Rifle Cartridge Deathwatch: Winchester Super Short Magnums

Rifle Cartridge Deathwatch: Winchester Super Short Magnums
While ballistically the .25 Winchester Super Short Magnum is neck and neck with the .25-06 the author used here, the market has spoken: The .25-06 will soldier on while the .25 WSSM likely won't.

Musing on what chamberings will end up in the dustbin of history is always an entertaining theoretical exercise—unless of course you're the person or company who developed said cartridge. It's also a popular undertaking, with various writers in various magazines penning articles on cartridges they think will fade into "handloading only" status.

But this is the internet, where the ensuing comments are always more interesting than the article that generated them. Over the next several days, weeks, whatever, I'm going to single out a few cartridges (or cartridge families) that I think are in a death spiral.

Winchester Super Short Magnum

A few weeks ago a writer queried me on an article comparing the .25 WSSM with the .25-06. Why the hell would I want that? The race has already clearly been won by the .25-06.


The WSSM is a Hollywood turn on cartridge design: Find a good idea and keep rehashing it. The .300 Winchester Short Magnum has been the clear winner in the short magnum craze, and Winchester of course wanted to capitalize on that success. They upsized and downsized that case (not to .264, lamentably) and also created a new family, the Super Shorts.


First came the .223 and .243 WSSMs. Okay, I can almost see the .243 WSSM. I shot a .243 WSSM on varmints but frankly got my fill of that pretty quickly as it was way too much recoil to be receiving on prairie dogs. I also used it on a pronghorn, and it got the job done, but the .243 Win. would've worked just as well (the shot was less than 100 yards).


I'm not even a .243 Win. fan, but I think it's a decent choice for people starting out in their hunting careers, a choice bolstered by the cartridge's mild recoil. The .243 WSSM defeats that purpose due to stouter recoil and more muzzle blast.

And the same goes for the .223 WSSM. Why would you want the added oomph? One of the things I like about the .223 Rem. is that I can spot my own shots in the field due to the low recoil. Forget that with the WSSM version. And if I want overbore, there are plenty of options beckoning with the good ol' .22-250 or the Swift.

The latest (last?) entrant to the WSSM family is the aforementioned .25 WSSM. Here I have to confess my undying devotion to the .25-06, the cartridge the WSSM is supposed to equal, albeit in a much shorter round. Sorry, but I get the performance I want with better feeding, better rifle selection and better ammo availability with the .25-06.


And that, in a nutshell, is what will doom the WSSMs. There's nothing wrong with the ballistic performance, but I don't think anybody—not even Browning/Winchester—currently chambers new rifles for it, and nobody other than Winchester (the ammo company) loads it. (And a caveat here: We're talking major producers, not custom and semi-custom manufacturers.) I just don't see where the WSSMs have enough of a leg up on the cartridges they're up against to keep on keepin' on.

Okay, WSSM fans. Bring it.

Recommended for You

The Hi-Point 10mm carbine, technically the 1095 TS, sports a 17.5-inch barrel, is 32 inches long and weighs seven pounds empty. Semi-Auto

Review: Hi-Point 1095 TS 10mm Carbine

James Tarr - April 04, 2019

The Hi-Point 10mm carbine, technically the 1095 TS, sports a 17.5-inch barrel, is 32 inches...

Some history and reloading recipes on five popular .17-caliber cartridges, including the .17 Ackley Hornet, .17 Hornady Hornet, .17 Mach IV, .17 Remington Fireball and .17 Remington. Reloading

.17-Caliber Reloading Data and History for 5 Cartridges

Layne Simpson - June 05, 2019

Some history and reloading recipes on five popular .17-caliber cartridges, including the .17...

Thompson/Center and S&W's Performance Center team up to build an entry-level long-range chassis rifle. Bolt-Action

Review: Performance Center-Thompson/Center LRR

Alfredo Rico - April 09, 2019

Thompson/Center and S&W's Performance Center team up to build an entry-level long-range...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - BULLPUPS

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - BULLPUPS

Joe Mantegna talks about the origins of Bullpups.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Scott O'Brien from Steyr Arms sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to take a look at Steyr's new tactical heavy barrel sniper rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

On June 2, 2014, Anschutz announced the start of a subsidiary branch in the United States. Industry

Anschutz Establishes U.S. Branch, Separates from Steyr

RifleShooter Online Staff - June 10, 2014

On June 2, 2014, Anschutz announced the start of a subsidiary branch in the United States.

Winchester Repeating Arms releases the new autoloading Wildcat 22 LR rimfire rifle. Rimfire

Winchester Releases Wildcat 22 LR Rimfire Rifle

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 11, 2019

Winchester Repeating Arms releases the new autoloading Wildcat 22 LR rimfire rifle.

You're only as good as your weakest link; heed these to tips to make sure your shooting skills don't hinder your rifle's accuracy potential Shooting Tips

How to Shoot Your Best from a Benchrest

Keith Wood - August 05, 2014

You're only as good as your weakest link; heed these to tips to make sure your shooting skills...

See More Stories

More Ammo

Announced in 1958, the .264 and .338 Winchester magnums hit the market in 1959 amid one of the biggest media blitzes the industry had seen. Both were introduced in “new” versions of Winchester's beloved Model 70. Ammo

.264 and .338 Magnum - Winchester Twins

Craig Boddington - May 24, 2019

Announced in 1958, the .264 and .338 Winchester magnums hit the market in 1959 amid one of the...

The Berger .22-cal 85.5-grain Long Range Hybrid Target bullet is a great option for handloading precision rounds in .224 Valkyrie, 22 Creedmoor and .223/556 rifles with a fast twist rate. Ammo

Berger 22 Cal 85.5 Grain Long Range Hybrid Target Bullets: First Look

RifleShooter Digital Staff - October 09, 2019

The Berger .22-cal 85.5-grain Long Range Hybrid Target bullet is a great option for...

With the rise of larger calibers, some question the .375 as a buffalo gun. Don't. Ammo

The .375 as a Buffalo Gun

Craig Boddington - February 01, 2019

With the rise of larger calibers, some question the .375 as a buffalo gun. Don't.

See More Ammo

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.