The 8mm Remington Magnum
By Chuck Hawks
An anomaly in 1977 when it was introduced into a world of standard length magnum cartridges, the 8mm Remington Magnum is a full (.375 H&H) length magnum cartridge. This means it is restricted to use in single shot rifles, double rifles, and bolt action rifles with "magnum" length actions.
I think this cartridge might have been quite popular with European shooters, who are predisposed by the popularity of the 8x57JS and 8x68S to look favorably on 8mm cartridges, if it had been introduced back when the full-length .275 H&H, .300 H&H, and .375 H&H Magnums were in their heyday. But I have to wonder if there are enough hunters yearning for a high performance, magnum length action, .32 caliber rifle today to make the 8mm Magnum a commercial success.
The 8mm Magnum uses the same .323" diameter bullets as the 8x57JS. When it was introduced Remington explained that their new cartridge was intended to offer high energy and flat trajectory to long range shooters "without developing excessively uncomfortable recoil." As you can probably tell by the "excessively uncomfortable" wording, the cartridge shoots flat and hits hard at both ends.
As far as I have been able to determine, only A-Square and Remington load for the 8mm Mag. Remington factory loads were originally offered with 185 grain and 220 grain bullets, but both have been discontinued in favor of a single 200 grain offering. This is no great loss, however, as 200 grains is about the ideal all-around bullet weight for an 8mm Mag. cartridge. A-Square markets a single load with a 220 grain solid (non-expanding) bullet, which is a very specialized offering.
The current Remington Premier factory load drives the 200 grain Swift A-Frame PSP bullet (SD .274) at a MV of 2,900 fps with a ME of 3,734 ft. lbs. The figures for 200 yards are 2,361 fps and 2,476 ft. lbs.
The trajectory of this load in a scoped rifle zeroed at 200 yards, as shown in the 2002 Remington ballistics table, indicates that the bullet should hit +1.8" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -9.1" at 300 yards. From a rifle sighted this way the 8mm Mag is about a 275 yard deer cartridge. If the rifle were instead zeroed to hit 3" high at 100 yards, the effective range could be extended to 325+ yards. These are impressive figures, very similar to those for the popular .300 Magnums.
Handloaders have a wider variety of bullet weights from which to choose. Companies like Barnes, Hornady, Nosler, Sierra, and Speer all offer 8mm bullets for big game hunting. Commonly available are bullets of 150, 170, 200, and 220 grains.
According to Speer Reloading Manual No. 13 the 150 grain spitzer bullet can be driven to a MV of 3194 fps by 80.0 grains of IMR 4831 powder, and 3436 fps by 86.0 grains of IMR 4831. The 170 grain semi-spitzer can be driven at a MV of 2896 fps on top of 74.0 grains of IMR 4831, and 3114 over 80.0 grains of IMR 4831. The sleek 200 grain spitzer bullet can be driven at a MV of 2763 fps by 72.0 grains of IMR 4831, and to a MV of 2996 fps by 78.0 grains of IMR 4831.
While it would be valid criticism to point out that the 8mm Mag. does nothing that cannot be done by one of the .300 Magnums, it is also fair to say that the popular .300 Magnums do nothing that cannot be done by the 8mm Magnum. With the Remington factory load or proper handloads, the 8mm Mag. is suitable for all North American big game. The choice is really a matter of personal preference.
Bear in mind that .32 caliber (8mm) does not a medium bore make. The 8mm Rem. Mag. is competing with the .300 Magnums in the market place, which is a tough row to hoe. The .338 Winchester Magnum and .340 Weatherby Magnum, which are a true "mediums," are superior to either of the smaller bores for use on very heavy game.
This is may be why the Shooter's Bible shows no factory made rifles being produced in 8mm Rem. Mag. caliber. Never-the-less, for those who own or yearn to own an 8mm Rem. Mag. rifle, the Big 8 is a fine, hard hitting cartridge.
Copyright 2001, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.