Hunting with the new Weatherby 6.5-300


weatherby-6-5-300-legends-ranchFirst, it went on a mule deer hunt in Arizona. Then it went to Legends Ranch in Michigan where it took a magnificent white-tailed deer. Did I mention that Legends is a great place? It is. Whether the situation is wide open spaces, or in the woods, the 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum cartridge in Weatherby’s Mark V Accumark rifle gets the job done – in a hurry.

There are lots of really good things going on at Weatherby these days, not the least of which was the recent introduction of the 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum cartridge.

When the new cartridge was announced, I scratched my head and chuckled inside, thinking about company founder Roy Weatherby and his superb marketing abilities – especially when it came to ultra-velocity cartridges.

The 6.5-300 was a long time coming. Roy himself had considered it back in the day. But there were other things going on at the time. Although he and I never specifically discussed it, my guess is that he was so happy with the .257 Weatherby Magnum that he didn’t really see something like the 6.5-300 as necessary to fill a void that he thought didn’t really exist.

weatherby-6-5-300-bulletsAlso, bullet technology comes into play when discussing the 6.5-300 WM. When such a cartridge was initially considered, there were not any 6.5mm (.264-inch) bullets on the market in that caliber that could hold up to the extreme (ultra) velocity. That was a common problem faced by Roy with many of his cartridges. With modern bullet technology, those concerns are largely precluded.

In his later hunting years, Roy typically carried a .300 Weatherby Magnum and a .257 WM. The .300 WM was his bread-and-butter cartridge and the .257 WM was his personal pick.

In this industry, timing is critical and now truly is the time for this new 6.5-300 cartridge. Hunters demand more and more from equipment these days, and Weatherby has all of the elements needed to make it work.

For me, the 6.5-300 WM is perhaps the finest overall deer hunting cartridge ever made. That’s saying a lot and the cartridge delivers a lot.

For this effort, I used the Weatherby Select Plus ammunition loading that sends a 127-grain Barnes LTX bullet out of the barrel at a nominal 3,531 feet per second. That’s varmint velocity for a big game bullet!

Weatherby also offers two other factory loadings for the 6.5-300 WM. They are a 130-grain Swift Scirocco at 3,476 fps and a 140-grain Swift A-Frame at 3,395 fps. Talk about flat trajectories! Wow!

But it doesn’t matter how much the cartridge delivers if the rifle it is used in cannot capitalize on all of that performance.

weatherby-6-5-300-with-binocsHere is where modern manufacturing and high tech come into the picture. For this effort, I used the 6.5-300 WM in Weatherby’s Mark V Accumark rifle, which literally is state-of-the-art when it comes to serious hunting rifles.

To take advantage of the possible long-range abilities of the rifle/cartridge combination, I topped the rifle with Swarovski’s X5i 3.5-18x50P scope.

This scope is simply incredible. It has far too many features to discuss here. Fortunately, Scott Mayer has written a comprehensive report on this scope in the upcoming March/April issue of SAFARI Magazine. Check it out there.

With a magnification range of 3.5 to 18, this scope is credible all the way from the muzzle of the rifle out to as far as anyone wants to shoot on game – actually it is credible even farther than that, but that is the subject of a different discussion. Depending on how careful I was on the range, the rifle used delivered more or less half-inch groups at 100 yards – sometimes a little smaller, sometimes a little bigger. That’s minute-of-deer by any measure. Other individual rifles may deliver different results, but the Accumark typically shoots groups under a full inch when using credible ammo. And, for those who haven’t experienced it, Weatherby ammo is simply superb.

The main point here is that when I took this rig afield, I was ready for any kind of deer hunting anywhere in the world under any conditions – all the way from long-range Coues deer and mule deer in the Southwest to whitetails in the woods of the East.

Actually, the 6.5-300 WM is a prime choice for many species other than deer. For example, its performance puts it right at home for sheep and goat hunting, or it is ready to take on any plains game Africa has to offer. Elk, moose and such: no problem. We’re talking true performance. The wound channels from this ammo are simply devastating.

For those who may want to handload for this cartridge, it requires truly best bullets that need to hold together at the terminal end of the shot.

When I arranged for the rifle, I had the folks at Weatherby install a muzzle brake. I know, muzzle brakes make the noise obnoxious for others, but so far as I am concerned, the benefits so far outweigh the negatives that it is a no-brainer when it comes to a rifle that might be pressed into longer-range service.

Most notably for me is the fact that when shot, it is possible for the shooter to see the hit. That is huge, whether the rifle is a varmint rig taking prairie rats, or whether it is a rifle like the Accumark used for this effort.

Also, the muzzle brake on this combination results in virtually no felt recoil. Just a light caress – noting sharp and no more noticeable than is experienced with a heavy .243 rig.

And, there is the “audioflage” effect of using a muzzle brake for longer shots on game. Animals seem not to be able to put a fix on the source of the sound when a muzzle brake is used, compared to when one is not used. This can be a factor.

What the folks at Weatherby have done is to take their basic Mark V action and tweaked everything from the trigger to the barrel in ways that result in peak performance at all levels.

The hand-laminated, raised comb Monte Carlo composite stock still suggests the “Weatherby look,” but has undergone some subtle changes that make it more comfortable to use. Contributing factors include a slimmer forearm, reduced grip diameter, slight right-hand palm swell, full-length aluminum bedding block, and Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad.

weatherby-6-5-300The trigger is both crisp and clean, which means it will not degrade a shot as can happen with funky trigger pulls. The rifle used came from Weatherby with a superbly clean 3 1/8-pound pull with no noticeable over-travel. That’s sweet when it comes to a hunting rifle (trigger is adjustable down to 2.5 pounds). Also, the shape and smooth surface of the trigger itself really feels right.

And the hand-lapped barrel guides the bullet on-target with almost boring regularity (impossible to be too boring when it comes to accuracy, but it is comforting to have the confidence that it will happen).

This a result of a number of things for the #3 contour (substantial) barrel, including free floating, real fluting that reduces weight without sacrificing stiffness and recessed target crown.

Bottom line is that when the Mark V Accumark is paired with great ammo, high performance is the result.

I have been shooting Weatherby rifles for decades and must admit that this rig impresses like none before. There may be less expensive rifles on the market, but frankly I think none of the others offer the degree of bang for the buck as do these new Accumark rifles from Weatherby. Yes, that’s saying a lot. That’s because this is one heck of a lot of hunting rifle.

When the big buck whitetail went down in Michigan this past fall, it also marked another landmark for me. Several years ago when I coincidentally took a pronghorn antelope in Wyoming with the .240 WM, it meant that I had taken some kind of animal with every commercially available Weatherby-designated cartridge. That reality remains in effect now that the big whitetail buck was taken in Michigan.–Steve Comus

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