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7x57

History


The 7x57 was designed during 1892 by the brothers Wilhelm and Paul Mauser of Germany, based on the 8x57 cartridge case necked down to 7mm. The new cartridge was created in conjunction with a new rifle design and in 1893 the Model 93 Mauser rifle chambered in 7x57 was introduced as a potential infantry weapon. The Mauser brothers also experimented with the 6mm and 6.5mm bore diameters during this time period in an effort to develop mild recoiling, accurate, flat shooting military cartridges.

The German military had previously adopted the 8x57 cartridge in 1888 and were not only financially committed to the chambering, but also quite content with the performance of the 8mm. Regardless, the Mauser brothers were well known abroad and immediately won contracts, exporting thousands of M93 7x57 rifles to various countries of the world. 

The original 7x57 military load featured a 175 grain round nose bullet at a velocity of 2300fps. True bullet diameter for the 7mm was and is 7.2mm or (.284”). The M93 rifle chambered in 7x57 was mild to shoot, accurate and although the load featured a round nose projectile, it produced vastly superior aerodynamic performance in comparison to other cartridge designs of the day. Later, a 154 grain Spitzer bullet was developed which gave a velocity of 2900fps (29” barrel).  

American soldiers first encountered the 7x57 during the Spanish-American war over the territories of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam during the year 1898.

America had only just adopted the Krag-Jorgenson .30-40 caliber rifle after extensive tests, yet the fast handling and accurate M93 7x57 Mauser immediately made the 30-40 obsolete. U.S soldiers suffered heavy casualties as a direct result of the superior infantry weapons system employed by the Spanish. The U.S was however blessed by a pool of great thinkers and strategists.

Through the development of a superior Navy and for ground forces, improved fire support strategies, the U.S achieved victory. The American military brought the Spanish Empire to an end and rose to become the major world power that it is today. As for the infantry rifle, the U.S immediately sought to replace the Krag following the 1898 war. By utilizing its own Ordnance department the U.S military created the Mauser style Springfield rifle and flat shooting .30-06 cartridge, adopted in 1901.

The countries of the Commonwealth (Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) encountered an enemy armed with the M93 7x57 during the second Boer war (1899-1902). The Commonwealth forces were armed with the Magazine Lee-Enfield rifle (MLE), an often inaccurate rifle. The MLE did have in it’s favor a ten shot magazine however; the powers of the day had also ensured that the design included a magazine cut off which converted the MLE to single shot, in order to save the wealthy lords of Britain from any diversion of tax revenue towards a large ammunition bill.

In contrast, the Afrikaner's were armed with the highly accurate M93 rifle which lent itself well to guerrilla warfare tactics. The Afrikaner’s could ambush and destroy enemy units at either close or long ranges, followed by successful escape and evasion tactics due to the geography of the country. Many Commonwealth troops came away with bitter memories of the hopelessness of the MLE against the accurate, longer ranging M93.  

Like the U.S military, the British sought to replace the MLE with a Mauser type rifle. The ballistics of the 7x57 were also highly regarded, accuracy tests carried out on a Brazilian 7x57 Mauser at Bisley in 1914 gave a dispersion of 90cm, or 36 inches at 1000mtrs ( 1100 yards ). It seemed that the only way to improve on performance would be to design a 7mm magnum power cartridge. Unfortunately the British government regarded its own Ordnance department as more of a costly thorn in its side as opposed to a source of national security. Although Enfield engineers were able to design the P14 rifle and had begun testing prototype 7mm magnum powered cartridges, war broke out in Europe before a suitable cartridge was developed. Instead the Lee-Enfield was upgraded and made into a serviceable battle weapon with continued modifications made over several decades.  

By the turn of the 20th century, the M93 rifle and 7x57 cartridge had gained an excellent reputation as a hunting cartridge in Africa following its military service in South Africa. The cartridge was mild to shoot and the rifles accurate. Performance on game was relative to the available ammunition and as can be expected, the 175 grain FMJ projectile produced deep but narrow, slow bleeding wound channels while the later 175 grain soft point sporting ammunition, produced a relatively broad wound without need of any special bullet design due to the low muzzle velocity.

The 7x57 was used on all manner of game including Elephant as is so often quoted by 7mm fans yet its true forte was as a medium game cartridge. By the 1920’s the 7x57 had been adopted by both British and American rifle and ammunition manufacturers. The British firm Rigby, hesitant about adopting a German cartridge, renamed their rifles and ammunition under the designation .275 Rigby (1899).

