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Old June 28, 2021, 08:59 AM   #1
ligonierbill
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250- 3000 and other quarter bores

As a result of a thread that drifted to the 250 Savage, I reverted to habit and, realizing I didn't have one, bought one. So I'm soon to be the owner of 3 25 caliber deer rifles: 25-35, 250-3000, and 257 Roberts.

But first, a "heads up". If you are prone to communicating in a supercilious manner when encountering the use of jargon, please read no further. Because I will start with a reference, "A Classic Returns in .257 Bob", Dave Campbell, American Rifleman, July 19, 2013.

So what's in a name. If it's 25-35, it should mean it runs on 35 gr of black powder. Except, in 1895 when it was introduced alongside the 30-30, it was a smokeless round. My brother, who has about everything Winchester, has an original Model 94. Actually, that was the first I heard of it. Miroku makes a copy, albeit with side eject, rebounding hammer, and belt-and-suspenders safety. Not a pure copy, but I had to have one. The little carbine sends Hornady RN 117s at just over 2,300 fps. Certainly not fast by today's standards, but Winchester's trio of 25, 30, and 32 smokeless rounds was revolutionary in its day.

Now the 250-3000, a marketing term if there ever was one. If I understand correctly, Charles Newton designed it with a 100 gr bullet. Good round, but it wouldn't go 3,000 fps. So, they loaded an 87 gr pill and made their number. But in the field it was LTA (some jargon), and they went back to the 100 gr round. It may not be correct, but I think that's when they started calling it the 250 Savage. My dies and brass are due in today, and I won't have the rifle for awhile, but I am reading that some loaders are getting 3,000 out of 100 gr. bullets. I think I will stay with my 117 Sierras that I use in "Bob" (Bob is actually my rifle. Yes, yes, it's a 257 Roberts.) So, why would anyone get a 250 Savage, when Ned Robert's round (well, mostly his round) outruns it? Well, I've never seen a Savage 99 in the Roberts. It's the rifle in this case. Being a contrarian, I did not buy a 99, rather a Savage Model 20. It is labeled "250-3000".

Here's the story on "Bob". I started fooling with old Mausers a few years back. Not originals! No way; but you can still find "sporterized" rifles at decent prices. This one was a 1940 Borsigwalde that had the original laminated stock modified, and not badly either, original barrel and safety. I pulled the barrel, and, not ready to try my hand at that yet, sent the action to Shaw for a barrel and blueing. I was really thinking of a 25-06, but I was concerned about the cartridge length in the mag. Maybe an unnecessary concern, but I went with another classic, 257 Roberts. Since put a new stock on it, "windshield wiper" safety, decent Nikon scope, and she shoots very well. Those 117 Sierras go 2,870 over Reloder 22, and it's one of the rounds I am reworking with IMR-4955. Looks promising. Don't usually name my firearms, but these reborn Mausers have enough character to warrant it. So, it's Bob. Now, to be completely accurate, Ned Robert's wildcat had a 15 degree shoulder. The commercial cartridge named for him has 20 degrees. Reportedly, this is one round that benefits substantially from the Ackley Improved treatment, but I'm staying with what I have.

Last edited by ligonierbill; June 28, 2021 at 09:15 AM.
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Old June 28, 2021, 11:14 AM   #2
Jim Watson
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Now, to be completely accurate, Ned Robert's wildcat had a 15 degree shoulder. The commercial cartridge named for him has 20 degrees. Reportedly, this is one round that benefits substantially from the Ackley Improved treatment,
To be completely completely accurate, there were three versions.
The original Ned Roberts + Neidner .25 Roberts had the shoulder set well back and tapered down to 15 degrees from the base 7mm's 20 deg, the neck trimmed to match.
Griffin and Howe did not see the point to trimming and kept the original case length but did stay with the 15 deg shoulder although at a longer head to shoulder dimension, a bit bigger case.
The .25 Remington Roberts, soon renamed .257 Remington Roberts, used the 7mm case with very little change.

So the usual excuse for the light loading of .257 Roberts to protect wildcat era Spanish Mausers does not hold up, the .257 will not chamber in either version of .25. Rechamber a 45000 psi gun? Sure, but would a big company back then have worried about liability for a third party adventure? I doubt it.

