Caliber Crystal Ball - Can you predict the future?

DisplacedHusky

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It has been approximately 16 years since the 6.5 Creedmoor was introduced. I would like start a discussion about predicting the future. What cartridges can you see being released in the next 15 years that will be a commercial success? Please take a minute to read the rest of the question before answering because I will place some guideposts on the responses.

Plenty of cartridges have been released in the past 15 years that have either died out, been barely kept afloat by reloaders, or are hanging on with limited ammo sales and rifle offerings. This begs a look at what market and social dynamics have carried cartridges of the past to commercial and lasting success.

The U.S. Military’s adoption of cartridges has gone a long way toward the success of various cartridges. After two World Wars, the 30-06 was familiar to many soldiers who came home and used the round for hunting and target shooting in surplus rifles that they could sporterize for their needs. The 30-06 spawned many successful offspring that found commercial success including the .270 Winchester, and the 25-06 Remington.

The military/and NATO’s adoption of the .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm also provided a similar pathway for commercial success for the cartridge and the family it spawned including the 7mm-08 and the .243 Winchester. Much of the same story can be told about the .223/5.45x45mm and the resulting .300 Blackout and .204 Ruger.

Will the adoption of the .277 SIG Fury/6.8x51mm by the U.S. Army greenlight its success as with previous military cartridges or will the hybrid case and other market factors limit its civilian market profitability?

Some of the above cartridges began as wildcats of the military parent case before they were SAAMI approved and brought into commercial production. Besides the military adoption route, what other factors can yield a commercially successful cartridge? I was not around when the 7mm Rem Mag was introduced in 1962 but I would be interested in hearing from some of the old timers about what factors led to its initial and lasting success. The short magnums had their run and 300 WSM (introduced in 2001) seems to be the only one with real commercial staying power. At this point, I would be remis without mentioning the elephant in the room that has been Hornady for the past 15 years. The 6.5 Creedmor may have started their meteoric but it might also had the benefit of some good timing. Long range shooting was beginning to take off and the Precision Rifles Series formalized their rules in 2012 allowing for a shooting sport in need of a factory cartridge possessing what the 6.5 Creedmor had to offer. The recipe started by Hornady with modern case designs and heavy for caliber, high BC bullets took off, appealing to long range shooters and hunters alike. Cartridges from Hornady using similar theory have come along steadily including the 6.5 PRC, 300 PRC, 6mm Creedmor, 6 ARC, the 7 PRC and now the 22 ARC. Hornady’s marketing prowess along with their relationships with rifle manufacturers have driven many of these to commercial success.

Rules and regulations can also drive innovation. States with straight wall cartridge hunting regulations have spawned a recent slew of cartridges including the 350 Legend, the 360 Buckammer, and the 400 Legend. However, I do not believe there will be a large enough market to support all these cartridges. Will the early introduction of the 350 Legend allow for the head start it needs to outlast those that followed? And yes, I know the 45-70 has been around before the 350 Legend was even a twinkle in some ballistician’s eye.

The sunset of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004 initiated the growth in popularity of the AR-15 platform. This provided a market for additional cartridges that can be chambered in this style of rifle. The 300 Blackout, the 6.8 SPC, the 6.5 Grendel, the 6 ARC, the .224 Valkyrie, the 300 HAM’R, the .50 Beowolf, and the 450 Bushmaster are only a few. Some estimates put the number of AR-15 platform rifles owned in the U.S. at 20 million. I believe that is more than enough of a market to support several successful cartridges for that platform. But, which ones will stand the test of time with market share and longevity?

Plenty of cartridges that I find intriguing have been released in the past 15 with little commercial success like the .338 Federal and the 30 T/C. Cartridges like the 6.8 Western also have some positive commercial qualities but seem to be struggling to hold onto market share.