Sporting ammunition manufacturers eventually began to produce 140 to 154 grain high velocity soft point loads for the 7mm. These lighter loads further cemented the cartridge’s appeal for hunting the vast range of medium game species worldwide.

In the States the 7x57 had been around since the victory over Spain. Nevertheless, ammunition for the foreign cartridge was in early years, rare. By 1910 the U.S hunter had access to the immensely powerful and flexible .30-06. It was not until later, as ammunition became available, that U.S hunters had a chance to use the 7x57 on game and observe its performance. 

Besides ammunition availability problems and competition with the .30-06, the 7x57 suffered another hurdle to gaining any popularity with U.S hunters. In 1925, Winchester released their Model 54 bolt action rifle chambered in the new .270 Winchester cartridge. The .270  employed the excellent .30-06 case design, capable of very high velocities with the available powders of the day. As for the caliber, the 7mm bore diameter and its excellent exterior ballistics would have been one of the greatest influences in the design of the .270.

Cartridge historians generally agree that like Rigby, Winchester were most likely worried about sales of a cartridge utilizing the 7mm bullet diameter which was invented by a manufacturer from a  past enemy nation and used by enemies of the past. Instead of simply necking the .30-06 down to 7.2mm (.284”), Winchester instead opted to create a new bore diameter of 7mm (.277).  What must be noted, is that Winchester also offered the 7x57 as a chambering for the new Model 54 alongside the .270Win. If the historians are correct, and they probably are, the two chamberings must have been quite a marketing experiment.

The difference between the 7.2mm and 7mm bullet diameters is quite literally, the thickness of a cat’s whisker. Ultimately, neither chambering received any great deal of popularity for several years until eventually, the more potent .270 Winchester gained mainstream acceptance and became a major success. 

By the later 1920’s the 7x57 was well established in continental Europe. Ammunition was not only plentiful but also quite powerful. The 7x57 was seen as an excellent all round cartridge for the usual game - Boar, Deer and Moose.

By the 1950’s, the 7x57 was finally gaining some headway in the States. Although ammunition was now plentiful, U.S manufactured ammunition was vastly underpowered due to fears of the quality of old military firearms. Ironically, U.S gun writer Jack O’Connor, greatly responsible for the mainstream success of .270, helped push the 7x57 cartridge towards mainstream acceptance. O’Connor’s wife Eleanor had settled on a 7x57 and with Jack’s hand loads, found that the cartridge produced a balance of moderate recoil, a flat trajectory, combined with adequate killing power for medium game. O’Connor, was most impressed with these results and promoted the 7mm in various publications for these three main attributes.

Eleanor O’Connor not only hunted lighter medium game with the 7x57 but also some very large species of non dangerous African plains game. Jack wouldn’t use the 7mm himself for such endeavors, favoring a .375 however, Jack accepted that the 7mm was as much gun as Eleanor could handle and that in cool hands, the 7mm could achieve desirable results on heavy bodied game. These thoughts and experiences all went to print and hunters took notice. The 7x57 gained a small following but to some extent, remained an oddity.

In 1962, Remington introduced the 7mm Remington Magnum, this would not only direct hunter’s attention to the 7mm bore, but also spurred a greater range of component projectiles for hand loading the 7mm caliber in general.  Nevertheless, this was a double edged sword as the 7mm Remington Magnum gained immense success. The 7x57 limped on in the hands of reloaders. Occasionally, a U.S hunter would happen to use a 7x57 in Africa, enjoy the experience, then write an article for a U.S gun rag about his loads and how well the rifle performed on game. The same type of situation and articles also appeared in Australian and NZ gun rags.

By the 1980’s, the 7x57 had lost much of its popularity in Europe, steadily being replaced by the .30-06 due to its greater power which proved to be useful on Moose. Norma was also making a name for itself with the adoption of the .308 and .358 Norma Magnums which many European hunters enjoyed, not to mention the 7mm Remington Magnum which found great appeal. In the States and around the rest of the world, the 7x57 retained limited popularity. Most factory ammunition was still fairly weak (or unavailable) and hand loading was the only useful option.

Today, the 7x57 continues to be seen as an oddity. Almost every hunter has heard of it or even used it but only a minority of hunters use the 7x57 as their standard hunting cartridge. From the 1950’s through till the 1980’s, hunters wanting to obtain powerful factory ammunition used the Norma brand but today, Norma ammunition is somewhat rare outside of Europe. To this end and without powerful, fast killing factory ammunition, the 7x57 is mostly a hand loading proposition. 

