Whether you’re after elk, deer or any other similar game, here’s the best 7mm Rem. Mag. ammo to do it with.
7mm Remington Magnum is one of the most popular and enduring hunting cartridges in existence. As such, 7mm Rem. Mag. ammo is among the most produced and available.
As a result, you can specialize, finding 7mm Rem. Mag. loads tailored to everything from heavy-framed elk and well-muscled hogs, to demure critters such as pronghorn.
There are long-range loads, medium-range loads, and even do-it-all loads that work well for darn near everything.
So what are the best ones to get?
The History Of 7mm Remington Magnum
The story goes that Les Bowman, a writer for Guns and Ammo and a hunting guide in Wyoming, took Jack O'Connor on a hunt in the area. Bowman had noticed during his guiding career hunters who shot moderate calibers tended to do so more accurately, a sentiment of which O'Connor agreed. But Bowman wanted a moderate cartridge with a bit more oomph than .270 Winchester.
O'Connor sent him a rifle chambered in .275 H&H Magnum, a British hunting cartridge that in effect was a hot-rodded 7x57mm Mauser, which more or less fit the bill.
Ammunition for the .275 H&H was hard to come by, so Bowman worked up a wildcat in an attempt to duplicate the British cartridge. He did so by necking down .338 Win. Mag. brass to 7mm. Then he had a Pfeifer barrel rechambered by Fred Huntington of RCBS for the cartridge. Finally, Bowman installed it in a Remington Model 721.
The gun and the cartridge proved eminently shootable and wickedly effective on all species from pronghorn to grizzlies, and Bowman's clients loved it. It was dubbed .280 Remington Magnum.
Where Remington themselves entered the picture was when Mike Walker and Wayne Leek—Remington employees—hired Bowman as a guide, became friends and tried his rifle.
They got the idea for a new hot 7mm cartridge to sell with the rifle that they were developing. Leek and Walker flew Bowman to HQ to talk with the board, which proved successful.
Remington's recipe was to trim .375 H&H Magnum brass to standard action length and neck it down to .284 caliber. The original factory loads were 150-grain CoreLokt at 3,260 fps and 175-grain CoreLokt at 3,020 fps.
While some other hot 7mms were around at the time (7mm Mashburn and 7mm Weatherby Magnum), Bowman's original .284-338 was a tad milder with a 160-grain bullet at 3,050 fps.
The cartridge debuted with the Model 700 rifle and was instantly successful. Today, the two are almost inseparable, much as the Model 70 is inseparable from the .270 Winchester cartridge. With the relatively mild recoil (on par with .30-06) but the reasonably flat trajectory and a track record on game animals par excellence, it's remained a best-seller ever since.
7mm Rem. Mag. Ballistics
The 7mm Remington Magnum can be found with lighter (and heavier) bullets, but the 140-, 150-, and 160-grain loads are the most common. Plenty of 175-grain bullets are made in .284 caliber, but these are more frequently loaded in the hotter 7mm cartridges such as 7mm Weatherby and 7mm Remington Ultra.
The most common factory load today is a 150-grain jacketed soft point, loaded to around 3,100 fps and around 3,200 foot-pounds of energy. For a rote JSP 150-grain load, typical G1 ballistic coefficients are around .340.
Here's a 500-yard trajectory table for such a load, 150-grain Remington CoreLokt (G1 BC of .346 and advertised muzzle velocity of 3,110 fps). This table was calculated using ShootersCalculator with a 200-yard zero, a 1.5-inch sight height, a 90-degree 10 mph crosswind and zero corrections for atmosphere.
This and other classic 150-grain loads of 7mm Rem. Mag. ammo doesn't become subsonic until about 975 yards. In fact, these old 150-grain pills at 700 yards are moving faster and carrying more energy than a 125-grain .357 Magnum at the muzzle.
Another area where 7mm Rem. Mag. shines is in maximum point-blank range. If you define MPBR as 4 inches above or below the point of aim, MPBR is roughly 320 yards, and the bullet has only dropped 3.28 MOA (scope reticle hash marks are usually 2 MOA) at 400 yards and just over 6 MOA at 500. As you might guess, this makes even cheap JSP easy to place at considerable distances.
Here's a table for the same 150-grain load but with a 25-yard zero range to demonstrate this.
However, modern high-BC loads give the 7mm Remington Magnum even longer legs. Hornady's Precision Hunter load, for instance, with ELD-X bullets offers astonishing long-range capability. Here's a 1000-yard trajectory for the 162-grain loading (2,940 fps, G1 BC of .613). This table again uses a 200-yard zero.
