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GUNS Magazine February 2012 Digital Edition - Page 24
STORY: John Barsness Handloading the 7mm Remington Magnum. BiG seveN A ny hunter under 40 probably doesn’t realize what excitement the 7mm Remington Magnum created during the 1960s and ’70s. The cartridge was introduced in 1962, along with the “new” Remington Model 700 rifle, essentially a prettying-up of the very plain 722 and 721 rifles. The publicity from Remington (echoed by a bunch of gunwriters) claimed their new 7mm combined all the best features of every all-around big-game cartridge ever. It was as powerful as a .300 Magnum, yet shot as flat as a .270 Winchester and didn’t kick any harder than a .30-06. Oddly enough, the hype was close to correct, considering the published ballistics of the original factory ammunition, a 150-grain bullet at 3,260 fps and a 175-grain at 3,020 fps. The 7mm Remington Magnum immediately became the hottest-selling big-game round since World War II. My friend and fellow gun writer John Haviland worked in a lumber mill in Missoula, Mont., during the 1970s, and says every worker was issued “a hard hat and a 7mm Remington Magnum.” Recall all the excitement over the .300 Winchester Short Magnum a decade ago? Multiply that dozens of times and you’ll have some idea of the 7mm Remington Magnum phenomenon. Sales of .270 and .3006 rifles dipped noticeably, something that had never happened since the war, and the .280 Remington almost died. The “Big Seven” quickly became one of the world’s standard hunting cartridges, chambered by The Browning shot reasonably well with all bullet weights, but seemed to prefer 140- to 150-grain bullets. The 7mm Remington Magnum is suitable for about any non-dangerous game, and many hunters even prefer it for hunting big-bodied deer, like this eastern Montana buck taken by John’s old friend Pete Jackson. 24 every rifle manufacturer on earth. Close to a dozen other commercial and proprietary 7mm hunting rounds have appeared since 1962, yet some hunters still walk into gun shops and ask for a box of “Seven-em-em shells,” expecting to be handed a box of 7mm Remington Magnum ammunition. Unlike some other factory rounds introduced back then, the original factory velocities of the 7mm Remington Magnum weren’t too exaggerated. Or at least the velocity of the 175-grain load wasn’t, the load that backed up Remington’s claim their 7mm was as good as most .300 Magnums. The No. 6 Speer Manual, published in 1964, includes a table of factory loads chronographed at the Speer lab in “typical sporting rifles.” The rifle used to chronograph 7mm Remington Magnum loads was a Remington 700, and the 175-grain load got 2,990 fps, not too darn far from 3,020, especially when the rifle, for some reason, had a 23-1/2" barrel instead of the standard 24". (The 150-grain load didn’t do so well, only getting 3,135 fps.) The magic muzzle velocity of the 175-grain load was attributed to a new, proprietary IMR powder developed W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 2