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What factors determine whether a cartridge will survive?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by brekneb, Sep 18, 2009.

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  1. brekneb

    brekneb Member

    Nov 26, 2005
    Like the title reads, I'm wondering what determines whether a cartridge will be successful?

    I'm guessing:

    1. Ballistics are adequate or more than adequate.

    2. Ballistics are too similar to something else that is already proven.

    3. No Law Enforcement interest

    4. No military interest.

    What else is there? And am I even close on my four above guesses?
  2. Afy

    Afy Member

    Dec 31, 2006
    Marketing and hype...

    A lot of cartridges have no Mil or LE interest but are popular, like the 6.5x47 or any number of hunting cartrdges.

    But marketing is important, one of the reasons why the .260 isnt as popular as it should be.

    Also the availability of commercially manfuactured ammo goes a long way in ensuring uptake and popularity.
  3. LightningMan

    LightningMan Member

    Apr 1, 2008
    IMO Price and availability of ammunition can make a difference. I mean, would you buy a pistol/rifle thats it's ammunition is hard to find or expensive to buy compared to other calibers that are just as capable of doing the same job. LM
  4. Smokey Joe

    Smokey Joe Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    Another factor...

    in whether a cartridge survives would be how hard it's pushed by the gun or outdoor writers. The .270 Win would be an example, which was lauded loud and long by Jack O'Connor, and has become a very standard cartridge, although not LE nor military. It does have fine ballistics.

    Another factor in the US is if it is to survive and prosper it can't be named anything metric--the American consumer has a morbid fear of the millimeter. Now you understand that I'm speaking in generalities. I know about the 7mm Magnum, the 8mm Magnum, the 8mm-06, and so on--but these are NOT mainstream cartridges like the thutty-thutty, the .308, or the ought-six. Nine millimeter pistol rounds seem to be the exception to this, but the most popular of them all isn't called a nine, it's the .357 magnum--which, along with the .38 spl, are LE cartridges. And of course the military is now using nines as well.

    Which brings up another factor in survival--Inertia. When it came out, the .30-30 was a wonder-cartridge. Now it is very much a low-power item, comparatively speaking, and yet I suspect that more deer have legally fallen to .30-30 rounds than any other single cartridge, over the years. Given the number of rifles so chambered that exist, and given traditional attitudes toward "Grandpa's rifle," or such, I am confident that the .30-30 will be popular as long as rifles are used for hunting in this country.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2009
  5. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    Oregon Coast
    I'm going to be the exception, since I like, and own, several "obsolete", or obscure calibers. For instance, I shoot the 9x21, 9x23 and 9x25, plus .41AE in handguns. I also shoot 10mm, .38 Super and 357 Sig. The latter aren't what you would consider "obsolete", but they really aren't "mainstream", either.

    I load and shoot these calibers because I like them, not because of marketing hype, or certainly not availability. I shoot them because they do something for me that I want, which is normally accuracy and/or ballistics. Sure, some of them are hard to find brass for, but when I "adopt" a new to me caliber, I make sure I can get enough of the basic components to keep me supplied for awhile.

    While the above are all pistol calibers, my all time favorite is the .45-120 Sharps Straight. This thumper will take any North American game and most African game, but that's not why I like it. I like the fact that my rifle in this caliber is supurbly accurate, fun to shoot, and most people won't even try to shoot it when offered the opportunity. The 3.25" long case scares them off. I just like the caliber.

    My main hunting caliber has become the .45-70, since I took a moose with it 2 years ago and saw how effective it can be compared to "high power wonder magnums". When the guide told me he had never heard a bullet thump a moose as hard, and loud, as my 405 grain bullet did, and the moose went down with one shot, it confirmed my belief in the round. All the other hunters in camp were using .300 Winchester Magnums, and I was the only one who took a moose with just one shot, and only lost a handful of meat, while the others were losing whole shoulders to multiple shots with the high speed magnum bullets.

