Transitioning To A Blaser R8 - A Two Months / 500 Rounds Review

One Day...

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Why the .257 Wby / 100 gr TTSX...

Considering the interest, I will explain the choice I made and the rationale and experience behind it :)

Allow me first to quickly address the 6.35 mm vs. 6.5 mm issue. Technically, the .257 Wby shoots bullets that are actually .257" in diameter. This is not always the case in the US where the .270 Win actually shoots .277" bullets, the .280 Rem actually shoots .284" bullets, the .30-06 and .300 actually shoots .308" bullets, etc. To convert .257" in mm, one needs to multiply by 25.4 because there are 25.4 mm in 1 inch. .257" x 25.4 = 6.53 mm, therefore, the .257 Wby is a TRUE 6.5 mm. The members who state that the .257 is a 6.35 mm are in error, and Hunting Sailor is entirely right. If the .257 had a .25" bullet it would indeed be .25" x 25.4 = 6.35 mm, but this is not the case...

As to the 6.5 mm bullets sold in the US, they are in fact .264" in diameter, which makes them .264" x 25.4 = 6.70 mm...

1 --- I have had my testosterone filled "He Man" period when I carried "big guns" for everything and the .340 Wby / 250 gr Nosler Partition was my hunt anything/anytime/anywhere load of choice after I moved to the USA. Blame Ross Seyfried for that and see his fateful 1989 Leader of the Pack article that started it all for me https://www.africahunting.com/threads/is-the-338-rum-dead.50336/#post-540868

The .340 Wby is the "hammer of Thor" for sure on game, but on the shooter too, and I finally came to admit that although I practiced enough to master it well under most circumstances, it is a hard caliber to shoot consistently well, and its recoil can hurt if shooting form is less than perfect in a quick shot or a steep uphill shot.

DSC00585.JPG

This is a nice Kudu, by shape and size, that I had to run up a steep hill some hundreds of yards to catch before he crested the ridge at the end of the day after tracking him for hours, and the combination of little time to shoot, very steep uphill angle, and exhaustion from literally running uphill made me handle the rifle poorly. The .340 Wby has power to spare but is very unforgiving...


2 --- In my younger hunting years in France starting in the late 1970's I saw a number of sangliers (wild boars), chamois (European mountain goat), red stags, mouflons, etc. well hit but not going down and sometimes lost. Since the commonly poor locals in the French Alps could not afford expensive Hirtenberger or RWS ammo, many shot Remington ammo that was widely available in France in those days, and the Core-Lokt bullet regularly blew apart. That put me on the path of only shooting Nosler Partition, the only premium bullet offered in factory loads starting in the 1980's, specifically in Federal Premium and Weatherby ammo
I then quickly realized that although the NP killed very well, the entire front core typically vanished, causing a weight loss of typically 40%. To penetrate deep with enough mass, I had to shoot a bullet almost twice as heavy to begin with, and I quickly realized that the Nosler Partitions 150 gr .270 Win, 160 gr 7 mm Mag, even the 180 gr .300 Mag, etc. all did their penetrating with a rear core that in all cases weighed less than, or just about, 100 gr.

IMG_0963d.JPG

This .338 250 gr Nosler Partition killed a great Eland, but lost its entire front core and 40% of its mass doing so, and the rear core alone did not have enough momentum to exit, even though it was launched by a .340 Wby at less than 200 yards.


3 --- This all led me to wonder whether for small and medium game shooting a 100 gr bullet that retains 95%+ of its mass could not be a more modern approach. The advantages would be many, including dramatically reduced recoil, which leads to more accurate shooting.
I actually sought feedback from the AH inmates on two threads:
Can plains game A Frames or TSX bullets be 30% lighter? at https://www.africahunting.com/threads/can-plains-game-a-frames-or-tsx-bullets-be-30-lighter.45537/
and .257 Weatherby Magnum on 300 to 500 lbs antelopes - opinions please at https://www.africahunting.com/threa...0-to-500-lbs-antelopes-opinions-please.45286/


