My goal had been to create a rifle suitable for open-country hunting of medium game such as antelope, sheep, mule deer and caribou. I believed that the 7mm/08 cartridge was fully adequate to handle all such game as long as proper loads were used. Although there are many fine jacketed or monolithic hunting bullets being manufactured today, Hornady’s “Interlock” bullet design had proven reliable on medium-sized game for me in the past – with 270- and 30-caliber bullets – and I expected the same fine results with their .284″ (7mm) bullets. I believed that the load I had assembled would prove an excellent one for most of the hunting I would be doing with this rifle.
Frankly, I was quite surprised with the velocity of my load. The 2920 fps reading was more than I had hoped to achieve especially at less than maximum pressures. I know that in these days when many hunters seem to be focused on “magnum” cartridges of one kind or another, such ballistics may not seem very impressive. But, let’s take a minute to put things in perspective.
The .280 Remington and the .284 Winchester are both hunting cartridges with splendid reputations for effectiveness on game. Being 7mm cartridges, they, naturally, shoot the same bullets as the 7mm/08 Remington. Again, referring to Hornady’s 7th Edition Handbook of Cartridge Reloading, velocities with the same 139-grain Hornady bullet in the .284 Winchester and .280 Remington cartridges top out at 2900 and 3000 fps, respectively. Those velocities were taken in a 24-inch barrel with the .284 and a 22-inch barrel for the .280. Certainly, the velocity of 2920 fps in my 7mm/08 Mauser – with a less-than-maximum load, remember – is quite on a par with those two older, and widely acclaimed, hunting cartridges.
Another comparison that is interesting to make is with the famous and ubiquitous .270 Winchester. That cartridge has earned its place as one of the most outstanding medium-game hunting rounds ever produced. The same Hornady reloading manual lists a maximum velocity for their flat-base, 130-gr. Spire Point from a 24-inch-barreled .270 at 3100 fps. Although Hornady does not manufacture a 130-gr. 7mm bullet, Speer does, and in Speer’s Reloading Manual Number 12, top velocity for their flat-base 130-gr. spitzer from a 7mm/08 with a 24-inch barrel is an almost identical 3065 fps. Further, the ballistic coefficients of those two bullets are nearly identical. Thus, for practical hunting purposes, any difference in the performance of these two cartridges when loaded with the above bullets would have to be imagined, because I honestly don’t believe it could be perceived in the field.
Before leaving the comparison of the .270 and 7mm/08 cartridges, it must also be considered that while the .270’s top bullet weights are 150-160 grains, the 7mm/08 cartridge can be loaded with bullets as heavy as 175 grains. This would seem to give the 7mm/08 an advantage when deeper penetration on heavier game is desired. Such a load that shoots quite well in my rifle is the 175-gr. Hornady with a load of 45 grains of H-414 powder. Although I have not chronographed this load, it should be about 2600 fps, according to the Hornady manual.
In short, on paper, the fitness of the 7mm/08 as a hunting round for medium big game simply cannot be questioned. But, as always, the proof for a hunting cartridge is in the field.