The 7x64 Brenneke and 7x65R

By Chuck Hawks


Wilhelm Brenneke designed these cartridges in 1917, during the First World War. Despite the horrific conflict raging in Europe and draining the manhood of an entire generation, he designed hunting cartridges, perhaps looking forward to a better time.

The 7x64 and 7x65R are both metric cartridges using standard 7mm (.284") diameter bullets. Both have a case capacity and basic performance similar to that of the .280 Remington. Both are popular in Europe and little known in North America, where the .270 Winchester (introduced in 1925) caught the shooting public's fancy and made other cartridges in the same general class superfluous.

7x64

The 7x64 is a modern appearing, rimless, bottleneck cartridge designed for use in bolt action magazine rifles. At a glance it could easily be mistaken for the .280 Remington.

7x64 dimensions are as follows: rim diameter .468", base diameter .463", shoulder diameter .422", shoulder angle 20.25 degrees, neck diameter .305", case length 2.51", and overall cartridge length 3.21". Bullet diameter is .284"

The 7x64 is popular in Europe, and European hunters take their 7x64 rifles to Africa for use on plains game. As with many European cartridges, relatively heavy bullets for the caliber seem to be favored for use in the 7x64.

The 7x64 is a versatile, all-around cartridge. A reasonable number of factory loads for the 7x64 are offered in North America, and a large selection of 7mm bullets are available to the reloader.

The 2006 Shooters Bible lists 7x64 factory loads from Federal, PMC, Remington, and Speer among U.S. ammo companies. In addition, Norma and Sako factory loads are imported into the U.S. from Europe, where the 7x64 is widely loaded.

Sako offers the lightest bullet in a factory load, a 120 grain pointed soft point bullet at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 3100 fps with 2567 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy (ME). The figures at 200 yards are 2545 fps and 1730 ft. lbs. Zero this bullet to hit 3" high at 100 yards and you should have a 300+ yard load suitable for the smaller species of deer and antelope.

Sako's other load uses a 170 grain Hammerhead bonded core bullet at a MV of 2790 fps with 2929 ft. lbs. of ME. The 200 yard figures are 2351 fps and 2081 ft. lbs. This should be a good 250+ yard load for large game, the trajectory of which is similar to that of the Norma 170 grain bullets (see below).

There are six Norma factory loads for the 7x64. One uses a 140 grain AccuBond bullet (MV 2953 fps), another uses a 154 grain soft point bullet (MV 2821 fps), a third uses a 156 grain Oryx bullet (MV 2789 fps), and three use 170 grain bullets (MV 2756 fps). Among the latter are a Plastic Point (resembles a Nosler Ballistic Tip), a Vulkan (resembles a Speer Mag-Tip), and an Oryx.

All three 170 grain loads offer similar ballistics, so I will use the figures for the Vulkan as representative. The ME of this bullet is 2868 ft. lbs. At 200 yards the velocity figure is 2259 fps and the energy figure is 1927 ft. lbs. Norma trajectory figures indicate that from a rifle zeroed at 200 yards the bullet should strike 2" high at 100 yards and 8.8" low at 300 yards. So sighted the 7x64 is a 250+ yard big game cartridge.

The Norma factory load with a 154 grain soft point bullet claims a ME of 2722 ft. lbs. At 200 yards the figures are 2399 fps and 1969 ft. lbs. Zero this load to hit 3" high at 100 yards from a scoped rifle and the bullet should cross the line of sight the second time at around 250 yards, giving the hunter about a 280 yard point blank range (where holding over is not required) on deer and antelope. This is should be a good general purpose load.

Federal offers a premium 160 grain Nosler Partition bullet at a MV of 2650 fps with 2495 ft. lbs. of ME. The 200 yard figures are 2310 fps and 1895 ft. lbs. Federal figures show the following trajectory: +2.1" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, -8.7" at 300 yards. This is a good load for large game animals.

Remington offers a 7x64 factory load using a 175 grain PSP Core-Lokt bullet at a MV of 2650 fps with 2728 ft. lbs. of ME. The 200 yard figures are 2248 fps and 1964 ft. lbs. Remington trajectory figures for this load are: +2.2" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -9.1" at 300 yards. Like the 170 grain Norma loads, this Remington offering should perform well on large game.

Speer loads two 7x64 factory loads, both with premium Grand Slam bullets. One load uses the 160 grain GS bullet, and the other the 175 grain GS. These bullets are designed for controlled expansion and high retained weight. The Speer loads have similar velocity, energy, and trajectory figures to the previously discussed Federal and Remington loads, and appear to be designed for use on large game.

