Fast & Flat: All About the Underappreciated .257 Weatherby Magnum
“Speed kills.” We hear that from hunters time and again. The .257 Weatherby is built on swiftness. So, why is it that not all hunters own one?
Get this. Nearly 80 years after its inception, it remains one of the fastest rounds in its class while also making an ideal companion for a wide range of wild game. Here are a few can’t miss factoids about the belted magnum .257 Weatherby.
Weatherby advertises the .257 Weatherby as having “the flattest trajectory of any .25-caliber rifle in the world,” making it an excellent longer-range selection. The round is based on the venerable .300 Holland & Holland casing, which was essentially shortened and expanded for capacity.
Weatherby then changed the casing’s shoulders to what has become the company’s signature double radius. It remains a belted magnum, but for all practical purposes, does not physically require the belt.
When we talk speed, the .257 Weatherby will send 80-grain projectiles at almost 3,900 fps and 115-grain Nosler BT at 3,400 fps while maintaining upwards of 3,000 foot-pounds of energy. That’s not only blazing on the chronometer but devastating on game. What we’ve witnessed firsthand are quick, one-shot kills on every single pronghorn and whitetail from 50 to 250 yards.
Plain and simple. There’s just not enough .25-caliber love these days. Think even of predecessors like .250-3000 Savage, .25-06 Remington, and .257 Roberts, which are also in the undervalued category and capable in their own right. The .257 Weatherby, however, came along and trumped them both in performance.
It also succeeds in not only bridging the divide between varmints and medium-sized game like deer but also steps in the realm of capability on black bears, sheep, and beyond. Recoil is present, as in any “magnum” round, but we’d rate it as surprisingly mild with greater muzzle blast and fire than kick, while the performance is exceptional. Though it has greater recoil than its cohorts, it also trumps those .25-cal allies in speed, energy, and overall performance.
Ample Factory Ammunition
Unlike some rounds that don’t hold the hearts of mainstream shooters, it’s not as much a struggle to find quality factory production ammunition for the .257 Weatherby as some folks would have you believe. In fact, it’s actually produced by several major manufacturers, as these companies recognize the capabilities of the round.
Common projectile weights span 80 to 120 grains. Check out our article on our favored hunting rounds, but suffice it to say snagging a box from the likes of Hornady, Nosler, Federal Premium, HSM, and of course a wide selection from Weatherby themselves.
Zippier for Handloaders
Yes, premium factory ammunition is expensive, and that’s one solid reason to reload for the round. The other, however, is the chance to tailor loads to each particular firearm while also having the opportunity to even further increase its performance. For instance, load data using a 100-grain spitzer bullet carries maximum muzzle velocity at almost 3,600 fps.
Even the heaviest 120-grain Partition moves upwards of 3,200 fps. Practiced handloaders will be familiar with Weatherby’s “freebore” chambers. Further, as indicated in the Nosler Reloading Guide 9 manual, the use of either heavy neck tension or a crimp provides both improved ignition and accuracy.
Rich American History
The .257 Weatherby Mag was an early Weatherby splash, designed as WWII came to a close. Of all the company’s proprietary cartridges, large and small, Roy Weatherby called the .257 Weatherby Mag his personal favorite. Not only did founder Roy Weatherby create the .257 Weatherby but an entire empire in American firearms and cartridge history.
Over the years, Roy would also mastermind Weatherby Magnums in .224, .240, .270, .300, .340, .375, .378, and .460. The company passed to his son Ed (Roy, Jr.), and currently grandson Adam, each with more rounds developed and a recent move to an impressive headquarters in Sheridan, Wyoming. There, the American company remains poised to succeed for years to come.
Capable On a Wide Range of Game
If there was ever a round purpose-built for pronghorn hunting in wide-open western country, the .257 Weatherby is that animal. Pronghorn is only one ideal target, though. With the weight of bullets and performance, it can handle everything from varmints on up to much larger game.
It’s no stretch to grab the caliber for African plains game, every type of deer, sheep, black bear, and beyond. In fact, while it’s not common to pitch quarter bores for elk-sized game, bagging those bigger critters is not only reasonable with the correct projectiles and shot placement but has been done cleanly many times by accomplished hunters.
Plenty of Rifles for Every Hunting Style & Price Point
It used to be that it took a fistful of cash to afford a Mark V in order to own a .257 Weatherby. Now, however, the chambering is found on the company’s budget-friendly Vanguard bolt guns, and that’s not all.
Even competing companies have chambered the .257 Weatherby giving regards to its capabilities. Think back to Remington Model 700 bolt guns as well as a short run of beloved Ruger No. 1 falling blocks, among many other custom and semi-custom builds. While we’d love to see the round offered by more rifle builders, the long guns are out there waiting for you.