The 7mm Remington Magnum

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The 7mm Remington Magnum
by Wayne van Zwoll

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In 1962 Remington fielded a brand-new rifle. The Model 700 borrowed heavily from the 721/722 series, circa 1948. But it chambered a couple of new short magnum cartridges. One, the 7mm Remington Magnum, would enjoy quick and enduring popularity. The other, Winchester’s .264 Magnum, would fade away. Hulls were the same: the .300 H&H trimmed to 2.50 inches and given a 25-degree shoulder. Bullet diameter differed by just .020; but the .264, which predated the 7mm’s 1962 debut by three years, offered bullets only as heavy as 140 grains in factory loads. Winchester hawked the .264’s speed and oddly, blast. Remington tapped Wyoming outfitter Les Bowman for advice, then testimonial. He sung the deer-to-elk versatility of 150- and 175-grain bullets in the new 7mm, its great reach and manageable recoil. Readers soon came away thinking it hit like a .30 magnum, kicked like a .30-06. They weren’t far wrong.

The 7mm Remington Magnum was hardly the first hot 7. Holland and Holland announced its.275 Belted Rimless Magnum in 1912. In the 1940s, Roy Weatherby shortened the .300 H&H hull to produce a case similar to the later Remington’s. Then Richard F. Hart and firearms guru Philip B. Sharpe came up with the 7x61 Sharpe & Hart, based on an experimental 7mm French military round. Norma loaded the 7x61 S&H after its first chambering in 1953, in the Danish Shultz & Larsen rear-lug bolt rifle. Fashioned on the Holland case, the 2.40-inch 7x61 S&H has a sharp 44-degree shoulder. While this round once sold reasonably well in Canada, lack of American-made rifles and ammunition killed it Stateside.

Wildcat 7mms helped pave the way for the 7mm Remington Magnum. Warren Page, long-time shooting editor at Field & Stream, favored the powerful 7mm Mashburn. Post-war 1,000-yard Benchrest shooters adored the 7mm/.300 Weatherby, which differed only in minor details from the later 7mm STW.

The 7mm Remington Magnum rode high on brilliant advertising. It filled a hole in a nascent array of short belted magnums, hot on the heels of Norma’s fine .308 Magnum but with readily available ammo from Remington. Factory-loaded 150-grain bullets left the muzzle at 3,110 fps, 175s at 2,860. Later (and overdue!) came 140- and 160-grain softpoints. Standard rifling twists of 1-in-9 and 1-in-9 ½ stabilize that range of weights – and the 125-grain Kalahari bullet currently loaded by Norma USA.

Remington’s original 175-grain load made little sense to me, as it barely trumped frisky 180-grain options in a .30-06 and couldn’t touch 180s in the .308 Norma, or in the .300 Winchester Magnum hot on the 7mm’s heels. The 175’s long .284 shank stacks bore friction on a bullet already hard to accelerate for its great mass. A 175-grain VLD can make this 7mm a star at distance, but it crowds standard magazine boxes; and some VLD bullets are long enough to require sharper-than-normal spin.

“All good thoughts,” a Remington source conceded when I spilled these observations. “But we had a huge stock of 175-grain 7mm bullets.”
During the 1990s I took nation-wide surveys of elk hunters to determine preferences for rifles and loads. Only the .30-06 proved more popular than the 7mm Remington Magnum, and then by a whisker. No other cartridge came close. For hunting big game in the American West, it still shares top ranking with the ’06, and now the .300 Winchester. Full-length 7mm magnums – the 7mm STW and 7mm Ultra Mag – have failed to snatch any significant market share.

Arguably, the most useful bullets in the 7mm Magnum are 150 to 160 grains in weight. These can be driven at 3,000 fps, for very flat flight. Ballistic coefficients (given a sleek form) keep speed and energy high at distance. Sectional densities encourage deep penetration in big animals. Smack in the middle of this weight range is Norma’s superb 156-grain Oryx, a bonded bullet offered by Norma USA in factory loads. You can’t carry more effective ammo in elk country – or a more popular pick for big bulls than the 7mm Remington Magnum!
 
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