The reloader with a 7x64 rifle can approximate all of these factory loads, and has access to a wider range of bullet weights than is offered in the factory loads. Of particular interest are the 139-145 grain bullets, which are an excellent choice in any 7mm rifle for long range shooting. Hornady reloading data suggests that 49.3 grains of IMR 4350 powder will drive a 139 grain bullet to a MV of 2600 fps, and 54.7 grains of IMR 4350 will give a MV of 3000 fps.

Take as an example the 139 Spire Point bullet at a MV of 2900 fps. Hornady ballistic tables for this bullet show a ME of 2595 ft. lbs. The trajectory would be as follows: +1.7" at 100 yards, +3" at 150 yards, +/- 0" at 200 yards, and -7.6" at 300 yards. This would seem to be an excellent choice for hunting CXP2 game with a 7x64 rifle.

Also according to Hornady reloading data, their 154 grain bullet can be driven to a MV of 2500 fps by 46.9 grains of IMR 4350 powder, and 2900 fps by 52.9 grains of IMR 4350. A Hornady Spire Point Interlock bullet at 2800 fps would have the following trajectory (Hornady figures): +1.9" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -8.3" at 300 yards. This should be a potent all-around load for a 7x64 rifle.

7x65R

The 7x65R is the rimmed equivalent of the 7x64 and owes its existence to the Germanic fascination with double rifles, combination guns and drillings. The only combination gun commonly seen in North America is the break-action Savage/Stevens Model 24, usually with a .22 rimfire rifle barrel over a .410 or 20 gauge shotgun barrel. In Europe such guns often combine a 16 gauge shotgun barrel and a 7x65R rifle barrel.

Drillings are break-action guns combining two shotgun barrels over a rifle barrel. In Europe a common configuration would be double 16 gauge shotgun barrels over a 7x65R rifle barrel. Break-action guns function best with rimmed cartridges, hence the necessity for a rimmed version of the 7x64 rimless cartridge. Break-action guns are not as strong as bolt action rifles, so the cartridges designed for use in such guns are usually loaded to somewhat lower pressure than their rimless equivalents.

True to its European nomenclature, the 7x65R uses a case 65mm long. 7x65R cartridge dimensions are as follows: rim diameter .521", base diameter .463", shoulder diameter .422", shoulder angle 20.25 degrees, neck diameter .308", case length 2.53", and overall cartridge length 3.21". Bullet diameter is .284". European brass normally uses Berdan primers.

Norma and Sako (plus RWS and probably other European ammunition companies) offer factory loaded ammunition for the 7x65R. The single Sako load available in the US offers a 170 grain Hammerhead bullet at a MV of 2625 fps and ME of 2594 ft. lbs. At 200 yards the figures are 2208 fps and 1836 ft. lbs. The Sako trajectory figures show that from a rifle zeroed at 200 yards the bullet will strike 2.3" high at 100 yards and 9.4" low at 300 yards.

In the US, Norma offers five factory loads for the 7x65R. These include a 150 grain FMJ bullet (MV 2756 fps), 156 grain Oryx bullet (MV 2723 fps), and three 170 grain bullets (MV 2625-2657 fps). The latter include Plastic Point, Vulkan, and Oryx designs. The ballistics of all three 170 grain loads are similar, so I will detail only the Vulkan load. That has a MV of 2657 fps and ME of 2666 ft. lbs. The 200 yard figures are 2143 fps and 1734 ft. lbs. The Norma trajectory figures show that from a rifle zeroed at 200 yards the bullet will hit 2.3" high at 100 yards, and 9.9" low at 300 yards.

The sixth edition of the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading covers the 7x65R. To more or less duplicate the Norma factory load, the 154 grain Hornady bullets could be loaded to a MV of 2700 fps in front of 52.2 grains of IMR 4831 powder. The ME at that velocity would be 2492 ft. lbs. According to Hornady trajectory tables, the trajectory of their 154 grain Spire Point bullet would look like this: +2" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -8.6" at 300 yards.

The Hornady Handbook shows that their 175 grain bullets can be driven at a MV of 2600 fps by 51.7 grains of IMR 4831 powder, which comes close to duplicating the Norma factory loads using 170 grain bullets. The ME at that velocity would be 2626 ft. lbs. and the trajectory of their Spire Point bullet would look like this: +2.2" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -9.2" at 300 yards.

Clearly, with these loads the 7x65R is a 250+ yard big game cartridge. It should be fine for European red stag, alg and other game animals of similar size, including North American deer, caribou and elk.




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Copyright 2002 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.


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