Hardware: Hornady 7mm PRC

by
posted on April 6, 2023
Hardware Hornady 7Mm PRC Lead

The September weather in British Columbia had turned warm, too warm, which did not bode well for our group of hunters. We held tags for moose, elk and black bears, and we were on a mission to test the new Savage Impulse Mountain Hunter rifle chambered in the equally new Hornady 7mm PRC cartridge; though the weather was not going to cooperate. All the range time had shown that this new cartridge was plenty accurate, and a 7mm magnum cartridge certainly makes for a sound all-around choice for North America. So with a flat-shooting new cartridge in a slick straight-pull rifle with a carbon-fiber barrel, we headed afield to put the combo to work. Paired with Leupold’s Shawn Skipper, I had an opportunity on day one, when a black bear stood still for just a bit too long; and the first bear taken with the 7mm PRC was in the books.

Five Hornady 7mm PRC ammunition cartridges on white background.

The 7mm PRC is the third in Hornady’s line of Precision Rifle Cartridges, coming after the 6.5 PRC and .300 PRC. Where the 6.5 PRC is designed to fit in a short-action receiver, and the .300 PRC needs a magnum-length receiver, the 7mm PRC uses a standard long-receiver. Like its two older siblings, this is a rimless cartridge without a belt, using the 30-degree shoulder for headspacing. The case has a rim diameter of .532 inch—the same as the Holland & Holland family of belted magnums—and minimal body taper, to give plenty of case capacity. However, keeping in the theme of the other PRC cartridges and many newer case designs, the case length measures just 2.280 inches, in order to leave plenty of room outside the case for a long, sleek bullet of high ballistic coefficient (BC) to give the best long-range performance. The cartridge overall length for the 7mm PRC is 3.340 inches (comparable to the .30-06 Springfield or .300 Winchester Magnum), with a neck length of 0.287 inches, or just over one caliber, which offers proper neck tension.

One of the unique features of the 7mm PRC is that even the longest projectiles won’t extend downward into the case and compromise the powder capacity; in fact the vast majority of projectiles will have the shank/boattail junction aligned with the base of the case neck. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to take full advantage of the case capacity of a large cartridge by mating it with a high BC bullet, only to find the ogive is so long that the cartridge ends up so long it will not fit in the magazine, or that the bullet had run into the lands of the rifling. Reducing the case length—as is the case with the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.8 Western and the PRC line—allows the use of the longer, sleeker bullets; the BC of a bullet can have more influence on downrange performance than will 100 fps of velocity. This is just one reason that these modern designs are changing the game.

Hornady 7mm Precision Rifle Cartridge ammunition standing up on wood table with Savage bolt-action rifle and Leupold binoculars on right.

Armed with a barrel using a 1:8-inch twist, the 7mm PRC has three factory loads as of this writing: a 160-grain CX bullet at 3000 fps in the Outfitter ammo line, a 175-grain ELD-X at 3000 fps in the Precision Hunter line and a 180-grain ELD Match bullet at 2975 fps in the Match ammo line. I had the opportunity to use the latter at the SAAM Shooting course at the FTW Ranch in Barksdale, Texas, where we took the 7mm PRC out to 1,400 yards on steel targets. I took the aforementioned black bear in British Columbia, as well as a pronghorn antelope at the Lander One Shot Antelope Hunt in Wyoming the week before, with the 175-grain ELD-X load. The bear was taken at about 75 yards, and the antelope at 330 yards. Another hunter used the 160-grain CX bullet to cleanly take a bull moose on that British Columbia hunt, giving a quick, humane kill. Hornady’s Precision Hunter and Match ammunition is loaded in brass cases, while the Outfitter series sees the copper-alloy monometal CX bullet loaded in nickel-plated cases, to best resist corrosion.

The 7mm PRC compares favorably with the other 7mm magnums, as it will offer roughly the same velocity range as the highly popular 7mm Remington Magnum, yet will not exhibit the case stretching issues associated with the belted cartridges, and the 7mm PRC can offer better chamber concentricity because it headspaces off the shoulder. I feel the 7mm PRC handles the heavy-for-caliber bullets in the 7mm bore diameter better than the vast majority of other cartridges, especially when using bullets designed for long-range shooting.

Having spent time with the 7mm PRC in a Remington Model 700 Long Range at the FTW Ranch, and in the Savage Impulse Mountain Hunter in Wyoming, British Columbia and here at my range in New York, I had no issues with feeding or extraction whatsoever. I found the 7mm PRC to have less recoil than most of the 7mm Remington Magnums I’ve shot, and certainly less than that of the 7mm Weatherby Magnum or 7mm STW. While certainly not as easy on the shoulder as a 7mm-08 Remington or 7x57 Mauser, I had no problem with the recoil of the 7mm PRC at the bench, from a prone position or in the hunting fields.

Hornady 7mm PRC cartridge head stamp.

Taking the Savage rifle to the range to test all three loads, I found that all printed sub-MOA groups, with the 175-grain ELD-X load giving the tightest groups. Velocities were close to the advertised values, with the worst extreme velocity spread being 51 fps in the 160-grain CX load. The carbon fiber barrel of the Savage Impulse Mountain Hunter handled the heat very well, and were I going to build a 7mm PRC rifle for competitive shooting, I would probably lean in that direction for a barrel choice.

Looking at the downrange hunting performance of the 7mm PRC, you will see that when using a 200-yard zero, the 175-grain ELD-X load will drop just 34.2 inches at 500 yards, still retaining over 2,100 ft.-lbs. of energy. My test rifle was topped with a Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x44mm scope—which I consider to be a fantastic choice in magnification range, elevation adjustment, length and weight—which had an elevation turret specially compensated for the trajectory of the 175-grain ELD-X load. Marked in yardage, all one has to do is range the target, dial that distance on the turret and hold directly on the target for elevation. Combine a hard-hitting cartridge, an accurate rifle and a compensated scope with excellent glass, and you’ve got a rig capable of handling all sorts of hunting scenarios. From deer and black bear in the woods of the northeast, to the pronghorns on the Great Plains and sheep in the mountains, from the diminutive Coues deer across the desert flats to a regal bull elk on the other side of the canyon, and from an aoudad ram on the distant rimrock to a bull moose in the alders, the 7mm PRC will handle it all, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take it to Africa for any and all plains game species.

I personally feel the 7mm PRC is the best of the family, as it offers the familiar performance of the great 7mm bullets, in a package best suited for the longer shots. Well done, Hornady; I think you’ve got a winner here.

Hornady 7mm PRC ammunition accuracy results chart.

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