The bullet is still supersonic at 1,000 yards, with, again, greater velocity and energy than a .357 Magnum at the muzzle. While a formidable cartridge to 500 yards with older bullets and an MPBR zero (the old-school method!), it's a long-range hunter's dream in modern loadings.
Is 7mm Rem. Mag. Too Big For Deer? What's It Good For?
No, 7mm Rem. Mag. is not too big for deer, nor too powerful, and is one of the most popular Western game cartridges in existence. Some would argue it's the best medium- to medium-large game cartridge in the balance of things.
The benefit of 7mm Remington Magnum has always been a smaller bullet at a higher velocity, giving the bullet a bit more oomph than medium velocity 6mm to 7mm bullets and just as much (if not more) velocity as .30 caliber cartridges.
The recoil is not pedestrian but can certainly be lived with (the classic 150-grain loading produces roughly 19 foot-pounds) as it’s about the same as .30-06.
The smaller (and longer) projectiles also give 7mm Rem. Mag. a marginal advantage in sectional density and, in the heavier grain weights, a better ballistic coefficient compared to .30-caliber bullets of the same grain weight. This means it tends to drop a little less compared to .308 and .30-06.
Classically, 7mm Remington Magnum shooters got the best of it from 100 to 500 yards. It excels at taking any North American game short of grizzly bears and African plains game up to the elands.
Modern heavy-for-caliber/high-BC loads can push the useful range even further, however, and it is absolutely a solid choice for longer-range backcountry hunts for bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, moose, caribou and black bear.
While more than capable of taking whitetail and hogs at shorter ranges, its virtues will go mostly unappreciated inside of 200 yards because of the recoil, report and weight of most rifles. It's also foolish to chamber it in a compact rifle as any velocity advantage is negated.
While 7mm calibers are capable benchrest and F-Class rifle cartridges, the recoil is more than match shooters are liable to tolerate. Its milder cousin, the 7mm-08, was at one point ridiculously common in NRA rifle competitions, but 7mm Remington Magnum never has been.
Its first, best destiny is as a hunting cartridge for everything short of the great bears and large African game at medium to long distances.
So…what are the best loads to get?
The Best 7mm Rem. Mag. Ammo:
150-Grain Remington CoreLokt
It's old, it's kind of cheap, but it works. This is the original load, one of the most affordable and most distributed as well. Perfect for the hunting of any North American game inside about 400 yards short of the great bears.
- Bullet Weight: 150 grains
- Bullet Type: Soft point
- Muzzle Velocity: 3,110 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 3,221 foot-pounds
- G1 BC: 0.346
- MSRP/Street Price: $40
162-Grain Hornady Precision Hunter
The ELD-X bullet used in Hornady's Precision Hunter Load gives 7mm Remington Magnum absurdly long legs and is a perfect do-it-all modern hunting load. It’s not too heavy for medium game at closer range and retains energy downrange for long shots on elk, moose or black bears.
- Bullet Weight: 162 grains
- Bullet Type: Tipped boat-tail hollow-point
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,940 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 3,109 ft-lbs
- G1 BC: 0.613
- MSRP/Street Price: $60
150-Grain Federal Premium Nosler Ballistic Tip
Nosler Ballistic Tip is what you might consider a “budget-friendly premium,” with a premium bullet at a price tag that won't make your eyes water too badly. Nosler BT is a fast-opening tipped bullet, making this an ideal medium-game load for hunters taking long-distance shots at smaller-bodied game but want a better bullet than the legacy soft point loads.
- Bullet Weight: 150 grains
- Bullet Type: Tipped flat-base hollow-point
- Muzzle Velocity: 3,025 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 3,047 foot-pounds
- G1 BC: 0.495
- MSRP/Street Price: $50
Winchester Expedition Big Game 168-Grain AccuBond LR
Winchester's Expedition loads are some of the best long-range hunting loads commonly available. It’s loaded with Nosler's AccuBond LR bullets (high-BC and bonded) for aerodynamic efficiency as well as efficacy on target far beyond what classic soft point bullets provide. If you wanted a long-range load capable of taking everything from ibex to bears at half a mile (or more), this is the one for you.
- Bullet Weight: 168 grains
- Bullet Type: Tipped boat-tail bonded hollow-point
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,900 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 3,137 foot-pounds
- G1 BC: 0.652
- MSRP/Street Price: $60
Raise Your Ammo IQ:
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They already had the 7MM Weatherby Magnum! Why reinvent the wheel?