Art Lander’s Outdoors: Bolt-action rifle chambered in 7mm-08 good choice for Kentucky deer hunters

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Selecting a rifle for deer hunting in Kentucky need not be a daunting task.

Hunters who are planning on buying a firearm for their own use, for a son, daughter or grandchild, should consider a bolt-action rifle chambered in 7mm-08.

The 7mm-08, developed my Remington in 1980, is an ideal cartridge for hunting deer in the conditions most often encountered in Kentucky, where shots are typically in the woods, across small openings, or the edges of crop fields, at distances under 125 yards.

7mm-08 Started Out as a Wildcat Cartridge

The 7mm-08 started out in 1958 as a wildcat, a custom cartridge for which ammunition and/or firearms were not mass-produced. As the name suggests, the 7mm-08 is made by necking down a .308 Winchester case to accept 7mm (.284) bullets. The difference is Remington’s version has a slightly longer case length, 2.0350 inches, compared to 2.0150 for the .308 Winchester.

Remington greatly popularized the cartridge through the years by chambering it in several of their bolt-action rifles — the Model 700, Model Seven, and the inexpensive, but super-accurate Model 788, produced between 1967 and 1983.

Factory-loaded ammunition is widely available for the 7mm-08, with the 140-grain bullet being the most popular load for deer, but hand loaders have a wide range of bullet weights to work with, to find an accurate hunting load

A short, fat cartridge, made for short-action rifles, the 7mm-08 is light on recoil and muzzle blast, but long on performance, even when loaded down from maximum charges. And surprisingly, with some loadings, the 7mm-08 compares in performance to the venerable .270 Winchester, a popular long-action cartridge.

Less powder is needed to achieve equal performance, which makes the 7mm-08 cheaper to hand load.

For example, compare loadings with IMR 4350 powder and 130-grain bullets, as published in the Speer Reloading Manual Number 13.

In the .270 it takes 55 grains of powder to achieve a muzzle velocity of 2,907 feet per second, whereas in the 7mm-08, just 50 grains yields 3,006 feet per second.

Factory-loaded ammunition is widely available for the 7mm-08, with the 140-grain bullet being the most popular load for deer, but hand loaders have a wide range of bullet weights to work with, to find a load, or multiple loads, their rifle prefers.

Compact rifles are fast handling, ideal for hunting in the woods, and make a great choice for youth, smaller stature adults, and older hunters who want to lighten up their gear. Remington’s Model Seven Compact Synthetic in 7mm-08 has a synthetic stock, a carbon 18-1/2 inches long barrel, and an overall length of 36 1/4

Through the years my son and I have developed many accurate loads for our two rifles chambered in 7mm-08, and have taken deer out to 125 yards with 120, 130, and 145-grain bullets.

A pet load for John’s Remington 788 rifle is a 120-grain Sierra bullet, matched with 43 grains of Hodgdon Varget powder, yielding 3/8-inch groups at 100 yards, at about 2,900 feet per second muzzle velocity.

My Remington 700 rifle shoots 1/4-inch groups at 100 yards, at 2,700 feet per second muzzle velocity with 130-grain Speer bullets, powered by 38.7 grains of IMR 4895 powder.

I believe in the old adage, “Never sacrifice accuracy for power.”

Bolt-action Rifles Fit Hunters of All Sizes

Bolt-action rifles are accurate, safe, easy to maintain, and come in a wide range of sizes, with varying length of pull (distance from butt stock to trigger), to fit any hunter’s frame, including youth, small-frame adults (women), and men.

Remington makes excellent hunting rifles — accurate right out of the box, well-built for lifetime of hunting and shooting, and affordable by today’s prices. Here’s a link to their current line of bolt-action rifles.

For more outdoors news and information, see Art Lander’s Outdoors on KyForward.

Readers of this column may remember that in 2014 I wrote about a makeover of my full-size Remington 700 BDL, chambered in 7mm-08.

I’m getting older and I hunt a lot from treestands, so I wanted a lighter, shorter rifle.

I had a gunsmith shorten, and re-crown the barrel of my rifle to 18 inches, from 24 inches, and replace the rifle’s wooden stock with a lighter, shorter after-market, synthetic stock.

After the makeover my rifle’s overall length was decreased by seven inches, from 43 1/2 inches to 36 1/2 inches, and its weight was cut by more than two pounds.

Compact Rifles are Fast Handling

Compact rifles are fast handling, ideal for hunting in the woods, and make a great choice for youth, smaller stature adults, and older hunters who want to lighten up their gear.

Remington’s Model Seven Compact Synthetic in 7mm-08 is a great alternative to a makeover of a full size rifle. The Model Seven Compact Synthetic has a synthetic stock, a carbon 18-1/2 inches long barrel, and an overall length of 36 1/4 inches. The MSRP price is $731.

A bolt-action rifle in 7mm-08 is a good choice for Kentucky deer hunters. A quality rifle will last a lifetime, and someday be a treasured heirloom to pass on the deer hunter in your family.

1Art Lander Jr.

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

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One Comment

  1. 7mm-08 is a very good caliber, highly reommended!

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