***For the purposes of this discussion, let’s limit the prognostication to potential future cartridges that will primarily be used in bolt-action rifles for the purposes of hunting or shooting sports. The Fudds will say that we don’t need any new rounds and that the (insert old cartridge here) can do everything that the new one can. There may not be a practical need for the cartridge, but history suggests that there will be new cartridges introduced in the next 15 years and at least some of them will be commercially successful. Where is there space in the market for a new cartridge to have commercial success and what factors do you think will promote and influence that success?***
 
OP
DisplacedHusky

DisplacedHusky

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I will go first. I think some of the influencing factors that will yield a commercially successful cartridge in the next few years are already at play.

1) The growing popularity of suppressors. ATF figures show that in 2021 there were approximately 2.6 million suppressors owned in the U.S. It would not surprise me if that number doubled in the next five years. The boom in suppressor ownership has also influenced the rifle market in the form of shorter, threaded barrels being offered by more manufacturers (Get with the times Tikka). Along with this trend is the desire for efficient cartridges that will perform well in shorter barrels. The desire for a shorter overall rifle while still using a suppressor seems to also favor short action cartridges that keep the total length of the rifle down, while not sacrificing additional length from the barrel.



2) Factor 1 pares well with Factor 2; the proliferation of range finders, dialing elevation turrets and high BC bullets. All of these combine to make hotrod, barrel burners less appealing. Many Nosler and Weatherby cartridges were built on the premise of speed and flat shooting trajectories. These speeds were established with long test barrels allowing for the burning of all that extra powder. With the ability to range your target with affordable, accurate modern range finders, then dial your scope to the desired distance, a flat bullet trajectory becomes less important. The tradeoff of shorter barrels, lower recoil and the benefits of a suppressor may open the door to additional new cartridges capitalizing on this trend. The benefits of long, high BC bullets may not be needed by hunters in the some parts of the country who may never take shots on game past 200 yards, but these same hunters may dream of hunts out West or just enjoy the ability to target shoot at longer ranges.



3) Time. As our world grows busier, time grows scarce. Rokslide members probably reload more than the general hunter/shooter, but estimates suggest that there are about 5 million reloaders out of approximately 43 million hunters and sport shooters. I am guessing that the 89% of hunters and shooters that don’t reload, would like an inherently accurate cartridge that they can purchase off the shelves. And they would like that round to shoot well in their rifle without having to test multiple different factory rounds to find the one their gun likes. Hornady’s marketing train (and Browning/Winchester with the 6.8 Western) suggest that their modern case design and tighter tolerances with their new rounds will yield better accuracy with factory ammo out of many rifles. Sure, reloaders can close the gaps in performance with their reloading magic (just ask them), thereby reducing the performance space for new cartridges to exist. However, if we accept the premise that the majority of hunters and shooters shoot factory ammo, there may still be some space in the market for a new successful cartridge to fill a niche or a need.



*** I think there is room for an efficient 7mm/.284, short action cartridge that has performance and recoil characteristics in between the 7mm-08 and the 7mm PRC. This cartridge would be designed to use heavy for caliber, high BC bullets that differentiate it from rounds such as the 7 WSM. There are lots of 7mm fans that believe the caliber is the sweet spot for hunting. Mark me down as a hunter/shooter that would be interested in a new cartridge that fills the gap in the two rounds listed below while shooting heavy, high BC bullets out of a short action and performing efficiently in shorter barrels lengths.

7 PRC - 175 gr. @ 3,000 fps (3,498 ft/lbs.), 33 ft/lbs. of recoil with a 7 lbs. rifle

7mm-08 - 150 gr. @ 2,770 fps (2,555 ft/lbs.), 19 ft/lbs. of recoil with a 7 lbs. rifle
 
OP
DisplacedHusky

DisplacedHusky

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Though a smaller niche to fill, the other option I personally would like to see is a short action .30 caliber cartridge with modern case design that mimics or slightly bests the 30-06 performance/recoil trade off, while being optimized with barrel twist and factory powders to stabilize high BC bullets out of shorter barrels. The 30 TC sought to fill this need but couldn’t carve out a market. If this new round could shoot a 178 eld-x at 2,750 fps out of a 20” barrel, I would be more than interested. Name it something like the .30 Freedom and let the marketing magic happen.
 