4 --- I have come to the conclusion after owning .243, 6 mm Rem, 6,5x54 MS, .270 Win, 7x64, 7x65R, 7 mm Rem Mag, .308, .300 Norma, .300 Win Mag, .300 Wby, .338 Win Mag, .340 Wby, 9.3x74 R, .375 H&H, .416 Rigby, .458 Win, .458 Lott - Lord, what do I forget! - that a lot are duplicative and that a logical progression of calibers is actually extremely simple:
--- .25 caliber for small and medium size plains and mountain game
--- .30 caliber for large size plains game
--- .35 caliber for medium size dangerous game (OK, .375 it is, because of legal minimum)
--- .40 caliber for large size dangerous game
--- .45 caliber for stopping dangerous game

Yes, I could do it all on PG with a .300 Wby / 165 gr TTSX, and I toyed with the .300 Wby / 130 gr TTSX (I had Lance Hendershot load me a few boxes) but as dchamp observes, a .300 Wby recoils 40% more than a .257 Wby / 100 gr, whether it be with slower 165 gr or faster 130 gr slugs. This would have defeated my purpose of a light recoil, flat shooting, hard hitting, "pure pleasure to shoot" rifle (the .257 Wby recoils about the same as the .270 Win: about 14 ft/lbs. in a R8).

So, I looked at the potential .25 / .26 calibers that would shoot fast and flat.
--- The 6.5 Creedmoor was not even considered, it is a great paper puncher but it does not carry enough energy to be a reliable killer at the longer distances people want to use it (Arizona and Africa are filling up fast with horror stories of medium game hit at 600 or 800 yards and lost...). Beside, it is nothing but a glorified 6.5x55 Swede or more modern .260 Rem, great calibers they are, but they never made a reputation for flat and fast shooting (I am a mountain hunter first and foremost).
--- the .25-06 always was and always will be in the run, but could use a little more speed.
--- The .26 Nosler and 6.5-300 Wby certainly deliver in spade, but I was not interested in bridging the .25 to .30 gap with longer and heavier bullets. I have a .300 Wby to shoot 130 or 165 gr slugs...
--- The .257 Wby has a cult following from many very reliable folks, famous or not, and has really built itself a vast and reliable reputation for killing dead-on-the-spot entirely out of its weight class, since it was introduced ... 76 years ago. Layne Simpson summarized it well in his 2011 In Praise Of The .257 Weatherby Magnum article
https://www.africahunting.com/threads/257-weatherby-magnum-on-300-to-500-lbs-antelopes-opinions-please.45286/page-3#post-702739

5 --- I decided to test the .257 Wby / 100 gr TTSX, if not scientifically but at least somewhat systematically, on a PG Safari during which I experienced 100% one-shot-kill reliability on 17 animals with it. Technically, I fired 19 times but I doubled on the Roan, which I do not believe was really needed because he was petrified and wobbling, dead on its feet, and I purposely took a first back breaking shot at the Vaal Rhebok because his vitals where behind a rock, and I doubled on him when he stood his two front legs. From 50 lbs. Vaal Rhebok to 500 lbs. Roan, I never recovered one bullet. All exited with quarter-sized holes. See my report at https://www.africahunting.com/threa...even-better-than-last-year.52376/#post-567221

See the shot at the Nyala:

In summary, because I love to hunt Chamois, Mouflon, Mountain Goat, Sheep, Vaal Rhebok, Mountain Reedbok, etc. and would love to hunt one day more sheep in more mountains in more countries, and more mountain game such as the Mountain Nyala, I wanted a rifle/cartridge/bullet that can kill small to medium game with authority at 300 yards, up to 400 yards for follow up shots, that is still a relatively light weight hunting rifle (as opposed to a "sniper" rifle), and that can be shot well easily in uncertain positions under uncertain circumstances. I also wanted easily available quality factory ammo, and I wanted a R8 barrel for it.

Admittedly, as dchamp also noted, there is not much to choose between the .257 Wby and the 6.5x68, and I would probably have bought a 6.5x68 barrel if I were still living in France. But 6.5x68 ammo is about impossible to find in the USA, and even in Africa I suspect that one will find .257 Wby ammo easier than 6.5x68 ammo, although maybe not in formerly German Namibia.