    I got a little off topic, but my point is I don't care about marketing hype or who adopts a caliber. I have many calibers that have been adopted by both military and police, but they aren't my favorites, while the others are. I'm also not mainstream, so take my comments in context.

    Hope this helps.

  6. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

    Nov 14, 2008
    Cornelia, GA
    Your mother told me you've always been exceptional. :D

    I agree with above. Especially that marketing plays a huge roll in influencing magazine writers, who then try to influence people on both sides of the counter at local gun shops. This is a multi-million dollar industry, folks. To scold elected officials for being unduly influenced by lobbyist, and then turn around and expect that gun writers aren't under the same constant barrage is crazy. And whereas it might be illegal for a congressman, it is merely unethical for a writer.

    Maybe they don't get cash, but I bet they hear "That was a really great article on the xxx rifle we loaned you. You know it's a lot of trouble to send that back, why don't you simply keep it. We're going to send you several cases of ammo so that you can really get used to it. And also keep the $300 monogrammed field jacket we loaned you for the photo shoot. That's your Christmas present. You're still coming up for the company dove shoot next month, right? Your plane tickets will be sent next week. As usual, bring your wife and the kids, we've got you booked at the Hilton again."

    Now my company (not in the gun business) has less than 100 employees, but our marketing budget is well over $100,000 excluding salaries. That's not all going for polo shirts, ink pens and coffee mugs, buster !! There's some liquor and golf resorts in there somewhere. So what's happening at huge, multi-million dollar companies the size of Winchester, Glock, HK, etc. ?? One can only imagine.

    So influencing gun magazine writers probably happens every day. In fact I'd wager the fastest way to the largest gun collection is to open your own gun magazine. :eek:
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2009
  7. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

    Dec 3, 2006
    "What factors determine whether a cartridge will survive?"

    As long as the buying public likes it, it will survive. If anyone had a crystal ball they would ONLY market what the public will like. So far, no one has such a ball.
  8. wild willy

    wild willy Member

    Aug 19, 2008
    One thing that helps if guns and ammo and reloading components are available when the cartridge is first introduced if you can't get guns or ammo for months or longer the hoopla fades fast
  9. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Member

    Mar 7, 2007
    The Land of Bowie, Crockett, Travis & Houston
    #1. Wide spectrum of use vs. market niche.

    .357 Sig - basically LEO/SD-only round. Not terribly practical for range/target/hunting/game (i.e. IDPA) gun.

    .357 Magnum - anything from mild paper puncher to wild & wolley game getter.

    Another example:
    .45 GAP - LEO/SD gun (see .357 Sig, above)

    .45ACP - great for dang near anything.

    #2. Availability of ammo

    You can get .30-30 or .308 darn near anywhere. I'll bet East Bumrush, Texas or West Nowhere, Idaho doesn't stock .308 Marlin or 7mm-08.

  10. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

    Dec 29, 2006

    Cartridge introductions are carefully planned coordinated marketing blitz's. You will see magazine saturation in the same month as several authors have articles on the same cartridge/rifle combinations in different magazines.

    Industry advertisements keep the magazines in print. That is who funds everything. I cannot imagine how a magazine like Guns and Ammo can make money with subscription prices at $12.97 a year unless they are subsidized by Industry advertisements. Magazines are in essence, monthly infomercials.

    Gun writers are paid for their articles. Articles must sell an industry item. If they don’t write the sort of article their editor needs, the article does not print, the writer does not get paid, and if the writer does not get the point of the process, they will never get anything in print. It is the fool that bites the hand that feeds them.

    Gun writers don’t have the independence they had even 30 years ago. A writer like Elmer Keith could criticize a gun and still write future articles.

    One of the problems I see in today’s world of rapid prototyping and fast manufacturing are cartridges in search of a solution.

    I have seen cartridges developed and sold as “good as a 180 gr 30-06 out to 300 yards”. That is an awfully thin slice to sell.

    Is a six shot 32 Mag that much better than a five shot 38 or 357?

