256 Winchester Magnum

Fire Arm






: Marlin 1894sc

: 22 inches

: 1:16 inches

: 24 X

: 50 yards

: 10

Click for detailed 256 Win Mag Tech drawing
Click on figure to access ANSI
technical cartridge drawing

A commercial cartridge - probably soon to be an obsolete commercial cartridge. Introduced by Winchester in early 1961 as a new handgun (wheelgun) cartridge. Physically the case is a 357 Win Mag necked down to .257"; muzzle velocity wise, it fits nicely between the venerable 25-20, a 1600 fps, pot gun cartridge; and the 2700 fps varmint and nearly deer size game 25-35 Winchester: the 256 will drive a 86gr SP at 2200 fps.

The 256 married the proven usefulness of a moderate velocity 86gr slug - 80 years of 25-20 WCF history; and the then 30 year acceptance of 357 S&W Mag pressure handguns. The 256 uses a 357 Mag powder charge, to drive a bullet weighing half the 357 Mag standard, at nearly twice the 357 muzzle velocity.

When chambered in a Ruger Hawkeye the short barrel never allowed the cartridge to perform. In the Marlin m62, the limited number produced never allowed the public to appreciate the cartridge for what it was worth. A rebarreled Marlin 357 1894 into 256 Win Mag makes a fine target gun, likewise a very useful field piece. A 256 T/C Contender makes a fine both target and field gun. And in spite of its short neck, the 256 is also a fine shooter of low velocity lead bullets.

The case capacity of the 256 Win Mag is 21.1gr (of water, full case); 17.2gr with a flat base bullet seated .300". In comparison, the standard 25-20 Win offers 19.4gr and 15.5gr, respectively. The wildcats: 255 Dean and 25-223 Rem, respectively offer, 20.1gr and 16.7gr, and 29.2 and 25.3.

The standard bullet diameter is .257", SAAMI lists maximum average pressure as 43kCUP.

© Copyright Gregory J Mushial 1997-2006