7mm vs. 7mm-08: What’s the Difference?

These two cartridges share many similarities, but their differences are enough to make them distinct choices for large-caliber hunting rifles. Both cartridges shoot 7m bullets (.284).

Both cartridges are available in various factory loads with different bullet weights. These rifle cartridges are popular with elk, bear, and other large North American game hunters.

The Commonalities and The Reasons for 7mm

Both cartridges shoot a 7mm bullet. Nominally, this is a .284 caliber round used in several other popular rifle cartridges.

There are some good reasons that the 7mm bullet has become popular with North American big game hunters.

Ballistics Characteristics of the 7mm

If you compare various 7mm bullets with other popular hunting cartridges, it is easy to see why the 7mm has risen in popularity over the past decades.

Overall, the 7mm bullet provides better ballistic characteristics than the .30-06 Springfield and those rifle rounds using the .308 caliber bullets.

The 7mm bullet offers better penetration when tested due to its smaller diameter. The 7mm bullet also has a flatter trajectory than the .308 cartridges of similar weight and loads.

The Differences Between 7mm Remington Mag and the 7mm-08 Remington

The basic differences between these popular cartridges are the case size and design. The case size difference is the foundation of the ballistic characteristics of these two cartridges.

Loads and bullet weight can vary and affect the ballistics, but the case size and design are the limiting factors on pressure dynamics that drive the bullet down the barrel.

The 7mm Remington Mag Case

The 7mm Remington Mag was introduced simultaneously as the Remington Model 700 bolt-action rifle. Remington derived the 7mm Remington mag from the .375 H&H Magnum cartridge.

It is a belted magnum cartridge, evidenced by the belt at the base of the cartridge case.

Case capacity is always a factor. The 7mm Remington mag case measures 5.31 ml (82-grains) of water capacity. Looking at the ballistics for a 7mm Remington Mag loaded with a popular 150-grain bullet, we find the following.

Range in YardsDrop in InchesVelocity in FPSEnergy in ft-lbs.
0-1.494431003200
50-0.26523002997
100-0.002229032806
150-0.771228082626
200-2.643227152455
250-5.695426232291
300-10.011123542138
350-15.681224461992
400–22.804223601855
450-31.468122761725
500-41.850521941603

It is easy to see that the 7mm Remington Mag is a relatively flat shooting cartridge out to about 300 yards. At 300 yards, the drop is only a little over 10 inches, and the bullet still delivers over 2000 ft-lbs. of energy on target.

The 7mmm-08 Case

As you might guess from the name, the 7mm-08 cartridge case is derived from the .308 Winchester case. The case is necked down and lengthened slightly.

However, the case capacity of the 7mm-08 is slightly less than the 7mm Remington Mag and is not a belted case design. This limits the pressures and loads that can safely be used in this cartridge case.

Looking at the ballistics achieved by a popular factory load for the 7mm-08 cartridge firing a 150-grain Federal bullet.

Range in YardsDrop in InchesVelocity in FPSEnergy in ft-lbs.
0-1.493126502339
50-0.0070025432154
100+0.007924381979
150-1.377023361817
200-4.355422371666
250-9.072121401525
300-15.689020451393
350-24.386219531270
400-35.364918631156
450-48.850017761050
500-65.09231692953

The 7mm-08 cartridge performs quite well out to about 250 yards. The drop for this 150-grain bullet at 250 yards is a little over 9 inches and delivers 1525 ft-lbs. of energy on the target.

Side to Side With the 7mm-08 and 7mm Remington Mag

As similar as these two cartridges look in a visual comparison, the data tells the real tale. The numbers are the benchmark I use to determine which cartridge best meets my hunting and shooting needs. There are several factors to consider when making such a choice.

Velocity

In the end, at least for me, speed is a critical factor. The smaller and lighter the bullet you are shooting requires more velocity to achieve the delivered energy to the target to make a clean and ethical kill.

As I compare these two cartridges, it is apparent that the 7mm Remington Mag delivers more energy from the same sized bullet at a greater distance. This becomes much more of a factor depending on the animal you are hunting and the distances you shoot.

For most deer hunting done in the US, either cartridge is effective at the distances more deer are taken. However, for elk, beer and caribou, greater distances can be expected, and the 7mm Remington Mag delivers better performance.

Delivered Energy

7mm Remington Mag vs. 7mm-08 Remington

Velocity plus several other variables yields delivered energy on target. Given the same bullet weight and distance, the bullet’s velocity is the major contributor to the delivered energy on target.

In the case of the 7mm Remington Mag, the higher velocities yield more delivered energy at a given range. This gives the 7mm Remington Mag the edge for delivering clean and ethical kills. 

Recoil

Recoil directly results from the energy imparted to the bullet sent downrange when a weapon is fired. Several factors influence the amount of felt recoil that any rifle imparts to your shoulder.

The mass and velocity of the bullet and the powder charge are the big contributors to recoil. Rifle weight can help mitigate recoil to a certain degree.

From my perspective, neither the 7mm Remington Mag nor the 7mm-08 deliver unmanageable recoil. In my opinion, the 7mm Remington Mag does impart more felt recoil, but it is not punishing, as are some other large calibers.

However, shooters with small frames may find the 7mm-08 Remington a more comfortable cartridge to shoot.

What Can I Effectively Hunt with These Cartridges?

The 7mm Remington Mag and the 7mm-08 are effective hunting cartridges for most big game on the North American continent.

The most popular game animal in the US is probably white-tail and mule deer. Either cartridge is more than adequate for hunting these mid-sized animals.

For larger game such as elk, black bear, and caribou, I suggest that either cartridge is adequate with a few considerations. For the 7mm-08 distances, I recommend that target distances be kept under 250 yards.

The 7mm Remington Mag can be stretched further but going much past 300 yards puts your shot into the gambling range.

There are bigger game animals in North America, including brown bears, grizzly bears, and moose. These are huge animals and potentially dangerous if confronted without a rifle sufficient to make a clean kill shot.

A skilled hunter might effectively use the 7mm Remington Mag on these animals, but I recommend against using the 7mm-08 in these kinds of hunts.

My Final Thoughts on the 7mm Remington Mag and the 7mm-08 Remington

These are both great cartridges. However, if I must pick one, I will almost always select the 7mm Remington Mag over the 7mm-08 Remington.

Most people believe that the recoil of the 7mm Remington Mag is over-powering.

I don’t believe this, and it is my opinion that the better ballistics of the 7mm Remington Mag more than compensates for the minor difference in recoil. Having that extra range and delivered energy is well worth a bit more felt recoil.

string(8) "big-game"
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