Record Quest Blog Posts
July 13, 2012
Mule Deer Cartridges: The 7mms - 5
by John B. Snow
If forced to pick one caliber of bullets to use for mule deer, I’d have to give the nod to the 7mms.
While I’ve used everything from quarter-bores up to .338s on mulies with excellent results, the family of 7mm cartridges brings a combination of accuracy, killing power and long-range effectiveness that is hard to top.
The classic 7mm for hunting the West is the 7mm Rem. Mag. Now in it’s 51st year, the 7mm Rem. Mag. is still the standard by which other 7mms are judged. It shoots flat, hits hard and has a sleek, sexy profile that speaks to its speed.
I used a 7mm Rem. Mag. last fall on a Colorado mule deer hunt, shooting the 150-grain Swift Scirocco, which zips out of the muzzle at a brisk 3,110 fps. The shot, at just under 300 yards, was not a tough one for the 7mm Rem. Mag. and the 180-class buck wouldn’t have dropped any faster if he had been hit by a piano.
The 7mm Rem. Mag. enjoys the company of numerous speedy cousins, such as the 7mm Wby. Mag., the 7mm WSM, and the 7mm STW—capable cartridges all and each able to deliver killing shots at long range.
Stepping down a notch, the .280 Rem. launches a 140-grain bullet at 3,000 fps and will take a mule deer past 400 yards if you’re comfortable with that shot.
Even the 7mm-08 Rem., which delivers a 140-grain bullet at 2,850 fps will kill mule deer at anything short of extreme range, assuming the rifle being used is capable of sufficient accuracy.
There’s nothing magic about the 7mm bullets, but they do hit a ballistic sweet spot that makes them so effective. Typical 7mm hunting bullets range in weight from 120 to 150 grains, have high ballistic coefficients and good sectional densities. This gives them ample smashing power and flat trajectories especially when driven at or near 3,000 fps, as most of the cartridges mentioned here will do.