    We have also seen, even after a media blitz, the WSSM fail. Sure, the 300 WSSM mag gave the same performance as a 300 WM in a half inch smaller case, but was it worth spending $700.00 for a new rifle if you already had a 300 WM. Or never wanted one in the first place?
  11. snuffy

    snuffy Member

    Apr 4, 2004
    Oshkosh Wi
    Don't pronounce something dead, if you're not sure of the designation. Do you mean the WSSM or did you mean to say WSM?

    I would certainly agree the WSSM is for all intents and purposes dead. The .224 WSSM and the .243 WSSM were never widely accepted.

    However, the WSM'S are alive and well. Especially the 300 WSM. Maybe you've never lifted a fully equiped 300 win mag, as compared to a much lighter shorter, and quicker 300 WSM. I have, my Browning A-bolt is several POUNDS lighter than a comparably equipped win mag.

    The rem 300 SAUM, is pretty much dead as well. Let that be a lesson to any gun manuf., don't be the SECOND one to release nearly the same idea, that falls short of the 1st in line.

    There's pretty much nothing new that hasn't already been done. There's just so much energy in smokeless powder, you're not inventing anything new. Wildcats have been made from existing brass cases, they're seldom much better.
  12. sniper1259

    sniper1259 Member

    Sep 4, 2009
    hey speaking on wildcat rounds, here is a big one for you. model Mark 4, made in the US and only for one user. propellant; solidified cordite cylinders approx 4 inch in diameter stacked into "bundles" weighing approx lbs each and using 4 at a time. projectile weight; 2 sizes; HE and AP; HE was about 2475 pounds each, AP was 1967 pounds each and used no casing. it was breach loaded for each shot and once the projectile was placed (or "rammed") into the barrel, the only way to remove it was to shoot it out!!

    still cant place it??? these were the main 16.127 inch guns on the IOWA class battleships!!! the HE was High Explosive and left a 45 foot wide 20 foot deep crater!! the AP round was Armor Piercing and would leave a 3 foot hole in almost anything.

    they were last used in the middle east to support ground troops as far as 157 miles inland.
    and even tho they are silent now, they were derived from the .30-06 cartridge as the chamber dimensions are based on the .30-06 just scaled up(a LOT!!) their accuracy was good enough to drop 2 rounds into the same cave on Iwo Jima for the marines. the USS Tennessee was actually used as a sniper rifle to get the Japanese out of the mountain there with one round actually going through the mountain and out the back and landed in the ocean!! its predecessor had blown a hole all the way out the rear and the 2nd shot went right thru it. ( sorry no pictures!)

    reloading isnt just for cheep shooting, its an American tradition just as good as apple pie
    and even tho some of the wildcats out there dont make it others do.

    the original Cal .30 of 1906 was actualy .18 inches longer at the neck, but due to testing it was found that it did not need the extra length and was shortened to produce the .30-06 Springfield cartridge or what we commonly call the .30-06 (which later inspired the Mark 4 and the .50 BMG {its dimensions are derived from the '06 too} )

    as for what determines if it will be great, there are no rigid set of factors that can determine it. the .44 mag was that way, basic handcannon that could break your wrist or forehead. but the .44 AUTO MAG is a legend due to a movie with Dirty Harry on the triger!! (it almost stole the show!!) read up on its history or the Webley based on the african big game 460 Weatherby Magnum cartridge (cut down a little) with Charles Bronson in one of the DeathWish movies. hand load only!!! no factory brass till AFTER they quit making it!! (Clint Eastwood said in the movie that the .44 Auto Mag, if used properly, could remove the fingerprints. the Mark 4, if used properly, could remove EVERYTHING!!)

    so some are a real hit and some are a real flop, sounds a little like the music industry....
  13. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    Oregon Coast
    The range of the 16" guns on the Iowa class battleships was closer to 20 miles, not 157 miles, and the predecessor to the .30-06 was the .30-03, which was the basis for the .270 Winchester.

    Hope this helps.

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