If you crawl around gun shops long enough you get the inside track on some deals. My favorite counterman has told me that there is a rifle in hock that I might be interested in. It is a Remington 700 Sendero, with that good Remington fluted barrel, mounted with a Leupold 3X9 VariXII scope. He tells me that the rifle will be out of hock by the middle of August and that if I want it, he can guarantee me a very good price on it.
Well, hell. Decisions, decisions.
The .264 Winchester Magnum is one of four magnums (.264, .300, .338, and 458) introduced by Winchester during the late 1950s. It was designed as the ultimate long distance big game cartridge. In its most standard load, it throws a 140 grain bullet at 3100 fps with a muzzle energy (ME) of 2850 ft/lbs. This is good ballistics, but it takes 77 grains of powder for that velocity. It isn't a terribly efficient loading, yet it is certainly a flat-shooting cartridge and uses those wonderfully efficient 6.5 mm bullets.
The .264 Winchester Magnum has a reputation as a barrel-burner. With the powders available when the cartridge came out, I don't doubt that it had trouble with barrel erosion. With the good powders available today, barrel erosion shouldn't be much of a problem. In the old days, the barrels started burning out somewhere past 1000 rounds. If I buy this rifle, I probably won't shoot it more than 20 rounds per year. Even if I shoot 50 rounds per year, it would be 20 years before I'd need to rebarrel it. One of the kids would probably have it by then.
The 6.5mm cartridges never really caught on with American shooters, yet the bullets routinely offer good ballistic coefficients and great downrange performance. Guys who like the 6.5 like them a lot. Remington recently anointed a 6.5 wildcat, making it a factory cartridge based on the .308. They call it the .260 Remington and my sister-in-law used one to take a nice deer last year.
However, my .30-06 shoots a 150 grain bullet at almost 3000 fps using 52 grains of my surplus 4895, for a ME of about 2800 f/p. Sighted 3" high at 100 yards, it's just 4" down at 300 yards. 300 yards is the outside limit of the range that I'm going to pull the trigger on a game animal.
Any deer hit with a 6.5 bullet at 2850 f/p versus a .30 bullet at 2800 f/p ain't going to know the difference. It won't matter a whit to the deer.
Yet the question remains. Do I want that Sendero? In the end, it'll really boil down to the price. Sometimes, a good deal is hard to pass up. Then again, I might just save my pennies and wait on the next deal to come around the corner.
What do y'all think?