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The .280 Remington was introduced in 1957. Various sources suggest that Remington engineers were interested in creating a high powered 7mm cartridge for several years before reaching their long term goal. The resulting cartridge was based on the .30-06 case necked down to 7mm (.284”). Although the 7mm-06 wildcat had been in existence for quite some time, the commercial version differed in that the shoulder was set slightly further forwards than the famous .270 Winchester, to avoid the danger of .280 ammunition being accidentally fed into .270Win caliber rifles.
Initially, the .280 was chambered in the Remington Model 740 semi automatic rifle. To function smoothly in the auto loader, factory ammunition was loaded to pressures of 48000 to 50000psi. The first factory loads featured a 150 grain bullet at an advertised velocity of 2810fps but in sporting rifles, true velocities were closer to 2600fps. The already popular .270 Winchester was loaded to pressures of between 52000 and 54000psi giving much higher velocity, thus the .280 was poorly received by hunters.
A further blow to the general acceptance of the .280 occurred after the release of the 7mm Remington Magnum in 1962, a cartridge which went on to become one of the most popular cartridges in American history. By the mid 1960's the .280 was available in all of Remington's action configurations however the cartridge still failed to gain attention. By the mid 1970's production of .280 ammunition almost ceased completely.
In 1979, Remington increased the powder charges of .280 factory ammunition and re-named the .280 cartridge as the 7mm Express Remington in an effort to bring attention to this newly improved performance. During the name change initial confusion resulted in one production run of barrels having 7mm06 stamped on them. Over time, due to confusion between the 7mm Express Remington and the 7mm Remington Magnum, the cartridge finally went back to it's original name, the .280 Remington.
It was a long time before hunters began to notice that the .280 had both the potential to fire heavy bullets of a similar weight to the .30-06, while still having the high shock at extended ranges and flat trajectory of the .270 Winchester. Twenty years after its introduction hunters finally began to realize that the .280 was a strong contender as an all-round medium game cartridge and for a brief period, during the late 1980's, demand for .280 caliber M700 rifles exceeded production. Outside of the U.S, hunters began to notice the growing popularity of the .280 in the States via published literature and by the early 1990's, hunters from all over the world started to take more interest in the performance of the .280 cartridge.
In gun magazine columns of the 1990’s, technical editors were bombarded with letters asking about the performance of the .280 versus the long time worldwide favorite .270 Winchester cartridge. A hot topic for some time was the question of whether the forwards shoulder and slightly wider bore of the .280 could achieve higher velocities than the .270. Arguments then began over the fact that the .280, while having slightly higher velocity, had poorer ballistic coefficients than the .270 which therefore cancelled out any velocity gain. This argument was relevant to the 140 grain bullet weight, popular with both .270 and 7mm users at that time.
Ultimately, the .280 showed an irrelevant 20-50fps gain in velocity over the .270 in barrels of equal length with 140 to 150 grain bullets. The true strength of the .280 was its ability to utilize longer, sleek 160-162 grain bullets. By 2000, much of the popularity of the .280 Remington had once again waned. Fans of the .270 stayed with the .270, fans of the .30-06 stuck to the .30-06 while 7mm fans chose either the compact 7mm08 or the highly emphatic 7mm Remington Magnum or the later 7mmWSM.
Today, the .280 retains moderate popularity. Factory ammunition users still have a rather limited choice of somewhat lack luster ammunition however hand loaders have never had it better. In recent years, the availability of extremely high BC 7mm projectiles has breathed new life into the .280. The combination of high BC’s combined with mild recoil, have made the .280 and .280 Ackley Improved wildcat, highly favored cartridges for long range hunters wanting to build light and set limits on recoil accordingly, recoil to both the shooter and rifle platform. The .280 is also suitable for high power long range competition however recoil and throat wear are considered extreme in comparison to currently favored cartridges.
Most major firearm manufacturers now offer factory standard rifles in .280 Remington. Weatherby and Sako have traditionally utilized 1:10 inch twist barrels which for hand loaders can be too slow for optimum accuracy with160 grain bullets. The Winchester M70 rifles in circulation feature 1:9.5 twist barrels while Remington currently (2012) use a 1:10 twist barrel, optimized for the many 140 grain factory loads. The 1:10 twist is somewhat of a shame considering that the 1:9 twist rate is ideal for 120-180 grain bullets.
