As January rolls around each year, so come new caliber announcements. Some are ho-hum, but others – like this one – garner serious attention from big game hunters. Winchester debuted their 6.8 Western chambering in conjunction with partner Browning’s launch of multiple bolt-action rifles ready to send these rounds after animals like Elk and Mule Deer. Both the Winchester Model 70 and XPR lines of bolt-action rifles are already being chambered for the zippy new round. 

The initial offerings from Winchester. (Photo: Winchester)

Why did Winchester create this new caliber? Outwardly, it is much like their existing .270 Winchester Short Magnum. But there’s always room for improvement, especially with the modern desires for high-performance, longer-range rounds. With heavier bullet weights than the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge, and .270 Winchester Short Magnum, the 6.8 Western intends to become a better choice for big game hunting and long-range precision shooting.

Though the Western uses longer, heavier bullets, it still works on a short-action rifle for faster cycling and reduced rifle weight. Both are qualities especially crucial for backcountry hunters. In addition to listing more energy than the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge, and 7mm Remington Magnum, it comes with a bit more recoil. Winchester’s technical documents show less recoil than the .300 Winchester Short Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, and .300 Precision Rifle Cartridge. But it has more than the 6.5 family. 

Two initial offerings include the X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Max Long Range, top, and the X-Bolt Western Hunter, bottom. (Photo: Browning)

Winchester’s initial launch includes three families of ammunition: Ballistic SilverTip, Match, and Expedition Long Range. Current projectile weights include both 165- and 170-grain offerings. The Expedition Big Game Long Range carries the greatest velocity at 2,970 fps with 3,226 foot-pounds of energy.

Browning is subsequently packing their Long Range Pro Hunter ammunition loaded with 175-grain Sierra Game Kings. All rounds will ship in 20-count boxes, but prices have not yet been announced at the time of this writing. Time will tell, but the 6.8 Western seems destined to supplant Winchester’s own .270 Winchester Short Magnum chambering for both hunters and reloaders. 

For a more in-depth look at the cartridge, check out the reveiw from Ron Spomer Outdoors.


revolver barrel loading graphic