A 7mmMag showed up on my doorstep.

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by Fitch, Mar 13, 2010.

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  1. Fitch

    Fitch Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Almost literally. My nephew gave it to me. It's a Ruger 77 Mk-II with a plastic stock, stainless barrel and action, 3-9x40 Leupold VX-II on it in the Ruger rings. It has, maybe, as many as 40 rounds thorugh it but 15 to 20 is more likely. It came with 3 boxes of ammo including 9 spent cases. I could restock it and/or replace the recoil pad - but it calculates at around 23 ft-lbs of recoil which I think is managable in deer season heavy clothing. A good thing because I don't want a muzzle brake.

    I've done a bit of thinking and what-if on bullet choices. I already have a 1953 M70 .30-06Spr, a sporterized 1903 in .30-06 which are my "big game" rifles which to me means PA White Tail - more medium game than big game. I also have a .243 that shoots 95g NBT into quarter sized groups. And several varmint rifles from .17Remington to .22-250 (and I could include the .243 in that group as well). But I certainly wasn't going to turn the rifle down! And I didn't.

    So one of my fun projects this spring and summer will be to develop a hunting load for it. Since I already have medium range game and varmints pretty well covered, I was looking for a mission for this rifle. I decided it ought to be my long range deer rifle since it's the best rifle in the gun safe for that mission.

    I also don't want to spend a lot of rounds developing loads for several different hunting bullets for this rifle. It costs a fair amount per round to shoot even handloads, and barrel life is an issue with this cartridge. So picking the right bullet to start with is important.

    With that in mind, I started casting about for a bullet to use as a long range big game bullet that knowing that I didn't have to compromise the choice in favor of short range or varmints. I ended up zeroing in on the Hunting version of the 180g Berger VLD. It looks really good, on paper and the computer screen, for that mission. Carries it's energy well to 1,000 yards, has a remarkably good BC which helps a lot with wind drift reduction, and based on ballistic analysis both in QuickTarget Unlimited and the Berger Ballistics program, it's an almost perfect match for the drop built into the Leupold ballistic recticle available in the VX-II. Reading the drop in MOA from a 200 yard zero it is almost an exact match for the dots built into the scope. If they built the scope for it they couldn't have come closer.

    From what I've read on here, it has acceptable terminal performance on game like White Tail, Mule Deer, Black Bear, and Elk and I'm pretty sure it would drop a coyote if one showed up at the wrong (or right) time.

    At this point I have no indispinsible ego tied up in this bullet so I'm asking, am I on the right track here with this 180g VLD hunting bullet for the 7mmMag? If not, and that's certainly possible, what would you recommend and why?

  2. winmag

    winmag Well-Known Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    Dont have personal experience with Berger, but I here theyre bullets are good. I personaly would look into a heavy grained boattail bonded bullet(Brand of your choosing). I have Experience with them on deer and bear. LOVE EM.
    Congrats on your new toy! Keep us posted on your choice, and its performance.
  3. royinidaho

    royinidaho Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    Fitch, aren't you the lucky one!!

    From my experience in Penn's woods with the white tail and in Idaho w/the muley and being a velocity hawg the 7mm Rems I load for all get the 168 Berger.

    There's a new thread here which displays the capability of the cartridge and that specific bullet. http://www.longrangehunting.com/forums/f17/1018-yard-hog-head-shot-54236/

    Sounds like you have a fun time coming up. Good luck....

  4. 41mag

    41mag Well-Known Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Take it from Ol Roy, that would be the bullet I would suggest as well. If you go lighter your giving up BC and SD but you gain a bit of velocity, if you heavier your going to loose the velocity but gain in the other areas. With the 168, your about right on all three for that case capacity.

    For what your looking into poking holes in, it should work out fine, if that one don't then there is also the 160gr Accubond as well.

    Good luck with your new rig, and loads.
  5. Doug in Alaska

    Doug in Alaska Well-Known Member

    May 31, 2009
    I used the 168 on my annual whitetail hunt in Idaho last year. I'm shooting them out of a 7RUM and was totally impressed with the results. Also shot a few coyotes while I was there, wow, devastating!
  6. sambo3006

    sambo3006 Well-Known Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    The 180 gr Berger may or may not stabilize out of your factory barrel. I was unable to get the 180 gr JLK VLD's to stabilize out of my factory 7mm RUM barrel. At 100 yds they shot 0.6" but at 500 yards on a calm day off sandbags it looked like a shotgun pattern. The 168's should probably do fine.
  7. Fitch

    Fitch Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2009

    168's will be Plan A. That's why I asked. The drawing board has to meet up with the real world now and again.