As has already been stated, factory ammunition for the .280 Remington can be somewhat mild. Most off the shelf loads tend to feature a basic 140 or 150 grain soft point load with a relatively low BC and less than optimal muzzle velocity. Out to moderate ranges, such loads tend to produce a broad wound, adequate penetration and fast killing on medium game. As ranges exceed 250 yards, kills can become quite slow. This is also very typical of the basic 130 grain factory SP loads for the .270 Winchester. With both cartridges, select premium factory loads produce excellent performance however these are often priced beyond the reach of the average hunter. As always, hand loads give excellent performance at a much lower cost than premium factory loads.
With hand loads, the .280 can be adapted to a variety of game, from varmints to large framed, heavily built medium game. Loaded with fast expanding, sleek 140 to 150 grain bullets, the .280 is a fast killer of light framed medium game. That said, the .280 produces optimum performance with 150 to 162 grain bullets. Deep penetrating projectiles such as the 150 grain Scirocco, 154 grain InterBond or 160 grain Nosler Partition give excellent results on both light and tough medium game out to ranges exceeding 300 yards.
At long ranges and where twist rates allow, the soft 162 grain Hornady A-max produces violent wounding, performing very well out to ranges of around 700 yards when used by intermediate experienced long range shooters, continuing to produce desirable performance out to ranges of around 1200 yards in expert hands.
The only disadvantage of the .280 Remington, in comparison to the parent .30-06 cartridge, is that for large heavily muscled animals the .30-06 user has a choice of 180 to 240 grain projectiles of both soft or heavy construction. To this end, the .30-06 is a more versatile cartridge for hunting heavily bodied game weighing 320kg (700lb) and heavier.
Remington currently produce four loads for the .280 including, the 140 grain Core-Lokt at an advertised 3000fps, the 140 grain Accutip at 3000fps, the 150 grain Core-Lokt at 2890fps and the 165 grain Core-Lokt round nose bullet at 2820fps. These velocities are seldom achieved in older 22” barreled sporting rifles which tend to produce velocities 140fps below advertised specifications. More recently, rifle manufacturers have produced 24” barreled sporters and from these, loads tend to be closer to Remington’s advertisements but still around 70fps slower than test barrel figures.
Both the 140 and 150 grain Core-Lokt bullets are outstanding medium range, medium game loads. Unfortunately both bullets have immensely poor BC’s, producing delayed kills beyond 150 yards (2600fps) although wounding is vivid. Beyond 250 yards wounding is narrow and kills can be very slow. The Core-Lokt loads are best suited to hunters on a limited budget and with some understanding to limitations, careful shot placement (forwards shoulder) minimizes any unwanted results.
The 165 grain round nose bullet is an adequate woods load for medium game weighing up to 150kg (330lb) as well as Elk at 320kg (700lb) but not suitable for more aggressive animal species weighing more than 150kg. Unfortunately the 7mm bore diameter does not derive any direct benefit from round or flat nose bullets unless the bullet tip features a means of enhancing trauma (Norma 170 grain Vulcan). As for bullet deflection through brush, high SD pointed 7mm 160 to 175 grain projectiles are just as reliable as traditional brush busting bullets and calibers. To this end, while the 165 grain Core-Lokt is reliable and effective at close to moderate ranges on quite a wide range of game, a pointed projectile would show greater versatility.
The Premium 140 grain Accutip is quite an outstanding performer. This bullet, although designed for longer range work, is at its most spectacular at close to moderate ranges. Beyond 200 yards jacket core separation can sometimes occur however, deep, heavily raking penetration is usually a requirement when snap shooting at close ranges. In most cases, at longer ranges, the Accutip will produce a free bleeding exit wound on lighter medium game weighing less than 70kg (155lb) and arrest against offside skin on game weighing up to 90kg (200lb). Wounds become narrow below 2400fps (320 yards) and much narrower at 2200fps (440 yards) although shots that strike bone at 2000fps tend to produce excellent results. The Accutip is not well suited to game heavier than 90kg (200lb).
Winchester currently offer one load for the .280, the 140 grain Supreme Ballistic Silvertip at a true 3040fps in 24” barrels. For some reason, as effective as the 140 grain BST is on light framed game, this bullet is very lack luster. The BST is often used to take large, heavily bodied deer but is not particularly well suited to this application due to the light bullet construction and lack of controlled expansion. Instead, the BST excels on light bodied animals, weighing less than 70kg (155lb) out to 450 yards.
