The .300 Winchester Magnum

Introduced in 1963, The .300 Winchester Magnum is a very successful cartridge. It can handle just about any game animal in the world (where minimum caliber laws allow). It can be chambered in rifles with a standard-length action and does, in fact, provide a substantial increase in power (as well as a flatter trajectory) over the venerable and highly-regarded .30-'06.

This cartridge uses a large, belted case. Back in the 1950s it was still thought that a belted case provided benefits over a non-belted case. Today we know better, but the belt really doesn't hurt anything. This beast of a round burns a lot of powder and has significant recoil (dependent, of course on the weight of the rifle). It is also very accurate in a good rifle with good loads. Many long-range shooting records have been set with the .300 Win Mag.

About the name -- it is just another of those choices made by gun and ammunition makers. It is really a .308" calibre round and probably should have been called the ".308 Winchester Magnum" but Winchester didn't see it that way.

I have a .300 Win Mag rifle that is still unfinished. It was made from a 1917 Enfield that was rechambered and shortened to a 20" barrel. Really, that's a very short barrel for this cartridge, but the rifle was for sale at a good price. I decided to replace the stock because (among other reasons) I thought the accuracy was suffering because of the sideways pressure that stock was applying to the barrel. It remains to be completed. Before I began the stock project I shot it a few times. It would never produce a decently tight group for me (that couldn't be the fault of the shooter, now could it?); it recoiled hard; it was LOUD; it was fun to shoot.

There may be newer cartridges that have some small advantage over the .300 Win Mag but not by a heck of a lot. This is a hunting or a competition round. It is useful as a military or police sniper round. It is really too much cartridge to try to use for home-defense.