.26 Nosler: ‘World’s Most Powerful’ 6.5mm Commercial Cartridge?

Like many shooting enthusiasts, the Nosler family has always dreamed of introducing a new rifle cartridge. And they’ve done it with the arrival of the 26 Nosler—a new cartridge that was submitted to SAAMI in June 2013. Formal launch of the round will take place at the 2014 SHOT Show. Nosler hasn’t released case specs for the round, but some details have leaked out. A Nosler sales flyer says the round has a cartridge overall length of 3.340 inches and a usable case capacity of 93 grains of water.26nosler-promo-image The parent case is rumored to be the .375 Ruger, which at 99 grains of water has the necessary starting capacity to be necked down for the smaller 6.5mm bullet. Rifles chambered for the round may have 1:8 barrel twist to stabilize heavier bullets.

“I really feel the 26 Nosler has great value among the large family of 6.5mm cartridges,” said Bob Nosler, CEO/President of Nosler, Inc.

The company said the goal of the new 26 Nosler cartridge was to take full advantage of new technology available to shooters, including the advance of optics, reticle systems, and high-ballistic-coefficient (B.C.) bullets such as the company’s AccuBond Long Range line.

The company stated the 26 Nosler cartridge utilizes inherently accurate and high-B.C. 6.5mm (.264) caliber bullets, and is capable of shooting the Nosler 129-grain AccuBond Long Range (ABLR) bullet at a 3400 fps at the muzzle. Zeroed at 350 yards, the 26 Nosler has a point-blank range of 0-415 yards. Loaded with the 129-gr ABLR, the 26 Nosler retains as much velocity at 400 yards as the 260 Remington produces at the muzzle, according to a Nosler release.

Other 6.5s do fall quite short of the 26 Nosler’s published performance. Nosler itself loads a 6.5-284 Norma round with the ABLR bullet (#60128) that has a muzzle velocity of 2965 fps. Nosler’s Custom Hand Loaded 260 Remington 130-grain AccuBond #13055 has a MV of 2800 fps.

The .264 Winchester Mag in the Custom Hand Loaded line #14072 uses a 125-grain Partition to get a MV of 3200 fps, and a 130-grain AccuBond #14076 in that cartridge drops to 3100 fps.

The 6.5 Remington Magnum Custom #14325 with a 125-grain Partition scoots along at 3025 at the muzzle.

One Nosler Custom round that does eclipse the proposed 26 Nosler is the 270 Weatherby Magnum #15020, which fires a 130-grain Partition at 3450 fps.

The 26 Nosler case is non-belted, so it’s headspaced off the shoulder to enhance accuracy. The 26N also utilizes a standard .30-06–length action, allowing for a shorter bolt-throw and lighter weight than magnum-length actions.

“With minimal recoil, tremendous velocity, energy, and the ability to point and shoot at the intended target up to a quarter-mile away, this is the quintessential deer, antelope and long-range-target cartridge,” Nosler said.

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Comments (9)

  1. The new 26 Nosler may have some slight advantage over the .264 Win.Mag, we’ll wait and see.(no belt is one advantage)
    I have used the .264 Winchester Magnum for forty+ years. The original 140 gr. Winchester factory load was 3200 fps. the 120 gr. was listed at 3400 fps.
    Winchester factory loads are now about 200 fps less in both weight’s.
    My first hand loads were the Hornady 129 gr. soft point some where in the 3300+ fps class. This was in 1971, as I found out later this bullet was not meant to go that fast.
    That bullet blew up on the rib cage of a mule deer at 250 yards, he did go down about 500 yards later. I switched to Nosler bullets after that trip and have used nothing but Nosler 140 GR. since, powered by IMR 2878 powder. Longest one shot kill with the .264 was 525 yards on a Wyoming antelope.
    The .264 is my favorite long range caliber, for a woods cartridge you would be hard pressed to find a better cartridge than the .358 Winchester.
    Mine is a re-chambered .35 Remington, 760 game master. Fantastic woods gun, fast, light, minimum recoil and hits like a sludge hammer between the eyes with 200 gr. bullets. Simply run a chambering reamer in the .35 Remington and you are good to go!
    I know the .264 Win Mag and the .358 Win. are supposedly dead and gone… THE PEOPLE THAT USE THESE CARTRIDGES KNOW BETTER, results speak for themselves!
    It is easy to misjudge a cartridge by reading a magazine.