Current offerings from Federal include the 140 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip at 2990fps, the 140 grain Nosler Accubond at 3000fps, the 140 grain Barnes TSX at 2890fps, the 150 grain American Eagle (previously Hi-Shok) at 2890fps, the 150 grain Nosler Partition at 2890fps and the 160 grain Accubond at 2800fps. Federal also produce a 140 grain Fusion brand load at 2990fps. While federal were once quite atrocious with regard to published versus true velocities, this company are now very honest and transparent. The above velocities are true for 24” barrels while 22” sporters tend to lose around 70fps.
The Winchester and Federal versions of the 140 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip load are for the most part, identical. The difference between the two is that the Winchester load features Olin’s Lubalox bullet coating which eliminates copper fouling and enables maximum velocities with mild pressures. The 140 grain Accubond is a superb medium game bullet, producing a desirable combination of wounding versus deep penetration on medium game out to 450 yards. This bullet does its best work on game weighing less than 90kg (200lb) however hunters continue to push the use of this bullet well beyond this weight, sometimes to the detriment of the bullet maker when results are less than desirable. The 140 grain TSX is ideally suited to large, heavily bodied medium game. On lighter medium game, the TSX is fast killing above 2600fps or 125 yards, but beyond this range, rear lung shots often producing delayed kills, regardless of wide internal wounding.
Federal’s 150 grain American Eagle bullet is now an old bullet design. Its form is much the same as the Core-Lokt but the Federal is more brittle and at close ranges tends to shed during penetration, rather than mushroom. Past 150 yards kills can be slow due to the less than optimal BC of .415 resulting in low hydrostatic and hydraulic shock. This is a basic load for factory ammunition users on a limited budget but also a good load for testing 100 yard accuracy due to Federals high quality controls.
The 150 grain Federal Nosler Partition load produces excellent performance across a wide range of game weights from the lightest of game, through to animals weighing around 150kg (330lb). The Partition produces its most spectacular results inside 150 yards but with its soft front section continues to produce wide wound channels out to 250 yards (2400fps), gradually deteriorating in performance at the 2200fps (360 yards) mark. The Partition can be pushed to 3000fps with hand loads to maximize performance but as a factory loading, this velocity is difficult to reach without potential pressure problems.
For heavier game, the Federal 160 grain Accubond load is effective but again, carefully developed (and chronographed) hand loads tend to produce greater velocities of 2900fps and slightly higher if pushed to maximum limits. Nevertheless, at 2800fps, the Accubond achieves relatively deep penetration without excessive weight loss. Wounding is best inside 2400fps or 250 yards and rather than a widely diffused violent wound, as occurs with the Partition, the 160 grain Accubond tends to produce more centralized wounding, not unlike the basic Remington Core-Lokt and Hi-Shok at moderate ranges. The 160 grain Accubond is not an exceptionally deep penetrator, in no way similar to the Barnes 140 grain TSX but on game weighing between 80 and 320kg (180-700lb), the Accubond is a good all round bullet.
Federal’s more recent invention, the 140 grain Fusion bullet is somewhat mild at 2990fps and having a poor BC of .390, loses velocity very quickly. The Fusion projectile is a core bonded design (perhaps even copper electro-plated) but is brittle in nature and prone to excessive (with regard to its design goals) weight loss during penetration. The Fusion bullet is slow to expand and on lighter animals, can fail to initiate hydrostatic shock at impact velocities of 2850fps yet cannot be expected to penetrate vitals from tail on shots on animals weighing 40kg (90lb). Federal would do well to drop this design and utilize their 150 grain Hotcor with cannelure, giving both better shock, deeper penetration and greater economy for end users.
Hornady, recognizing the need for high velocity .280 loadings have no listings in their custom line and instead feature two loadings in their light magnum line, now re-branded as Superformance. These include the 139 grain GMX at 3070fps and the 139 grain SST at 3090fps. Both loads achieve their stated velocity in 24” barrels, losing around 70fps in 22” barrels. The SST is a spectacular killer when driven at these velocities although it is best suited to lighter medium game, up to body weights of about 70kg (155lb) as a safe maximum. The GMX is quite the opposite, like the Barnes TSX, better suited to heavily muscled game if any error in shot placement is a possibility beyond 150 yards. It would be good to see Hornady offer the 154 grain SST and InterBond as a dual option for the .280 as both projectiles work extremely well from this cartridge platform.
