Why Undertake the Introduction of a New Caliber?


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HGM22
January 15, 2012, 09:29 PM
As the title says, why do companies seem to constantly try to introduce new calibers? It seems that most times they fail, which likely means the company loses money (production, advertising/promotion, R&D, etc.).

Even when the new caliber is successful, that doesn't mean the introducing company makes a lot of money, does it? It's not like they get a patent or anything like that. Other companies can simply piggyback in and also make money off the new caliber.

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WeedWacker
January 15, 2012, 09:58 PM
Two words: Government Contracts.

The only way a caliber really becomes successful is when a large wealthy (relatively) entity is willing to pour money into making and keeping up production of a caliber of particular design (political or otherwise...:banghead:)

That being said, there are some nice rifle cartridges that came about from wildcatters trying to milk speed/trajectory or consistency from existing rounds they thought could be improved. .270 Win or .25-06 for example.

hammerklavier
January 15, 2012, 10:44 PM
I think they probably make money. The development costs are actually minimal due to the fact that all the cartridges are based on something, or they introduce a whole family like WSM or WSSM.

So they sell a lot of guns and ammo to those who must have the latest and greatest. Then the cartridge becomes obsolete ensuring that they will sell more guns of a different caliber to replace them.

Shadow 7D
January 15, 2012, 11:11 PM
look at internal ballistics, some cases are better for some things
some are shorter and fatter to fit a standard action size
other to make a 'smaller' rifle

other rounds are longer and skinner for more capacity
It's much the same thing with cars, how many truly innovative designs are there, most are just polishing and tweaking the same old thing.

mnrivrat
January 15, 2012, 11:30 PM
Marketing --- A new caliber means a new gun.

willypete
January 16, 2012, 12:42 AM
Marketing --- A new caliber means a new gun.

That. Right. There.

Ignition Override
January 16, 2012, 02:13 AM
It must be similar to the situation with computers and software/hardware, about which I don't know much. My first lap top was bought yesterday and is still in the package.

New calibers always imply "new and improved"?

Skribs
January 16, 2012, 02:30 AM
It must be similar to the situation with computers and software/hardware, about which I don't know much. My first lap top was bought yesterday and is still in the package.

It is nothing like computers. The computer market is set up to allow for advancements, and praise them. The gun market seeks largely to stay the same. If guns were anything like computers, the .45 ACP would have been obsolete 104 years ago.

Keep in mind, OP, that all of the calibers we think of as "old school" today, such as the .38 special, .45 ACP, 9x19, etc...were "new" back in the day. Some succeed, some fail. It's a risk, but if it works, it's worth it.

mljdeckard
January 16, 2012, 02:44 AM
There is a long list of failed cartridges. What baffles me is how long it seems to take to introduce cartridges that are natural evolutions and simple. Like if we had .308 and .243, why did it take so long to come up with .260 and 7mm-08?

kozak6
January 16, 2012, 07:20 AM
It must be similar to the situation with computers and software/hardware, about which I don't know much. My first lap top was bought yesterday and is still in the package.

New calibers always imply "new and improved"?

Yes and no. The big difference is that computing capabilities have increased exponentially over time. If computers were like guns, we'd still be tinkering with mechanical gear driven computers (just made with polymer and stainless steel gears). If guns were like computers, we'd all have pocket ICBM launchers with trillion missile magazines.

However, the purpose of these new calibers is indeed to sell "new and improved" rifles and also ammo, however "new and improved" they may or may not be.

Sam1911
January 16, 2012, 09:04 AM
Why?

Because we, the gun-buying public, believe that there IS a difference between cartridge "A" and cartridge "B" and that we are skilled, smart, and erudite enough to fully realize that difference in some significant way.

We believe that there is SOMETHING that a .270 will do for us that a .30-'06 won't. Something that a WSSM gives us that a RUM or a plain ol' Magnum won't. Something that a 7-'08 will give us that a 7x57 won't. Something that a Bee will give us that a Hornet won't. 37 more ft.lbs. 106 more fps. These things matter!

We believe in the magic of numbers. 4,000 fps. 1,000 yds. Not just arbitrary quantities directly related to no fundamental function of marksmanship or accuracy -- these numbers speak to us and convince us that what we have isn't as good as what we could have. We must have MORE.