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*** I think there is room for an efficient 7mm/.284, short action cartridge that has performance and recoil characteristics in between the 7mm-08 and the 7mm PRC. This cartridge would be designed to use heavy for caliber, high BC bullets that differentiate it from rounds such as the 7 WSM. There are lots of 7mm fans that believe the caliber is the sweet spot for hunting. Mark me down as a hunter/shooter that would be interested in a new cartridge that fills the gap in the two rounds listed below while shooting heavy, high BC bullets out of a short action and performing efficiently in shorter barrels lengths.

7 PRC - 175 gr. @ 3,000 fps (3,498 ft/lbs.), 33 ft/lbs. of recoil with a 7 lbs. rifle

7mm-08 - 150 gr. @ 2,770 fps (2,555 ft/lbs.), 19 ft/lbs. of recoil with a 7 lbs. rifle

The gaps sure seem to be getting filled in. Quarter bores are in a nice spot for bullet weights that don't come with a lot of recoil but 257 is real damn close to 264 so I dont know if there is going to be a big enough difference.. Hornady has kind of hit the good bullet diameters already now.. 22, 6, 6.5, 7, 30.

A 284 win or 7 SAUM with proper throat and twist and a 300 SAUM - WSM type case with the same seem like the only real gaps I can think of.. And hornady already played in that space a little with their support of the 300 RCM who's only real success is being the basis for the 6.5 prc.
 

Hnthrdr

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I personally think the military is making a huge mistake with switching from .223/5.56… and I used to think that we needed everyone to carry .308 caliber battler rifles when I was in, then I had to train soldiers to shoot, and fight, often after moving extended distances (with limited resupply) on foot. 5.56 is absolutely the way to go. And don’t tell me the Army/ military doesn’t make some dumbass mistakes ( digi-cam im looking at you & berreta 92 & Bradley fight vehicle) I’ll be interested to see the new round in action, but as long as we are fighting with traditional firearms, infantrymen should be loaded out with 5.56
 
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RE .277 fury - What percentage of 556 weapons are actually committed to being replaced by the 277 now? I guess I never took it too seriously. Like with the various sniper rifles out there.. getting more 300wm and 338 lapuas instead of 7.62, then 300 norma, then 300 PRC, then..
 
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OP What about the 7SAUM that has reamers built specifically for the heavies?

I think that a lot of what the OP is describing already exists depending on your use for the cartridge. There is so much personal input when selecting a cartridge that sometimes performance may be put to the side for other more important reasons to the person deciding.

In short I don’t think there will ever be the end all, be all cartridge. Mainly because hunters/shooters are such an opinionated bunch of hard head SOBs!! (Myself included)
 

Hnthrdr

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Yeah I’m not sure… I saw some of the furry specs. I get recoil should be tame with a suppressor, but many, many of the boots showing up have little to no firearms experience, getting them to shoot .223 accurately was sometimes a giant PITA… can’t imagine what benefit more recoil would do or a heavier weapon system?! Ass backward thinking, hell keep the .223 bore and shoot 77grn tmk’s… more than enough wallop on a man sized game
 
OP
DisplacedHusky

DisplacedHusky

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OP What about the 7SAUM that has reamers built specifically for the heavies?

I think that a lot of what the OP is describing already exists depending on your use for the cartridge. There is so much personal input when selecting a cartridge that sometimes performance may be put to the side for other more important reasons to the person deciding.

In short I don’t think there will ever be the end all, be all cartridge. Mainly because hunters/shooters are such an opinionated bunch of hard head SOBs!! (Myself included)
I like that idea. I just want it to be factory supported with a good selection of off the shelf ammo and a broad spectrum of rifles.
 
