Cartridge comparisons and the law of diminishing returns.

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by R.W.Dale, Dec 22, 2010.

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  1. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    Of late we've had multiple threads involving comparing one cartridge to another, One recurring theme appears to be that many folks don't grasp how bigger-faster isn't necessarily better and may not be worth the costs of a bigger cartridge.

    To start off lets compare 264win mag to 260rem and 6.5grenedel

    120g bullets in all cases, velocities as per my "ballistic" Iphone app. Case capacities represent grs of water.

    the 264 win mag has a case capacity of just under 80grs @ 64,000 psi

    The 260 comes in at 54grs @ 60,000 psi

    Lastly the diminutive 6.5 Grendel which holds 35.0grs @ 50,000 psi

    This means the 264 magnum is 128% larger than the Grendel and 48% larger than the 260rem with a much higher pressure rating to boot.

    Given this disparity someone not in the know MIGHT assume that the 264 is going to be twice as fast as the 6.5grendel. So lets compare the velocity numbers for 120grain loads

    264 mag- Nosler 120g B-tip 3250 FPS
    260 rem- Federal 120g B-tip 2950 FPS
    6.5 Grendel- AA 120g B-tip 2520 FPS

    as a percent of 264's velocity

    260---89%
    6.5G--70%


    So given just how little you're giving up with a smaller cartridge in terms of ballistics the real question becomes a matter not of bullet drop but one of Powder consumption, recoil and barrel life. Is it really worth in the case of 260 vs 264 burning almost 50% more powder and suffering with only a quarter of the barrel life to gain 10% in external ballistics.

    For me and many others probably not. THIS is what folks are referring to when they speak of the law of "diminishing returns". Which all boils down to the fact that no matter how big your case the expanding gas from the burnt propellant can only get out that hole in the end of the case so fast to push on the bullet and it only has the length of the barrel to try to do so.

    And no I'm not on some sort of vindictive anti magnum or 264 trip. These examples were used as they represent one of the most extreme spreads where the same bullets can be compared (apples to apples)
     
  2. 68wj

    68wj Member

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    Makes sense to me. Use enough gun, but there's no sense in burning up barrels or detaching a retina when you aren't getting any benefit.
     
  3. 45Fan

    45Fan Member

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    Could be that is the reasoning that has kept the older chamberings alive for so many years. My '06 is plenty for just about anything I will ever hunt, no need to abuse my shoulder or wallet shooting one of the .30 magnums.
     
  4. chrome_austex

    chrome_austex Member

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    So thats external ballistics, but how about terminal ballistics? I would hazard a guess that they won't suffer similarly skewed diminishing returns.
     
  5. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    To an extent yes BUT remember there is only one degree of dead and if a lesser cartridge is getting the job done higher velocity isn't going to bring anything new to the terminal ballistics table.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2010
  6. wombat13

    wombat13 Member

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    700 fps difference translates into a big difference in drop and wind deflection.
     
  7. joed

    joed Member

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    Precisely. Reminds me of my .223 experience. For over 30 years I used a .25-06 for ground hog hunting. A few years ago I purchased a Savage 10fp in .223. Very accurate gun and I was really impressed with accuracy at 100 yards.

    This summer I tried the .223 for ground hog hunting. All the attributes vanished on ranges beyond 200 yards. After the third outing I quit using the .223 and went back to the 06, there's a lot to be said for a flat trajectory. Guess I was spoiled. Wonder what would have happened had things been different and I used the .223 for 30 years first?

    I'm a fan of overbore cartridges, have been my whole shooting life. It's just so much easier to hit something far away.
     
  8. Bird Dog II

    Bird Dog II Member

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    In 90% to 95% of the cases in the field, the .260 would do every bit as well as a .264. In fact, I'll go so far as to say if you took 40 new hunters of equal ability, gave 20 a .264 and the other 20 a .260 and tracked their kill rates for 20 years, the .260 group would do noticably better. They would be more apt to practice and in long range shooting nothing is more important. The .260 is cheaper and more fun to shoot. You could run 200 or 300 hundred rounds through a .260 each year with proper cooling and cleaning techniques no sweat. Try that with the .264 for 20 years and one you'd go broke; two your throat would be way gone before the 20 year test period was up. Sure you'd have a few natural .264 sharp shooters who need little practice. With new hunters, you'd have a few that got muzzle shy from it too. The .260 group would likely learn better stalking and positioning skills too.

