The wildcat is a new cartridge offering presumed improvements in performance but based on a cartridge case of a preexisting caliber. In the U.S. the primary cartridges became wildcats are based on the .30-06, .308 Winchester and the .30-30 Winchester. A wildcat is development to specific performance requirements to accomplish something not addressed by other cartridges.
.270 Winchester, .35 Whelen & More
Although not strictly a wildcat the .270 Winchester, among the most popular sporting cartridges in the U.S., it is a commercial development but based on the .30-06 Springfield case, necked to .27 caliber. Conversely the 25-06 and .35 Whelen are commercial offerings of former wildcats. The adherents of the 25-06 laud the character of this round as the ideal antelope round because of the flat and high velocity trajectory and good range. It is big enough to hunt deer in most states and is capable of being used on varmints as well. It provides performance between the 250 Savage or 257 Roberts on the low end and Magnums at the high end. This makes it a good one rifle rig for the financially conservative hunter and shooter. For elk most prefer the use of a heavier caliber, either the .30 caliber magnums or moving up to 338 or 35 calibers. The .35 Whelen is such a round. Provides stopping power for the larger game like black bear or elk, it ranks below the magnums but is above the .30’s except for the really big magnums. The real importance is that it is a successful wildcat turned commercial and in that .35 caliber niche that has never been overly popular with American hunters.
K98 8mm Mauser Bolt Action
After the second world war large quantities of K98 8mm Mausers where imported into the US with the availability of the 8mm Mauser technically the 7.9x57mm Mauser ammo in short supply. The K98 bolt action is not only strong but influenced the design of virtually all the bolt actions used by the major powers including the US 1903 Springfield and all modern bolt action sporting rifles. With the gun but no ammo, the US shooters came up with a practical solution, the 8mm-06. Expand the neck of the 30-06, put in an 8mm projectile, ream the chamber to accept the new cartridge and you have a fairly inexpensive but effective firearm.
.308 & .243 (6mm) Winchester
Strictly wildcats based on the 06 case are 6.5mm-06, 8mm-06, 338-06 (potentially the best of the line) and 375-06. There have be some .40-06 but these bullets demand large necks, reducing the neck and creating head-space difficulties. The 30-06 is truly a very versatile case as is it younger sibling the .308 Winchester. The .308 case has been used successfully for the basis of two commercial cartridges, the .243 Winchester and the .358 Winchester. If the .308 is the sibling of the .30-06 the .358 Winchester shares a similar descendancy to the .35 Whelen. The .243 (6mm) Winchester is probably one of most popular and successful sub-thirty caliber cartridges on the market. Big enough for up through white tales, perhaps a bit marginal but doable on mule deer the 243 offers high velocity, moderate recoil and great accuracy. .308 Winchester the civilian version of the 7.62 x 51mm NATO round starts to run out of case capacity above 35-caliber.
One of the best wildcats turned production cartridge is the 7mm-08, the .308 necked down to 7mm. This is a potent, lower recoil but effective round for most North American game. The venerable 30-30 has been the basis of a few wildcats. One of the better rounds is the 7mm Waters, a 30-30 necked to 7mm. The 30-30 Winchester case was used to develop the .30 and .357 Herrett. This is a cut down case used in Thompson Contender break action single shots used for handgun metallic silhouette competition. These use 30 and 35 caliber bullets to provide the oomph to hit and knock over metallic targets at extended range with a handgun or hunt medium game. The .357 Herrett is also popular for handgun hunting and proved effective on elk.
Custom Portable Shooting Ranges for Firearms Practice & Training
Not all wildcats have been accepted as well as those listed, though some of these appear to be on the wane.
Shooting Range Industries offers custom indoor shooting ranges designed and built specifically to best your needs. Contact us to learn more today!