In the last years of the 20th Century the glamour of the big cases faded and more and more smaller cased 6.5mm, and 6mm cartridges were seen. Availability of new powders, new bullets and better barrels seemed to peak at the same time. Today, a fair share of the trophies are garnered by wildcats of smaller calibers and cases. What I call the Baby Boomers.
One of the first Baby Boomers to get everyone’s attention is also one of the smallest, the 6mm BR. No one remembers when it was first used, it just seemed that one day, unannounced, it was winning a 1000 yard match here and there. A few courageous shooters jumped on the bandwagon but it was a short trip. The BR simply didn’t have the steam to compete when conditions got tough and so the search for larger capacity cases began. Shooters turned to mid-sized 6mm wildcats, similar to the 250 Savage case necked down, and they began to appear with every shoulder angle from 30 to 60 with little except case length to set them apart. Then, early in the 21st Century, three things happened to once again change the course of long range benchrest and it is still playing out to this day. The first was the introduction of 600 yard Benchrest matches, what some call “midrange,” but still a long way down the road, especially if the wind is blowing. Second was the ready availability of benchrest quality bullets in 6.5 mm and third, the development of two new match-quality cases from Scandinavia, the 6.5 - 284 LAPUA and the smaller 6.5 x 47 LAPUA. No sooner had the first of the new cases reached the U.S., wildcats based on them began to appear. Necked up, down, and sideways, it’s a struggle to keep track of them and hard to tell one from another except by name. They are the hottest thing going right now at 600 yards and are becoming legitimate 1000 yard contenders. 600 yard competition has also given the 6mm BR a third life and it may have finally found its niche. Even the diminutive 6PPC, using heavy bullets and fast twist barrels, has won its share of matches when conditions were good.
I’ve photographed six of the better Baby Boomers in my collection. First is the trend-setting 6MM BR. Next, the 6 x 44, a shortened 243 Winchester case with a 30 degree shoulder. Third is the 6.5 x 47 LAPUA. Fourth is a 240 ORPHAN, another 47mm case with a 40-degree shoulder. Fifth is a 6MM SUPER BR, a necked down, full length 243 Winchester case with a 35-degree shoulder. Finally is a 6.5 - 284 LAPUA.