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December 8, 2023 •iSportsman Staff
The world of firearms and ammunition is constantly evolving, with companies developing gear every year to meet the needs of hunters outdoor recreationists. This is where the 6.8 Western comes in: It is one of the greatest innovations of the last few years, offering long-range accuracy, low recoil and incredible knockdown power. It is a versatile round that is famous for its unique blend of features and is currently on the rise in the hunting world. Here, we will delve into what the 6.8 Western is, and also weigh the pros and cons to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your shooting needs.
The 6.8 Western is a relatively new cartridge developed by Browning and Winchester, introduced in 2021. It’s offers improved ballistics over comparable cartridges like the 270 Winchester Short Magnum (WSM) while maintaining a manageable recoil. The cartridge features a case with a rebated shoulder, which allows it to function in a short-action rifle while delivering exceptional performance. Its foundation comes from the 270 WSM; however, Winchester shortened it to make room for longer, heavier, and high ballistic coefficient (BC) bullets. The 6.8 Western fires a .277 caliber bullet, and can handle a grain range up to 175 gr (greater than the usual 130-150 range for other .277 caliber options).
The 6.8 Western is best for big game hunting, particularly in open and long-range environments. It’s great for taking down larger animals at extended distances, making it perfect for pursuing whitetail, elk and even moose. The cartridge’s high velocity and exceptional BC enable it to deliver flat trajectories and excellent energy retention, ensuring consistent shots.
One of the standout features of the cartridge is its compatibility with short-action rifles, such as the Winchester Model 70 — this allows for faster cycling and a more compact firearm that doesn’t compromise performance. It’s important for hunters to have a rifle that is easy to handle and maneuver in the field, and this cartridge delivers on this front.
The Western offers excellent long-range capabilities, with a flat trajectory and minimal bullet drop. It can deliver accuracy and consistency even at extended distances, making it a reliable choice for hunters.
This cartridge can handle a wide range of hunting applications. This makes it an attractive option for hunters who pursue various types of big game.
The Western’s ability to function in short-action rifles allows for faster cycling and reduced recoil. This feature makes it more user-friendly and reduces shooter fatigue.
Although short-action rifles are more common, shooters with long-action rifles may find themselves unable to utilize the 6.8 Western.
Like many specialized cartridges, the 6.8 Western may come at a higher price point compared to more common ammunition. It’s important to consider the cost of both the ammunition and the rifle when opting for this cartridge.
While the 6.8 Western has manageable recoil, it may still be too much for some shooters — especially those with lower recoil tolerance or less experience. Test the cartridge in a controlled environment to assess personal comfort levels and see how you like it yourself.
The decision to use this cartridge depends on your shooting needs and preferences. If you’re an experienced hunter looking for a versatile cartridge with impressive long-range performance, the 6.8 Western could be a great choice. Its compatibility with short-action rifles and overall performance make it a worthwhile option.
However, if you’re on a budget or prefer more established cartridges, you might want to stick with traditional options. Additionally, if you prefer long-action rifles, the 6.8 Western may not be the best fit for you.
Ultimately, it’s a strong cartridge and worth considering for hunters seeking superior long-range performance with a manageable recoil.