The allure of the .257 Roberts hit me early and lasted long. I’ve owned a dozen or more rifles chambered in that cartridge. The problem was, I never had one I really liked. And, I never owned one that shot outstandingly well.
One problem with the “Bob” as it is often called, is that factory ammunition is loaded to an anemic level. This is because early on when the .257 Roberts was in its wildcat stage, before Remington legitimized it in 1934, lots of rifles of questionable strength were chambered for it. Because of this, SAAMI – the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute – mandated .257 Roberts operating pressures be kept low.
I messed around with the .250 Savage for a while, too. I flirted with the .25-06 as well. One is short and slow, the other long and fast. The former has always proved accurate, with the latter it’s been hit and miss. While the .25-06 is a high-performance cartridge, it requires a long action. And, the .250 Savage really needs to be handloaded – like the Bob – to get the most out of it.
For those who like the AR, the .25-45 Sharps is interesting. It is a .223 Remington necked up to .257 caliber. It will near duplicate .250 Savage loads with lightweight bullets, but it won’t handle the heavier bullets often considered necessary for critters larger than deer.
You see, that is the allure of .25 caliber rifle cartridges. Unlike the 6.5 caliber cartridges, .25s can handle lightweight 70-gain bullets for varmints. And, unlike 6mm cartridges, most .25s can handle 120-grain bullets for elk size critters. This inspired me to make my own .257 caliber cartridge, based on the 6.5 Creedmoor case. Initially I called it the .257 Wildcat because I couldn’t think of a better name. However, because two other West Virginians (hillbillies) – Mike Cyrus of Lehigh Defense, and Jerry Dove at Dove Custom Guns – helped me put the cartridge and rifle together, I’ve named it the “2Fity-Hillbilly.”
The cartridge is very easy to load; you don’t need special dies. All you need is a set of Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor bushing dies with a 0.277 neck busing from Redding. There is no fire-forming like with the .250 Ackley Improved wildcat cartridge, and you end up with better than .257 Roberts performance. In my testing, a 75-grain Hornady V-Max bullet can be pushed to 3,550 fps; a Lehigh Defense 85-grain Chaos bullet to more than 3,300 fps; and 120-grain Speer DeepCurl bullets to almost 3,000 fps.
Dove’s Custom Guns built my rifle on a Remington 700 Magpul bolt-action rifle, with a Proof Research barrel and a Timney trigger. It doesn’t know how to shoot groups larger than an inch, and it is a coyote-killing machine. Dove’s Guns can put a bolt action or even an AR 10, 2Fity-Hillbilly together for you.
I believe it is indeed a better Bob.
Images by Richard Mann