Although some of the most recent .280 factory loads deliver near maximum velocities, hand loading is still by far the most economical means of obtaining optimum performance from this cartridge.
Several factors determine velocity potential of the .280. As can be expected, short free bore, 22” barreled rifles can be much slower than longer barreled, long free bore rifles. From 22” barreled rifles, maximum safe working velocities include 3000fps with 140 grain bullets, 2900fps with 150 grain bullets and 2800fps with 160 grain bullets. Rifles with 24” barrels will normally give 50fps increase above these figures for 3050fps, 2950fps and 2850fps respectively.
To some extent custom barreled .280 rifles are both more common and of greater popularity than factory rifles. SAAMI specifications give the .280 a relatively short free bore, ideal for the full range of bullet weights from 120 to 180 grains. But for those who wish to utilize bullets weighing between 150 and 180 grains, the SAAMI specification can be a handicap. It is therefore advisable, if custom building a .280 rifle for maximum down range energy, to have the free bore cut to a length suited to this application. That said, it is imperative to check magazine box lengths to see if a long COAL is actually workable.
A small selection of rifle actions with suitable box magazines for a long .280 include the Winchester long action M70 (all variants), Remington M700 Long, Sako long (internal magazine models) or the economical Howa Long action (Weatherby Vanguard). All of these rifles have internal box magazines greater than 90mm (3.5" ) in length. Barrels with a 1:9" twist rate are extremely versatile giving top accuracy with bullets weighing between 120 and 175 grains.
Good ‘dummy’ max COAL’s for chamber cutting include: the Hornady 154 or 162 grain Interlock seated to touch the rifle lands at 87mm or 154-162 grain InterBond or SST seated to touch at 89mm. A freebore cut to either of the above specs (both equate to the same COAL) works well with the 150 grain Scirocco, the full range of 160-175 grain hunting bullets and the 180 grain VLD. If the rifle is to be used for dedicated long range hunting with the 168 grain VLD or A-Max, a max COAL of 87.5mm is the most versatile. These COAL’s optimize case capacity based on a 1mm (40 thou) bullet jump. Those who prefer minimal bullet jump should shorten the above suggested max COAL’ accordingly.
From a long freebore, 26” barreled custom rifle, typical velocities include 3100fps with 140 grain bullets, 3000fps with 150 grain bullets, 2950fps with the 154 grain SST and InterBond, 2900fps with the 162 grain A-Max and SST, 2850fps with the 168 grain VLD and 2750fps using the 180 grain VLD. Long barreled .280 caliber rifles produce relatively low felt recoil, low recoil torque to bedding surfaces and a reduction in perceived noise.
Brass for the .280 Remington is readily available although cases are just as easily fire formed from .270Win brass. Optimum powders for light bullets or short free bore rifles are the medium slow burners in the H4350 range. For long free bore rifles, powders in the H4813sc range give best results.
The .280 can be loaded with light 120 to 130 grain bullets for use on varmints to light game however most 139-140 grain bullets give just as spectacular (usually more so) killing along with superior exterior ballistics. Nevertheless, where a light recoiling down load is required, the two most outstanding performers are the 120 grain Nosler ballistic Tip loaded to between 2700 and 2900fps and the 130 grain Sierra Single shot pistol loaded to 2700fps to 2800fps.
For the .280, the most useful range of Sierra projectiles include the 140 grain and 170 grain Pro-Hunter, the 140, 150, 160 and 175 grain GameKing bullets along with the 150 and 175 grain MatchKing bullets. Of these, the 150 and 160 grain GK are good open country medium game bullets, especially suited to hunters on a tight budget. The 150 grain bullet is ideally suited to goat/sheep while the 160 grain bullet is better suited to deer in the 70 to 120kg (154-264lb) range.
Sierra seem to have a knack of creating highly effective round nose bullets and the 170 grain Pro-hunter, although not a commonly used projectile, delivers excellent performance at close ranges on medium game. The economical Pro-Hunter is far tougher than Hornady’s round nose bullets, a sometimes highly desirable feature considering the stress placed on a projectile with a wide frontal area and its exposed lead core on impact. The tough jacket and cannelure of the Sierra are effective at arresting bullet expansion during penetration. Naturally, the faster the Sierra is driven, the more spectacular the wounding although at full .280 velocities of 2700fps, penetration can be compromised if tail on shots on medium game weighing up to 80kg (180lb) are to be expected.
