The .280 Remington has never gained the same attention as the well-used .270 Winchester. It is, however, a potentially superior cartridge.
Introduced in 1957, it was originally chambered in Remington model 740 semi-automatic rifles. For this to function correctly, the cartridge was only loaded up to 50,000psi, resulting in less than impressive performance in sporting rifles. Conversely, the .270 Win was loaded up to 54,000psi, producing faster velocities than the .280 Rem. Because of this, the .280 was poorly received.
Another detrimental factor was the successful launch of the 7mm Rem Mag, which went on to become one of the most popular 7mm calibres in America. Despite the .280 being loaded in most Remington rifle models, it failed to gain much attention. By the 1970s, the ammunition was on the verge of going out of production. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the calibre began to gain some traction, as hunters realised its potential benefits. This spawned a gun writers’ battle, as two camps emerged professing the virtues of the .280 Rem against the well established and much loved .270 Win.
The concept for the .280 Rem was taken from the wildcat 7mm-06, necking down a .30-06 case to accept .284 bullets. The case shoulder was bumped forward by 0.05in to prevent it being loaded in rifles chambered for a .270 Win. Although you won’t be able to chamber a .280 Rem in a .270 Win, the opposite is possible.
It is accepted that the 7mm bullet provides excellent ballistics, but of all the ammunition on the commercial market in 7mm, the .280 Rem is towards the bottom in the popularity stakes. The initial reasons for this have been discussed, but it is difficult to understand why it is not used more.
The first sensible comparison is with the 7-08 Rem, a similarly designed calibre using the .308 Win as the parent case instead of the .30-06. With a 200-yard zero, the drop to 400 yards is just over 3in less with the .280 when shooting the same 140-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip. It does this with an extra 217ft/lb of energy, as a result of the 350ft/lb more ME produced from the larger capacity round. This translates into 190fps more muzzle velocity, coming in at 2,990fps, while the 7-08 Rem pushes out 2,800fps.
The .280 Rem has superior performance against its arch-rival. The 7mm projects a 140-grain bullet with the same trajectory as the .270 Win shooting a 130-grain. Consequently, an extra 167ft/lb is delivered at 300 yards. The .280 Rem is also able to shoot much heavier bullets.
What is interesting is how it shapes up against the 7mm Rem Mag. Shooting the same 160-grain bullet, the Magnum delivers only 1.7in less drop at 400 yards, with the .280 Rem zeroed 0.2in higher at 100 yards. Down-range, the extra velocity equates 133ft/lb extra energy at the same distance.
It seems that the .280 Rem outperforms most other 7mms available, and isn’t a million miles away from the 7mm Rem Mag. It is softer to shoot, and has proved to be extremely accurate. It makes one wonder why the calibre isn’t more popular. Ammunition and rifles are now available in the Ackley improved version of the .280 Rem – this is surely worth looking at. BP