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I like to write Part 1 installments because the are mostly non-live fire hardware checkouts in anticipation of a Part 2. I can pontificate, conceptualize, theorize and shovel out loads of conjecture to help the story grow. Unfortunately, for every Part 1 there is a corresponding Part 2, where I sometimes have to dine on humble pie… but not every time and not this time.

Let us begin with a comparison between the factory rating for the selected ammunition and the lie detector results as shown by our friend, the calibrated chronograph. Let’s go to the big board…

Ammunition Bullet
24″ BBL
16.5″ BBL
Δ 100 Yd
3 Shot
Remington Express 120 3000 2765 -235 0.9
Hornady Superformance 139 2950 2731 -219 1.1
Federal Fusion 140 2850 2694 -156 0.8
Remington Express 140 2860 2670 -190 1.2

 The SAAMI test barrel length standard for the 7mm-08 Remington is 24″. I’d say the lobbed off 7 1/2″ may explain the difference between factory ratings and recorded velocity and it is about the same predicted in Part 1.

Typically, the larger the bore, relative to case capacity, the lesser the velocity difference with barrel length changes. In the case of the 7mm-08 Rem, the Barrel Burner Index is very mild, and fps drop per 1″ of barrel length reduction ranges from only 20.8 to 31.3 and the cartridge is very easy on hardware.

The 7mm-08 Rem Cartridge

The 7mm-08 cartridge holds a unique niche. A bit of a hot rod, the 308 Winchester cartridge necked down to take a smaller 0.284″ bullet, not unlike the 260 Remington or the 243 Winchester and they all share a moderate maximum pressure of 60,191 psi and a near 55 grains of H2O case capacity.

The development tree was something like this: 308 Winchester 1952, 243 Winchester 1955, 260 Remington 1997, and 7mm-08 Remington 1980. All can be accommodated with short action rifles, all have good short and long range potential. Even the truncated Ruger Hawkeye Compact in 7mm-08 Rem can perform close in and it can get a skilled shooter out to 400+  yards for deer size game.

139 Grain Superformance – 267 Yards Point Blank Range
Yards 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500
Velocity – fps 2731 2620 2512 2406 2303 2203 2105 2010 1918 1828 1741
Energy – ft.-lbs. 2302 2118 1946 1786 1637 1497 1367 1247 1135 1031 935
Momentum – lbs-sec 1.68 1.61 1.54 1.48 1.42 1.35 1.29 1.24 1.18 1.12 1.07
Path – in. -1.5 1.3 2.8 2.9 1.5 -1.6 -6.4 -13.2 -22.1 -33.4 -47.3

There are currently thirty popular factory loads for the 7mm-08 Rem in bullet weights from 120 to 160 grains, appropriate for Americas medium to large thin skinned game. This places the round fourteenth on a list of one-hundred-ninety-seven commercially loaded cartridges. Considering the flexibility of 7mm cartridges, the bullet weight selection is relatively narrow.

Handloading the 7mm-08 Rem opens lots of possibilities. There are five producers of cartridge brass and there are one-hundred-five bullets to choose from, which places the 7mm third in bullet availability  on a list of 405 active rifle calibers. Component bullet weights range from 100 grains to 190 grains.

Shooting personality? I’m a fun guy. Oh, you mean the rifle

The Ruger Hawkeye Compact is a true compact, not just a rifle with a short barrel. The short pull makes it very fast to shoulder and the resulting offhand stance is comfortable and very steady in my old guys way of shooting; right elbow out, left under the forearm and perpendicular to the ground.  No plastic pistol grips sticking down or projecting magazines in the way. It is light even with the 3-9x-40mm Burris scope in place.

Recoil is modest. Muzzle blast? A bit of a bark, particularly with the higher velocity loads, but nothing compared to some of the more overbore cartridges I encounter. The action is slick; feed and eject, and the rifle remained cool even after a couple of magazines full. Ambient was 80°F and the barrel ahead of the receiver never climbed above 86°F when read with a Fluke infrared thermometer. Accuracy remained constant, no signs of scattering or stringing. Additionally, it’s a good looking rifle.

There is only one more feature I would like… OK, two more features I would like, recognizing that there are always more features I would like, it would be an adjustable trigger and metallic sights. The trigger is very smooth, creep free and with virtually no over travel, but I do like to tweak trigger pull until it is just right. Is that a necessary feature? No, not at all. The sights would be a really useful addition on a short barrel rifle that may be perfectly at home in the woods without a scope. Adding them as an aftermarket thought is not a casual endeavor. Again, not a big thing, but it would be nice.


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