I Love the .218 Bee and one of the guns I have long lusted after is a Winchester Model 43. One of the boys in the pre 64 Winchester collector groups posted the image above, and it got me thinking about it again.
The .218 was originally released in the Winchester lever action Model 65. It’s safe to say that this was a bad move. The idea that lever action rounds need rounded nose bullets to be safe in a tube magazine really pissed all over the potential of the .218 for its intended role as a varmint round.
To correct this misstep, Winchester came out with the M43 bolt action rifle in .218, but it was too little too late. The guncounter boys club had already made up their minds on the Bee based on the factory rounds and the accuracy of the levergun.
One thing that has bothered me is the popularity of the inferior .22 Hornet and how the Hornet got top treatment by Winchester. The .22 Hornet was released the rifleman’s rifle!
Hell’s bells man they even made a full target model 70 in .22 Hornet!.
The mind boggles…
The Model 43 is something you’d expect to be made for rimfire. Even in the deluxe version.
What could have been..
I have said before and I will say again, all things being equal, I would walk past 100 hornets for one good 218 Bee rifle.
Handloaders can solve the old problem with the factory Bee rounds. I load 52 grain match HPBTs.
Loading 40 grain V-max bullets gets you up to .233 velocities. You can’t do that with a Hornet.
If Winchester had chambered the Bee in the 1885 single shot or a Model 70 things would have been different. Every gun maker’s history is full of “what might have been” though.