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7x57 versus 7-08

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by 1948CJ2A, May 4, 2012.

  1. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Well-Known Member

    I've seen this debate come up time and time again so I thought I would offer up some interesting information I recently came across. First, here is some background on my experience with both.

    I built my first deer rifle circa 1993-1994 on a German M98 mauser. It was originally chambered in 8x57. We decided to re-barrel and re-chamber to 7x57, as this was a better deer cartridge in our minds. The rifle turned out great and I shot my first deer with it that fall.

    At around the same time, a neighbor down the street who was my age was also getting into deer hunting. His dad bought him a Remington 700 BDL 7mm-08. That's the point where the debate (for us) began. We would always argue back and forth as to which cartridge was faster, flatter, and just outright better than the other. He would always point to his Remington Ammo factory ballistics charts, which clearly showed the 7mm-08 to have higher velocities. I would then turn around and reference my Hornady reloading manual and argue otherwise.

    Fast forward to present. I don't talk with that guy much anymore these days but the debate still persists within hunting camps today. One thing that seems to have noticeably changed since the mid 90's is the reloading data. With each new reloading edition (regardless of brand) the ballistics data typically shows a retreat in velocities, especially when examining the 7x57. I started to look deeper into this.

    Briefly, lets look at the history of both rounds. The 7x57 dates back to the late 1800's (1892 to be exact). The first rifles built for the 7x57 were pre-98 Mausers such as the original 1893 (M93) Spanish Mauser. The 7-08 was originally wild-catted in 1958, known then as the 7mm/308 (as this cartridge is simply a 308 Win. necked down from .308 to .284). In 1980 Remington decided to stamp their name on it and make it a factory offering in their 700 rifles.

    If you look up the SAAMI cartridge dimensions for both rounds, you'll immediately notice that the 7-08 is 1/5 of an inch shorter. This allows the rifle manufacturer to chamber a 7-08 using a short action. The 7x57 on the other hand requires a standard long action (or intermediate on some actions). The end result is more cartridge capacity for the 7x57, which in turn yields more velocity right? Not according to the reloading manuals or factory ammo data. Why is this? The answer is pressure tolerances.

    According to SAAMI, they list the max pressure limit for the 7x57 Mauser at 51,000 PSI. For the 7mm-08 Remington, the max pressure limit is listed at 61,000 PSI. That's a full 10,000 PSI difference. Why is this? Well the answer is debatable but most attribute it to the attorneys for the ammo and handloading companies. They don't want to make ammo or publish ballistics data that could cause a shooter to "blow-up" a firearm component resulting in civil suit. I'll buy this explanation to some degree as it makes sense, especially when considering the age of the 7x57 versus the 7-08. Still, I tend to believe that firearms manufacturers these days love to cut costs. Just look at the number of plastic stocks and short actions today. They dominate the market. It costs less for the manufacturers to mass produce a rifle chambered in 7-08 compared to a rifle chambered in 7x57.

    At the end of the day, both of these cartridges are excellent whitetail rounds. They both produce mild recoil and both are terrific cartridges to handload. But that's really where the similarities end. If you really want to know which one is faster and has more energy, go out and put both on a chrony using handloads and you'll see the difference. The 7x57 wins out when you use load data that hasn't been "gimped" down. Just be sure you're using a modern rifle.

    End Rant :)

    Attached Files:

  2. firesky101

    firesky101 Well-Known Member

    yup, not a whole lot of terminal difference.
  3. GCBurner

    GCBurner Well-Known Member

    The manuals tend to load the 7x57 Mauser light, due to the huge number of older guns chambered for it that weren't proofed for high pressure loads, like the Remington Rolling Block and the pre-98 Mausers. Fortunately, it works just fine at moderate pressures and velocities, which makes it cheaper to reload for, and easier on the recoil.
  4. ritepath

    ritepath Well-Known Member

    7x57 wasn't offered in a youth single shot rifle for my 7yo son. However.com this past fall he found out the 7mm08 did a fine job on whitetail.

    Remington doesn't even offer the 7x57 in their hunting AR platform.:scrutiny:
  5. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Well-Known Member

    I don't think Remington has chambered the 7x57 (excluding their custom shop) since the 700 Classic was chambered in it back in 1981. Somebody else here correct me if I'm wrong there. Why would they want to chamber it since it would directly compete with their proprietary 7-08?