Or less. Who doesn't need a reduced-recoil tactical load for their Super-Short-Ultra-Magnum? Just makes sense, right?

Or we must strive for the MAXIMUM, absolutely superlative, most EXXXTREME level of perfect compromise. The best round is the one that pushes the highest velocity but fits in the shortest rifle. Or, that pushes the heaviest possible bullet out of the lightest, most compact autoloader. Or hits that magic middle ground between the quietest round you can put through a suppressor, and the round that tastes the best when holding the cartridge between your teeth.

While every game animal on our continent has been taken with any of a half-dozen or a dozen common cartridges, we know that there's something BETTER about the next "step up." If I've got a thirty caliber something, wouldn't I be better off with a .338? Or a .35? .375? Won't I be able to take game more ethically, farther, faster, deader -- if the number on my gun is bigger?

Or smaller! I could shoot little animals with a .223, but a .22-250 shoots farther. If a .220 Swift or .22-250 is just fine, and more than fine, then doesn't it makes sense to use something else? How about a .204? Or a .17" something? Why? Well, we can come up with reasons to explain every choice.

We don't want to use the same old cartridge that everyone else uses. We can have something special -- BETTER! Something that sets us apart from the crowd and says, "here's a guy who's not content with the status quo, but really knows a thing or two!" And, by the way, we also need commonality with others, and/or the "powers that be." So, we'd better have two -- our "Super-Short-Magnum-Lengthened-Improved," and our .308/.223 so we can always find ammo at any gas station, grocery store, or pet shop -- or take it off of the dead whomevers when they're piling up around our compound walls after the fall!

Mostly because we have no understanding of or ability to accept the idea of sufficiency or of diminishing returns. We have a dozen factors that might go into making a shot, and we can control maybe eight of them. Of those eight, probably six are factors of knowledge and skill developed through instruction, practice, and experience. The last two are "what gun" and "what cartridge." They contend for the bottom 2% of relevance, and drift ever farther into insignificance the more we nitpick between identical options.

So that's what we dedicate all our time and effort to. And the manufacturers see dollar signs every time they convince us that we'll be a rock star if we just had one more letter in the acronym of our cartridge name.

ball3006
January 16, 2012, 10:01 AM
It is marketing..........there are zillions of poor shooters/hunters out there that are always looking for the "magic bullet/rifle" that will make them a better shooter/hunter. As WC Fields said, "there is a sucker born every minute"....................chris3

303tom
January 16, 2012, 10:14 AM
It is marketing..........there are zillions of poor shooters/hunters out there that are always looking for the "magic bullet/rifle" that will make them a better shooter/hunter. As WC Fields said, "there is a sucker born every minute"....................chris3
I like that one !!!!!!!!!

Sam1911
January 16, 2012, 10:45 AM
As WC Fields said, "there is a sucker born every minute"....................chris3

PT Barnum is attributed with having said that one, though there's really no record of it.

W.C.Fields' great quote was "Never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump."

Loosedhorse
January 16, 2012, 10:47 AM
Smith and Wesson introduced the most powerful handgun in the world in 1935, the .357 Magnum. In 1955, they did it again with the .44 Magnum.

And then they watched themselves be slowly and increasingly eclipsed (starting, perhaps, 2 years later when Dick Casull introduced his wildcat .454, even though no one made a revolver for it until 1983).

Well, in 2003, they (under new ownership) finally decided they'd had enough. I suspect the fact that the .500 has been a commercial success was just icing on the cake.

Maybe the .357 SIG and the .45 GAP calibers actually accomplish something. But the .500 pushed pistol caliber power limits--even besting standard .45-70 loads (supposing that's a pistol caliber).

:D

Smokey in PHX
January 16, 2012, 10:48 AM
Very good post, Sam. It is all about marketing. If you think about the Judge handgun, many people laughed at it in the beginning. Now there is a whole family of them. Amazing what an exploding watermelon will do to convince people to buy that gun.