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I like that idea. I just want it to be factory supported with a good selection of off the shelf ammo and a broad spectrum of rifles.
Makes sense but also goes back to what I was saying about it being a personal decision. Your desire for a perfect cartridge with factory support is probably different than mine because our needs are different. There will always be that ONE guy who they can't make happy 😂
 
OP
DisplacedHusky

DisplacedHusky

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Makes sense but also goes back to what I was saying about it being a personal decision. Your desire for a perfect cartridge with factory support is probably different than mine because our needs are different. There will always be that ONE guy who they can't make happy 😂
But that is precisely the point of this thread. What I may want may not be commercially viable. But who can articulate their guess for the next commercially successful cartridge? It doesn’t necessarily mean what would be the best one for the Rokslide community. It means who can predict the next cartridge that will make ammo companies and gun makes a bunch of money and what were the factors that pushed that cartridge to long term profitability.
 
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The ultra fast twist 8.6 blackout has piqued my curiosity for faster rounds also using faster twists for additional terminal performance. Of course bullets will need to be strong but I see the potential for it.
 
OP
DisplacedHusky

DisplacedHusky

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The ultra fast twist 8.6 blackout has piqued my curiosity for faster rounds also using faster twists for additional terminal performance. Of course bullets will need to be strong but I see the potential for it.
Yeah, I’m curious if it will spur a tend or remain a niche product. I Can see the appeal of the round for hunting hogs or whitetail at limited distances while suppressed. It seems to make less sense as a supersonic round unless you want to use really short barrel lengths.
 

z987k

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Yeah I’m not sure… I saw some of the furry specs. I get recoil should be tame with a suppressor, but many, many of the boots showing up have little to no firearms experience, getting them to shoot .223 accurately was sometimes a giant PITA… can’t imagine what benefit more recoil would do or a heavier weapon system?! Ass backward thinking, hell keep the .223 bore and shoot 77grn tmk’s… more than enough wallop on a man sized game
It has nothing to do with 223 not being enough to kill a human. It clearly is more than plenty. It's about penetrating soft armor at 300m.
 
Last edited:

z987k

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I will go first. I think some of the influencing factors that will yield a commercially successful cartridge in the next few years are already at play.

1) The growing popularity of suppressors. ATF figures show that in 2021 there were approximately 2.6 million suppressors owned in the U.S. It would not surprise me if that number doubled in the next five years. The boom in suppressor ownership has also influenced the rifle market in the form of shorter, threaded barrels being offered by more manufacturers (Get with the times Tikka). Along with this trend is the desire for efficient cartridges that will perform well in shorter barrels. The desire for a shorter overall rifle while still using a suppressor seems to also favor short action cartridges that keep the total length of the rifle down, while not sacrificing additional length from the barrel.



2) Factor 1 pares well with Factor 2; the proliferation of range finders, dialing elevation turrets and high BC bullets. All of these combine to make hotrod, barrel burners less appealing. Many Nosler and Weatherby cartridges were built on the premise of speed and flat shooting trajectories. These speeds were established with long test barrels allowing for the burning of all that extra powder. With the ability to range your target with affordable, accurate modern range finders, then dial your scope to the desired distance, a flat bullet trajectory becomes less important. The tradeoff of shorter barrels, lower recoil and the benefits of a suppressor may open the door to additional new cartridges capitalizing on this trend. The benefits of long, high BC bullets may not be needed by hunters in the some parts of the country who may never take shots on game past 200 yards, but these same hunters may dream of hunts out West or just enjoy the ability to target shoot at longer ranges.



3) Time. As our world grows busier, time grows scarce. Rokslide members probably reload more than the general hunter/shooter, but estimates suggest that there are about 5 million reloaders out of approximately 43 million hunters and sport shooters. I am guessing that the 89% of hunters and shooters that don’t reload, would like an inherently accurate cartridge that they can purchase off the shelves. And they would like that round to shoot well in their rifle without having to test multiple different factory rounds to find the one their gun likes. Hornady’s marketing train (and Browning/Winchester with the 6.8 Western) suggest that their modern case design and tighter tolerances with their new rounds will yield better accuracy with factory ammo out of many rifles. Sure, reloaders can close the gaps in performance with their reloading magic (just ask them), thereby reducing the performance space for new cartridges to exist. However, if we accept the premise that the majority of hunters and shooters shoot factory ammo, there may still be some space in the market for a new successful cartridge to fill a niche or a need.