    As for the AR, I'm not aware of any long action cartridges chambered in such a configuration.
  6. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    Some of those early 7x57 Mausers were single-lug bolts. Those are said to be limited to chamber pressures of 40,000 psi. SFAIK, factory 7x57 ammo is/was/used to be limited to 40,000. Dunno about now.

    When handloaded to equal pressures, the 7x57 could easily equal or maybe even exceed the muzzle velocity of the 7mm08.
  7. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Well-Known Member

    My first center-fire smokeless rifle was a 1935 Mauser in 7x57mm. It was a cav carbine in full military trim. But the chamber was a touch over-sized and after I took a hand-loading class in 10th grade, I decided that I needed an accurate 7x57mm Mauser rifle. So I re-barreled it with a Douglas 7mm barrel blank which we chamber reamed to a nice tight match grade chamber. Then I bough a stock blank from the old Herters catalog and commenced to carving...

    I stated out using the PO Ackley manuals and a book by one of the old African hunters who liked 7x57mm. So my loads used to be hot as heck until recently when I backed them off.

    It only has a 20 inch barrel with a #5 taper. But it still shoots nice groups after 45 years of use.

    I like the long neck of the 7x57mm.

    Attached Files:

  8. chas3stix

    chas3stix Active Member

    It's similar to why there are three different and separate loading tables for the .45-70.
    The ammo manufacturers want to limit their responsibility if Joe Sixpack loads rounds meant for Ruger #1's and fires them in an 1870's vintage trapdoor Springfield. Yes, I've noticed that the latest reloading manuals "load down" their recipes compared to those of 10 to 20 years ago.
  9. 303tom

    303tom member

    The only difference being the 7x57 will shoot a little heavier bullet that`s all....................
  10. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    So what about the fact that deer have been taken down by everything from .357 handguns and .204 rifle rounds up to 45-120 and even .45 and up round ball pushed by common black powder?

    Sort of makes arguing between two rounds as close to each other as these a bit nonsensical, no? Although I can think of worse things for a topic of discussion around a hunt camp fire.....
  11. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Well-Known Member

    FloatPilot - I agree the long neck is great for reloading. You can really make use of increased case capacity especially when seating the bullets a good bit out.

    Nice rifle!

    Not so much.

    Sure whitetail may have been taken by a wide range of options there but are those rounds you named ideal? Not where I hunt.
  12. highlander 5

    highlander 5 Well-Known Member

    I don't own a 7mm 08 but I do own a 700 in 308 and the action is the same as for a 30'06,they just put in a filler strip to make up for the shorter cartridge so action length is moot.
  13. Boxhead

    Boxhead Well-Known Member

    As stated, six of one, a half dozen of another. A 140 gr AB worked fine on this oryx and will head to Africa next month for kudu, wildebeast and the like in front of my 13 year old son's shoulder. No worries here.

  14. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Well-Known Member

    The difference in case capacity is nearly nil. Actual net difference is about 3-4% with that even varying between make and lot# of cases.
    Actual difference if everything else is equal, (it never is) is 30-40fps in favor of the 7x57.

    However, individual differences between barrels, chambers, and even range conditions make such a small difference insignificant.

    I've owned both and currently I have a Rem. Mod-7 in 7mm08. I got it orginally to rebarrel/rechamber to .284wcf, but after chronographing some factory ammo decided that the small/possible difference wasn't worth the cost/effort.
    I easily get 2,900fps with a 140gr bullet from a 20"bbl and have seen individual shots go over 3,000fps with safe pressures and decent accuracy.
    My rifle prefers 150gr bullets and I get 2,8xx fps with 45.0gr of RL17.
    An argument between the cartridges is meaningless/pointless. If I was rebarreling a M98 action or similar such, I'd do it with a 7x57chamber. If a short action such as M700 or Mod7, ect. I'd do the 7mm08 and worry more over which bullet to use...... Stocks, ect.