Sierra’s 175 grain GameKing projectile is too stout for fast killing of medium game at .280 velocities. The same can be said for the 150 and 175 grain MatchKing projectiles. About the only creature that can make the SMK work as a long range hunting projectile is the humble pig. A wild pig has a dense body to initiate bullet expansion but is not normally so heavy in the body as to be classed as a large heavy game species - although exceptions do of course frequently occur.
The Speer 145 grain Hotcor projectile works well in the .280 out to moderate ranges but is slightly handicapped by a low BC of .416. To counter this Speer produce a 145 grain BTSP which can be used in conjunction with the Hotcor. On lighter medium game, these two projectiles offer a unique level of performance, producing very fast killing and excellent penetration. It would be nice to see the 145 grain Hotcor permanently replaced by the 150 grain Hotcor with cannelure which Speer manufacture for Federal, along with the creation on a 150 grain BTSP counterpart.
The 160 grain Hotcor can sometimes prove too stout for fast killing of light or lean bodied animals at all velocity levels. Wounding is extremely violent at close ranges yet light animals will often run great distances before succumbing to blood loss. This projectile is especially well suited to game weighing between 80 and 150kg (180-330lb) and adequate for heavier game of up to 320kg, though not as reliable as the 160 grain Nosler Partition design. Nevertheless, this is a very good bullet for medium weight game and can be used in conjunction with the Speer 160 grain BTSP to increase flexibility.
The 160 grain Speer BTSP is an excellent longer range projectile for medium game. From a potential muzzle velocity of 2900fps, the BTSP disintegrates readily and is therefore not suitable for the large, heavily muscled animals such as Elk, more so at close ranges. This projectile comes into its own at impact velocities of between 2600 and 2200fps (170 to 410 yards) if it is to be used on a wide range of body weights. Wounding gradually begins to deteriorate as velocity approaches 2000fps (545 yards) but if bone is hit, killing can be very fast.
Nosler’s 140 grain Partition and Ballistic Tip are both adequate performers in the .280 however the best of the lightweights is the 140 grain Accubond ideally suited to lighter bodied medium game, up to a maximum body weight of 150kg (330lb) out to ranges of around 350 yards. The Nosler 150 grain Ballistic Tip is a good performer on light animals at extended ranges. This projectile is stouter than the Speer BTSP projectiles but delivers deep, broad wounding out to 350 yards. It is not the most flexible of projectiles but is versatile on all body weights up to around 70kg (155lb).
The Nosler 150 grain Partition produces a unique level of performance. Bullet weight and construction are ideal for medium weight deer species. For hunters having problems with slow killing at normal hunting ranges, the 150 grain Partition produces a benchmark level of violent wounding, adequate penetration and fast killing. This projectile is versatile over a wide range of body weights up to 180kg (400lb) down to impact velocities of 2200fps.
Of the 160 grain Accubond and 160 grain Partition, the Partition is a far more violent projectile - a pity considering the excellent BC of the Accubond. Both are highly useful projectiles in the .280 Remington however to some extent, the former Partition design can sometimes prove to be the more dramatic killer of the two when either launched at lower than magnum velocities or at extended ranges, it really is an outstanding killer of both light and larger medium game. Both are adequate for use on Elk sized game although not quite as emphatic as the .300 Magnum/Nosler offerings. Neither projectile seems to out penetrate the other by an noticeable degree. A mention must also go to the 175 grain Partition, a fast expanding projectile producing deep penetration - aided by mild muzzle velocities when used in the .280.
Besides Nosler, Hornady produce some very useful projectiles, well suited to .280 velocities. Entry level projectiles include the 139 grain Interlock flat base and Interlock BTSP. Both are adequate light game bullets, certainly not as spectacular as Hornady’s more recent designs. Both the FBSP and BTSP are very soft, losing over 50% weight after impact. These projectiles are best suited to hunters on a limited budget.