Ackley Improved? I think the main thing about AI cartridges is that their straight walls reduce "pressure signs" and it is easier to load them hotter than the parent round.

In olden times, there was the "Three Inch Roberts." One put a .30-06 follower and bolt stop in his Model 70 which let him load a longer OAL for which great claims were made. There was even the "3.3" Roberts" which had the chamber throat lengthened so a 120 gr spitzer could be loaded way out. This probably helped accuracy, getting the bullet closer to the lands, but the increase in available case volume was minuscule and any gain in velocity was by heavy loading and higher pressure.
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Old June 28, 2021, 11:55 AM   #3
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Thanks. It truly was an era of innovation.
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Old June 28, 2021, 01:05 PM   #4
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my remington 722 in 257 roberts-bob-deer wacker, realy like 117 gr hornady sst,s at 2900. fps
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Old June 28, 2021, 01:53 PM   #5
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I bought some seconds from Midway, and they sure look like SSTs. I will try them in my initial 250-3000 workup and in my IMR-4955 loads for Bob.
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Old June 28, 2021, 06:38 PM   #6
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I’ve had my .250-3000 for almost 30 years. The Hart barrel was only 16.5” long, but it was, let’s say, extremely accurate. It would agg in the .3s consistently, and velocities were comparable to factory loads from the standard 24” barrel. The 1:13” twist was biased towards 75-87 grain bullets although it will beat moa with some 100-grain spitzers. It won a lot of CBA matches with an LBT 90-grain pointed cast bullet, and I shot a number of marmot and ground squirrels with it. The cartridge has a lot of potential given its limited case capacity, exceptional accuracy is possible with the right load and barrel.



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Old June 28, 2021, 07:28 PM   #7
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Long ago I built my primary hunting rifle,a 257 Roberts AI on a Mexican 98 Mauser with a Douglas FWT bbl , A Garret Accralite stock blank (the owner of Garrett sold me as a friend) a Timney Trigger and a Leupold 6X by 42 mm scope. I did a blind magazine. Total pkg weighs 7 lbs.

Its name? I call it "The 257"

I use 115 gr Nosler ballistic tips. They are accurate and work for me.

While this rifle has served me very well,and while I only need one good bullet,

Were I to put a new bbl on it, in the PO Ackley books,one of the gun writers came up with a cartridge "The 260 AAR" . Its the 257 AI case necked up to 264.

I dunno. I still have 500 virgin 257 Roberts +P cases.That barrel still shoots fine,but it is over 20 yrs old.

I do have a good South Bend Heavy 10 lathe, I might could get a fwt 6.5 bbl.

They do make a better line of 6,5 bullets.

And it would not be another 6.5 Creedmoor

Maybe.
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Old June 29, 2021, 12:50 AM   #8
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Because I will start with a reference, "A Classic Returns in .257 Bob", Dave Campbell, American Rifleman, July 19, 2013.
Just because some English major managed to get a job writing and calls something by a "cute nickname" does not make it right. Roberts was Ned Roberts' LAST name. But folks know what it means because they've heard it before. Like people calling shotguns "shotties" and others calling revolvers "wheel guns" does not make it right either. Shottie sounds like shoddy, and wheelgun makes me think of Civil War field artillery. But call it what you want, it's your thread.
Quote:
So what's in a name. If it's 25-35, it should mean it runs on 35 gr of black powder
No, it means it should be loaded with 35 grains of Smokeless A, the only smokeless powder available to Winchcester at the time of its introduction. 30-30 the same. 30-40 US Army (Krag) as well. Winchester used the confusing (to us) nomenclature by following BP cartridge naming conventions, which was pretty much the only thing people used at the time since virtually ALL cartridges at that time were BP cartridges. And 25 WCF was already taken.

250-3000 was named for the velocity by Marketing, but the powders available at the time would not allow it to hit the "magical" 3,000 fps number with the 100 gr bullet (not that anybody could tell back then because chronographs were big expensive lab machines). Lighter bullets allowed them to hit the desired velocity but had bullet construction problems as you stated. Savage had already fought the "light bullet lightning kill" battle with the 22 High Power and lost miserably (it's why there are so many pristine 99s in 22HP).

Savage never made the 99 in 257 Roberts (or any X57mm cartridge) since the magazine is not long enough to accept a loaded X57mm cartridge. Would be cool, though!