*** I think there is room for an efficient 7mm/.284, short action cartridge that has performance and recoil characteristics in between the 7mm-08 and the 7mm PRC. This cartridge would be designed to use heavy for caliber, high BC bullets that differentiate it from rounds such as the 7 WSM. There are lots of 7mm fans that believe the caliber is the sweet spot for hunting. Mark me down as a hunter/shooter that would be interested in a new cartridge that fills the gap in the two rounds listed below while shooting heavy, high BC bullets out of a short action and performing efficiently in shorter barrels lengths.

7 PRC - 175 gr. @ 3,000 fps (3,498 ft/lbs.), 33 ft/lbs. of recoil with a 7 lbs. rifle

7mm-08 - 150 gr. @ 2,770 fps (2,555 ft/lbs.), 19 ft/lbs. of recoil with a 7 lbs. rifle
284win in a medium action with a proper throat. If someone standardized what more or less is that, then I think you'd have a winner, but I'm not sure that'd market well quite yet. Need the 7prc hype to die down when the vast majority of people finally realize they can't hit anything with that much recoil.
 

Macintosh

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My guess is regulation has more and more to do with it.
The vast majority of hunters live in heavily deveolped areas, not in the rockies and plains. As the remaining open space in the east, midwest and left coast becomes more suburbanized (and western cities become sprawling mega-suburbs like the colorado front range, phoenix, etc), and as further regs, right or wrong, affect hunters, and as more suburbanites and city dwellers either rediscover or discover hunting, I predict more and more people end up needing to move to 1) straight wall, slower cartridges that have a higher degree of perceived safety in more heavily developed areas, and 2) non-tox bullet requirements to move away from lead ammo.

Therefore I see a growing and increasingly large market for improved performance in straightwall cartridges and in performance and options in non-lead bullets. Im guessing we continue to see guns and cartridges designed for shorter-range midwestern and eastern hunters or those who are increasingly hemmed-in by suburbanization, and Im guessing we see further refinement of nonlead ammo that has better terminal performance than current offerings (hammer, DRT, etc) as well as rifles in existing cartridges but with faster barrel twists more optimized for longer, lighter-than-lead projectiles.

Not what anyone on this site wanted to hear, but…. Also, I think there is room for multiple of these “trends” at the same time. Its a big country.
 

Turkeytider

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Over the next 15 years, IMHO, what is developed as far as cartridges/calibers is concerned will be profoundly impacted by societal and political influences. Hunting, for example. Where will it be in 15 years? Fewer and fewer people are hunting. Will that impact what ammo manufacturers ( if there are any left in 15 years supplying a civilian market ) produce? Will companies spend time and money tooling up to produce a new cartridge for a declining market?
Based on what I see at the range concerning what and how the 30-somethings are shooting, they certainly aren`t practicing to head for the woods. A majority of them are shooting things that look like they could have come out of Star Wars. A lot of them burn through as much ammo as they can, as fast as they can. Of course, that may be about to end.
 

sndmn11

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So a 7 or 8 twist 7-08? Problem is, the 7-08 doesn't have the capacity to drive the really high BC bullets at very good velocities. Let alone less powder in a 7-6.5CM.

Probably, they load the 175/180 eld bullets in 7prc. I could see the 7creed with the 150/162 bullets elds. I threw a load together for the 150eldx and my wife's 7-08 and it was over 2900fps in a 20" barrel. I think @Ucsdryder shoots the 162eldm from a 7saum out to several hundred yards with good success, so I don't think a 500-600yd 7creed with one of those bullets wouldn't kill easily. For the folks who "want a youth elk rifle" but think 6.5 is too small, they can now choose a 7 and feel happy inside.

Factory 25creed seems obvious to me. They have the 134gr eldm with no .25 cartridge. I believe some if the game shooters like the 25creed and there's a .25 thread on here full of death.
 
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