry firing and doing holding exercises. Holding exercises will really identify the weak parts of your position. The primary purpose of dry firing is to get you used to shooting an empty rifle. If you can shoot a loaded rifle the same way you shoot an empty rifle then eventually you will become a High Master.”

Dry-Fire Training Can Benefit Benchrest Shooters
What about benchrest? Well, we’ve found that Dry-Fire sessions can even benefit benchresters — it can help reveal flaws in your trigger technique, or inconsistencies in the way you address the rifle from shot to shot. With the gun set up with your front rest and rear bag, if you see the scope’s cross-hairs wiggle a lot when you pull the trigger, you need to work on your technique. Also, dry-fire practice can help you learn to work the bolt more smoothly so you don’t disturb the gun on the bags.

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