With the poor economy and most sales of everything but necessities down, gun sales are up. If the data is published on gun sales for last year, more guns were probably sold than any other year. Ruger is trying to sell 1,000,000 guns in a 12 month time period and they will probably be successful. They have introduced more new models the past 12 months than any year or two that I remember.

New calibers will continue to be introduced and we will continue buy them whether we need them or not.

mavracer
January 16, 2012, 11:20 AM
It's a profit thing. Companys know costs and what thee product needs to sell for and how many units it takes to be profitable.
I know Ruger for instance has made several special runs of 5000 units. Even their 480s which were a commercial flop are out of stock at the distributer level. Which tells me Ruger made money.

Ghost Tracker
January 16, 2012, 11:47 AM
It's like my dear ole' Pappy once told me about the new golf clubs I was considering. "Boy", he said, "listen here & remember this. A bad golfer buys new clubs while a good golfer...practices". Y'all would've enjoyed my Pop. I surely did. Now, go PRACTICE! ;)

HoosierQ
January 16, 2012, 01:02 PM
I think there is a niche, seemingly not well filled for a cartridge designed specifically for a short barrelled AR-15. Something along the lines of a 6x40 or 6.5x40 or something more or less like that.

My only point is that I think sometimes a new type of gun comes along for which existing calibers don't exist. I am not sure however, how often that has actually occured...the Garand was orginally NOT 30-06 but they had so much ammo they back tracked. I think a lot of folks would agree that the 5.56 x 45 is not ideal for a 14" barrel but there is so much of it and so many magazines that it was prohbitive to come up with a cartridge better suited to CQB type stuff from a fairly short barrel.

Shadow 7D
January 16, 2012, 02:37 PM
5.56 x 45 is not ideal for a 14" barrel

Here you are mistaking loads for caliber
you CAN load a 5.56 that is designed for a 14" barrel, BUT your standard, off the mega store's shelf 5.56 is designed for a longer barrel.

MachIVshooter
January 16, 2012, 02:59 PM
We could dump about 90% of the cartridges in existence today and still do everything we need to do.

Sam pretty well outlined the reasons so many exist and are being constantly introduced. Some of them are facelifted versions of older rounds, some exactly duplicate existing rounds but are designed to work in specific guns. Most, however, are simply an attempt to bolster sales.

I have a few oddballs myself. I have a .17 Rem and .220 Swift. Yes, a .223 could do most of what they do, but it splits the difference. The .17 rem has no recoil, moderate report and doesn't leave nasty exit holes on predators. The .220 reaches out considerably further than the .223, at the cost of noise and barrel life.

Same thing with big game guns. A .30-06 can certainly do it all on this continent, but I have a .25-06 and an 8mm Rem Mag. Why? Both shoot flatter than any .30-06 load, the .25-06 does so with low recoil and is perfect for medium game, while the big 8 considerably extends range on elk-sized critters beyond what an '06 should ever be expected to do.

I do have .223's and .30-06's, they're just not hunting rifles.

Most of the other cartridges I stock have less (if any) justification other than I wanted them.

Variety is the spice of life. I see nothing wrong with having myriad cartridges to choose from. Just don't get caught up in the hype and decide the round that has been working for you for years or decades is suddenly inadequate because it's not a Remchester Super Short Beltless Ultra Magnum that is touted as being second only to 20mm by the gun rags.

ball3006
January 16, 2012, 06:34 PM
out of my TC with a 10 inch barrel. I can do one inch at 100 yards and keep them in the center of a paper plate at 200 yards.......But, I reload with a powder tailored for the short barrel. Regular factory ammo gives a Mosin Nagant fireball where I don't get a fireball with my reloads.....chris3

jmr40
January 16, 2012, 07:15 PM
Most new inventions don't work out. But if we didn't keep trying, we'd still be hunting with spears.

While all the old cartridges still work as well as they always did, that doesn't mean that something new might not offer an advantage. Most of the time the advantage is so small that the idea doesn't catch on. Often an idea will sit unused for years waiting for some other critical piece of technology to catch up making it useable.

We have had the ability to shoot small bullets very fast for a very long time, but small bullets have never held up to fast impact velocities requiring larger caliber, heavier bullets to get good penetration on larger game. Just within the last few years bullet technology has reached the point were small fast bulltets will now hold up on large game. This opens the door for new loadings that would have been impractical just a few years ago.

