September 25, 2023
The years following World War II were a time of tension due to the growing conflict between Russia and the western world. In 1950, NATO decided it best that all member nations use weapons that shared the same ammunition, which would simplify production and distribution.
This new centerfire rifle cartridge needed to produce energies and velocities that approximated those of the .30-06, but with savings in gun and ammunition weight. The final product of this work was the T65 or 7.62x51 NATO cartridge. Shortly thereafter, Winchester decided to offer a commercial version of the cartridge, which it dubbed the .308 Win.
Since 1954 the .308 Win. has been built into just about every conceivable action type and used as a sniper and competition round. It has also become one of the most popular hunting cartridges, offering most of what the venerable ’06 can muster in shorter, lighter rifles and with less recoil in similar-weight rifles. The .308 has now served longer than the .30-06 cartridge it replaced.
Almost immediately after it was introduced, wildcatters started necking the .308 up and down. One of those mad ballistic scientists was A-Square founder Arthur Alphin, who by 1997 had developed a necked-down version of the .308 using 6.5mm bullets, a round he called the 6.5-08 A-Square.
The 6.5-08 became a favorite of silhouette shooters, and Remington decided to take the round to market. The SAAMI-approved version became the .260 Rem., and it gained a following of notable fans that included Outdoor Life’s Jim Carmichel, who worked with Remington during the cartridge’s development and release.
The .260 was originally popularized as a silhouette gun. A handful of hunters picked up on the cartridge and began using it for big game, especially whitetail deer, where the .260’s accuracy and mild recoil made it popular.
The .260 probably suffered from lack of initial interest because of limited bullet choices at the time of its inception—something that’s never been a problem for the .308, which boasts scads of bullet weights from the low 100s to more than 200 grains. The most popular weight for .308 hunting bullets is probably 150 grains, and there are so many bullet options and powders you could spend a lifetime tuning a .308 with just that bullet weight.
The recent rise of the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC and others has prompted interest in new 6.5mm bullets, which it seems would make the .260 Rem. more desirable. However, both the Creedmoor and PRC are specifically designed to handle heavy-for-caliber bullets of 140 grains and up. A .260 can and will handle some bullets north of 140 grains, but it would be much simpler to just switch to a 6.5 case that’s designed to handle today’s high-BC bullets.
Factory ammunition is rather limited for the .260 Rem. Today there are only 19 factory loads offered for the cartridge on popular internet sites. The .308, by contrast, has more than 150—including subsonic and defensive loads, match loads, leaded and unleaded big game loads, and even varmint loads.
The .260 does land a few jabs in the fight. Hornady’s 129-grain SST Superformance .260 Rem. load has an almost identical trajectory to its 150-grain SST .308 Superformance load, and while the .308 has a more than 500 ft.-lbs. advantage over the .260 at the muzzle, the energy advantage dwindles to just 89 ft.-lbs. at 500 yards—and the .260 does so with noticeably less recoil.
Plus, the .308 has become so popular that it’s almost ubiquitous, so everyone you know owns one. The .260 isn’t particularly exotic, but it’s more exotic than its parent case—if that sort of thing matters to you.
- Better for bigger game like elk and moose
- Factory ammo cheaper because it’s popular
- Ammo available in stores the world over
- Heavier recoil
- Ballistic superiority not overly significant
- Sectional density disadvantage
- More 6.5mm bullet options today
- Higher BC in typical hunting bullets
- A fairly exclusive club to belong to
- Limited factory ammo options
- Few factory rifles chamber it today
- Better 6.5s out there now