“I feel the need…the need for speed!”
Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and Lt. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw
– Top Gun 1986
Like Tom Cruise’s character, we all have a need to go just a little faster whether we’re talking about horses, cars, airplanes or rifles: Especially rifles.
In my own case there was the .257 Roberts, a fairly quick stepper with good manners: Easy to load for, little muzzle blast, but nothing really pulse-quickening either. A change to the .25-06 Remington, with its ability to push 100-grain bullets just past the 3300 feet-per-second mark, accuracy, and lack of recoil set my heart fluttering, especially when it was chambered in one of Weatherby’s Vanguard rifles.
The Vanguard and I hunted hard over a period of three years, from Wyoming’s plains to Oklahoma’s wheat fields, and I never found the rifle or the cartridge wanting, but…there was something bothering me, a little nagging detail, really.
I was shooting a Remington cartridge in a Weatherby-branded rifle, a situation akin to building a Shelby Cobra replica and then dropping a stock small-block Chevy motor in it. Something had to be done.
Weatherby helped me out late in 2010 by announcing that they would be rolling out the Vanguard Series 2 at the beginning of 2011 chambered in a host of non-Weatherby calibers as well as the .257 and .300 Weatherby Magnums.
That did it. Not only would my universe be more harmonious with a Weatherby cartridge/rifle combination, but it promised just a little more speed. I immediately set out on a search for the new Vanguard, hopeful of purchasing a .257 Weatherby Magnum prior to my yearly pronghorn hunt, but it wasn’t to be. Unfortunately, Oklahoma only has a few dealers who stock Weatherby products, and the salesmen at the one big-box retailer that regularly carries the Vanguard displayed a total ignorance of the Series 2. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
As it was, the .25-06 performed splendidly as always, dropping a doe at just over 300 yards with a single shot after a long crawl through the grass and cactus, just the thing the synthetic-stocked Vanguard was designed to do.
While I was in Casper, WY, I stopped at two comprehensive gun stores, one of which is actually a small chain with stores located mainly in the western states. When I stepped up to the counter, I asked the salesman if he had any Weatherby Vanguard’s chambered in .257 Weatherby. He answered, “The old Vanguard or the new one?” Truly, fate was shining on me that evening.
After noting the “Sub MOA” decal on the bottom of the barrel and checking the trigger, I handed it back to the salesman and asked for the transfer paperwork, probably making that one of the fastest sales he had made all week. That wasn’t all, though. While I waited for the NICS check, I located a couple of boxes of factory brass, dies, a shell holder, appropriately-sized plastic cartridge boxes, primers, and, after perusing an open copy of Nosler’s reloading manual, a pound of Reloader 25. Thank you, Sportsman’s Warehouse, for making that one of my easiest shopping trips ever!