With the sheer number of different cartridges that have been created over the years, there’s bound to be overlap, or even cartridges that are nearly identical to each other. Take the case of the 7.65x53mm Mauser and the 7.62x51mm NATO, two cartridges nearly identical in size and performance but separated by over half a century.
Another pair that are even more similar are the 7x64mm Brenneke and the .280 Remington. Both are 7mm cartridges based on .30-caliber class cartridges. The .280 Remington, which we’ve covered before, is based on a necked-down .30-06 cartridge. The 7×64, on the other hand, came about through Wilhelm Brenneke’s experimentation with lengthening the 8x57mm Mauser cartridge case.
Brenneke’s first attempt, the 8x64mm Mauser, was more or less a commercial flop. But the 7x64mm, by offering more velocity and power than the 7x57mm Mauser, became an instant hit. Brenneke even designed a rimmed version, the 7x65mmR Brenneke, which became a popular cartridge in single-shot hunting rifles, double rifles, and drillings.
The 7×64 is essentially the .270 Winchester of Europe and is probably the most popular 7mm cartridge available throughout Europe. For those countries in which military cartridges such as the 7mm Mauser are banned, the 7×64 provides the opportunity to take medium and large game with a powerful yet still moderately recoiling rifle. Having been developed in 1917, it really makes you wonder why Remington decided to try to reinvent the wheel in 1957 with the .280 Remington.
The 7x64mm Brenneke is nearly exactly dimensionally identical to the .280 Remington. Its case is only .020” shorter, and its shoulder is .020” further back. Neck length is identical, and the Brenneke is .016” narrower at the shoulder. Looking at the cartridge drawings, a 7×64 would likely chamber in a .280 Remington chamber, but not vice versa.
Because of its metric designation, the 7×64 has never been a popular cartridge in the US. Recent imports, however, have brought more 7x64mm-chambered firearms to our shores, such as the Zastava M70 Mauser rifles. Brass for reloading has been available from Norma, RWS, and others in the past, while Speer, Lapua, and Prvi Partizan appear to be the only sources available right now.
Expect to pay nearly a dollar apiece for brass, which really doesn’t make sense when you can find loaded ammo for a dollar a round. Most ammunition for the 7×64 will feature 173- to 175-grain bullets traveling at around 2,800 feet per second, giving about 3,000 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. That makes the cartridge capable of taking just about any game in North America. With proper bullet selection, the 7×64 would make an excellent hunting cartridge for Africa too.
The major downside to the 7×64 is the sporadic availability of ammunition and components, since most manufacturers are based in Europe. While the 7×64 would certainly be a capable hunting cartridge in a survival situation, unless you’re tooled up to reload your own ammo and build up a nice stash, you might want to stick to a caliber that will be more readily available during a survival scenario.