An Ode to the 7mm-08 Remington

posted on June 13, 2022
Ode To The 7Mm 08 Remington Lead

As a young man—too young to hunt but old enough to soak it all up like a sponge—I’d grab whatever hunting literature I could, amassing a collection of brochures and Dad’s old issues of American Hunter. I lived right down the road from Ralph’s Gun Shop in Germantown, New York, and there was always a stack of free Remington catalogs; I grabbed the new one as soon as it was out. The glossy finish on the 700 BDLs, the glamour shots of guys hunting pheasants with the 870 Wingmasters, and the list of Remington ammunition all intrigued me. I’d pore over the ammo lists as diligently as I would the stats on the back of my baseball cards.

7mm-08 Remington Ammunition Boxes

My dad has shot a .308 Winchester since he returned from basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri in 1968—the M14 making a believer out of him—and insisted that anything else was a waste of time. I would initiate discussions about the various cartridges, citing stats and all, but there was no changing his mind. I would follow in his footsteps, shooting a Ruger 77 .308 for years, but I was always intrigued by the 7mm variant: Remington’s 7mm-08. Dad would always defer to the fact that .30-caliber offered the best range of bullet weights, and that the surplus military ammunition was readily available. Still, that 7mm had a certain appeal to me …

Fast forward to my 40s, and I’d find myself behind the trigger of a sweet little Tikka T3x Lite, chambered in 7mm-08 Remington, writing a review of the rifle. Several brands of ammunition were tested, in different bullet weights, and I was repeatedly impressed by the groups at the target board, and the feel of the recoil, which was markedly less than my .308, even in the lighter rifle. I liked the rifle so much that I made arrangements to add it to my collection, reaching for it when I head to the steeper parts of the Catskill and Adirondack mountains. It carries easily, comes nicely to shoulder and has more than enough horsepower for the deer and black bears in those hills.

Federal Premium Nosler AccuBond Vital-Shok 7mm-08 Remington Ammunition

There is something special about the 7mm-08 Remington, and I feel it might be the most efficient of the .308 Winchester family. I never really understood the name; the .30-06 family hangs the “ought-six” surname on many of the offspring, as most other cartridges use the parent’s full name, as in the .22-250 Remington or 6.5-284 Norma. Despite the silly name—I feel it should have been the 7mm-308 Remington—the cartridge is a fantastic design, being nothing more than the .308 Winchester necked down to hold 7mm bullets. The cases share the same 0.473-inch case head diameter, 20-degree shoulder and 1.560-inch datum line, though the 7mm-08 Remington case is 2.035 inches long, compared to the .308’s 2.015-inch length. Where the .308 Winchester uses a cartridge overall length of 2.810 inches, the 7mm-08 Remington cartridge measures 2.800 inches.

Invariably, any discussion of the 7mm-08 leads to the comparison with the 7x57mm Mauser, and perhaps rightfully so. When using barrels of equal length, the velocity differences between the 7mm-08 and 7x57 are negligible, with the 7-08 having a slight advantage.  Both can take full advantage of the range of 7mm bullets, the shorter 7mm-08 will run at higher pressures. I like the fact that the 7mm-08 can be chambered in a light rifle, with a 22-inch barrel, and still wring respectable velocities from the cartridge. Undoubtedly the 7x57 has the pedigree, having been taken on incredible adventures in the hands of both W.D.M. ‘Karamoja’ Bell in Africa and Col. Jim Corbett in India (their .275 Rigbys were in every way just a renamed 7x57 Mauser) but I’d wager that if either of those gentlemen were around in 1980 to see the 7mm-08, they’d have been a fan.

Hornady Precision Hunter 150-grain ELD-X 7mm-08 Remington Ammunition

Though the 7mm-08 Remington doesn’t have the fan base that the .308 Winchester does, there are still plenty of good factory loads to choose from. My Tikka rifle loves the Federal Premium 140-grain load featuring the Nosler AccuBond, and the Hornady Precision Hunter with the 150-grin ELD-X bullet, though there are lots of other good choices, like the Hornady Custom Lite reduced recoil load, with the 120-grain SST, or the Federal 140-grain Trophy Bonded Tip load, or the Nosler 140-grain E-Tip load for the lead-free fans. And though the majority of factory loads are centered around bullets weighing between 120 and 150 grains, there is nothing stopping the handloader from using the 160- and 175-grain bullets, which have the sectional density to guarantee good penetration when striking heavy bone. Look to powders in the medium burn rate range, like Reloder 15, Reloder 19, H414, IMR 4350 and the like, sparking the charge with a good large rifle primer.

While it is among the best choices for the deer hunter, the 7mm-08 is capable of so much more than just that. Pronghorn antelope, caribou, elk, moose, bear, axis deer, hogs and the majority of African plains game species will all be handled by the 7mm-08 at sane hunting ranges. Trajectories are also rather flat; with my favorite 140-grain AccuBond load printing 7.3 inches low at 300 yards and 21.4 inches low at 400 yards, when zeroed at 200 yards. I like the 7mm-08 Remington over the 6.5 Creedmoor and .260 Remington for its ability to use heavier bullets, and that it has less recoil than the .308 Winchester, while offering bullets with a higher B.C. value.

7mm-08 Remington Ammo Case Head

Though 42 years old, many hunters still consider the 7mm-08 Remington the “new kid on the block,” and I feel that this cartridge is far too often overlooked. With the reduced recoil loads—Hornady’s Custom Lite features a 120-grain bullet at 2675 fps—it makes a great choice for a new shooter, youth or someone who is truly recoil sensitive, as the cartridge can grow in power level as the shooter grows in proficiency. The Creedmoor craze has seen a lot of hunters take to the field with the highly controversial cartridge, but I feel the 7mm-08 makes a better choice at hunting distances, just for the option of heavier bullet weights. Though I am certain it will never unseat the .308 Winchester—America simply adores all things .30-caliber—I am a big fan of the 7mm-08 Remington; it is a solid choice for an all-around cartridge.

Want to read more from Philip Massaro? Check out the following articles:
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• Rifles for the Traveling Hunter
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• Deer Hunting: Were the Good Old Days Really That Good?
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