The 7mm-08 Remington: Its Potential in the Henry Long Ranger Rifle
By Gary Zinn with Chuck Hawks
When Henry RAC (www.henryusa.com) introduced its Long Ranger rifle in the sporting rifles market, they initially offered this modern lever action rifle in the popular .223 Remington, .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester cartridges. This made good marketing sense, as these are the three most popular short action cartridges in the world, but we at Guns and Shooting Online immediately saw the potential for the Long Ranger to be chambered for other short action (specifically .308 Winchester length) cartridges.
Accordingly, we have explored the potential of the Long Ranger chambered in .257 Roberts, .260 Remington, .338 Federal and .358 Winchester. This article will focus on the 7mm-08 Remington in the Long Ranger, thus rounding out the additional short action commercial cartridges that would be most useful for hunting Class 2 or Class 3 game.
Performance of selected 7mm-08 loads
7mm-08 Rem. factory loads are currently offered in most major commercial ammo brands, with bullet weights ranging from 120 to 160 grains. The cartridge is also capable of handling bullet weights up to 175 grains, so we will include a heavy bullet handload in this performance summary, along with selected 120, 139, 150 and 160 grain factory loads.
Load specifications and external ballistics of these loads are summarized below. The +/- 3 inch maximum point blank range (MPBR) and zero distances are rounded to the nearest five yards. All muzzle velocity (MV) figures are adjusted/estimated for a 22 inch barrel, which we recommend for a 7mm-08 Henry Long Ranger rifle.
We normally use the Guns and Shooting Online Rifle Cartridge Killing Power Formula to calculate downrange Killing Power Scores (KPS values). The formula uses downrange impact energy, bullet sectional density and bullet cross-sectional area to calculate the killing power of hunting loads at any range desired. (The cross-sectional area of a 7mm/.284 inch diameter bullet is 0.0633 sq. in.) For a given load, the formula is:
KPS at y yards = (Impact Energy at y yards) x (sectional density x cross-sectional area), or simply:
Based on research and experience, Chuck considers a KPS of 12.5 the minimum score for any deer cartridge, while I prefer a 15 KPS minimum for Class 2 game. A KPS of around 32 is probably a reasonable figure for modern Class 3 game cartridges, although less powerful cartridges/loads have long been used successfully.
Federal factory load w/120 grain Fusion SPBT bullet: SD .213, MV 2960 fps, MPBR 280 yards (zero at 240 yards)
Hornady factory load w/139 grain I/L SP bullet: SD .246, MV 2800 fps, MPBR 270 yards (zero at 230 yards)
These are strong Medium Game/Class 2 loads, with 100 yard Hornady HITS scores of 686 (120 grain) and 878 (139 grain). Bullet types and sectional densities of the bullets are appropriate for Class 2 game. KPS values are more than adequate for Class 2 game out to the MPBR ranges of the loads.
Hornady factory load w/150 grain ELD-X bullet: SD .266, MV 2730 fps, MPBR 275 yards (zero at 235 yards)
Doubletap factory load w/160 grain Nosler AccuBond bullet: SD .283, MV 2610 fps, MPBR 260 yards (zero at 225 yards)
These are Large Game/Class 3 capable loads, with 100 yd. HITS scores of 1027 (150 grain) and 1108 (160 grain). Bullet types are suited for larger game. With strong downrange KPS values and high bullet sectional densities, these loads would be suitable for elk and similar sized game to 200 yards or more.
Reload w/175 grain Nosler Partition bullet: SD .310, MV 2515 fps, MPBR 250 yards (zero at 215 yards)
This load is from the Hodgdon Reloading Data Center, using 46.0 grains of IMR4350 powder. It generates a 100 yard HITS figure of 1275. The KPS values and very high bullet sectional density indicate that this is a Class 3 hammer load out to 250 yards.
The Henry Long Ranger Rifle
Guns and Shooting Online reviewed the original Henry Long Ranger Carbine (20 inch barrel) in .308 Winchester caliber and we liked it a lot. Here is how we summarized the merits of the rifle:
"The Long Ranger is an ideal woods rifle, as it has a fast, smooth, rack and pinion action with a six lug, front locking, rotary bolt. The action is suitable for both right and left handed shooters. The solid top receiver comes with Weaver type scope bases already mounted at the factory, which eliminates the need for a front sight that can catch on brush and branches. Detachable, steel sling swivel studs and a contoured, effective recoil pad are standard equipment."
"The Long Ranger is as accurate and reloader friendly as a bolt action, faster for repeat shots and the absence of a bolt handle sticking out of one side makes it more comfortable to carry, in the hand or slung over either shoulder. It balances between the hands and points naturally. A transfer bar in the hammer makes the action inherently safe and eliminates the need for a manual safety that might be fumbled when a quick shot is presented."
The Henry Long Ranger was initially offered with a carbine length 20 inch barrel. In our various articles about the Long Ranger we have suggested that a rifle version with a 22 inch barrel be offered in the higher velocity cartridges and this would include the 7mm-08. 22 inches is about the shortest barrel practical for high intensity cartridges without unacceptable velocity loss. (With rare exceptions, factory ballistics figures are for 24 inch barrels.)
A highly versatile cartridge and rifle combo
The 7mm-08 cartridge is arguably the most versatile of the cartridges for which the Long Ranger rifle is suited. (The versatility contest would be between the 7mm-08 and .308 Winchester.) A hunter could use 120 or 139-140 grain 7mm-08 loads for Class 2 game, such as deer and Pronghorn antelope, and then switch to loads with heavier bullets for hunting large Class 3 animals, such as elk and moose.
Further, a Long Ranger in 7mm-08 would be mild shooting, with very little sacrifice in range and terminal performance vis-a-vis comparable small bore cartridges. The 120 and 139 grain factory loads listed above would generate an estimated 12.5 and 14.1 ft. lbs. of recoil energy, respectively, in a field ready rifle weighing 8.5 pounds.
By comparison, a 130 grain, .270 Winchester load would generate about 17 ft. lbs. of recoil in a same weight rifle, 35 percent more than the 120 grain 7mm-08 load and 20 percent more than the 139 grain load. The .270 Winchester load would have a MPBR only 10 yards longer than the 120 grain 7mm-08 load and 20 yards longer than the 139 grain load. Any difference in downrange energy and killing power between the 7mm-08 and .270 loads would have no practical significance when hunting Class 2 game.
The 160 grain factory load listed above would generate 15.0 ft. lbs. of recoil, while the 175 grain hand load would have 16.8 ft.lbs. For comparison, the recoil generated by a 180 grain .308 Winchester load would be approximately 17 ft. lbs. The 7mm-08 and .308 loads would be very close in MPBR and downrange power.
Commercialized in 1980, the 7mm-08 Remington did not garner the hype lavished on many new cartridges. It flew under the radar for years, with a few rifles and loads offered and an occasional mention in the shooting and hunting media.
Eventually, shooters caught onto a good thing, so that now the 7mm-08 rates an honorable mention on the latest 10 Best Selling Centerfire Cartridges in the USA list, while the selection of commercial loads has expanded. The 7mm-08 cartridge is a proven performer and would be a worthy chambering in the Henry Long Ranger rifle.
Copyright 2017 by Gary Zinn and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.