April 01, 2010
Petzal: Why I Like the 7mm/08
By David E. Petzal
In reviewing my voluminous and infallible records yesterday, I saw that I have killed a very large number of deer with the 7mm/08, never had to shoot twice at the same critter, and never had one travel more than 50 yards. This is pretty good performance from a mild-mannered, unassuming cartridge that gets less attention than it deserves.
The 7mm/08 started as a wildcat in the 1950s, and was legitimized by Remington in 1980. It is the .308 necked down to .284, and is factory loaded with 120- and 140-grain bullets at 3,000 and 2,860 fps, respectively. These velocities, from what I’ve seen, are pretty optimistic.
The virtues of the 7mm/08 include very light recoil, not much muzzle blast, plenty of bullet weight to do the job, and gilt-edged accuracy. For whatever reason, my 7mm/08s have shot rings around the three 7x57s I’ve owned, even though the cartridges are, ballistically, nearly identical. The 7mm/08 does very nicely with a short barrel; you lose very little velocity and the report won’t take your ears off.
I’ve never used the 120-grain loading. Everything I’ve shot has been with 140-grain bullets, including Winchester Fail-Safes and Ballistic Silvertips in factory ammo. I am down to my last box of Fail-Safes (which are discontinued) and am hoarding them for the Apocalypse, or something. Otherwise, I shoot handloads: 140-grain Nosler Solid Bases (also discontinued, but a very good deer bullet) and 140-grain Swift A-Frames for bigger stuff. Velocities are 2,700 fps and 2,650 fps, respectively, out of a 21-inch barrel. More than this you do not need.