Regarding rifles, I have an affinity toward the 7mm calibers, and this one would be my choice in a short-action round - I’d like to hear from you reloaders who have used 160-grain or even heavier bullets for hunting - Barnes and Nosler bullets, especially.
I’m a huge fan of the 7mm-08 and my all time favorite hunting gun is my Kimber 84 Classic with a Kahles 2-7 scope. It is by far the lightest gun I own and one of the most accurate and versatile rifles I own too. I have never loaded anything that heavy for the round. Everything I have killed, and there has been a LOT with that rifle, has been DRT with 139gr bullets. Light recoil and gets the job done every time.
As @Enzo_T has indicated, its a great round. That said, since it is a short action round (.308 necked down to 7mm) it really isn’t designed for the heavier bullets as they seat deeper in the case to function through the magazine and it starts taking up valuable powder space. It really hits its stride around 140 grains, much lighter you start loosing sectional density, much heavier (or pure copper bullets, sorry, the proper name got flagged) starts taking up powder space and performance will suffer. This is the trade-off of a short action action. If you want a short action, depending on what rifle you are looking at, you can look for a 7mm WSM (Winchester short mag) which will give you better performance still (at the cost of more expensive rifle, ammo, noise, recoil, etc.). You will still have the same issues with heavier bullets infringing on the powder space, but you will still have better performance than the 7mm-08 with the heavier bullets. It just starts loosing ground very rapidly with the long action 7mm’s who’s performance it was designed to replicate.
All that said, my advice is that if you really want to shoot the heavier 7mm bullets, and trust me, I get it, a heavy 7mm has a lot going for it and is a great caliber, then take a look at one of the long action 7mm’s. My $0.02 and my opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it.
My first choice in a 7mm is the .280 Ackley Improved - I did a back-flip when Nosler took it to SAAMI and had it standardized - RCBS had been making dies for it for decades.
I started all of my sons on a TC Encore 7mm08.
Great round-- a little less recoil than a .308, and very accurate.
My youngest (when he was 18) dropped a muley at 396m with his Tikka in 7mm 08.
One of the reasons I love the 7mm-08 is that you can pretty much take care of anything in NA with 140 class bullets with super mild mannered recoil in my LIGHT rifles. My Kimber is pretty much a feather and and absolute pleasure to carry in the field, especially mountains and hilly terrain.
I have a lot of friends that are experienced hunters and use the 7mm-08 very successfully for game up to elk and even moose. One of my friends just sent me a picture of a NICE cow Elk he just flattened with Federal Premium Trophy Bonded 140 gr ammo. She was DRT. That’s why I have never felt the need to play with the heavier projectiles for my pet rifles in that chambering. If I need more that 140 grains I have other rifles/chamberings that are more appropriate for the task in my mind. I have a 7.5lb light Custom Remington 700 in .35 Whelen that would pound a buffalo or brown bear into the ground
I forgot about cases with short necks - I think that Winchester did the deed when they modified the .300 Savage case for their .308. If I haven’t said this before, my first choice now is the .280 Improved Ackley in a 7mm - when Nosler took it to SAAMI to have it standardized, I almost did a sitting back-flip - RCBS was one of the few companies that made dies for it when it was a wildcat. I’m looking for more factory loads now that Savage has a rifle for it, and I’m hoping for a Winchester Model 70 in the next few years.
140 seems awful light for game bigger than whitetails - your friend must’ve been absolutely dead-on when he tuned up before the season opened up.
Yes. He is a young man that has been hunting since his early years under the tutelage of many seasoned hunters/shooters that have taken him under their wings and he is wise and proficient beyond his years.
In any case, with modern properly constructed bullets the concern for “weight” or perceived advantage it brings goes away within reason. He, as most of my friends, is an accomplished hunter and shooter and like ALL my friends and I, we make sure we are absolutely “dead-on” when we tune-up and hunt or we don’t take the shot. I have friends out west that are old hands at Elk hunting and routinely go after them with .243s and do not fail to bring one home.
We also conduct shooting experiments with live game and look to break myths. We are fortunate that a few of us have extensive legal access to game animals and can do so. One of my buddies has killed probably hundreds of feral hogs with everything from 9mm SD pistol ammo on up and conducted autopsies to see/compare bullet performance and results. We’ve had a lot of experiences and results that run agains “common knowledge” myths from those activities for sure. And they are nowhere near as bullet proof or tough to kill as many make them out to be.
As with many hunting chamberings, many folks have pre-conceived notions of “minimums” when it comes to caliber, bullets/grains, etc. when in reality hunter capabilities, bullet construction and placement are the real key to clean kills. I’ve taken deer using 45gr hollow point .223s (varmint bullet) because the opportunity presented itself and that’s what was in my hands because I was coyote hunting.
One of my best friends years ago suffered a ton of ribbing during a hunting trip for Bison out west where the rest of the hunters in the group were armed with .338 Magnums and bigger chambered rifles and he showed up with a milsurp 1903 and 30-06 ball ammo. The rest of the guys all took multiple shots to bring down their big bulls. My buddy squared off and put a shot in the brain of a huge bull which went down on the spot when his legs buckled. Hunter capabilities and knowledge won the day, as they usually do.