The 6mm Remington rifle cartridge, originally introduced in 1955 by Remington Arms Company as the .244 Remington, is based on a necked down .257 Roberts cartridge using a .24/6mm bullet. Known for a combination of high velocity, long range, and accuracy, it is suitable as a dual use hunting cartridge for both varmints and medium sized big game. When used in the less common earlier slow twist barrels, it offers exceptional range for varmint applications. While not as commercially popular today as it’s close cousin and competitor, the .243 Winchester, the 6mm Remington enjoys a slightly ballistic advantage and continues to be popular with handloaders and custom rifle builders.
By the early 1950s, there had been a significant amount of experimentation and 'wildcatting' in developing the .24 caliber bullet as a dual purpose hunting round. Popular cartridges necked down for this purpose included the .257 Roberts (based on the 7x57mm Mauser) and .308 Winchester. Fred Huntington of RCBS had developed what was known as the .243 Rockchucker wildcat cartridge. This was a necked down .257 Roberts casing shooting a .24/6mm bullet. This ultimately became the .244 Remington. Mike Walker, who had previously designed the Remington Model 722, productized Huntington’s wildcat cartridge and adapted the Model 722 chambering for it which saw production in 1955.
The existing Remington Model 722 was chambered for the new .244 cartridge with a 1 in 12-inch twist. Remington originally offered this cartridge with 75 grain bullets for varmints and 90 grain bullets for medium sized big game such as deer and antelope.
Remington determined that a 90 grain soft point .244 hunting bullet was well suited for medium sized big game purposes. For the length and weight of its 90 grain soft point hunting bullet, Remington selected a 1 in 12-inch twist. By selecting the slowest twist possible, Remington was seeking to maximize velocity, range and accuracy of their 90 grain big game hunting bullet as well as lighter varmint loads.
Public perception and understanding of ballistics in the 1950s did not agree with this approach. By 1958, Remington was obliged to increase the 722s twist to 1 in 9 inches, well in excess of what is needed to stabilize a 90 grain bullet. Remington continued to offer factory ammo in 75 and 90 grain bullets.
Remington also added several other rifles chambered for the .244 cartridge including the Model 740, Model 742, Model 760 and finally Model 725. However by 1962, presumably due to lack of sales, Remington no longer chambered rifles for .244.
In 1963, on the heals of its successful first year launch of the new Remington Model 700 bolt action hunting rifle, the .244 was re-introduced but renamed 6mm Remington. The 700 continued with the 1 - 9 inch twist and Remington also introduced new 6mm ammunition loaded with a 100 grain Cor-Lokt bullet. The new model could also shoot any .244 ammunition. Previous Remington 722 rifles made after 1957 with 1 - 9 inch twist could also shoot the newer 6mm 100 grain ammunition.Early 1950s: Fred Huntington developed the .243 'Rock Chucker' wildcat load
1955: .244 cartridge introduced by Remington with 75 and 90 grain bullets, Models 722A and 722BDL chambered with 1-12 inch twist
1957: Models 740 and Model 760 chambered
1958: Model 722 twist changed to 1-9 inches
1959: .244 90 grain bronze point bullet introduced
1960: Model 722BDL discontinued (722A continued to be available), Model 725ADL and Model 742 chambered
1962: Model 722 replaced by Model 700, No rifles offered in .244
1963: Renamed as 6mm Remington and re-introduced with 100 grain bullet. Model 700 chambered with 1-9 inch twist
Over the ensuing years, Remington has also chambered a number of it’s carbines, pump-actions and semi-automatic rifles for 6mm. Other manufacturers have similarly manufactured rifles for 6mm. Remington produced rifles in 6mm for almost six decades.
The .244 Remington lagged in the marketplace of the mid-1950s. Winchester also introduced a similar dual purpose cartridge of the same caliber with greater success in 1955, the .243 Winchester, but with 80 and 100 grain bullet options for its Model 70 with a 1 in 10-inch twist to allow for the heavier bullet.
Two commonly held explanations seek to explain the market success of the Winchester over the Remington cartridge.
Even in present times, many mistakenly believe Remington originally developed and marketed the Model 722 in .244 primarily as a varmint rifle. While this lingering perception is not accurate, it does serve to underscore contributing factors to perceptions in the mid-1950s. As noted earlier, Remington developed two .244 loads, one using the heavier 90 grain specifically intended for medium sized big game such as deer and antelope. As Remington saw the 90 grain bullet as well suited for big game hunting they elected to match the slowest twist to that length of bullet specifically and avoid excessive projectile spin in favor of velocity. A 1 in 12-inch twist was selected and used initially.