The 139 grain SST and 139 grain InterBond are very useful together. Both have the same form factor and BC, in most instances shooting to the same POI out to all ranges. The .280 (and 7mm Rem Mag) wring maximum performance from the 139 grain SST/InterBond combination. The SST produces spectacular results on lean animals out to 375 yards (2400fps), maintaining broad internal wounding out to 480 yards (2200fps). Beyond this range kills can be very delayed if shoulder bones are not struck. That said, it is possible to push the use of this projectile out to 600 yards (2000fps) with quite acceptable results.
The 139 grain InterBond produces wide wounding and high shock at impact velocities above 2600fps (250 yards), gradually losing its ability to create wide, fast bleeding wounds as velocity approaches 2400fps (375 yards). At impact velocities of 2100fps, with rear lung shots on light or lean medium game, the InterBond is only able to expand to a frontal area diameter of approximately 10mm (.400”), producing lung wounds of a similar diameter. The InterBond is therefore much better suited to either close to moderate ranges or tough animals, in lieu of a heavy bullet and shift in POI.
The 154 grain flat base and 162 grain BTSP Interlock projectiles are both excellent lighter medium game projectiles. Although the 162 grain BTSP is designed to produce reliable penetration at magnum velocities, this projectile is not really suitable for heavily muscled, large medium game, regardless of the lower .280 velocities. Instead, this projectile really shines as an economical medium game bullet, doing its best work on animals weighing up to 80kg (180lb).
Hornady’s 154 grain SST and InterBond are another excellent combination. The InterBond should be annealed for best results (see 7mm Rem Mag) while the 154 grain SST does not show any noticeable improvements from this process. Both of these projectiles have a relatively high BC of .525 and from a muzzle velocity of 2950fps, the SST delivers excellent wounding out to 450 yards (2200fps) and much further if major bones are encountered to initiate expansion. The InterBond is most effective inside 320 yards (2400fps). These two projectiles are able to tackle a wide range of body weights and ranges, the SST is ideal for game weighing up to 90kg (200lb), the IB adequate for heavy bodied deer species such as Elk. The IB is similar in terminal performance to the 160 grain Accubond, regardless of differences in metallurgy and design.
The Hornady 162 grain SST can be made into quite a useful all round projectile once annealed. After this process, retained weight usually averages 50% which may not be very high however potential incidents of jacket core separation are eliminated. As with almost all 7mm projectiles, the 162 grain SST produces hydrostatic shock on medium game species at impact velocities of above 2600fps which in the .280 at up to 2900fps, equates to 175 yards. As with other SST designs, wide wounding occurs down to velocities of 2200fps (440 yards) however with rear lung shots, kills can be slightly delayed beyond the 2600fps barrier, becoming slower as velocity decreases. The 162 grain SST is particularly well suited to all body weights up to 150kg (330lb).
For long range hunting, the 162 grain Hornady A-Max is outstanding. Penetration on light bodied game at close ranges is thorough but on large animals, full cross body penetration (exit wounding) cannot be expected. As the A-Max breaks the 2600fps mark (200 yards), it comes into its own. The 162 grain A-Max adequately destroys the vitals of heavy bodied deer species such as Elk at extended ranges but is not quite as deep penetrating as either the 180 grain 7mm VLD or heavy .30 caliber A-Max and VLD projectiles. The 162 grain A-Max is somewhat better suited to light to mid sized medium game if consistently satisfying results are to be expected.
From an MV of 2900fps, the A-Max produces very wide wounding out to 825 yards (1800fps), gradually decreasing in performance though still producing thorough wounding and clean killing at 1400fps (1200 yards). Generally speaking, for long range shooting, intermediate experienced shooters tend to have less wind drift errors at velocities above 1800fps. Below 1800fps, a far greater level of skill is required in order to read wind correctly and place shots accurately.
One projectile that deserves consideration is the Swift 150 grain Scirocco. This is a sleek bullet with a high BC of .515 along with a bullet weight suited to a huge range of the worlds most common game species (goat/sheep/deer/antelope). The Scirocco looks entirely different to the 154 grain InterBond yet both have near identical wounding characteristics, the annealed IB being slightly superior with regard to penetration. Nevertheless, the Scirocco, driven at 3000fps, stays above the 2600fps mark out to 225 yards and continues to produce a highly traumatic wound out at 300 yards. The Scirocco is particularly good for light yet tough animals within these ranges. Swift also manufacture 140, 160 and 175 grain A-Frame bullets, the latter 160 and 175 grain projectiles producing excellent performance on large medium game out to moderate ranges of 250 yards.
