Ever since we fought Spain and faced the 7mm Mauser, Americans have had an interest in the 7mm cartridge of all types. I have fired and used the 7 x 57mm Mauser and did not quite fall in love with it the way some do.
It is a fine cartridge, of course, but I was so hopelessly smitten by the Springfield .30-06 (and later the Mark X Mauser) that I simply did not care for the 1893 Mauser rifle. My loss, I am certain!
Then I had a flirtation with the 7mm-08. This is a crackerjack of a cartridge that is generally used by the most experienced rifleman.
However, when the 7mm Remington Magnum crossed my path, I sat up and paid attention. Here was a 7mm that exhibited a flat trajectory and greater accuracy. Yet, at least to me, it did not kick any more than the .30-06 Springfield.
On the other hand, the .300 Winchester Magnum beats me up – and many other folks. The rifle I found in the used rack at a shop was a Savage 110. While I also used Remington and Ruger rifles, the Savage 110 has been my favorite for many years.
I like the design, the bolt throw, and the smoothness of the Savage rifle. As for the cartridge, the 7mm Remington Magnum is the result of considerable development by American experimenters.
A Formidable Cartridge
A 7mm 160-grain bullet at 3200 fps is a sure killer on most North American game and a flat shooter. The cartridge has also seen institutional service by Federal Agents and the Texas Rangers as a counter-sniper.
While considerable practice is needed to master the cartridge in this role, it is a sure penetrator and very effective. I have used the Lyman die-set to load up a number of very accurate and flat shooting loads, using primarily Hornady 7mm bullets.
Some say the neck is a little short, others feel the Magnum belt is unnecessary. Maybe so, but the cartridge doesn’t seem to know this and offers excellent performance and accuracy.
Like many shooters, I was once entranced by velocity. Driving a 140-grain bullet to 3300 fps is possible. However, if long-range accuracy is the goal, the heavier bullets generally hold their velocity in a superior manner.
If the game is more than 200 pounds, a heavier bullet is indicated. The 7mm Magnum may destroy more meat than the .30-06, but it certainly anchors the game as well. I think 150 grains at 3100 fps is the sweet spot for all-around use.
The heavier bullets have been used on moose and bear, game I have no experience with. The 160-grain and heavier class are certainly accurate and offer excellent penetration for the amount of recoil generated.
But for what I use the 7mm Magnum for—deer-sized game and target shooting—it is a joy to use and fire. I have mounted a scope that is absolutely too much for the rifle for most uses, but then it is a fine scope and I have it on hand.
The March F class is designed for 1000 yard competition. It may seem a poor fit for a relatively short barrel 7mm Magnum, but I am a gun crank first and really enjoy pushing accuracy to the limit. But never safety!
Loads to Love
Hornady offers excellent loads for the 7mm Remington Magnum:
- The 139-grain Interlock is a proven loading.
- The 139-grain GMX has exhibited good accuracy.
- The 150-grain GMX should probably be my first choice for all-around use.
- The 162-grain ELD-X has proven the most accurate.
My rifle is only good for 1.25 to 1.35 inches for three shots at 100 yards. That is actually very good for this light rifle, but a new Savage 110 with the full-length barrel and improved stock is a better choice.
Mine is fine for what I do, and this level of accuracy is good to 200 yards for deer-sized game.
When handloading the 7mm Magnum, I have put enough time into it to understand that it isn’t a problem cartridge at all to load. The 25-degree shoulder allows proper head spacing. The belt, well, no one likes it but I have no complaints.
There is plenty of neck tension. I have used old standards like IMR 4350 with excellent results. H4350, IMR4451 and perhaps a number of others are good as well. With the 82 grains of water case capacity, you need to use slow-burning powder.
To be frank, it takes some work to equal factory load accuracy and more work to beat it—but it can be done. This is comparing my hand loads to premium factory loads.
The heaviest load I have used to date is the Federal 180-grain Accubond. This is an accurate loading that delivers real power at long range. The Accubond is a proven performer.
I have loaded the Accubond in my personal rifle and also in an order Ruger 77 in 7mm Remington Magnum. Performance has been good to excellent.
While the load isn’t at it’s best in a shorter barreled rifle, arguably no Magnum load is. Still, this is a very accurate loading in the Savage rifle.
After careful load practice, weighing each powder charge and taking care in assembly, my old rifle has occasionally turned in 0.9-inch three-shot groups at 100 yards. The stock is tight, the rifle is properly bedded, and the trigger is adjusted correctly.
Most of the time, the groups are larger. But this is a bargain rifle, if a very good one. The 7mm Remington Magnum is a step up in trajectory and power from the old .30-06 I love.
7mm Remington Magnum: Conclusion
While I am not giving up the .30-06, the 7mm is clearly a valuable part of my working battery. If you are looking for a powerful cartridge that outsteps the .30 class in general (and the .30-06 in particular), but does so without heavy recoil, this is the trick.
What do you think of 7mm cartridges? Let us know in the comments below.