Companies that don't innovate and develop new products quickly become stagnant and die. You can only keep making the same old thing, the same old way and keep customers for so long.

We could dump about 90% of the cartridges in existence today and still do everything we need to do.



This is absolotely correct. But many of the cartridges that overlap each other in performance were the building blocks that lead to newer better rounds. But folks have an old rifle they like,in a chambering they like and stick with it. And it makes sense. The 300 WSM offers a few advantages over the older 300 Win mag. But the diffferences are small enough that if I already owned the 300 Win mag I probably wouldn't trade.

Ky Larry
January 16, 2012, 07:19 PM
Several good points have been made. I believe a lot of the buying public is looking for a free lunch. People are looking for a new caliber/load/bullet/gun that will let them bypass practice and training. When they miss a shot at a trophy elk, they blame everything and everyone except themselves. Instead of putting lead down range, they run down to the gunshop and trade guns. They just know that that elk would be in the freezer if they had a new .300 Ultra/Fat/Short/Whizbang/Megaboomer instead of an old .300 Winchester Mag. Folks want to substitute firepower for skill and the gun and ammo companies are only to happy to oblige.

HankB
January 16, 2012, 07:25 PM
Someone please explain to me why Winchester, Remington, and Ruger all introduced their own short, fat, .30 caliber magnums with virtually identical ballistics, but which are not interchangeable?

And . . . why? Sure, they theoretically are going to be more accurate than the standard .300 Win Mag, but it will take one heck of a finely made rifle to take advantage of this theoretical advantage.

And the other proprietary rounds from Winchester and Ruger . . . do they really accomplish anything for the end user that already-established rounds don't, especially when used with new propellants?

Well, no. And they're not meant to - they're meant to pump up sales by hoodwinking some poor sucker into buying a proprietary round with higher prices and limited availability in order to pump up sales & profits.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing bad about the ballistics of rounds like the .300 WSSM, RSAUM, or RCM. And they can be used with a (very) slightly shorter action . . . which I consider insignificant. But I really don't see why one should compromise logistics & availability for rounds that are just a wee bit less powerful than the commonly available .300 Win mag.

ShawnC
January 16, 2012, 08:18 PM
Why?

Because we, the gun-buying public, believe that there IS a difference between cartridge "A" and cartridge "B" and that we are skilled, smart, and erudite enough to fully realize that difference in some significant way.

We believe that there is SOMETHING that a .270 will do for us that a .30-'06 won't. Something that a WSSM gives us that a RUM or a plain ol' Magnum won't. Something that a 7-'08 will give us that a 7x57 won't. Something that a Bee will give us that a Hornet won't. 37 more ft.lbs. 106 more fps. These things matter!

We believe in the magic of numbers. 4,000 fps. 1,000 yds. Not just arbitrary quantities directly related to no fundamental function of marksmanship or accuracy -- these numbers speak to us and convince us that what we have isn't as good as what we could have. We must have MORE.

Or less. Who doesn't need a reduced-recoil tactical load for their Super-Short-Ultra-Magnum? Just makes sense, right?

Or we must strive for the MAXIMUM, absolutely superlative, most EXXXTREME level of perfect compromise. The best round is the one that pushes the highest velocity but fits in the shortest rifle. Or, that pushes the heaviest possible bullet out of the lightest, most compact autoloader. Or hits that magic middle ground between the quietest round you can put through a suppressor, and the round that tastes the best when holding the cartridge between your teeth.

While every game animal on our continent has been taken with any of a half-dozen or a dozen common cartridges, we know that there's something BETTER about the next "step up." If I've got a thirty caliber something, wouldn't I be better off with a .338? Or a .35? .375? Won't I be able to take game more ethically, farther, faster, deader -- if the number on my gun is bigger?

Or smaller! I could shoot little animals with a .223, but a .22-250 shoots farther. If a .220 Swift or .22-250 is just fine, and more than fine, then doesn't it makes sense to use something else? How about a .204? Or a .17" something? Why? Well, we can come up with reasons to explain every choice.