Topped with a Zeiss V4 4-16x50 scope with a bullet drop compensation (BDC) turret calibrated for the 100 gr TTSX factory Wby ammo clocked in my barrel, my .257 Wby R8 is as close to the ideal light/medium open country PG rifle and mountain game rifle as I can think of. And in a pinch, it will flatten 600 lbs. elk or Greater Kudu with a broadside double lungs/hear shot if I happen to cross the next world record while hunting mule deer or reedbuck, although I would mount the .300 Wby barrel for a purposeful large PG hunt to be able to take safely quartering shots with a 165 gr TTSX...

Sorry for another post probably too long
:)
 
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Christot

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Concerning metric namings: Bullet diameter = groove diameter of a barrel -0,1mm (usually). Using the bullet diameter is the imperial/SAAMI way of naming calibres. Within the metric approach it's almost always the lands diameter (F) of a barrel which is used for naming calibres. Background is safety. While bullets are easy to measure and therefore not very critical, measuring a barrel is a different story.

Bullets of a cartridge with metric origin are therefore (almost) always bigger in diameter than they would be if a cartridge would have their origin in the US. A 6,5x55 has a bullet diameter of 6,72mm (.264") and a 7x64 of 7,2mm (.284"). You may take a look here: https://bobp.cip-bobp.org/en/tdcc_public?page=2&cartridge_type_id=1 and look for F and Z (Barrel).
 

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mark-hunter

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Actually there is no rule that bullet diameter will be defined as per grove or land diameter in CIP or some European system. There are exeptions, that prove there is no rule.

One well known example:

8mm mauser.
8x57 I (mauser, patrone b) bullet diameter .318
8x57 IS, bullet diameter .323
 

Christot

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Not a real exeption if you know the history. The early ages of nitro cartridges were unsettled and partially mixed with approaches of describing calibres from the black powder ages. In some areas even the metric system was not fully established and the imperial system had differences in real length even though the expression used was the same in different regions (that was the background of introducing the metric system). CIP was introduced 1914, long after the introduction of 8x57 i and is and the number of member states was marginal.
The difference between the diameters in question is finally not really relevant for the game hunted with the same. But what is interesting that by percentage there's a bigger difference between .257 and 6,5mm (.264) (2,6%) than between a 9,3 (.366) and .375 (2,4%). And there are a lot of people thinking that the 9,3 is marginal while the .375 is adequate on dangerous game. If you compare this "war" with the usual differences between groove and land diameter....
Anyway I wouldn't opt for either .257 or .264 in Africa as it's not only forbidden in some countries on plains game like Namibia where 7mm is required but I would like to have something in my hands which I would not think being marginal on a hyena or lion for example. Hunting something like Kudu or even Eland would also not something I'ld be in favor of with such a cartridge. In Europe 6,5mm is the minimum diameter in many countries on anything but varmint.
 

One Day...

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Anyway I wouldn't opt for either .257 or .264 in Africa as it's not only forbidden in some countries on plains game like Namibia where 7mm is required but I would like to have something in my hands which I would not think being marginal on a hyena or lion for example. Hunting something like Kudu or even Eland would also not something I'ld be in favor of with such a cartridge. In Europe 6,5mm is the minimum diameter in many countries on anything but varmint.

Context, context, context...

In this discussion the .257 Wby was never defined as a universal PG caliber (this is why I own a .300 Wby barrel, and why I said: "I would mount the .300 Wby barrel for a purposeful large PG hunt to be able to take safely quartering shots with a 165 gr TTSX" :). The .257 Wby was defined as "close to the ideal light/medium open country PG rifle and mountain game rifle".

PS: actually, for Eland, I bolt the .375 H&H barrel on, as I reckon .300 being marginal on a big bull, and Lord knows they soak up lead and can travel far at that seemingly leisurely trot of theirs...

