Most rounds recomended will do all of what you want except for your desire for barrel life. The 6.5x284 will eat barrels alive. Most cartridges in the 6mm to 6.5 range will not give you good life. The 308 will do all you wish for including have a long barrel life. If you use a bullet along the lines of the 155 Scenar, you can drive them about 3000 FPS from a 26" tube with an honest BC of .500+. This will compete well with the 6.5 x 284 in regards the wind and you will see awesome accuracy with VERY long barrel life.
Mike, you are dealing with the problem we all think about. You will need to consider some compromises.
Accuracy is more a function of bullet and barrel then case. The case simply provides the horsepower. The chamber and how it was cut determines whether that horsepower can be utilised well. ALL cartridges can be equally accurate by balancing bullet, load and barrel.
Distance and accuracy at distance is something just about any modern match quality bullet can achieve. The issue is wind at that distance and your ability or desire to dope.
The more you rely on equipment, the higher the BC and velocity must be. It is simply much easier hitting a milk jug in a breeze with a 6.5-284 then a 45-70 BP.
So if you shoot in wind more often then not, I would focus on being able to hit the target over barrel life. They are mutually exclusive.
The best bullets I have played with come in 6.5 and 7mm at this time. It is no issue to get them to 3000fps. The reduced wind drift is almost 1/3 of other larger and smaller cals. Recoil is up there and most barrels will start to loose their gilt accuracy after 2000rds.
The 22 and 6mm are wonderful and new bullets push their development. You can take a heavy 6 or 22 cal and push then fast enough to equal the wind drift of the 6.5 and 7mm, but throat life drops dramatically. If you don't mind a bit more wind drift, these two cals would be ideal.
The 30 and 338's are just too big. They can work but the cost and recoil makes a day shooting PD a very tiresome event.
I have not mentioned the 25 or 270 simply because appropriate bullets are not common place. That will change in time and then so will my recommendations.
Personally, I would build a long barrel 6.5-284, -06, or -WSM. Second choice would be a fast 7mm like the 280AI, 7
WSM, and 7RM. For lower throat life but better wind performance, build a 6.5 or 7STW and get those high BC bullets to 3300fps.
If you decide on a 6mm, then any cartridge/barrel combo that can get the 105/107/115gr bullet 3000fps and faster will impress. however, don't expect any longer barrel life then the 6.5 or 7. Recoil will be much lower though.
I'm always doing my best to agree with folks because of my friendly nature, but to say I agree when I don't would make me a hypocrite. Since I don't want to be that please help me understand:
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ALL cartridges can be equally accurate by balancing bullet, load and barrel.
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If this is true why only certain cartridges are more predominantly accurate winning 1000 yards matches? Example, it is my understanding that the 308 hands down will take the 30-06 at 1000 yards. The 30-06 has gotten many victories but still historically the 308 whips it. The list could go on and on but I'm sure you know what I mean. Please remember I'm not trying to be disrespectful jus want to understand the statement you made. I believe that some cartridges are inherently more Accurate than others regardless of how good the gun smith is, or bullet barrel load combination; though I have heard your statement before from other folks I do not understand it. If you can help I would appreciate it.
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Re: Most \"Inherently Accurate\" Cartridges
I have to second what eaglet stated about the differance between the 30-06 and 308 at the 1000 yard line and the 600 line for that matter.
On the other hand though, there is alot of truth to what Jerry said about good bullets and a good barrel. Accuracy in differant cartridges might not be equall with perfect bullets and a perfect barrel (if there is such a thing) but alot of frustration can be cut out of the picture by using the best of these 2 items.
If you want more horse power than a 308 the 280 AI would be a very good alternative. The accuracy of the 308, wind drift and trajectory of a 7 mag and you would still get a fair amount of barrel life 2000-2500 rounds before accuracy was lost.
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (how bad your last shot was, how big the group is going to be, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.