L ike most American shooters, I hadn’t had much to do with any of the .264 (6.5mm) calibers, until recently.
The only 6.5mm I had much experience with was the little 6.5 Swedish Mauser, a fine little deer cartridge, which the Swedes use on their native elg, the same as our moose. Then I bought my granddaughter, Tristin, a 6.5 Creedmoor for her to use on a West Texas cow elk hunt. I worked up the loads for the hunt using her rifle and fell in love with the little Creedmoor cartridge.
After the elk hunt, I started looking around for a 6.5 Creedmoor for myself and finally found one I liked. It was a Ruger Hawkeye in stainless steel with a laminated stock. I wrote about it in this column not long ago.
I kept working with the Creedmoor and the more I played with it, the more I liked it. Then a friend, Todd Tate, caught the 6.5 bug and started a project to have a custom rifle built. Instead of building it in 6.5 Creedmoor, he decided to go me one better and have his built around the 6.5/280 Remington Ackley Improved (Say that three times fast). We got really tired of saying “six point five—two-eighty Remington—Ackley Improved,” so to make it easier to talk about we named it the 6.5 Lone Wolf, or just the Lone Wolf.
It took him some time to get all the parts together, decide on what barrel he wanted, and find a gunsmith that he trusted to do the job. Then we both sat around and chewed our fingernails off to our elbows waiting for it to be finished and shipped to him. Then when he received the gun and had fired it, he found out that the bolt on the Remington 700 action had a firing pin hole that was much too large, causing the primer to flow back and make a huge crater, precluding any thing near maximum loads—a dangerous situation.
He sent it off to another gunsmith to bush the firing pin hole. The problem was not caused by the gunsmith who built the gun, but was an error in quality control by Remington. Finally it was ready to go.
Todd started working up loads, and I was amazed at the velocities he was getting from it. Working up carefully and measuring case head expansion with a micrometer, to make certain pressures were not too high, he managed to get velocities that exceeded those listed in the Nosler and Hornady books for the .264 Winchester Magnum.
This was without hot-rodding the cartridge at all. I will not list the loads tested because they may not be safe in other guns, but not only was pressure moderate and velocity outstanding, but accuracy was equally good, averaging far less than an inch, even before barrel break-in was completed.
Because .264-inch bullets have very high ballistic coefficients, this little jewel is one of the flattest shooting, hardest hitting rifles I have ever seen. This should be one of the finest whitetail/mule deer/antelope/sheep rifles it is possible to make without going to one of the barrel burning, hard kicking, super magnums, and I doubt that even one of those would better it by enough to be worth the effort.
I have shot aoudads and whitetails with my 6.5 Creedmoor, and every one was a one-shot kill; and the Lone Wolf is to the Creedmoor what a Shelby Mustang is to a Ford Pinto.
Using the normal criterion of 1,000 ft lbs of energy at the target for a deer rifle, this gun would qualify at up to 1,000 yards, and none of us should ever shoot at a deer at that range. The .270 Winchester with a 130-grain bullet at 3,100 fps is a very fine long-range deer cartridge. The Lone Wolf will better that velocity by 200 fps, with a bullet of equivalent weight and better ballistic coefficient.
It is well known among the cognoscenti that the Ackley Improved series of cartridges offers some amazing ballistic possibilities. By changing the angle of the shoulder and straightening out the sides of the case, it is possible to increase almost any standard cartridge’s velocity potential by 10 percent, and sometimes more than that. The reason is, I think, that the thrust on the bolt is lessened and the pressure is taken by the stronger walls of the chamber. This allows chamber pressure to be increased, which, added to the greater powder capacity (usually between five and 10 percent more, depending on the size of the case), allows velocities to be greatly increased.
The 6.5mms are for the first time gaining a wide acceptance in American shooting circles. They have been popular for decades in Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries, but have never been popular on this side of the pond.
It seems that their wonderful ballistic properties are finally being realized, and we should look for more 6.5mm cartridges to hit the shelves in the near future. As for the Lone Wolf, I’ll try to keep you up to date as we learn more of its capabilities.
Email Steve LaMascus at [email protected]