The .308 Winchester has not only become one of the most popular rifle cartridges in the US, or the world for that matter, but it has also spawned many popular rifle cartridges as well. We’ve covered some derivatives of the .308, such as the .260 Remington and the .243 Winchester, in previous articles. Today it’s time to take a look at another one: the 7mm-08 Remington.
The 7mm-08 Remington was based on one of the first .308 Winchester wildcats, the 7mm/308. While 7mm bullets have never been the most popular in the US, the 7mm-08 was a natural choice, since the cartridges that competed against the .308 Winchester for adoption as NATO’s service rifle cartridge were originally of 7mm caliber. Those included the .280/30 British, for which the first FN FAL battle rifles were chambered. In fact, Venezuela even adopted a 7mm version of the FAL, chambered in 7x49mm Liviano.
Despite the many advantages of 7mm bullets, US ordnance officials disliked the idea of adopting foreign-designed rifles and foreign-developed ammunition. Suffering from “Not Invented Here” syndrome, they adopted the .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO cartridge along with the M14 rifle, neither of which were to serve the US military that long before being replaced by the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge and the M16 rifle.
Hunters and target shooters immediately saw the benefits of a 7mm .308-based cartridge, and the 7mm-08 was born. Performance of the 7mm-08 is quite close to that of .308 Winchester, with the cartridge being capable of pushing 140-grain bullets to over 3,000 feet per second and 175-grain bullets to nearly 2,700 feet per second with modern powders. That compares favorably to the .308, which pushes 150-grain bullets to 3,000 feet per second and 175-grain bullets to 2,750 feet per second. The 7mm-08 thus offers 2,800 to 2,900 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, close to both the .308 Winchester and the .30-06 Springfield.
Because of the higher ballistic coefficients of 7mm bullets, the 7mm-08 offers better ballistic performance than .308 Winchester, retaining more velocity and energy at distance while also dropping less. While the .260 Remington may be able to give the 7mm-08 a run for its money in that respect, the .260 Remington is unable to load the heavy 155- to 160-grain bullets that really shine in 6.5mm cartridges. Even some of the better 140-grain cartridges are too long to load to magazine length in the .260, giving the 7mm-08 an edge when it comes to heavy bullets. Those shooters looking to improve upon the long-range performance of the 7mm-08 have to look to newer cartridges such as the 6.5 Creedmoor.
Ammunition and components for 7mm-08 are readily available and easy to find just about anywhere. Loaded ammunition will generally run about 65-75 cents a round for the cheapest ammunition, a little more expensive than surplus 7.62x51mm ammunition, but comparable with .308 Winchester brass cased ammunition. For handloaders, 7mm-08 brass can even be formed from .308 Winchester brass with ease. And any rifle currently chambered in 7.62x51 or .308 can be rebarreled to fire 7mm-08, including the M14/M1A, G3, AR10/AR308, and FN FAL.
For those who already have a good stock of .308 rifles and ammunition, the 7mm-08 may not be worth the addition to their arsenal. But for those looking for a cartridge that offers better long-range performance than the .308 while still being readily available, the 7mm-08 could be worth a look.