Weatherby’s New Series 2 Vanguard Bolt-Action Rifle


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

September 23rd, 2011


YouTube Video





Click pictures for a larger version.


Weatherby's new Series 2 Vanguard rifle.





New synthetic stock design is very stable and comfortable to use.



Bolt release (top), three-position safety (bottom).



Magazine floorplate release.





Excellent two-stage match trigger.







A little over fifty years ago, Roy Weatherby changed the look of sporting rifles in the USA. His rifles featured a radical stock design by the standards of those days. The stock was built for comfort and accuracy. The Monte Carlo comb sloped forward, causing the rifle to recoil away from, instead of into, the shooter’s cheek bone. The forend was designed to provide a solid grasp while shooting the big Weatherby magnum cartridges that he had designed a decade before. The early rifles were conversions on existing Mauser bolt guns, but when Weatherby introduced the Mark V, he finally had a rifle that was built specifically for firing the Weatherby high-performance cartridges.

Weatherby cartridges are built for speed. With each cartridge introduced, Roy Weatherby succeeded in besting the velocities of other cartridges within each caliber. Weatherby pushed the limits of cartridge design with the powders and bullets available at that time, and today, the Weatherby cartridges remain at the top of the heap in performance. The Mark V rifle was well-accepted by those with pockets deep enough to afford one. The Mark V is still produced today, and is recognized as one of the strongest bolt action rifles ever designed, and is the choice of many hunters who need the utmost in power, and have the desire to own a premium rifle.

Introduced over four decades ago, the Weatherby Vanguard rifle has also proven to be very successful. In 1970, it was a Weatherby that was much more affordable to most of us than was the Mark V, and it remains so today. I have reviewed the Weatherby Vanguard here before; once in 2004, and again in 2008. The Vanguard differs from the Mark V primarily in its bolt design, stock material, finish, and available chamberings. While the Vanguard is available chambered for several of the Weatherby magnum cartridges, the really heavy stuff is only chambered in the Mark V. The Vanguard is and has always been a very good rifle, reinforcing Weatherby’s reputation for strength, reliability, and accuracy.

Now, Weatherby has introduced the newest generation of Vanguard rifles; the Vanguard Series 2. The Series 2 rifles retain the best features of the Vanguard, with several improvements. The synthetic stock of the S2 now wears softer, more tactile "Griptonite" inserts in the pistol grip and forend, for a better grasp of the rifle in all weather conditions. The pistol grip also has a palm swell for a more comfortable grasp. The barrels of the S2 rifles are twenty-four inches in length, to squeeze more performance from magnum cartridges, compared to a shorter barrel. The S2 is offered in either a matte-blued finish, or in stainless steel. The bottom metal is still, thankfully, made of metal. The one-piece trigger guard and floorplate on the test rifle is a black matte aluminum, and matches the finish of the barreled action perfectly. The new trigger is a two-stage match-grade unit, offering a very crisp, precise trigger pull without sacrificing safety. The trigger pull on the test rifle released crisply at just barely over three pounds, as delivered, and I adjusted it slightly down to a bit over two and three-quarters pounds. Perfect. The manual safety on the Series 2 is a three-position unit, instead of the two-position unit on the original Vanguard rifles. The rear position blocks the trigger and locks the bolt in place. The mid position still blocks the trigger, but allows the bolt to be operated for loading and unloading, and the fully-forward position allows the rifle to fire when the trigger is pressed. The entire line of Series 2 Vanguard rifles now has Weatherby’s Sub-MOA guarantee, which guarantees that the rifle with shoot sub-minute-of-angle (.99 inch) or less at 100 yards using premium ammunition in the standard chamberings and Weatherby ammunition in the Weatherby magnum chamberings.

The rifle shown here is chambered for the 257 Weatherby cartridge. Twenty-fives are some of my favorite rifle cartridges. I dearly love the 25-06, which is really a non-belted magnum, but the 257 Weatherby does everything that the 25-06 does, with more speed and a flatter trajectory. With any given bullet weight, the 257 Weatherby gains between 200 and 400 feet-per-second (fps) over the same bullet from the 25-06. Doing so requires about eighteen percent more powder, but the results are well worth it. Like the 25-06, the 257 Weatherby excels at bridging the gap between a dedicated varmint rifle and a long-range deer and antelope cartridge, and performs very well at both tasks. 75 grain class bullets are ideal for long range predator and varmint hunting, really reaching out and doing a fine job. The 117 to 120 grain bullets are superb for long range hunting of medium-sized game such as whitetail and pronghorn, and the 100 grain bullets do well at both tasks. The 25 WSSM cartridge claimed to offer magnum performance in a short action, but fell far short of the performance of the 257 Weatherby. The 25 WSSM barely bested the 25-06 using the same bullets, and required much higher pressures to do so. The 257 Weatherby greatly exceeds the velocities of the 25 WSSM, and does so at much lower pressures.

