For long range hunting, it's a fairly easy call. I you reload, you want the 7x57 Mauser. If you do not reload, you want the 7mm-08. If you live in Europe, you might want the 7x57 on both counts, but I might step up to 7x64 Brenneke if I lived in Europe.
Sako makes good 5x57 rifles in the Model 85. The CZ 550 is currently produced for the European market in 7x57. CZ-USA has recently imported a limited production run of CZ-550 rifles in 7x57 with the new American stock in walnut only. I got one of those, it came with scope rings, and the walnut had quite a bit of figure, almost looks like a custom stock. Right out of the box with no mods, it's shooting 1/2" groups @ 100 with 150-grain Norma ammo (new old stock for $30/box), the hottest 7x57 factory ammo I could find. 2756 FPS, 2530 FPE.
I had my gunsmith order the rifle, and it was only $697 delivered, total cost. Not bad for a gun that shoots as well as a custom rifle and looks almost as good. The magazine box has plenty of room to load A-Max bullets as the action is .30-06 size. It has a nice recoil pad, and I could shoot this rifle all afternoon with no monkey shoulder from the recoil. I bought the Norma ammo partly to get the brass, as Norma 7x57 brass alone is over $1 each even in large quantity.
RWS is loading some 7x57 rounds with very advanced bullets, but I think the old Norma SP bullets still have a higher BC. New Norma 7x57 loading is only in the Oryx bullet, for taking tough game at short/medium range as is usually the case in Scandinavia and Africa. Hornady backed way off from their Light Magnum 7x57 loads in their Superformance loadings, and can't match RWS or Norma in energy. If you handload, you should be able to get Norma and RWS energy with a vast range of 7mm bullets. I'll keep my eye out for any Hornady LM loads that might be gathering dust on dealer shelves.
The CZ 550 is also available in 7x64 Brenneke, and if I was going strictly for long range, I would try to get one of those rifles out of Europe or you can buy the CZ 550 action for a custom buildup. But I went for versatility, and if you can reload the 7x57 is more versatile than the 7mm-08 for the extra powder capacity and longer neck, not to mention the rifles come with fast twist to handle the longest bullets. Your chances of getting a standard production 7mm-08 from an American manufacturer that matches a CZ 550 for accuracy is rather slim. I have 4 CZ rifles and what they all share in common is their nail driving accuracy out of the box when you find a good load. A 7mm-08 is a short action and will weigh about a pound less than a CZ 550 7x57, but the slight extra weight is what makes them a lower recoil, long range rifle. Also, the 24" barrel vs. the 22" barrels commonly found on 7mm-08. The 7x57 needs at least 24" barrel to reach full potential. If you want a light mountain rifle, the 7mm-08 gets the nod.
Note: some have complained about the new CZ 550 American stock, but I like it better than the older designs I have handled. The Sako 85 tends to have barrels too short to suit me, but they are lighter weight than the CZ 550. You NEED that 24" barrel if slinging heavy lead long distances.
Dr. Vette, I posted the reply mainly for those who would come later with a similar question.
7x57 Mauser was never a military round in the USA, so it suffers from that regard. 7mm-08 brass is very similar to .308 Win, so on a price basis it will cost less, and that gives it a huge advantage in our marketplace. Even in Germany, the 7x57 was passed up for the 8x57 JS because Germany was economically committed to that older round. Never mind that the 7x57 would have been a better round for the troops and they would have shot a bit more accurately with it. Pedersen proposed a new cartridge similar to the 7x57 when the M1 Garand was evaluated. Gen. MacArthur turned down the new cartridge but approved the new rifle. He turned down the new cartridge mainly on economics, not that he had anything against its performance. The 1903 Springfield rifle was definitely obsolete on the future battlefield, but the .30-06 cartridge still was passable, seeing that the Germans hadn't bothered to upgrade their cartridge. We had stockpiles of .30-06 ammo, and were still in an economic depression. The Brits were also sticking with their more obsolete .303 British cartridge, and the Russians were also sticking with a rimmed cartridge that could have been upgraded as well.
Those who don't reload should buy the best they can get. Much more selection in 7mm-08 ammo on the dealer shelves. Those who reload can simply have the best there is, which is the 7x57 Mauser. As an all-around medium big game cartridge for most people, it has never been surpassed. Since Mauser got it right the first time, it can't be surpassed to any significant degree by anybody. Modern powders and bullets only make the 7x57 better, and the steeper shoulder angle of the 7x57 make it a more modern cartridge against the 7mm-08, in spite of the fact it was invented many decades before the 7mm-08.
Since Mauser got it right the first time, it can't be surpassed to any significant degree by anybody. Modern powders and bullets only make the 7x57 better, and the steeper shoulder angle of the 7x57 make it a more modern cartridge against the 7mm-08, in spite of the fact it was invented many decades before the 7mm-08.
That is something that has amazed me for many years. I don't own a Mauser but I find it fascinating that in the last 100 years we have come full circle to basically designing the exact cartridge that the German's developed from the get go. All the super efficient cartridges like .308, .260, 7mm-08 etc. basically are the old Mauser with a few tweaks. How they figured out such an efficient round without computers and at the inception of modern cartridge firearms is truly amazing!
I'd say take the 7X57 just for Nostalgia and the cool factor. After all who doesn't reload?
Actually, the 7mm-08 is a bit of a hack job, as it comes from the 7.62 NATO/.308 Win which was intended as a machine gun and semi-auto round from its inception. It was designed for modern short barrelled military rifles. The FAL was (and is still manufactured new in the USA by DSA) the ultimate semi-auto rifle of high production figures that was designed for this round. My sample is sub-MOA with handloads, 2.5 MOA with military ball, straight out of the box, except for a small X-Ring deresonator. Most M14 rifles are 3-4 MOA on average out of the box unless a target version is ordered at much higher cost. DSA sells the FAL new for as low as $995. A machined scope mount that completely replaces the stamped receiver cover is under $100. FAL recoil is noticeably more comfortable than a bolt 7x57, which is already considered moderate to a .30-06 bolt rifle.
The .308 Win case neck is too short to handle heavy bullets properly, which you should be using if you intend to take heavy game with a 7mm bullet. Outside of a lightweight mountain rifle, where it does a very good job, the 7mm-08 can be out of its element. The 7x57 makes a much better long barrelled, fast twist prairie rifle for heavy, high BC bullets. The CZ 550 action is no lightweight, and it was designed for the hottest 7x64 and .30-06 loads and has government agency durabilty. No secret that eastern bloc militaries used CZ bolt guns for sniper rifles for many years, and still do. Russian Special Forces currently do. It is overdesigned for 7x57, which you want in a prairie rifle.
The Winchester M70 Featherweight in stainless and 7mm-08 caliber is my choice of a modern mountain rifle that can be easily bought off the shelf. FN is doing a fantastic job of offering a very high quality production rifle at moderate cost. One of the tightest Mauser 98 bolts you will ever find. Closer tolerances than Kimber in the samples I have handled. If my wallet was fatter, I would have one in the gun closet. It's truly an FNchester, and not a Winchester. A bolt rifle of good enough quality to stand beside the FAL in my opinion....and you can use same brass for both, as DSA makes the FAL in 7mm-08 now.