From Rifleshooter magazine comes this even-handed look at the two “sevens”: the 7x57mm Mauser, and the 7mm-08 Rem. I’ve shot plenty of both, and agree with everything Scott Rupp says.
However, I’m always going to come down on the side of the 7×57, and those who know me will know quite well why. As Rupp summarizes:
- History, history, history
- Case taper produces excellent feeding
- Uniqueness counts
- Not a short action, not really a long action
- Can’t match the 7mm-08’s ballistics
- Ammo, gun availability are poor
Actually, the last is true only if you’re looking for new rifles (although Mauser, unsurprisingly, offers it in their M98 line, but it’s nosebleed-spendy).
If you don’t care about that “new” requirement — and for someone who loves the “history, history, history” thing it’s a feature, not a bug — there’s always the mil-surp market and its “re-stocked” tributary (like this example) which offer many choices. (I have a special affection for the Oviedo rifles, as I took my very first deer with one.) By the way, CZ used to offer the 7x57mm in its now-discontinued 550 line, so there’s always a chance you’ll find one in the second-hand market, if you’re alert — when one does occasionally appear for sale it disappears quickly, so clearly I’m not the only one who loves the old cartridge.
Then there’s the “customized” sector, exemplified by offerings such as this one at Steve Barnett:
Expect to pay a lot for a customized rifle at the hands of, say, Gary Goudy, but it’s all good. (I lie awake dreaming about this one, by the way: it’s a lottery rifle.)
Finally, unless you’re picky about such things, there’s nothing wrong with the old green-box Remington PSP 7×57 cartridge: it works well on any deer, as I can personally attest, and its only disadvantage is scarcity and therefore price. But it’s a hunting cartridge, so you’re not going to shoot off thousands of rounds anyway — although both Prvi Partizan (PPU) and Sellior & Bellot also offer it, usually for less than a buck per round. (Remington’s Pointed Soft Point is at least double that.)
As for the 7mm-08? I like it just fine — in fact, given my druthers, I’d choose this cartridge over the .308 Win — and as Rupp points out, new rifles chambered thusly are all over the place. The shorter action helps, and the recoil is very manageable. Here’s the Sako 101 Classic, for starters:
…which would make just about any gun-lover’s short list. And, of course, there’s the Savage 110 for the
cheapskate budget-conscious shooter:
…which I would be quite happy to take on any hunt.
My, how I do ramble on. Here’s the summary.
History vs. modern. The choice is yours, and neither is a bad one.