  2. It all goes bang! I do hold my magnum friends dear to me! I do not own any magnum rifles. Never found the need after I hooked up with my first purchase of a 270 Winchester M77 Ruger back in the mid 80′s. I did mount a 3 x 12 x 56mm Redfield from back in the day. What a big difference that made. I had to say bye bye to the world class Tasco at the time. I am not a flat desert shooting guy up to 1000 yards but I do like a door to door challenge in the wood’s edge. I have had open field shoots and collected my prey mostly within 300 yards. Still, the best shot was my 30-30 at 35 yards through the thick wooded forest. The neck shot flipped the doe head over heels. I had never seen such a event. All my field shoots dropped like a hat and was kind of boring due to lack of theatrical movement. A couple have decided to jog off a little but never far. I like the thought that the shooting mind never stops thinking of contributing to the many attempts to improve what is not wholly new but a bit adjusted. Never give up! Do know this. All that sounds good does not always sell well. Just make it available to the public as an option for those willing to pay for the custom mile off the production commercial highway. I run the road from hand-me-downs to commercial production to custom. If I can shoulder it and fire it without taking my shoulder off, it’s for me. I am not a wimp by any means. If I can enjoy the thrill of sneaking up on my target with my non-magnum rifle, why shoot my prey from the moon in a lawn chair. Protect your heritage go hunting!

    ps: Commercialized by his Pappy Joe, my son hunts with his scoped 6.5x55mm Swedish. One shot! One kill! Many Thrills!

  3. Some great ideas in this new cartridge. The shorter action and non belted case is an improvement over the 264 Win. mag. that I dearly love. I’m not sure that the extra 300 fps is really worth making the change though. There are a lot of small bore speed demons out there. The 264 has almost gone extinct with the intro of the 7mm mag. The 257 Wetherby is also in the same class as the 26 Nos. If you add in all the 7mm mag. on the market you get a lot of cartridges that are faster and hit harder. I am a big fan of the .264 bullets and use Nosler Partisions or Accubonds for most of my hunting with the 264 Win mag.but now there are some really good choices in 25, 270, and 7mm bullets that have great BCs. I hope the cartridge makes it but there have been other great ideas that never flew commercially.

  4. Where have these guys been? For years now my pet load has been my 7mm rem mag launching a 120gr TTSX @ 3550fps(think 280 Ultra mag). Even more dead flat that this 26N. I’ll give this thing some consideration for sure, but I think I already have what this offers, and probably for less $$.

  5. Yosemite, the article refers to point blank range – able to point & shoot (without hold over or reticle adjustment) at a quarter mile. Given the high velocities & BC’s, especially of heavier 6.5 mm projectiles, this means less drop & better accuracy at the really long ranges. Retained velocity at long range means plenty of ft lbs delivered out there too. This combination of velocity & high BC will eat the competition, and recoil, whilst heavier than current 6.5s, will be mild compared to bigger calibres. This is why folk prefer 6.5s & 7’s for long range bench & target over larger calibres (& why Nosler is playing with the 6.5 & not larger calibres). The latter need a lot of extra powder (muzzle blast & recoil) to get their wider/shorter pills to required speeds to minimise bullet drop & wind drift, and lower recoil = more shots consistently on target. This has hallmarks of a winner on the range. Hunting effectiveness at long range for 6.5s will definitely be improved, but bigger calibre pills will probably continue to prevail out there; the 6.5×284, fastest of the current 6.5s, hasn’t displaced the 30 cals yet, and probably for the same reasons the 26 Nosler won’t either. But Nosler is betting a lot of folks will be keen to check it out.

  6. I think there is a little confusion on this press release. It is sort of combining the details of this as a hunting round and as a long range target round. As a hunting round you would have the ability to zero your scope at 350 yards and hit any target between 0 and 400 yards within a 4″ radius. Not bad at all as far as hunting rounds go.

    This bullet will really shine as a target round as it will have a velocity of about 1800 fps at 1000 yards! That’s 400 fps faster than the 338 Lapua! My ballistic calculator doesn’t go above 1000 yards, but I would venture a guess that this round will still be supersonic out to 1500 yards!

  7. Most interesting I am going to roughly say a mile is around 5,280 feet or so (feel free to correct me on this) .25 of that would ROUGHLY BE AROUND 1,320 feet….or 440 YARDS AGAIN ROUGHLY DOING THIS IN MY HEAD,,,,THATIS SHORT RANGE to a lot of shooters I know of….ANYTHING BELOW 700 YARDS is CLOSE RANGE to them! Now I am not sure about everything else involved with the ballistics of this new round, what the energy in foot pounds, delivered to the target by the respective round are, since none are stated. What does the bullet do at longer range…say compared to .338 Lapua Mag?
    A few years ago one could find sabot rounds readily available, such as a .223 sabot for the 30.30, etc…..One sabot round I would like to see made is one for the .460 Weatherby Mag. Talk about potential for a long range round/rifle……At one time the .460 Weatherby Mag was the most powerful rifle one could own next to the .50 BMG.

  8. I wonder if anyone could rebarrel & restock an M-1 Garand for this and make a really nice long range sniper rifle?

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