    The universal 168 recommendation, along with pictures of success at distances I've never even shot at paper got my attention. It's hard to argue with success.

    I do think there is a good chance this rifle will stablize the 180 - I checked that against the Berger web page. It does two turns of the cleaning rod in 16-1/2" based on doing the measurement 3 times and getting the same distance plus or minus an 1/8" so it's some place in the neighborhood of an 8-1/2" twist barrel - the barrel is like new so it should be able to impart the twist to the bullet. Berger says a 9" twist should work.

    Speaking of the barrel, I've had it soaking with WipeOut since it arrived (refreshing it every 8 hours or so) and have it squeaky clean. Looking at it with a borescope the barrel looks pretty good for a factory barrel. The throat area looks just barely broken in. Lands are shiny smooth in the lead area. Finish is pretty good for most of the barrel length. It shows some light tool marks out near the muzzle but nothing unusual. The rest of it looks really good.

    The only "clumk" is that throat is slightly off center. At least the lands don't extend quite evenly to the neck/throat step. They go all the way with little to no freebore for most of the way around but get shallower and shallower and finally two of them are about half a borescope window from the step. Not optimal, but this isn't unusual in a factory chamber. I've seen it in Remingtons, Savages, and other rifles I've looked in. In fact the only factory rifles in my safe with what I'd call perfect chamber throats are the two CZ527's (Hornet and .223).

    In any event, the rifle doesn't look like it's had more than a few rounds through it. If I don't like the boat paddle stock I can get a replacement from Boyd's and pillar bed it into that easily enough. So, over all, this rifle looks like it's a good place to start.

    But I digress. Been sitting here doing some studies of the Berger 168 and a hot fresh cuppa-Joe.

    Looking at the lethality chart in Litz's book, page 253, there isn't much difference between the 168 and the 180. The 168 is good for white tail to 1,150, Mule deer to 800, and Elk to 425. The 180 is 1,225, 850, and 450 respectively. That isn't much difference at all. It certainly isn't going to leave an animal standing with the 168 and drop it with the 180. If one shot with either bullet gets it, they both will get it.

    There is surprisingly little difference in wind drift. Less than an inch at 1,000 using Berger's ballistic SW and the G7 BC for both bullets. Quite frankly, in the sense that it's within the calculation error, the drift for both bullets is the same.

    The energy for the 180 is greater by 39 ft-lbs which again is essentially the same energy given the uncertainties involved. ES variation between shots can give that much.

    Bottom line, you guys pointed me in the right direction - the 168 will do the job on anything I'll be shooting. It has a PBR of 295 yards +/- 3" from line of sight zeroed at 250 yards. That covers the longest shot I could have where I do most of my deer hunting. While there is a 2 yard advantage to the 180, that isn't enough difference to be significant. There is one place I could get an 800 yard shot at a coyote but I'll have to work up to that.

    This rifle has a 24" barrel on it. There is about a 100 fps velocity advantage to the 168 at the muzzle - it stilll has a 23fps advantage at 1,000 yards..

    Bottom line, I have to say there isn't much difference between the 180 and the 168. I mean we are talking differences within the likely experimental error band. That being the case, the tie beaker is good field experience. There is good experience with the 168 so I'll go with the 168 as the initial choice. If it doesn't shoot in this rifle for some reason, plan B is to try the 180..

    So, off to the Midway page to order some dies and bullets ...

    Thanks Folks
  8. Tang

    Tang Well-Known Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Two questions. Which synthetic stock is it, and do you want to get rid of it when you restock ?

    Does it look like my three ?

  9. Fitch

    Fitch Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    It looks just like your three! Mostly like the top one since it has a silver scope on it like mine does. I don't know if I'm going to restock it or not. If I can get it to shoot with this stock I will probably leave it as it is. I'm not going to fix it if it isn't broke.

    I have it cleaned up, the scope mounts tightened (they were loose), the reticle adjusted to vertical, some bullets and dies on order.

    Time will tell.

  10. OKIE2

    OKIE2 Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2007
    I have one of these that come off my 300 mag I will sale you.
    I am in china now but should be home in Oklahoma in a couple of months.