7mm Mauser vs. 8mm Mauser vs. .303 British


August 3, 2003, 09:11 PM
What are the relative merits and shortcomings of these three calibers.

I have heard that 8mm Mauser has a lot of recoil, and that .303 British isn't much different. So what about 7mm Mauser, it doesn't seem so common as the 8mm fodder, is it more shootable or is it only chambered in older guns.

I'm thinking of getting into a Milsurp, and I would ideally like a softer shooting round in a gun that has a safe, solid, action.

Thanks for any advice.

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August 3, 2003, 09:43 PM
My response is limited, as I have experience with only one of the listed calibers.

I have an old Enfield No4Mk1, and I can best describe the recoil as similar to that of a .270. It really is not bad at all, comfrtable enough to shoot all day long without a problem. The standard sights are adequate for hunting deer or the like. I have not ever used it on game, but the man I bought it from said he used it for years with good result. I really only play with it occasionally, its kinda neat to shoot a piece of history you know?

August 3, 2003, 09:49 PM
The 8mm is very simular to the 30.06 . Not something that I want to shoot all day, but not bad either.

August 3, 2003, 10:09 PM
Standard (European loaded) 8x57JS is equal to .30-06 on the hot side. The biggest advantage is that the 8x57 can cope better with larger 200 and 220 grain bullets, possibly due to the twist rates used in the rifles. I've never found the recoil out of a 9lb Mauser too bad, but it does get a bit intense in lighter rifles. I had a little Iranian carbine for a while that beat the crap out of me.

7x57 another early Mauser cartridge, and IMHO represents the golden mean of rifle cartridges. Very low recoil, very impressive ballistics, and bullets able to handle everything from squirrel to elephants. It was rejected by most European militaries, but the South Americans kept using it until recent times.

The .303 is a more primitive cartridge with the same rimmed, sloped neck design found in the 7.62x54R, .30-30, and others of the late black powder and early smokeless era. It does good work, though the rim presents the same problems rims always present as far as feeding. On paper, its power is about equal to the 7x57, but its bullets (.312") are harder to find and don't offer the same golden mean as the 7mm's. Recoil from an SMLE is not bad at all.

August 3, 2003, 10:38 PM
7mm Mauser and .303 British rounds entered the battlefield in relatively low-pressure actions, to include the small-ring, 2-lug Mausers, and the rear-locking Lee-Enfield in all it's variations. The large-ring 98 Mauser was a beefed-up improvement to the earlier Mauser actions, and the 8x57, originally introduced in the .318" Commission Rifle (aka 88 Mauser) was upped in pressure accordingly.

For a quick comparison, look at these limits in Copper Units of Pressure:

7x57 Mauser: 46,000 CUP
.303 British: 45,000 CUP
8x57 Mauser: 37,000 CUP (SAAMI, artificially limited for commercial liability)
8x57 Mauser: 50,000 CUP (As loaded in Europe, commercial and military)

See the difference? Matter of fact, the European pressure limit for the 8x57mm Mauser is approximately 97% of the loading limit for the .30-06. (Accurate Arms Loading Guide #1) It's a thumper, but only when loaded in it's original pressures and velocities. Federal, Winchester, and Remington domestic loads are little better than the .30-30 Winchester, and could probably be best described as 8x57mm - P -, or Low Recoil loads, in the current vernacular. ;)

August 3, 2003, 10:40 PM
I can't help much with the .303, but I have some experience with the other two.

The 8X57 is a hard-hitting round at shorter ranges, say under 400 yds. After that, it starts to drop off the edge of the world. It has some serious recoil too._ There's plenty of good milsurp ammo available.

The 7X57 has better ballistics at longer ranges and doesn't beat your shoulder up as badly. Milsurp isn't very plentiful but it can be found.

If I were going to build another rifle, I'd probably go with the 7mm over an 8mm. It's just more pleasant to shoot and there's a better selection of bullets for reloading.

Byron Quick
August 3, 2003, 10:47 PM
.303 ain't bad in a stock fullsized Enfield. I have no experience with the cutdown models.

8mm ain't bad in a stock Mauser. I've never shot it out of a sporterized Mauser.

I once thought the recoil of these guns was stiff. Then I started shooting rifles that had heavier recoil. .300 Win Mag. 7mm Mag. .458 Win Mag.

I find that I handle the recoil of .30-'06, .303, 8mm, and such much more easily today.

Jim Watson
August 4, 2003, 12:01 AM
How about a nice little 6.5x55 Swede?
Less kick, more accurate; the ones I have seen in use.

Art Eatman
August 4, 2003, 12:12 AM
A modern bolt action rifle in 7x57 can be loaded to its potential, which then makes it probably the best of the three cartridges. Far more choices of bullet than either the .270 or the 8mm.


Dave Markowitz
August 4, 2003, 08:18 AM
Recoil of the .303 Mk VII (174 grain @ 2440 fps) in a SMLE or No.4 is not bad. Shooting the same load in a No.5 Jungle Carbine is not fun, however. This is due to the poor stock design (specifically the buttplate) on the No.5 even more than the lighter weight.

Recoild of the 8mm depends if you are shooting S-Ball (154 grains) or sS-Ball (196 grains). In my VZ-24 the S-Ball isn't bad. sS-Ball bangs you quite a bit more.

I've only shot 7mm in a Winchester Model 70 Featherweight. The 7mm's recoil is similar to a 6.5x55, which is to say, not bad at all.

My dream rifle is a left handed No.4 Mk.I in 7x57. :-)

August 4, 2003, 02:01 PM
I would definitely be interested in the 6.5 Swede, but Milsurps in this caliber don't seem to be so common.

Similarly the 7mm Mauser looks to be a great round but I'm not seeing a lot of good rifles in this caliber either, the ones I do see are more like antiques which makes me a little nervous about shooting them. Everything seems to be 8mm Mauser, .303, or 30-06 - maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places.

I'm going to press on and look for a good 6.5mm or the 7mm based on your recommendations.

Thanks guys

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