    Full disclosure - I own at least one very overbore magnum....just sayin
     
  9. USSR

    USSR Member

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    I've followed some threads on other sites, where I swear there was dead, sorta dead, and really dead.:D

    Don
     
  10. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    Don't forget about UNdead?!? Which seems to be a growing concern amongst gun forums.


    My point with the comparisons above really isn't to show that everyone can get by with a 6.5grendel, that particular example is just given to illustrate how far the opposite way you need go from a belted magnum to see a meaningful diffrence. No the real nuts and bolts of my OP was more to illustrate how little diffrence there is from the "middle of the road" rounds like the 260/6.5x55 and the top tier belted mags.


    On wind and drop the faster round holds an advantage sure. BUT ONLY out to it's max PBR, beyond which with either chambering you must know the drop and drift compensation and apply it ACCURATELY. If you can't do this the only thing the faster round will do for you is miss to the "inside" of the slower round.

    Using an 8" kill zone on a 200yd ZERO with a 15mph crosswind the 264's PBR is only appx 20yds farther than the 260's using the above load

    (I'll post the exact table tomorrow)
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2010
  11. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Member

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    OK, step away from the same caliber comparison for a second - how much more dead is the same critter from a 264 vs a 22? I mean there are accounts of native alaskans shooting moose with a 22 and tracking it the next day to see where it lay down to die. Is the moose any more dead (?) - no :( But it's last day was miserable and if they don't find it a - a total waste :(

    Not saying the 264 is needed, but there is way more to the hunting equation that caliber and spent energy? Where and how you hunt is important too. A prongy in Wyo with a stiff breeze and 250 yds of open grass land is different that an eastern farm field. Picking the gun and the round for the conditions makes sense. And energy goes up with the square of the velocity, so it takes a bunch in the case to get the next 100 fps. Is it worth it, maybe :banghead:
     
  12. biggameballs

    biggameballs Member

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    Unless I'm hunting something that can eat me you wont see me anywhere near a belted magnum. Any of the rounds from the 308 family will kill anything on the north american continent aside from probably a brown bear.

    I deer hunt with guys that shoot 300 win mags and use 185 gr bullets and those rounds zip through the deer so fast and transfer so little of the energy that the exit wounds usually look about twice the size of the entrance wound. I've shot deer with smaller 130 grain projectiles from my 270 and the exit wound was the size of a softball and the deer dropped in its tracks.
     
  13. Freedom_fighter_in_IL

    Freedom_fighter_in_IL Member

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    It's already been said but I'll say it again just for giggles. Match the weapon to the situation. Clean, quick, efficient kills is what a hunter SHOULD strive for. Use the cartridge that is #1- within your ability to fire accurately #2-capable of taking that animal in a quick manner so there is little to no suffering.

    If you are a paper shooter or ,like me, like to "bang the gongs at ridiculously long ranges", then whatever floats your boat, tickles your fancy, makes you smile, pisses off the wife, or whatever you wish to insert there is for you.
     
  14. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    Don't all of the above piss off the wife?

    I hunt for sport, I eat what I kill and I shop when need be. I had decades of listening to the same old stories of guys saving up for a .375 H&H, the Holy Grail of all cartridges. It was not until the last year or two that I took a serious look at other opinions on these matters.

    First, my only mag. is a .22, second, I doubt there are any others in my future. Third, I spend more time these days having a good look at what a bullet did before chopping up steaks. That last one has over and over convinced me that slower can indeed be as or MORE effective than Ridiculously Ultrapowered Megasonic.

    I don't track wounded animals because I've never had the need (save one squirrel).
     
