Now, I could regurgitate all of the media hype that they are trying to build up around this cartridge, but after 30 plus years in this business, I have to confess that I am a natural skeptic when it comes to new cartridge introductions.
Does anyone remember the WSSM family of cartridges? Almost nobody does and if you own one you know the ammo manufacturers have totally forgotten about it.
It’s pretty obvious why they refer to the 6.8 Western as a 6.8 instead of a 270. We all know the 6.5’s are dominating the shooting landscape, so calling it a 6.8 Western makes it sound more like a 6.5.
Like I said, I’m skeptical.
BUT, after taking a closer look at this round, I need to tell you that I don’t hate it. I can even believe that I might grow to like it, if it does not suffer the same fate as the WSSM, leaving a whole bunch of trusting rifle enthusiasts with no factory ammunition.
Will the 6.8 Western suffer the same fate?
Now, as a natural skeptic and crumugion about these things, I always thought the WSSM was a bad product. Feeding was terrible, cartridge performance was unimpressive, and accuracy was not very good with the possible exception of the 25 WSSM which was not terrible but was still mediocre at best.
With the 6.8 Western, we have another Browning/Winchester Olin cartridge introduction with both companies chambering factory rifles and producing factory ammo. This time, I think they have come up with a pretty good cartridge specifically designed for heavy-for-caliber, high BC bullets.
I have never considered the 6.5 PRC a legitimate Elk cartridge simply because it does not offer a heavy enough bullet to reliably produce penetration through heavy bone and muscle tissue, especially at longer ranges. I realize that many Elk have fallen to the 243, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, and 270 Winchester but that does not make these ideal for Elk, especially if you only get one or two attempts a year to bag your trophy and can’t wait for a 150 yard broadside shot.
The 6.8 Western offers a 165 grain Accubond Long Range and a whopping 175 grain Sierra projectile, both with very high sectional densities and high ballistic coefficients. This means they will hold on to lots of energy downrange and penetrate through heavy bone and tissue, making this a legitimate cartridge for Elk.
At 500 yards, the 165 ABLR produces 1856 foot-pounds of energy and the 175 grain Sierra generates 1771 foot-pounds at the same distance. That is pretty impressive for a 2.9”ish length cartridge with recoil just below a 7mm Rem. Mag.
Since the 6.8 Western is designed for a short action length and 24” barrel, we can build a lightweight rifle that still achieves perfect balance, great shootability, and guaranteed ½ MOA accuracy assuming the factory ammunition is up to that task (nobody knows this yet).
With its short distance to shoulder, and long bullets, the 6.8 Western will present some feeding challenges in a hinged floorplate magazine box design. Thus, we will be using a lightweight, sleek Detachable Box Magazine that center-stacks each round for flawless feeding.
Our job as a custom rifle builder is not to be an automatic cheerleader for every new cartridge that comes out just so we can sell more rifles.
Our job is to be skeptical and to honestly evaluate the pros and cons so we can help you make the best decisions for your rifle build.
We will vigorously test this new cartridge for accuracy, feeding, and performance before we offer it to our customers and will post the results as soon as we have them in a few months.