UK reader James prodded me about the 26 Nosler. I had heard of it a year or two back, in fact Nosler announced this, their first proprietary cartridge, at the 2014 SHOT Show, but I had neglected to have a close look at its ballistics and include in the aussiehunter calibres list.
It certainly is a speedster and well up in the magnum ranks; it is the new king of the .264 / 6.5mm calibres, based on the ME developed for the 142 grain loading. It is not a belted magnum. The calibre is based on the 404 Jeffery big game cartridge. The shell has been shortened and blown out, with a short neck and sharp shoulder. That gives it significant overbore capacity for the amount of propellant required to achieve the high MVs.
The shortened case means that bolt action rifles in 26 Nosler can be made on the standard long action length. The cartridge is the same length as the 30-06 and does not require the extra length seen in magnum actions.
The Nosler web site loading data for the 26 Nosler list loads for projectiles in their 100 to 142 grain size range. The loads were developed in a rifle with a 26 inch barrel with a 1:8” twist. There are some target loads amongst the Partition, Accubond and Ballistic Tip hunting projectiles. Nosler have listed loads for their current projectile range, which does not include projectiles in excess of 142 grains in 6.5mm. The 26 Nosler would be quite capable of firing 170 grainers in a 1:8” barrel.
Based purely on the specs, the 26 Nosler looks to be good contender for the mythical all-round calibre (now, there’s an argument) for those folks who like to ding varmints at extended ranges and also hunt deer and boar in the woods.
While there has been a lot of talk about long range trajectories, I am an old school hunter (even if I do tote about a range finder myself these days) and all my centrefire hunting rifles are zeroed to give a maximum 2 inch (50mm) rise above lone of sight.
Even on that basis, the 26 Nosler is certainly a flat shooting scorcher, as you can see below. In the coming days I will include it in my full rifle calibres list and perform an upgrade to that page, making it easier to find calibres and data.