  15. Jake1996

    Jake1996 member

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    No dispute I think the 264 performs better with 140 and 160 grainers than the others with the same weights with 120s there may be little advantage to the 264 because of the amount of powder it takes but where it shines through is 140 and 160s
     
  16. Geno

    Geno Member

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    Jake1996:

    Ol' bean! You's finally talkin' uncommon sense!!! The concept of the "magnum" cartridge was not for light bullets, rather for heavy bullets. I doubt many would assume a ballistic lack-of-superiority to a 250 grain slug fired by a .30-30 Win to a .30-378 Wea Mag. Now, should one fire a 55 grain sabot, surely the .30-30 Win appears, in a statistical sense, to be every bit the .30-378 Wea Mag's equal. However, the .30-30 Win shall never be considered to be so formidable a foe as the .30-378 Wea Mag, nor even the .300 WM!

    Sure enough, apples is apple, an' oranges is oranges. They both make for right fine juice. But they ain't cut from the same tree. If I intend to fire a light slug, I go point of rationality in terms of powder expended. So, I like the .223 Rem over a .220 Swift for firing 53 grain rounds. But, if I were to elect to fire 70 grains projectiles and above, I would likely opt for a .22-250 Re or .220 Swift...the equivalent of the "magnum".

    It is a fantastic thread. And I do not in any way shape or form disagree with the OP's position. But, I think there are other variables at play.

    Geno
     
  17. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    There are and I agree that a magnums place is not as most nowadays see them as to shoot light bullets faster (150g 300wm loads for example) but rather to shoot heavier bullets at the SAME velocity as lesser rounds.

    But to go back to the poor old 264wm this cartridge was hamstrung from the get go with a short throat optimized for no heavier than 140g bullets and more ideally suited to 120g pills. (we should get jerkface11 to post a pic of his 160g .264 loads they're quite sad really) Just like with your 22-250 0r 220 analogy they would perform better than .223 with heavier bullets. Unfortunately there are no factory twist rates or load data that allows these rounds to take advantage of projectiles much longer and heavier than a 63g sp

    Then with the 7mm caliber up to 35 caliber magnums we've been blessed with what are really inordinately powerful STD cartridges based on 06 and x57 case which really do a good job of bridging the gap between magnums and short action or older sporting rounds.

    But where a magnum still reigns supreme is when you step up to the big stuff .375+ where if you can handle the recoil nothing else is a substitute for a big high pressure belted mag

    on the other extreme .257 cal down you're pretty much already as overbore as is useful when you neck down short action rounds. As such the magnumization of these calibers never really caught on.

    The current crop of new uber magnums (30-378 for example) I'm not so convinced the bring anything new or useful to the table except in very limited and specific shooting situations.

    Either way it's my stand that the history of most modern high velocity bottlenecked magnums in terms of marketing and the casual shooting public's perception is completely opposite of how it should be. Hang around any ammo counter long enough around deer season and you're bound to hear someone crowing about how much flatter XXmag shoots generally accompanied by an account of how much of the deer it blew off the carcass. As you point out Heavier as fast and not the same weight faster is where a magnum shines. A prime example of this is the excellent 338 win mag.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2010
  18. Jake1996

    Jake1996 member

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    Yeup I bought that gun for one always liked the caliber and I found a nice used m-70 in that caliber otherwise would have bought a 257 Roberts or 270 win both non magnum rounds and both old and time tried and to be truthful that family of magnums is the only one Id own
     
  19. Daniel Boone

    Daniel Boone Member

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    I would have to say that you are preaching to the choir with this one.
    I keep telling people how they do not need bonded bullets either to kill a simple whitetail deer - yet they proclaim unless you have a 300 Remington Ultra Mag with Trophy Bonded Bullets - that you cannot kill one - and unless you have a Leupold scope in Talley mounts - you can't even hit one.

    At some point you have to weigh cost vs results.
    I like to eat deer meat and I like to shoot deer.
    If my ammo costs $50 a box, I am not going to go out and throw lead at deer.
    This is the reason why more deer in Pennsylvania is shot with the basic Remington Core Loct's ammo.
    The ammo is cheap and it is available at most stores and hunters has learned to rely on it to put meat in the freezer. Pure and simple.

    When I see one of these idiots trying to shoot a 50 lbs whitetail deer at 60 yards with a Ultra Mag - I just laugh at them and keep going.
    You can't argue with idiots.

    Unless a person is shooting 500 or more yards - there is no reason for a rifle like that.
    And if you cannot get any closer then 500 yards to a deer - then you need to learn how to hunt a little better.
    Most whitetails will let you walk, practically right up to them before they will run.
    At least to 100 yards before they will even run.
     