    They really are two "peas in a pod"....
  15. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Well-Known Member

    Action length is moot? The 308 and it's children (243 Win, 260 Rem, 7-08, & 358 Win) is a short action cartridge plain and simple. The 30-06 (and 7x57) is a long action cartridge. The longer the cartridge, the more case capacity, which in turn yields higher velocities and energy.

    My entire point of this thread is to educate those who simply pick up a factory ballistics table or reloading manual and brush off the 7x57 either as the 7-08's equal or inferior, neither of which are correct assumptions. I'm not trying to put down the 7-08 (or any in the 308 family) as a bad round. It is a nice short action alternative to the longer 7x57 or 7 magnums.
  16. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    There is nothing wrong with a 7 X57 and in modern actions it will exceed anything a 7mm-08 can do in terms of velocity.

    It is my recollection that the 7mm-08 started out in steel silhouette competition back in the 70’s or 80’s. If you had to shoot a rifle offhand, you wanted something with a good trigger, quick lock time, lots of accessories, and a short action M700 made sense. If you wanted less recoil than a 308 and more lead on target than a 6.5, a wild cat 7mm made sense.

    But in a hunting rifle, the examination of alternatives stack the priorities differently.

    As for accuracy, I have a bud, who is now a F Class National Champ, he was winning matches with a 7mm Mauser in across the course matches. Then Sierra changed the ballistic coefficient (down) on their 168 SMK’s and he lost all confidence in the cartridge.

    I remember Mitch Maxberry won a Camp Perry National Championship with the 7mm-08 but a couple of years later, as he told me “I know the 6.5’s are shooting inside me”. I don’t know what it is doing with Berger bullets, it still may be a viable target cartridge.

    As for pressures, because of the strict liability laws in the US, manufacturer’s have to take into account all those pre WW1 7mm rifles out there. There are all sorts of M1892’s, M1895’s, M1910’s, floating around and being shot. The load for a M1892 Spanish was a 174 grain bullet at 2200 fps, and I think that was a 29” barrel. These rifles were made out of steel that today is so cheap and crude that it is used for rebar. Period ammunition was loaded to lower pressures than modern, anyone selling 60K psia ammunition is risking a real lawsuit if their ammunition is fired in one of those antiques.

    Rifle Magazine Issue 159 May 1995 Dear Editor pg 10

    Author Ludwig Olsen

  17. Bwana John

    Bwana John Well-Known Member

    I have a Remington 700 Mountain Rifle in 7mm x 57mm Mauser that was bought new in ~1991.
  18. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Well-Known Member

    Good input from all the contributors in this thread. However, I still refuse to write off both as being close enough for it not to matter. It should be noted though that I'm writing this from the perspective of someone who has a bunch of rifles. If you were just picking one rifle and your choices were between these two rounds, both would be great choices.

    Since the Mauser is 1/5" longer than the 7-08, I would think the displacement/capacity would be greater than 3-4%. I don't have a 7-08 in my garage to test but will definitely add this to my "to-do" list someday.

    To me, this argument is very similar to the 6mm versus 243. The 6mm Rem is a ballistically superior cartridge to the 243. Same goes for the 7x57.

    Cool rifle! Thanks for sharing.
    Last edited: May 6, 2012
  19. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Well-Known Member

    I just saw this post on another thread and thought I would share it. This is exactly why I wrote this thread. People out there actually believe this:

    400 FPS slower than the 7-08? Blasphemy!
  20. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Well-Known Member

    The 7mm-08 and 7x57 loaded to like pressures are as different as the 243 and 6mm Rem., the 260 Rem. and the 6.5x57. etc.
    I've never owned a 7mm-08, but have owned and loaded for two different 7x57's for nigh on 30 years. What I have noticed with regards to loading data for the 7-08 and the modern 7x57 is that the former somewhat loses ground to the latter when bullet weigh exceeds 150 grs., much as the 308 loses to the '06 with heavier bullets.
    One other advantage the 7x57 has over the 7-08 that is rarely mentioned is this:
    7x57's are mostly barreled to long actions and 7x57 chambers typically have long throats due to the original 173 gr. loading. This long throat coupled with the long magazine means bullets, especially heavier examples, can be seated further out of the case which of course increases useable case capacity which in turn increases velocity potential.
    One of my 7x57's is a sporterized Venezualian '98 Mauser and its chamber has a looong throat.


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