The wildcatters have experimented with just about every cartridge used by the United States Armed Forces. The 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Winchester) is no exception. The 7mm-08 is just a .308 Winchester necked down to .284 diameter with a small increase in case length.
In 1980, the Remington Arms Co. started manufacturing this cartridge and offered it as a chambering in their budget-priced Model 788 and Model 700 bolt-action rifles. In factory rifles with 18 1/2- to 24-inch barrels, the 140-grain factory-loaded bullet produces about 2,750 to 2,800 feet-per-second muzzle velocity.
The 7mm-08 Remington is a very capable cartridge, in just about all hunting environments from dense-wooded areas to large, open fields. It has a slightly flatter trajectory than the .308 Winchester or the 30-06 Springfield manly because the smaller-diameter 7 mm (.284) bullets have a better ballistic co-efficient.
The 7mm-08 has been an impressive performer from its start. Many firearms writers have mentioned that this is a perfect sporting cartridge for big game hunting in North America, with the exception of the great bears. Wayne van Zwell of Hunting magazine describes this cartridge as "deadly" for elk.
In addition to hunting, the 7mm-08 has proven itself on metallic silhouette ranges where its 140-grain bullets reach 500-yard targets faster and with as much energy as the 150-grain .30 calibers. When comparing the 7mm-08 to other big 7mms (7mm Mauser, 280 Remington to the big 7mm Magnums), it has the velocity edge on the Mauser. It is more efficient than the .280 Remington (7mm Express). The 7mm Magnums will show some superiority over the 7mm-08 but only with heavier bullets. To fire one of the magnums, the shooter must endure more recoil and muzzle blast. The cost of factory-loaded magnum ammunition is much higher.
In January 2002, Dave Anderson of Guns Magazine compared four 7mm cartridges (7mm Mauser, .280 Remington, .284 Winchester, and the 7mm-08) and concluded his studies with this statement, "But considering everything ... performance, recoil, rifle size and weight, ammunition availability and cost, the 7mm-08 is the winner."
Today, the 7mm-08 is quite popular. Most manufacturers of bolt-action hunting rifles have at least one model chambered for the 7mm-08. Browning offers it in several versions of their box magazine lever-action rifle. It is also available in Browning's gas-operated semi-automatic rifle.
This cartridge is inexpensive and easy to reload. The handloader has a wide range of bullets, weights and designs to choose from. Bullets weighing from 100 to175 grains are available. However, from the studies made by the gun writers, the best bullet weights for big game hunting with this cartridge are in the 130- to150-grain range. This cartridge is also popular with big game hunters in Europe.
Factory-loaded ammunition in the United States includes a 140-grain bullet with a velocity of 2,800 feet per second and a 150-grain bullet with a velocity of 2,650 feet per second.
A rifle chambered for the 7mm-08 would make a great Christmas gift for the up-and-coming deer hunter in your family.