Ned Roberts focused on the X57mm case for the 257 Roberts not because of cheap milsurp Mausers (they really weren't a thing back in the 1920s when he developed the cartridge) but because Charles Newton had used the case in developing the 256 Newton and the 22 Newton cartridges which were a big hit at that time. But rather than use the "exotic" 6.5 mm bullets he used the more common (in the USA) .257" bullets and achieved similar ballistics, and he got his name in the book.
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Old June 29, 2021, 12:57 AM   #9
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I have a 25 x 45 sharps AR and a 25-06 savage, both are superbly accurate quaterbores, sort of on the opposite ends of the spectrum. While the 06 is supposed to be notoriously over-bored, mine's hanging in there just fine.
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Old June 29, 2021, 04:28 AM   #10
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I had forgotten about the 25x45 Sharps. No experience with it, but the loading manual writeup says it approximates the 250 Savage. Despite being slightly slower than Weatherby's laser beam, the 25-06 keeps going. I never heard of it being a "barrel burner".
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Old June 29, 2021, 06:07 AM   #11
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I had forgotten about the 25x45 Sharps. No experience with it, but the loading manual writeup says it approximates the 250 Savage. Despite being slightly slower than Weatherby's laser beam, the 25-06 keeps going. I never heard of it being a "barrel burner".
The sharp's is sort of a "one trick pony" and it's highlight is the 87 gr hot cor at 3000 fps--but it does that very well and accurately. The overbore calculation puts the 25-06 pretty high on the list though I believe the type of powder and SD of the bullet fits into the equation somehow. I can tell you from first hand observation that the 300 wby mag is a blow torch on barrels and it's possible to completely toast the throat and leades in just a few multi-shot sessions if you don't let the barrel cool down significantly between each shot.
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Last edited by stagpanther; June 29, 2021 at 06:22 AM.
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Old June 29, 2021, 10:37 AM   #12
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I thought the .256 Newton was on the .30-06 case, only slightly trimmed.

I wish I still had the article by F.W. Mann on his "Hamburg rifle." Apart from the description of his rifle's virtues, it was critical of Newton and his "more cubic inches" approach. The piece sounds like Mann was of the high pressure school of high performance.
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Old June 29, 2021, 01:44 PM   #13
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I want to thank you all for contributing to a fun and informative discussion. Scorch, thanks for enlightening me on the original smokeless loads. Also, I listed 32 along with the 25 and 30 bore loads; not quite correct. The 32 Special didn't come out until 1901. And it couldn't be a 32 dash, since Winchester already had the 32-40 blackpowder round.

Now, a question. If a fellow wanted to go all in on 25 caliber rounds, should he go 25-06 or 257 Weatherby? My manuals show a 200 fps difference. There is also a 25 WSSM in there, but I don't think that one has gone anywhere. Barrel life is not a concern for me; I'm willing to buy new barrels. If you read the Woodleigh reloading manual (you should), one of the guys is on his fourth barrel in his favorite 30-06. Now, that's a rifleman! What say you?
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Old June 29, 2021, 02:01 PM   #14
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I have to admit that I've always wanted a rifle in .25-35 or .250 Savage. If Henry started making their single shot in either of those calibers, I'd have to buy one even though I have no plans to buy any more guns.

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Old June 29, 2021, 02:04 PM   #15
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I never plan to buy any more guns. But, I do. Life is short!
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Old June 29, 2021, 03:30 PM   #16
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A good indicator for when you might have enough guns is you buy one and later discover you already had one but simply forgot about it since you lost track of it.
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Old June 30, 2021, 12:47 AM   #17
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Except for a .25-35, I have more than twice as many guns as I dreamed of owning when I was in my 20s... Now if money was more plentiful, I had room for another gun safe and I actually could get out an shoot them all, I'd buy another 20 or 30 guns...

Actually, if I manage to sell off all my personal bike stuff, I think a .338 Win mag is in my future...

