Winchester Rifle Ammunition In The Golden Age
Winchester rifle ammunition of the 1950s and 60s would be primarily ammunition for the hunting and shooting public. Although the 308 Winchester cartridge would also be considered somewhat of a military round. The main thrust of Winchester ammunition manufactured in the 1950s and 60s would be considered the hunting and sporting line of cartridges.
Winchester would develop some very popular cartridges in the 1950s. The 243 Winchester and 358 Winchester and of course the 308 Winchester cartridge which was the main development of Winchester in the 1950s. In 1955 Winchester developed the 308 cartridge and in the same year would come out with the 243 Winchester. Those two would become very popular over the next several decades.
Although the 358 Winchester did not gain the following that the 243 and 308 Winchester rifle ammunition did. It did develop a loyal following and it would probably be considered one of the best heavy brush guns ever produced.
The 358 Winchester was primarily in my opinion developed to compete with the 35 Remington cartridge.The 35 Remington had been in existence for several decades and was quite popular as a close range heavy brush rifle.
The problem with the 358 Winchester cartridge was it was not adaptable to lever action rifles of that time.The Winchester 94 and the Marlin 336 would not be able to handle the pressures that the 358 Winchester would produce. It would have to be adapted to the new Winchester model 88 or the bolt action rifles of that time.
The 243 Winchester became a very popular varmint cartridge and a light recoil deer cartridge and remained so for a long time. Remington would introduce the 244 Remington cartridge to compete with the 243 Winchester. This did not work out very well. And I will discuss this issue in another article on the 244 Remington cartridge.
Of course the 308 Winchester cartridge became very popular in the eastern US as a hunting round especially for Whitetail deer. I personally never liked the 308 for general hunting purposes as I believe it produced a lot of kick and was uncomfortable to shoot for many people (IMHO).
I have always maintained that in order to be good with any gun you need to shoot it and get comfortable with it. The 308 Winchester and similar cartridges such as the 30-06 are not pleasant to shoot off the bench. I have shot thousands of rounds of different ammunition in the last 35 years and considered the 308 and 30-06 to be given too much credit as hunting rounds.
The development of the newer short action rounds of the last 50 years are much better choices.
I know a lot of people will disagree with my analysis of these two cartridges and I will get into more detail about these cartridges in articles on them.
One of my favorite in the Winchester rifle ammunition line and one of the main cartridges that Winchester used in the 1950s would be the 270 Winchester round.
It is still one of the most popular cartridges still used today. It was made famous by Jack O’Connor in the Winchester model 70 and it is still referred to as the rifleman’s rifle and cartridge. I do like the 270 over the 30-06 and believe it is a much better cartridge in my humble opinion.
Winchester would compete with Remington arms Company in the ammunition manufacturing of the 1950s. They would both manufacture and developed the hunting and target rounds to near perfection by the 1970s. Winchester rifle ammunition and the Remington ammunition were both high quality manufactured cartridges in the 1950s and 60s.
Fast forward 50 or 60 years and we will see many new companies producing great firearms ammo. Winchester Arms and Remington Arms would be the major players in the ammunition market in the 1950s and 60s.
Federal Ammunition would introduce rifle and handgun ammo in 1963. They would start manufacturing shotshells in 1922 and 22 ammo in 1924. By the 1970s they would become a major player in the firearms ammo world. Interesting that they would start color coding shotgun ammo in 1960 for safety that would become the industry standard.
Another great addition to the Ammunition companies would be the Hornady Manufacturing Company. They would be just getting started in the 50s and 60s and have become an industry leader in the last couple decades. Interesting info at www.hornady.com/corporate/company-history/ and some good history about Hornady.
I would become a big fan of Hornady ammo as my go to hunting ammo. If I could not reload I would choose Hornady ammo. A good example of what I liked about Hornady was being able to get better performance from some of the older cartridges. The 7×57 or 7mm Mauser is a good example of this. The Hornady 7×57 Superformance 139gr will give you up to 200 fps over conventional manufactured ammo. Many of the older cartridges (like the 7×57 and 257 Roberts) would be chambered in older actions and rifles that may have been unsafe with higher pressures. Most all companies will keep the older cartridges at a lower pressure load to be safe with these older firearms. Make sure your firearm is safe to use and is designed to handle the extra pressure of modern ammo like Hornady ammunition.
The Winchester 284 is another excellent round. I personally like the 7MM bullet diameter and think it is one of the best all-around bullets to develop cartridges from. The 284 was an excellent choice in the development of the 7MM or 284 diameter bullet. I like the short action concept in a rifle and the 284 fits that criteria perfectly. It is one of those short cartridges that will produce the same ballistics as the 30-06 and be adaptable to the short action. It would also be much more pleasant to shoot on the bench.
One of my favorite rifles chambered for the 284 was the Winchester model 88, an excellent combination lever gun in short action in the Winchester 284 cartridge with a magazine. That is a real nice combination.
Winchester would use several small rounds in their guns in the 1950s and 60s and the 22 hornet was a very popular one. I considered it an excellent cartridge that was fun to shoot and easy to carry. I did reload many 22 hornet rounds in my early years in the gun shops I worked in and still very much like the 22 hornet cartridge. The 218 bee was another great small caliber cartridge that was manufacture by the Winchester ammunition line.
Winchester rifle ammunition has become very collectible. Many cartridges and boxes from the 1950s era are very collectible.