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Loading for the 7MM Remington Magnum

William W. (Bill) Gabbard

In the past, I have done articles on loading for the 6.8 Western as well as the popular 6.5 Creedmoor both of which I referred to as a “Reloader’s Dream.” I could name quite a list of calibers that, given a quality rifle with good optics, are typically easy to find an accurate load for. 

The 7MM Remington Magnum, while having a reputation as an accurate cartridge, would not be on my list. The first problem would be defining “accurate.” For me, when developing a round for hunting, my goal is under one-half inch. I know that anything under one inch is normally considered accurate, but my OCD kicks in and I believe that if I try enough powder and bullet combinations, I can reach my goal. Over the years, I have managed to reach that goal with each of the six rifles chambered in 7MM Rem Mag that I have listed here.

7 MM rifles
The first one I worked with was a Remington 700 Synthetic that I bought back in the mid 1990s. My son Walt quickly became attached to this rifle naming it “Black Magic.” Equipped with a Leupold 4.5 X 14 Leupold, this rifle preferred Hornady Custom 154 gr Interlock ammo and would consistently shoot under one-inch groups. I quickly found loads that would shoot under the one-inch mark, but I used six different bullets and six different propellants in numerous combinations before I managed to find a load that would group under one-half inch.

reloading powders

7 mm shot chart 1

The second 7mm Rem Mag I worked with was an old Browning BBR, the predecessor of the Browning A-Bolt. I bought this one from Henley McIntosh, my cousin and local attorney, with his assurance that it “shot just like a drop of rain.” With the limited amount of factory ammo that I tried through it I found that he was right. Just like a drop of rain it scattered the bullets all over everywhere. I told him I should have known better than to buy a used rifle from a lawyer. He laughed at me and offered my money back. 

BBR Shot Group

This rifle proved to be extremely picky about what it would shoot accurately. I have over three pages in my logbook of groups that were over one inch trying numerous bullet and powder combinations. Once I found the right combination, it is the most accurate 7MM Rem Mag that I have ever fired. With a best group of 0.196, it will consistently group less than one-quarter inch with its favorite load if the shooter does their part. A good friend, T-Roy, comes and borrows it once a year, kills his buck and begs me to sell it to him. It isn’t for sale. Ol Cuz had the last laugh on how this rifle shoots!

7mm bullets

7 mm shot chart 2

My farming buddy Jess Bishop, after becoming dissatisfied with the accuracy he was getting with factory ammo, brought his Remington 700 Stainless Synthetic in 7 Rem Mag by and wanted to see what kind of groups we could get with it. I was dreading it because of the problems I had with the previous two 7 Rem Mags. After eight test loads, I had two that were just over one-half inch and a third just barely over a quarter inch. 

reloading bench

7 mm shot chart 3

My dentist saw what we had done with Jess’s rifle and wanted to see what his Remington 700 CDL would do. Like the first two 7 Rem Mags, it took several test loads to find the sweet spot for Dr. Gay’s rifle. After trying three bullets and five powders in numerous combinations of loads that were “close but no cigar,” I found a load using the now discontinued IMR 4320 that his rifle loved. With this rifle, I ended up trying assorted brands of brass, neck sizing, full-length sizing and just bumping the shoulder back using a full-length die before finding a great load that would repeat itself. 

7 mm shot chart 4

I pulled my old Winchester Model 70 XTR out that had not seen any action in years to see if I could get it in the “Quarter Inch Club.” This old rifle shot great years ago with a now discontinued factory load, and I had never taken the time to build a custom load for it. Like most of the 7MM Remington Magnum rifles that I have worked with it proved to be a formidable adversary. It quickly showed me groups of less than one inch, but it consistently would stick two and throw one shot. This can usually be cured by trying a different primer or playing with bullet seating. Neither of these seemed to help with this rifle. I contacted Hornady’s Seth Swerczek and asked his opinion on their 162 gr bullets. Two sets of loads using Hornady’s 162 gr ELD-X bullets proved Seth to be right on track.

Model 70 XTR shot group

7 mm shot chart 5

Steven Asher, who my wife and I nicknamed Stepson years ago, recently bought a “thoroughly used” Remington 700 synthetic. This rifle had several issues. After a good cleaning, inside and out, I took it to the range where it produced several groups greater than two inches. Cleaning the bore with Wipe-Out and Witches Brew helped. One group managed to break the one-inch mark. After replacing the trigger with one from another 700 and having the action glass bedded, the groups got better but still nothing consistently under one inch. Geoff Esterline from Capstone Precision suggested heavier bullets. Berger 180 VLD Hunting, 168 VLD Hunting, and 168 Classic Hunter all proved that this rifle liked heavier bullets.

berger bullet shot group

7 mm shot chart 6

Most belted magnums seem to be harder than non-belted rounds to develop highly accurate loads for. The 7MM Remington Magnum has been the poster child for this statement in my experience. If you start down the rabbit hole in search of groups smaller than half-inch, I suggest having a broad selection of suitable powders as well as a wide variety of bullets in various weights. Neck sizing sometimes helps, but often the best results come from using a headspace gauge and adjusting your full length die to bump the shoulder back to fit your rifle. This can result in greater accuracy and extend your brass life. The one thing that these loads seem to have in common is that they have nothing in common!

Mossy Oak Store deer hunting

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