The .280 can drive the Barnes range of TSX projectiles at high velocities yet the light 120 grain TSX and Tipped TSX are the best choice for this cartridge when used on lean bodied deer. The 120 grain TTSX driven at 3300fps, is most effective out to 250 yards (2600fps). For those who can read winds, the 120 grain TTSX driven forwards into shoulder bones, continues to produce wide wounding and fast killing out to 330 yards (2400fps). Beyond this velocity barrier, wounding is narrower than that which can be achieved with a frangible projectile. The 140, 150 and 160 grain TSX are more suited to game weighing over 90kg (200lb) and all three will produce exit wounds on game weighing up to 320kg (700lb). The 160 and 175 grain TSX are adequate for head and neck shooting large heavy game if necessity dictates that the .280 must be used.
Berger produce three long range hunting bullets for the 7mm bore, the 140 grain VLD, 168 grain VLD and 180 grain VLD. Of these, the 168 grain VLD is the most useful in the .280 Remington, obtaining a balance of high velocity, high BC and SD and excellent terminal performance at extended ranges. The 168 grain VLD has a low surface bearing area and is relatively easy to work with when looking for maximum muzzle velocities combined with optimum accuracy. In many cases this bullet can be pushed as fast or even slightly faster than a 160 grain bullet.
Like the A-Max, the 168 grain VLD is best suited to light to mid weight deer species. The major difference between the A-Max and the VLD, is that the VLD tends to (but not always), break down into smaller fragments than the A-Max. The 168 grain VLD has slightly greater potential to produce shallow penetration if used at close range on large bodied game however, using the VLD in this way, works against its strengths. At very close ranges, neck and head shots on large bodied game eliminate undesirable results. As velocities approach 2600fps (around 175 yards), the 168 grain VLD boasts spectacular performance. Exit wounds on light to mid weight game are often up to above 3” in diameter (as also happens at point blank ranges on lean bodied game).
The 180 grain VLD bullet can be driven at around 2700-2750fps in standard configuration 24” barreled .280 rifles. From custom 26-27” long range hunting rifle barrels, the 180 grain VLD can be pushed to 2850fps (full 32” target barrels can comfortably achieve 2950fps). Unfortunately, the 2011 orange box VLD needs to hit bone to prevent pin hole wounding at long ranges. Hopefully, Berger will produce a more frangible 180 grain VLD duplicating the original bullet in the future. If this can be achieved, regardless of whether the 180 grain bullet is driven at 2700fps or 2850fps, the VLD will once again be an exceptional performer down to 1400fps across an immensely wide range of body weights.
One common chambering for custom rifles is the .280 Ackley improved. This pushes the shoulder forwards to 40 degrees and minimizes body taper. The Ackley improved is sometimes quoted as giving a 100fps gain in velocity over the standard cartridge. In some instances, the higher velocity comes more as a result of maximum loading. Those who are contemplating the AI version, to avoid disappointment, should not expect velocity gains of more than 50fps. One of the greater benefits of the Ackley is minimizing case growth and the need for trimming, especially useful for hand loaders using progressive reloading operations such as the Hornady Lock N Load reloading station.
The .280 Remington is an outstanding medium game cartridge. While the popularity of this cartridge has always remained limited in mainstream hunting circles, the .280 is a popular choice amongst custom rifle builders. The only trap is that because of its excellent exterior ballistics, many hand loaders have a tendency to want to push this performance further, to 7mm Remington Magnum velocities. If a given rifle cannot produce optimum desired velocities without excessive pressure, the hunter must come to terms with the fact that they may need to move to a more powerful cartridge. The .280 can be built with a long barrel and long free bore to produce both high velocity and low recoil, however it does have its velocity limitations, not weaknesses, but limitations.
As a long range medium game hunting cartridge, the .280 is limited by the abilities of the shooter to read wind more so than any limitation of cartridge wounding power. The same can be said of the 7mm-08, both cartridges have the capacity to produce broad wounding out to considerable ranges.
The .280 cannot produce wounds as wide as the larger bores when used on large heavily built game. Shot placement and bullet selection are as always, key factors when using the .280 on large body weights.
Note: Load No 2 duplicates SST/IB/Accubond hand loads (3100fps)
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