  20. browningguy

    browningguy Member

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    I think people that like magnums should get them, because yes there is a real difference in performance. Sometimes it is a small difference, but sometimes every little bit helps. While I don't load for any of the .264 cartridges as I recall the magnum will throw a 140 gr. bullet as fast or faster than the .260 will throw a 120. That's a lot more horsepower, much less drop and less windage also.

    I usually hunt with 7x57, .308 and 30-06. But I also sometimes hunt with a .300 Winnie. The 06 will shoot 180 gr. loads as fast as the .308 shoots 150/165 gr. loads, and the .300 will shoot 190/200 grain bullets as fast as the 180's in an '06. You don't always need the extra penetration and weight, but sometimes it helps.
     
  21. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    A few years ago, me and my dad teamed up with some other strangers on the same hunt to recover some elk they had shot the night before. My dad had hit with his '06, They thought they had hit the same animal and knew it went down, and another animal had been wounded and wandered off. That hit was from a .308. The hunt was over, it had been the last day, we were out the NEXT day to recover in the snow. Half of us went up a steep canyon to part out the down one, the other half tracked the other one. They saw it, two ridges over, still walking, and they were unable to shoot again because the hunt was over. I did some asking, elk have a serious fat layer, and a entrance wound can seal up pretty effectively if there isn't critical cavity trauma inside.

    Lesson here? If you are in doubt, make sure you use enough gun. I have no idea what load of .308 they used, or if it was a bad hit and something with 'magnum' in the title would have helped, if it was a 165 gr, but 180 at the same velocity would have done better,but I don't ever want to see a wounded animal two ridges over that I hurt, and I can't finish either. If I get more serious about elk hunting, i will likely get something with 'magnum' in the title.
     
  22. Al LaVodka

    Al LaVodka member

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    Sorry, but if I can't walk into the average gunshop and find cartridges for it (except antiques) I'm not buying the gun that chambers it. There is little new under the sun and the differences between modern cartidges that have come and stayed vs. those that will surely be eventually gone is really very little. At least as far as what we might need...

    I don't care if it is 9 or 10 angels that can dance on the head of a pin. REALLY need to squeek out a little extra power for that special North American biggest game hunt? Try a WWII Ackley Improved .30-06 which you can still always shoot regular .30-06's out of.

    Al
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2010
  23. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Member

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    Well here it is and yes it does look sad e55f1cf2.jpg

    In a couple weeks I'm getting the throat lengthened.
     
  24. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    Thank you jerkface

    Thats a great illustration, care to share the details of the bullet shown.
     
  25. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

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    Remember, the original .264" 140gr factory load was a 2-diameter bullet. The foward portion of the bullet was smaller in diameter, much like a bore-rider cast bullet design. The idea was to increase the ballistic coefficient as much as possible and maintain expansion, ect. Also, perhaps the factory could recut the throat of a "shot out" barrel, and thus extend the life expectancy of an already "short life span" expectancy for this cartridge. Who knows now that half century has passed since it's release.

    I more or less agree with the original poster. I have a couple of the mega-magnums, just for the joy of it. I picked up both as what I call "pawn shop pupppies". Just like the unwanted "pound puppies", these had been "dumped" at a pawn shop either because of cost of ammo (.257wbymag- cheapest ammo is $40 a box and hard to find), and the other due to cost of ammo AND obnoxious recoil (.300Rem.Ultra Mag. $50+ per box and really, really hard to find at retail shops -yes both are available easily on internet.)

    I reload, and have a sizeable quantity of surplus .50BMG powder. I find that these are really excellent cartridges but not for everyone. Even I don't use them regularily, but there are times and circumstances that I enjoy using them. Both have taken deer cleanly, without the "super dooper ultra bonded partitioned, monolithic tipped tripple banded xxx,.....".

    But, I'm a rifle "looney" and will use most any excuse to justify the purchase of what I consider an "interesting" firearm. That they are, and excellent performance just adds to the allure. That and buying components in bulk, or making cases from range pickups (.257wby from once fired 7mmRemMag) adds to the curiosity of "what if"?
     
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