The 257 Weatherby also has one of the flattest trajectories of any commercial cartridge available. It is the flattest-shooting of all the Weatherby cartridges. Using the Barnes TTSX 80 grain bullet load, sighted to be dead on at 300 yards, the bullet is only 1.8 inches above line-of-sight at 100 yards, and only 6.4 inches low at 400. This flat trajectory is very forgiving in the field, as it makes little difference in point of impact if the hunter estimates the yardage at 220, and it turns out to really be 320. That bullet leaves the muzzle of a 257 Weatherby rifle in excess of 3850 fps. Weatherby lists the velocity at 3870, and it did better than that out of the test rifle. More on that later. The TTSX is a Barnes Triple Shock solid copper homogenous bullet with a polymer tip to increase the ballistic coefficient of the bullet. Even at the light weight of only 80 grains, the bullet is built for medium-sized game such as deer and antelope. The Barnes will not behave like a lightweight varmint bullet, coming apart on impact. It holds together, and typically retains almost all of its weight when recovered. At the speeds generated by the 257 Weatherby, bullets have to be built tough. A bullet that gives optimal performance from a 257 Roberts will fail when pushed several hundred feet per second faster, and I like the insurance that the Barnes bullets provide that the bullet will not fail, if I do my part. Weatherby has nine different loads for the 257 Weatherby, with bullet weights ranging from 80 to 120 grains. All are built for game hunting, with the exception of the 87 grain varmint load. The 257 Weatherby might be a bit much for all-day prairie dog shooting, but for long range predator hunting, it is hard to find a cartridge that will equal its flat-shooting, hard-hitting attributes. For whitetail deer, my favorite cartridge has for many years been the 25-06, and the 257 Weatherby is all that the 25-06 is, and more. Anyway, when this new 257 Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 arrived, I was anxious to start pulling the trigger.

Deciding how to scope this rifle posed a challenge, as the 257 Weatherby cannot be neatly pegged into just one role. While it is an ideal deer cartridge for shooting from 30 yards to 400, it is also very useful for long range varmint and target shooting, so I decided to mount two different scopes to try out. Not at the same time. First up was a 3.5 to 10 power Leupold VX-3 with the Boone & Crockett ballistic reticle. This is probably the best choice of the two chosen for general hunting, but at extended ranges, I like more magnification for better target definition. For that, I mounted a Trijicon AccuPoint 5 to 20 power illuminated reticle tactical scope. The AccuPoint has a fiber-optic lighted reticle with variable intensity, and also tritium for reticle illumination in low light situations. The AccuPoint is always “ON”, and never needs batteries. It has a mil-dot ranging reticle, clear optics, and precise adjustment. I mounted the scopes alternately using a Trijicon Picatinny-compliant two-piece base. The Vanguard uses bases that fit a Remington Model 700, so anywhere that sells scope mounts should have one or more in stock. The AccuPoint was mounted using Trijicon rings, and the Leupold mounted using Burris Signature rings. Either is a good choice for long range hunting, and the Leupold is also good for work close up, but since the 257 Weatherby excels at long range, the Trijicon will probably spend a lot of time atop this Series 2 Vanguard.

For shooting the new Weatherby, I had two different factory loads available to me, along with a variety of bullets and powders for handloading. Starting with the factory loads, both loads performed very well, with each beating Weatherby’s one MOA accuracy guarantee by a wide margin, as can be seen in the pictures. The 100 grain spitzer soft-point bullet was clocked at 3410 feet-per-second (fps) average ten feet from the muzzle of the Vanguard’s barrel. The 80 grain TTSX, my favorite of the factory loads for whitetail-class animals, averaged a screaming 3949 fps at the same distance. All velocity testing was done at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with the temperature hovering around the 70 degree Fahrenheit mark, on a breezy sunny day with the shooter, rifle, and ammunition in the shade. Accuracy testing was done using a Target Shooting, Inc. Model 1000 rifle rest, with the Trijicon set at twenty power magnification. Handloads were assembled on a Dillon 550B press, using RCBS dies. My favorite handload consisted of the Barnes TSX copper hollowpoint bullet loaded over 68.2 grains of Hodgdon Hybrid 100 V powder and a Federal 210 primer. This load is not in the Hodgdon database, and has not been pressure tested, but was accurate, reliable, and showed no excessive pressure signs in the test rifle. It works very well for me, but use at your own risk, as it is not data that is published by any reliable source. This load will group under one-half MOA at 100 yards from the test gun, and the bullet clocked an average of 3673 fps ten feet from the muzzle. Hybrid 100 V powder is relatively new on the market, but consistently gives higher velocities in cartridges in the 25-06, 270, 280, and 257 Weatherby class, in my experience.

The Weatherby Series 2 Vanguard is a great improvement on an already-proven rifle with a four-decade track record. It is reliable, accurate, affordable, and worthy to wear the Weatherby brand.

Check out the entire line of Weatherby firearms, ammunition, and accessories online at

For the location of a Weatherby dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at

To order the Vanguard online, go to

Jeff Quinn

NOTE: All load data posted on this web site are for educational purposes only. Neither the author nor assume any responsibility for the use or misuse of this data. The data indicated were arrived at using specialized equipment under conditions not necessarily comparable to those encountered by the potential user of this data.  Always use data from respected loading manuals and begin working up loads at least 10% below the loads indicated in the source manual.

Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.



Click pictures for a larger version.




Trijicon Picatinny-compatible base and rings.



Leupold scope with Boone & Crockett Ballistic Reticle.



Trijicon AccuPoint scope.



Accuracy was superb, beating Weatherby's MOA accuracy guarantee at 100 yards with every load tested.



Weatherby factory ammunition.



Barnes' 100-grain TSX is one of author's favorite bullets for high-stepping 25 caliber rifles.



Hodgdon Hybrid 100V powder is an excellent choice for high velocities and superb accuracy in the 257 Weatherby.