Tony
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Old June 30, 2021, 05:20 AM   #18
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A 338 WM in a model 70 would be a very nice thing to have.
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Old June 30, 2021, 05:22 AM   #19
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I’m at the tipping point of needing another gun safe if I buy more guns. Which leads to the problem of a gun safe with more room to fill. It’s a vicious circle.
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Old June 30, 2021, 05:30 AM   #20
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Which leads to the problem of a gun safe with more room to fill. It’s a vicious circle.
Don't worry you'll get past that--and instead will have to deal with which room or basement will you entirely fill with safes.
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Old June 30, 2021, 07:21 AM   #21
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"No, it means it should be loaded with 35 grains of Smokeless A, the only smokeless powder available to Winchcester at the time of its introduction. 30-30 the same. 30-40 US Army (Krag) as well. Winchester used the confusing (to us) nomenclature by following BP cartridge naming conventions, which was pretty much the only thing people used at the time since virtually ALL cartridges at that time were BP cartridges. And 25 WCF was already taken."

I've never heard of Smokeless A, but that may have been a commercial designation for the powder that UMC used in Winchester ammunition.

As originally loaded, .30-40 Krag ammunition was loaded with a short-lived smokeless powder (Ruby) by the Leonard Smokless Powder Company. That powder was found to be unsuitable as well as unstable, and the Lafflin & Rand Company helped reorganize both the company and the powder, eventually developing the WA powder.

WA didn't become the standard military powder until 1896, which means it could not have been the original powder for the .30 and .25 WCF cartridges.

Additionally, pretty much until the turn of the century ALL WA powder was earmarked for use by the military in .30-40 and 6mm Lee Navy ammunition.

Peyton Powder was also an early contender, both commercially and for military use (apparently considerable quantities were loaded in .30-40 Krag), but their plant went boom and they never really recovered.

DuPont was also an early contender in the military rifle powder market and would, over time, become the primary powder supplier to the US military.

Back to the powder used in the .30 and .25 WCF rounds...

Winchester and UMC (which worked with Winchester to develop the two rounds) held back introducing the smokeless rounds until 1895 because suitable propellants weren't available. Most of the smokeless production in the US was going to the military, and other domestically produced smokeless propellants were turning out to be unsuitable.

I've never been able to confirm this, but I've come to suspect that the original smokeless powder .30 and .25 WFC rounds were loaded with...

European powder, either Nobel's Ballistite or Wetteren from Belgium. At the time, these two powders were probably the best in the world. Lafflin & Rand originally entered negotiations with Nobel to produce Ballistite, but didn't because of the royalty costs.

In 1899, however, Lafflin & Rand introduced one of the most important sporting powders of all time -- Lightning. Within a couple of years it pushed just about every other powder out of the commercial market for loading rounds like the .30-30, .25-35, .303 Savage, .33 Winchester and many others.

Production was stopped in the run up to World War II and never restarted.
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Old June 30, 2021, 07:23 AM   #22
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To the original question...

I've always looked at the .250 Savage as one of the most underrated rounds of all time. It is a true gem. It is about as close to being the perfect all around Eastern cartridge there is. Light recoil, superior accuracy, flat trajectory... what's more to love?
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Old June 30, 2021, 07:29 AM   #23
ligonierbill
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I am humbled by the level of knowledge residing in the TFL membership. And this discussion is one reason I love the old guns.

Geezerbiker, go get that 338 Win Mag! You'll like it.

Any input, folks, on which laser beam 25 is best?
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Old June 30, 2021, 08:16 AM   #24
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Best for what?
A .25-06 is no doubt a good hunting round but more than you need for target shooting.
There was a speaker at the NRA convention one year who had shot everything that walks, crawls, or flies with a .257 Weatherby, all with 87 gr bullet near 4000 fps, under the "velocity kills" theory.

In their heyday, there were people who said a .250 Savage was more accurate than a .257 Roberts, assuming you had one of the few .250 bolt actions. I doubt there would be any difference with current bullets and a closely chambered .257, though.

You could have a wildcat with common brass, the .25 Souper aka .25 - .308.
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Old June 30, 2021, 04:55 PM   #25
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I'll continue to want something in .25-35 and while I really have no needs in something in my safe won't take care of, a .338 WM is at the top of my want list for a couple reasons I won't go into. A Win 70 would be ideal but it's all up to what I can find in my price range. I have a lot of old bike stuff to move and most of it's not that valuable...

I have to say that .25 round for the AR sounds interesting but it doesn't tickle my historical wants...

Tony
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