Wildcat for beginner?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by plinker31, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. plinker31

    plinker31 Member

    Jan 6, 2012
    I am wanting to have a rifle built something in the 6.5 class in a short action and I don't need but do want something different. I like the 6.5 wssm don't know why it is just cool, I am not set on anything though. My question is for someone who has never reloaded anything and knows nothing about it is a wildcat a bad idea?
  2. digger11

    digger11 Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Not a bad idea at all. You will have to learn the loading process anyway. I would start with whatever cartridge tickles your fancy in an Ackley Improved version.
    Then you can fireform brass by shooting factory loads. Saves barrel wear and you can hunt game from the first day.
    Start out slow and ask a ton of questions. Get a good reloading manual and have some fun.

  3. westcliffe01

    westcliffe01 Well-Known Member

    Jul 6, 2011
    Its a double edged sword. Yes you will learn, but you might question the point of it. Generally, to know why one would want a wildcat, you need to have experience with a "regular" cartridge first. Many wildcat cartridges will wear out barrels faster than standard cartridges. In the case of a 6.5x284 (and probably a 6.5WSSM) that might only be 800-1500 rounds total. Along the way the throat dimension will be changing and your seating depth will have to decrease to keep up or there will be drastic effects on grouping. YOU will have to be staying on top of all those changing variables with probably little hand holding from outside.

    For someone not familiar with fireforming, reloading, working up an optimized load, while sparing barrel life, this can be a very frustrating experience. On the other hand, once you are familiar with the reloading process and have a workflow to "find" optimized loads efficiently and understand that a wildcat is like a dragster (high performance, short life, high maintenance), it is a more rational point to go that route. Many people will take a total hosing on their wildcat project in the cost of the barrel, brass, dies and finally giving it away when it provides no satisfaction.

    The ideal situation is that you have both experience, and plan to do challenging shooting (600 yards + on a regular basis) where you could actually see the benefit of the wildcat. If you are just shooting at 100 yards on paper, I think you will tire of the "all work and no reward" very quickly.

    HARPERC Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    How one proceeds depends a bit on whether you're starting with pieces of the puzzle, or from scratch. Have you got an action you want to use? From scratch I look at it from the bullet end. Is there a bullet I want to use? Then the case how hard do you wish to drive that bullet? Trouble with that approach is either the rifle doesn't shoot that bullet, or the market makes it unavailable. I put together a really nice .358 AI magnum, with a twist to shoot 275 grain Barnes Original, they came out with the X-bullet and in an odd caliber with limited bullet selection it never came together in a way that I hoped. Most bullets in .35 were put together for the Whelen.
  5. Catfur

    Catfur Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2012
    I'm a stark, raving beginner (since spring of this year), and one of the three cartridges I load for is the 6XC. Due to lack of brass from Norma, I've gone with Lapua .22-250 brass, and reformed it. My smith had a competition reamer, too (and it's for an F-Class rifle) so I have to neck turn as well.

    It's been an adventure so far, but nothing has been really "difficult." Just a lot to take in at once.

    Of course, I'm also an engineer (like lots on here) so fiddling with stuff is something I enjoy.
  6. Tnwhip

    Tnwhip Well-Known Member

    Mar 9, 2011
    Get a 260 and reload for it. Then once you get use to reloading and finding the best load it likes, shoot it for a while then you can have the barrel reamed for 260 Ackley. lightbulb
  7. RT2506

    RT2506 Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2008
    Get you a Savage action rifle with an acc-trigger and most any caliber you want. Then when you shoot the barrel out you can get a new one cheaper already made up and ready to go and you can change it yourself and save plenty of $$$.

    I also suggest if you want a wildcat get a Ackley Improved version. The 260 Rem Ackley Improved would be a good 6.5 one. You can shoot factory ammo and it is accurate to fire form your cases and break in the barrel as well as hunt with it from the git go. Then learn how to reload for it.
  8. Zep

    Zep Well-Known Member

    Dec 4, 2011
    Starting with the 260 Rem sounds like a great idea to me.
  9. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2010
    you want a good 6.5 wildcat? Well look at them before you plunk down the hard cash, and also learn why and where it came from. Many wildcats are way overbore, and eat barrels almost as fast as they can make them. Yet others do very well. I like the 6.5 Ackley improved over most of the other 6.5's, and this one is easy to do. Fairly easy on barrels, and easy to load and develop loads for. the 6.5-06 is another good one, but is also getting into overbore. But if I were doing one it would be a 6.5AI with a 30 degree shoulder, instead of the normal 40 degree shoulder. Cases start out as plain jane 6mm Remington or .257 Roberts. Will push a 140 grain bullet to a tick under 3,000 fps with no pressure signs. Plenty of neck length to aid barrel life (unlike the 6.5/284 and the 260). Reamers have been ground by Dave Kiff, and there are more than one. I'd go with the one that is setup for standard .257 brass in a crush fit to aid fire forming. Just makes life easier. Another good one is the 6.5x55 improved (several versions). Should push a 140 grain bullet right close to 2900 fps.

    Wildcats and improved cartridges (actually the two are slightly different but end up with the same results) came about because somebody wanted something better. Might have been throat life, or it might have been a brass flow issue. Yet another guy just wanted to go faster. But because we go faster doesn't always mean we have a good round. Probably half of Ackley's rounds were developed to end an issue with the round itself. The .220 Swift comes to mind here with it's well known brass flow issues (as well as the 22-250). Some of the improved rounds gained velocity, and a few gained very little even though the end user will often swear the bullet travels at light speed. Probably the finest wildcat ever developed was the 6PPC. Just does everything right. I won't say what the worst are, as there are several end users using them on this board.

    Keep in mind that just because you make a case that holds more powder, doesn't always make it a great round. A good rule of the thumb is for a neck length of at least one full caliber, and a caliber and a half is the best. Forty degree shoulders are nice, but also have their own set of issues (dreaded doughnut for one). Yet are well known for less brass flow towards the lip of the neck. Thirty five degrees is better, but thirty degrees is probably even better. The amount of taper per inch is the end user's call. Some guys want minimum taper to reduce recoil, and others are not all that concerned. Cases that don't have a lot of taper, usually don't gain a lot from going to .010" taper per inch like Ackley so often did (.308 Winchester comes to light here), Cartridges that are into overbore, are also well known for less barrel life, and often lower accuracy. Do you need a target sized group or something to simply hunt with? Are you simply going to shoot thirty rounds a year thru it, or shoot three hundred rounds thru it?

    Myself, I'd probably start out with a 6.5x47, and if I didn't like it I'd ream the chamber out to 6.5x57 Ackley off the .257 AI case.