If Jack O’Connor and Elmer Keith could see the pile of excellent bullets, cartridges and rifles we have access to, I’m certain they’d have developed different viewpoints. I’d wager that Keith would be a proponent of the bonded-core bullets, and I can easily see Jack embracing the 6.5s and speedier middleweights with the high ballistic coefficient (BC) bullets. And I’m not sure that I’m going too far out on a limb by saying that buying a rifle in the most common chambering will guarantee the possibility of replenishing ammo supplies in a remote location, or any location right now. In fact, some of the more obscure cartridges are on the shelf, while the .30-06 Springfield and the .223 Remington seem to have become a rarity.
I recently had the opportunity to spend some time hunting with the 27 Nosler while hunting axis deer in Hawaii, and it only reinforced my findings of the cartridge’s performance at the bench. One of my guides had inquired about how the Nosler would measure up against his beloved 7mm Remington Magnum, and the conversation inspired this article. I’ve long found the differences between the .270-bore and 7mm-bore (.277-inch vs. .284-inch) to be bizarre, as the .270 Winchester would top out at 150-grain bullets, while the 7x57mm and .280 Remington could use 175-grain bullets. In the end, it’s all about twist rate, and modern cartridges are changing the game.
It’d be hard to deny that the 7mm Remington Magnum is one of the most popular 7mm cartridges, and one of the most popular magnum cartridges ever developed. It was released by Big Green in 1962, as what one could easily consider the fourth cartridge in the Winchester line of shortened belted magnums. Based on the .375 H&H Belted Magnum case, cut down to 2.500 inches, and necked to hold 7mm bullets, the 7mm Remington Magnum bears a striking resemblance to the .275 Holland & Holland, released in 1912 along with the uber-popular .375 H&H. Prior to the near-universal acceptance of the 6.5mm cartridges, the 7mm Remington Magnum was our most popular metric designation here in the United States.
The case has a 25-degree shoulder—severe for its time—and maintains a cartridge overall length of 3.290 inches which will fit perfectly in a long-action rifle receiver. It maintains the same 0.532-inch diameter bolt face of the H&H family, so the bolt face is a common diameter, and the cartridge delivers impressive velocities compared to the ‘standard’ cartridges, though not to the point of being ridiculous. It’ll drive a 140-grain bullet to 3200 fps, and the 150-grain slugs to 3060 fps. The 160-grain load leaves the barrel at 2925 fps and the heaviest of the lot—the 175-grain bullets—has a muzzle velocity of 2860 fps. The recoil can be fierce in an ill-fitting rifle, but can be managed by most hunters, and it is still a highly popular choice for Western hunters.
The 27 Nosler is part of the Nosler family of cartridges based on the .404 Jeffery, released in 2020, with the body blown out and shortened to 2.59 inches, with the rim tightened to 0.534 inches, to fit in the H&H bolt face. Whereas the 7mm Remington Magnum headspaces off the belt (or the shoulder if a handloader change the dimensions) the 27 Nosler is a rimless design, headspacing off the 35-degree shoulder. The Jeffery case offers a whole lot of room, as the body diameter is considerably larger, and the shoulder configuration affords more space for powder.
Accordingly, the 27 Nosler launches a 150-grain bullet (of better sectional density (SD) and BC than a 7mm of the same weight) at a muzzle velocity of 3250 fps, just under 150 fps faster than the 7mm Rem. Mag. with the same weight. This is faster than the .270 WSM and .270 Weatherby Magnum, both of which can handle the 150-grain bullets. But the 27 Nosler has a twist rate of 1:8.5” versus the 1:10” of the .270 Winchester, WSM and Weatherby, and can use the 165-grain bullets. Nosler’s 165-grain AccuBond Long Range load leaves the muzzle at 3158 fps, versus the 7mm Mag.’s 160-grain load at 2925 fps, and again betters the SD and BC values in comparison to the 7mms.
The 7mm Mag. can use the 175-grain bullets, but ironically I know very few people who venture above the 160-grain bullets. If those heavy 175 grainers make the difference to you, I can’t argue that the 7mm Rem. Mag. would serve you better. If that end of the spectrum doesn’t really appeal (for example, you have a .375 H&H or other heavy gun) there is no reason at all to pass over a cartridge like the 27 Nosler. I realize that, at least at the time of this writing, the cartridge remains a proprietary offering; however if one had to spend a number of seasons with Nosler ammunition, well, there are worse fates in life. Nosler also produces a good number of different rifle models chambered for the cartridge, and they are fantastic designs.
Is the 27 Nosler the logical choice to supplant the 7mm Remington Magnum? It is difficult to attempt to unseat such a popular cartridge, as when ammunition is regularly available, there are all sorts of choices for the 7mm Rem. Mag. But I feel confident saying that ballistically, the .27 Nosler offers a bit of an advantage over the 7mm Mag., and that the recoil level of the younger cartridge is more manageable than that of the 7mm Mag. The Remington design is undoubtedly the more popular of the two, but the .27 Nosler has no flies on it whatsoever.