Op-Ed: The .300 Win. Mag vs. 300 PRC

In the author's opinion, the 300 PRC will stand for some time as a two- or three-box shelf space limit unless additional manufacturers decide to add it to production.

Op-Ed: The .300 Win. Mag vs. 300 PRC

In the author's opinion, the specialized 300 PRC will stand for some time as a two- or three-box shelf space limit unless additional manufacturers take it on. 

When not working from the ballistics side of the subject, trying to surmise an answer to the question regarding the best way to approach the new 300 PRC from a marketing standpoint requires some serious thought. 

In the world of cartridge innovation, it is quite natural for there to be progression in advanced development regardless of the cartridge or caliber under consideration.  In this case, the 300 PRC cartridge is one of at least 12 other .300s currently offered. With the .300 Win. Mag. well stocked at ammunition counters across the country, one could say that Hornady has its work cut out when offering up the very new 300 PRC as a possible replacement for the iconic Win. Mag. 

Even with all the accolades bestowed upon the .300 Win. Mag. from a tactical perspective, the introduction of the 300 PRC is a very solid move, and as such, opening shelf space in the gun shop for the new arrival makes solid business sense. However, what you are not going to find is any evidence that the old. 300 Win. Mag. is about to go anywhere very soon, if ever. 

The tactical crowd is always looking to improve the performance of ammunition and firearms, whether those improvements are real or imagined. When the .300 Win. Mag. had its day, belted magnums were all the rage in the ammunition development market. Remembering the new-of-the-day in 1963 Winchester Model 70 chambered in the then-new .300 Win. Mag., if you were the guy on the mountain in Wyoming with one of these rifles you were always selected to block.  The call was then, and still is today on our Dakota Missouri breaks, “300 up” where the hunter with the big .300 Win. Mag. blocks the dry wash or deep draw while other hunters still hunt through the bottoms for deer.  

America’s shooters and their massive interest in load development were clearly quite capable in the 1960s of making the move into a new cartridge, as there was a real need for an extended range .30 caliber in those days. Today, there is a need for a more efficient .30 caliber cartridge; enter the 300 PRC.  

Today, long range shooting is considered by many as the No. 1 or No. 2 shooting activity currently being undertaken by the shooting market. By identifying this shooting need, Hornady has, in effect, found the answer —build a better 300 by advancing the design. In the case of the 300 PRC, Hornady used the .375 Ruger case, and brand new ultra-high BC heavy bullets. The resulting level of performance was achieved to some degree by Black Hills Ammunition with the development of a .300 Win. Mag. load that military designated MARK 248. That round is an upgrade similar to a standard .300 Win. Mag., but also meets some very different military specs. 

It was about the time of the finalization with the U.S. Army regarding the MARK 248 that word first started to circulate about a possible new round coming from Hornady. With the MARK 248 using a 220-grain Sierra MatchKing bullet with a COAL of 3.550 inches, the MARK 248 pushes the .300 Win. Mag. case to the max because of its short case neck. In other words, the justification for the 300 PRC was set in stone if the new super high BC bullets being designed by Hornady and others were to be used in an advanced .30-caliber long range cartridge. 

Where some would tend to compare the .300 Win. Mag. to the 300 PRC, it needs to be clearly understood that the 300 PRC is first and foremost a long-range target round while the .300 Win. Mag. is a do-it-all. Hornady’s two rounds currently offered are a 225-grain MATCH ELD with a muzzle velocity of 2,810 fps, and a 212-grain ELD hunting bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2,860 fps. The heavier bullet retains a .777 BC, while the hunting bullet comes in at .673. Both are ultra long range barn burners to be sure.  These are mission-specific rounds whereas the .300 Win. Mag. is an all-around cartridge.  

When answering the question always posed by some shooters as to why we need another cartridge, the answer is simple to my way of thinking. Roll back the clock and stay stagnant and we would be much like Russia with their 101-year-old 7.62 X 54R cartridge, though ours  would be the .30-40 Krag. 

There would be little if any market for the 300 PRC if rifles were not available. My current research indicates that there are ample rifles being offered, but almost all are in the middle to upper price points. I predict that will change just as the early market rifles in .224 Valkyrie were a bit expensive. But once Savage releases Model110 turn-bolts in that chambering, the market for the average Joe who wants to run the cartridge will respond.  

Hard Evidence

Where will the 300 PRC ultimately fall on the local ammunition counter? I did some checking based on two big box stores, one a major-league ranch store and the other the largest gun shop in Rapid City, South Dakota. Running a real-time over-the-counter count, here is what I found.

Counting .30-caliber big game centerfire only, I came up with the leader of the pack the .308 Winchester that covered 22 different loads and brands, followed up by the .30-’06 Springfield at 21 varied brands and bullet weights, with the final heavy load being the .300 Win. Mag. with 20 different loads and brands. 

Other 30s, including the short mags, each came in with one to three brands and bullet weights displayed.  My count includes that the big box store is stocking the two Hornady rounds currently for the 300 PRC, but it seems clearly obvious where the market stands when it comes to .30-caliber rifle ammunition inventory.

Because the 300 PRC is a specialized round, it will be handloaded for the most part by users of the cartridge.  Over-the-counter volume will maintain at a certain level, but it will likely never press against the big three noted above. In my opinion, it will stand for some time as a two- or three-box shelf space limit unless additional manufacturers take it on. 


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