We don't want to use the same old cartridge that everyone else uses. We can have something special -- BETTER! Something that sets us apart from the crowd and says, "here's a guy who's not content with the status quo, but really knows a thing or two!" And, by the way, we also need commonality with others, and/or the "powers that be." So, we'd better have two -- our "Super-Short-Magnum-Lengthened-Improved," and our .308/.223 so we can always find ammo at any gas station, grocery store, or pet shop -- or take it off of the dead whomevers when they're piling up around our compound walls after the fall!

Mostly because we have no understanding of or ability to accept the idea of sufficiency or of diminishing returns. We have a dozen factors that might go into making a shot, and we can control maybe eight of them. Of those eight, probably six are factors of knowledge and skill developed through instruction, practice, and experience. The last two are "what gun" and "what cartridge." They contend for the bottom 2% of relevance, and drift ever farther into insignificance the more we nitpick between identical options.

So that's what we dedicate all our time and effort to. And the manufacturers see dollar signs every time they convince us that we'll be a rock star if we just had one more letter in the acronym of our cartridge name.

^^^---Bravo to this. Think how much cheaper ammo would be if they narrowed it all down to just a few calibers. I'm not advocating this (nor am I implying that Sam1911 is), as everyone has a love affair with their own favorite round. But if in the early cartridge develop stage manufacturers had developed one .30 cal, one big bore .44-.50 cal, one rimfire .22, and a light and a magnum pistol cartridge ammo would be a lot less expensive because there would be less call for retooling.

Of course that's just me, and variety is the spice of life. Everyone has different wants and needs. I call it freedom.

leadcounsel
January 16, 2012, 08:34 PM
Very good question. Upon casual observation, it seems that no "new" calibers have taken hold and one could assume that the millions of $ spend on R&D, advertising, making guns for the caliber, etc. were all losing ventures.

.40 S&W was a success

But the failures are:

.327 mag
WSM and WSSM calibers
.300 wisper
6.5 and 6.8

And on and on...

HGM22
January 16, 2012, 08:57 PM
I guess my question becomes, are these companies losing money by re-tooling to make these new guns and ammo and having the caliber fail? Are the profits from introducing a successful caliber so huge that its worth the risk?

If we take .40S&W for example; did S&W really make all that much money off it? Were S&Ws the only guns chambered in .40S&W for a time, and they were just flying off the shelves? Perhaps introducing new calibers doesn't necessarily benefit the introducing company so much as it does the industry as a whole (as we know almost every pistol maker has .40S&W as an option).

ns66
January 16, 2012, 09:31 PM
It's like my dear ole' Pappy once told me about the new golf clubs I was considering. "Boy", he said, "listen here & remember this. A bad golfer buys new clubs while a good golfer...practices". Y'all would've enjoyed my Pop. I surely did. Now, go PRACTICE! ;)
+1

also these days government contracts can't be won by merits alone, there are too many other factors involved

jpwilly
January 16, 2012, 10:23 PM
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

willypete
January 16, 2012, 11:56 PM
But the failures are:

.327 mag
WSM and WSSM calibers
.300 wisper
6.5 and 6.8

And on and on...

You should probably rethink some of those. Especially the last three. They're still making guns in .327, and ammo is still produced. Pretty sure you ought not to count that one out for a few years yet, either.

Owen Sparks
January 17, 2012, 03:39 PM
Sometimes it is to adapt better ballistic preformance to a very popular existing platform like an AR15 or a Glock.

The 6.5 and 6.8 are not the BEST rifle rounds by far, but they are about the best that you can fit into the limited size of a standard AR magazine well. Ditto for the .40 S&W as it is the biggest round that can be adapted to a 9MM sized pistol frame.

BTW, the 6.8 is not a failure. It has a steady fan base of hunters. It is just a nitch cartridge for a special use and is not likely to be sold at WallMart as it offers no advantage over common sporting rounds EXCEPT in an AR where it shines.

twofifty
January 17, 2012, 06:22 PM
Without all those nifty calibers we wouldn't have those 'x Vs Y' threads, or better yet the "What's the best...?" questions.

Why blame the manufacturers when it's the wildcatters' fault... ;)

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