Since the newly introduced .243 with its 100 grain bullet was also available in the market, it is thought many believed that to be the minimum mass needed to hunt deer. Likewise, the early Remington 722s often would not gyroscopically stabilize 100 grain Spitzer bullets depending on their length and the original slower twist. While the rifles are now known to be inherently accurate with appropriate bullets, these attempts to shoot longer 100 grain bullets that might not stabilize, gave the cartridge a bad, if inaccurate, reputation.
In December 1955, Guns Magazine writer, H. Jay Erfurth in an article titled Two Varmint-Big Game Rifles discussing the .244 Remington and .243 Winchester wrote "the Winchester bullet of 100 grains is the better one for deer and medium game than the 90-grain Remington pointed soft-point, though the differences seem mostly splitting hairs." He went on to write "With the 90 grain load, the 244 is a good deer cartridge and certainly effective on antelope and any lighter game."
Ultimately 90 grain hunting bullets such as the soft pointed Spitzer used by Remington are known to be well suited to medium sized big game and the 722 to be inherently accurate rifle.
The second explanation often cited involves the initial rifles themselves which were chambered for the .244 and .243 cartridges respectively. Remington selected the Model 722 when first introducing the .244 and Winchester relied upon their Model 70 for their .243. The Model 722 was often cited as ‘plain’ while the Model 70 was more upscale in comparison and thus led to greater acceptance of the .243 in the market. However this fails to take into account several factors when the respective rifles were introduced in 1955. The Model 70 was offered with several trim levels of features all of which were above the more basic 722. However the Model 70 prices ranged from $124.45 for the Standard up to $184.65 for the Super. While the 722A Standard Grade was somewhat basic it was also considerably less expensive at $89.95. Remington also offered a more upscale 722BDL Deluxe Grade chambered for .244 with more features including figured walnut stock, sling swivels mounts and checkered stock making it more directly comparable to the Model 70. The 722BDL list price was $120.95, still less than any of Winchester’s .243 offerings. Had the .244 been more successful initially, critics could have just as easily pointed to Winchster's lack of value priced rifles in .243.
Erfurth went on to write about the Model 722 in .244 Remington, describing it this way: "Remington's [.244] offering comes in the M722 which is one of the least expensive, yet most modernly designed, bolt guns on the market."
The 721/722 rifle line was an overall success for Remington in various calibers and competitively priced for the market.
The following table provides published performance specifications from Remington catalogs from 1955 and 1963, the first year the respective cartridges were first rolled out to the public.
The 6mm Remington has the advantage of a relatively low recoil of about 10 ft/lbs depending on load. Some gun writers including Chuck Hawks of Guns and Shooting Online believe that this has the advantage of allowing shooters to be comfortable with the rifle without developing a flinch and can ultimately focus on accurate shot placement.
Inevitably the 6mm Remington cartridge is highly comparable to the 243 Winchester. Both were intended for the same purposes, both developed out of wildcat loads and both were introduced in the same year. In 1963 Remington produced both types of cartridges using their own sourced brass, primers, powder and bullets. This allows for comparitive data from a single manufacturer and in the case of the 100 grain bullet, identical bullets were even used. The following table summarizes performance data published in Remington's 1963 catalog:
The following summarizes comparitive trajectory data between the 6mm Remington and .243 Winchester using the same 100 grain bullet:Bullet diameter: .243 inches / 6mm / .244 inches
Cartridge length: 2.825 inches
Maximum case length: 2.233 inches
MAP: 52,000 cup
Bolt-action RiflesRemington Model 722
Remington Model 700
Remington Model 788
Remington Model 600
Remington Model 660
Semi-automatic RiflesRemington Model 740
Remington Model 742
Remington Model 7400
Remington Model Four
Pump-action RiflesRemington Model 760
Remington Model 7600
Manufacturers including Marlin, Savage, and Ruger have also chambered rifles for 6mm Remington.
Ultimately the buying public of the 1950s responded more favorably to the .243 Winchester while the .244 struggled to gain market acceptance early on. Whether this was due to Winchester’s heavier big game bullet or the differences in the aesthetic features of the initial rifles themselves or other factors altogether, it is difficult to say in retrospect. Remington responded relatively quickly to early criticism by changing the twist rate in 1958, adding the more upscale Model 725 in 1960 and ultimately the highly successful Model 700, re-badging the cartridge name itself for a fresh start and offering a 100-grain factory load. While the 6mm never took over the .24 caliber dual purpose market lead from Winchester, it was successfully sustained in production for nearly six decades.
Today there is broader public insight and knowledge of ballistics. This has led to a greater appreciation of the 6mm Remington which continues to have a loyal following among handloaders who appreciate the cartridge capacity, design and performance edge. Handloaders benefit from a long neck which facilitates loading operations and one of the widest selections of bullets available in any caliber. Prized among some are the earlier slow twist version .244 rifles for their collectibility and ability to push higher velocities with lighter loads.