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284 Winchester


Introduced in 1963, Winchester’s goal in developing the 284 Winchester was to be able to offer a chambering in its short-action Model-88 and –100 rifles that would approximate ballistics of the 270 Winchester.  In that, it entirely succeeded.

The case is nothing more than the 7.5mm Swiss case necked down, to 28-caliber, with minor changes to body taper, shoulder angle and placement, and length, with the rim turned down from 0.5-inch to 0.473-inch so this new round would work using the same bolt face used in the 243, 308, and 358 chamberings of the Model-88 lever-action and Model-100 semi-automatic rifles.

When first introduced, the gun-writer cadre was entirely enamored with the 284, lauding it as the first of a new generation of superior cartridges that would change hunting rifles forever.  To read and accept what practically every one of them had to say, the 284 was obviously the best thing since sliced bread.  But, the romance soon faded.  When it did, it seemed like overnight they turned on the 284, en masse.

The problem was, the gun-writers of the era were, almost to a man, bolt-action elitists of the first order.  I know of one who refused to even hold a Marlin lever-action 1895 so a colleague could get a picture of it in someone’s hands, even if the holder’s face was not shown and he was not identified.  Elitism at its finest.  Those guys all just knew the only rifle of any merit was the bolt-action, period.

To add to this problem, when the 284 was chambered in short-action guns, overall cartridge length had to be held to about 2.8 inches, which all those gun writers claimed severely limited performance.  This was nonsense but it was stated and repeated until it was a fact, or at least perceived as a fact!

One gun-writer went so far as to damn the 284 because, paraphrasing only slightly here: when chambered in a short-action rifle it will not launch 175-grain bullets as fast as the 270 chambered in a long-action rifle would launch 175-grain bullets if you could get 175-grain bullets for the 270.  But, of course, at that time you could not get such a bullet for the 270!  Obviously, he was irrational and entirely unhinged on the matter and so were most of his colleagues.

As noted, the 284 did exactly what Winchester designed it to do.  It launched 125-grain bullets almost as fast as the 270 launched 130s and it launched 150s just as fast as the 270 launched 150s.  No big-game animal ever harvested would have known the difference.

With bullets of equal terminal-performance capability placed equally well, the 284 did everything the 270 did.  Despite this, while the gun-writers of that era were still widely lauding the 270 Winchester as one of the all-time greats, they dammed the 284 into oblivion as a chambering that was absolutely, unequivocally, and terminally 100% worse than useless.

I suspect if they could have had their way they would have tarred and feathered those involved in ever having the temerity to even consider designing and introducing such a thing!  If you think I am exaggerating, that is only because you did not read or you do not remember what they wrote about the 284, I did and I do.

Too add insult to injury, seventeen-years later, when the 7mm-08 Remington was introduced many of the same gun writers who had worked so hard to kill the 284 lauded the 7mm-08 as a fantastic development.  Consider the following facts: the 7mm-08 was chambered in the same guns the 284 had been or could have been; by a significant margin, the 7mm-08 was ballistically inferior to the 284; and the 7mm-08 suffered even more ballistic deficit with the use of heavier bullets, compared to the 284.  Yet, the 284 was useless and the 7mm-08 was fantastic.

This was a good example to a youngster who had visions of being a gun-writer and I have worked hard my entire life to avoid the same prejudices and pitfalls that led those folks and certainly many of their readers astray.  Nevertheless, I too am human, when you read my work you would be well served to remember that I too can be inconsistent and I can even err!

The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
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