I do not know how much experience you have hunting Vaal Rhebok or Mountain Reedbuck in the mountains of the Cape, but I assure you that the chances of bumping into a hyena or lion are quite low ;)

Beside, I do not know how much experience you have hunting in Africa, but I assure you that the chances of being able to legally shoot a lion you would bump into are just as low if you do not have a lion on license ;)

As to Namibia, it does NOT have a minimum caliber requirement for rifle hunting but relies on minimum energy measured in Joules. Minimums legally allowed for various species are: 1,350 joules for springbok, duiker, etc.; 2,700 joules for hartebeest, wildebeest, kudu, gemsbok, eland, etc. FYI the .257 Wby / 100 gr TTSX delivers 3,837 Joules and clears all PG requirements, by far. The NAPHA (Namibia Professional Hunting Association) does recommend 7 mm (.284) but it is not a legal mandate, and FYI the .25-06 has an enormous reputation in Namibia with PH and citizens alike :giggle:

As to Europe, I am not aware of a "6.5 mm minimum diameter in many countries on anything but varmint." Last time I hunted there, the .243 Win was still hugely popular - I prefer the 6 mm Rem myself - in France (minimum .222 is memory serves) and Britain (minimum .240 if memory serves), and it was absolutely legal for Roebuck in Germany where the minimum for it was 1,000 Joules @ 100 meters with no minimum caliber requirement. The 6.5 mm and 2,000 Joules @ 100 meters requirement applied to "high" game, and the .257 Wby having a bullet diameter of .257 x 25.4 = 6.52 mm, and energy to spare, clears all requirements :)
 
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Tra3

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@One Day... i concur with your assessment regarding a fast Barnes bullet, although my experience has been with the .270 win shooting 130 gr barnes. And to be more clear, it was my experience watching my two teenagers shoot PG this summer in Namibia. They took 10 head of PG from steenbok to impala to blue wildebeest to zebra, eland and up to giraffe. The larger animals were taken with one shot (The giraffe with a neck shot). They used an R8 with a recoil tube in the stock so the rifle has mild kick and they can shoot it really quite accurately. Couple that with an extremely competent PH (Louw Lotter @Jamy Traut Hunting Safaris) and WOW!

I chose the 7mm RM as I have a good history with that caliber, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use a .257 w with a barnes bullet.
 

Hunting Hitman

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I’m going to hijack this thread a little bit. With Blaser releasing the 6.5 PRC caliber recently I feel very confident going after Plain‘s game in Africa with it. I have taken elk here in the United States with a 6.5 PRC all were one shot kills.
 

Strausser

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As to Namibia, it does NOT have a minimum caliber requirement for rifle hunting but relies on minimum energy measured in Joules. Minimums legally allowed for various species are: 1,350 joules for springbok, duiker, etc.; 2,700 joules for hartebeest, wildebeest, kudu, gemsbok, eland, etc. FYI the .257 Wby / 100 gr TTSX delivers 3,837 Joules and clears all PG requirements, by far. The NAPHA (Namibia Professional Hunting Association) does recommend 7 mm (.284) but it is not a legal mandate, and FYI the .25-06 has an enormous reputation in Namibia with PH and citizens alike :giggle:
Interesting,I thought 7mm was minimum.
A quick scan of “Nature Conservation Ordinance No 4 of 1975” says you are right.
Perhaps my x55 will do after all.
 

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@Hunting Hitman and @Strausser - I would encourage each of you to consult your PH with the caliber you wish to use for the game you would like to take.

Just because a caliber is legal for particular game animals, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for a visiting hunter to put into practice.
 

Strausser

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Yes of course I would consult them first.
And read more,for now.
I’ve found ph’s that use it.
Is it the best option?No.
But my gun is stupidly accurate,I know both the gun and my load very well,and it’s easy to travel with.
And I don’t take shots I’m not comfortable with.
So,that means it’s sort of a little bit on the side of the table at least.
But,there is one gun I really want,and i usually only find it in more suitable calibers.
I also want an 8mm for use where I normally hunt.
Both of those are properly on the table.

@Hunting Hitman and @Strausser - I would encourage each of you to consult your PH with the caliber you wish to use for the game you would like to take.

Just because a caliber is legal for particular game animals, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for a visiting hunter to put into practice.
 

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