The 280 Remington was introduced in 1957. Most gun writers and shooting magazines around at that time found fault with it. However, performance wise, it was superior to the 270 Winchester when it came to ballistics with heavier bullets. The basis for both the 270 and 280 is the 30-06 case, with minor differences that set each of them apart just a wee bit. For example, the 280 case body is about one twentieth of an inch longer to keep it from being able to be chambered in a 270 or 30-06 rifle. The bullet diameter of the 280 is .284", just seven thousands of an inch larger than the .277" diameter of the 270. It's the 9 1/4- or 9 1/2-inch twist (depending on manufacturer) that sets the 280 apart from the 270. Most custom rifle manufacturers, including Remington's own Custom Shop, offer the 280 with a 9-inch twist. Bully for that, as nine-twist 280s usually do very well with 175-grain bullets; something that 10-inch twist 270s can't even dream about.

Let's take a look at the two cartridges, 270 and 280, with 140-grain bullets... The 270 is comfortable with several powders that will make 2900 to 3000 fps, same as the 280. Moving to 150-grain bullets, the 270 is now comfortable at 2800 to 2900 fps. The 280 is starting to show a slight edge at this point, something on the order of 50 to 75 additional fps. If it wasn't for Nosler, we wouldn't be able to compare at 160 grains, but they make a dandy semi-spitzer in that weight for the 270, which is my favorite 270 bullet for hunting. But by now, the 280 has a definite velocity advantage over the 270; up to 100 fps with some powders. We can't move on to 175-grain bullets for the 270, because the cartridge with its 10-inch twist can't handle them. Instead, let's compare the 175 in the 280 with 180-grain bullets in the 30-06...

The 280 will handily sling 175-grain bullets in the range of 2650 to 2750 fps. The ballistic coefficient of these long bullets typically exceeds .500. But suppose you don't choose a sleek design that pierces the air all that well. The sectional density of 175-grain .284" bullets is .310, and that means deep and effective penetration. The 30-06, meanwhile, is also able to shove 180-grain bullets along at 2750 fps, and even a bit faster with its greater diameter to be pushed on by the expanding gas. However, 180-grain bullets of .308" diameter are not as ballistically slick as 175-grain bullets of equal design in .284" diameter, and they quickly shed that initial velocity advantage. Further, sectional density drops way off to a kinda okay .271, far short of the .310 for the 175-grain bullet in the 280.

It's unfortunate that the 280 was bashed all those years ago. Maybe the gun writers thought that Jack O'Connor would at least speak to them at the various events if they all stayed on the 270 bandwagon. Hard to say. What isn't hard to say is that the 280 is still around, is still appreciated very much by shooters who have dug in to discover the information needed for them to make a choice based on facts rather than emotion, and is still a top choice for well-heeled and well-informed hunters seeking a custom rifle. In a way, it's sort of like the arguments about which pickup is best, Chevy or Ford. The fuss goes on year after year. So much so that hardly anybody noticed when, for 2013, Dodge got top honors. The point is, any of the three cartridges mentioned above are very effective and will do a fine job in hunting situations that fall within their capability. However, if I could only have one, it would be the 280.