From time to time articles still appear in gun magazines following an African plains game adventure. These stories allude to the fact that although this cartridge is not as popular as it once was amongst the Afrikaners of old, the 7x57 is still thoroughly enjoyed by a few of today’s hunters.
 

Performance


One of the greatest criticisms of the 7x57 for several decades has been the low power of factory ammunition. The standard U.S produced 140 grain load achieves between 2400 and 2550fps. Performance of this ammunition is similar to the .30-30 however, a problem arises in that hunters have far greater expectations from the 7x57 than the .30-30 and tend to take shots at ranges which one would never contemplate attempting with the .30-30. As can be expected, at ranges beyond 50 yards, performance deteriorates rapidly. This performance is worsened by the use of traditional controlled expanding bullet designs.
 
With hand loads, the 7x57 is an excellent medium game cartridge. The 7x57 produces velocities around 100 to 150fps slower than the .270 and .280 Remington and in doing so, tends to produce mild recoil (in suitably fitting rifles).
 
One of the greater benefits of the 57mm case design is that velocity is limited to a level which tends to bring about optimum bullet performance with regard to terminal ballistics. Less desirable is the tendency of some hand loaders to try and hot the 7x57 up to .270 performance. Although some rifles produce very high velocities, the 7x57 is in no way a .270 and should be enjoyed based on its design premise, producing adequate ballistic performance with minimum recoil.
 
Using 140 grain projectiles the 7x57 makes for a flat shooting, fast killing lighter medium game combination. That said, by adopting a softly constructed 162 to 168 grain projectile at moderate velocity, the 7x57 becomes something quite unique. This single point cannot be reiterated enough. Long heavy bullets may seem like a major handicap to the 7x57 but the opposite is true. With a projectile like the 162 grain Hornady A-Max, the 7x57 stands on its own, producing consistently wide, devastating and sometimes spectacular wounding on a wide variety of game - out to ranges far exceeding the capabilities of a 140 gain controlled expanding projectile.
 
With stout or heavy (175 grain) projectiles, the 7x57 is an adequate heavy game cartridge with care to exact shot placement. The 7x57 is in no way ideal for large heavy game if the fastest possible killing is to be expected. Neither is the .270 or 7mm Remington Magnum as all lack the wide bullet diameters which are more proportionate for the job at hand.
 

Factory Ammunition


Federal, Winchester and Remington each produce a generic, 140 -145 grain 7x57 soft point load, designated 7mm Mauser, at an advertised 2660fps. Velocities, depending on barrel length and throat length tend to be between 2400 and 2550fps for an average of 2475fps. These loads can be useful for beginners learning to handle recoil and at closer ranges, performance on game is generally very good, especially penetration. Beyond 100 yards wounding tends to be narrow and killing can be delayed to such an extent that medium game will escape to cover, never to be recovered.

One exception to the low velocity factory offerings was the Hornady 139 grain SST Light Magnum at an advertised 2830fps from their 24” test barrel. This has since been replaced with a relatively lack luster Superformance version at 2760fps along with the homogenous copper expanding 139 grain GMX at 2740fps. Both are fairly slow loads for a 24” test barrel result and with Hornady’s ultra high performance powders, it is odd that the velocity of 2900fps combined with mild pressure was not achieved. The 139 grain SST driven at 2760fps is at least a relatively flat shooting and hard hitting load. Whether hunters will be willing to pay a premium price for either load is debatable.

An old time favorite loading for many 7x57 users was Norma’s 154 grain soft point at 2690fps however this loading has recently been replaced by the 156 grain Oryx at an advertised velocity of 2640fps. This loading is designed purely for close to moderate range work on large boned deer species. Wounding is deep but not necessarily broad.
 

Hand Loading


Brass for the 7x57 remains plentiful, produced throughout Europe and the U.S. The most suitable powders are the medium burners, especially Varget. Slower burning 4350 type powders work alright with heavy bullets but do not normally allow for any great increases in velocity unless a 26” barrel or longer is employed. In this sense, the 7x57 is slightly unique compared to such cartridges as the Swede or the larger .270 which produce optimum velocities using 4350 through to 4831 burning rates.
 
Maximum safe working velocities tend to vary greatly with the 7x57 due to the wide differences found in both barrel and throat lengths from rifle to rifle. The 7x57 was designed with a long throat to utilize 175 grain round nose bullets however some modern rifles, especially custom rifles, can have shorter throats which limits the initial combustion area of the chamber.
 
Generally speaking, the differences between a fast rifle and a slow rifle are only 100fps but in some instances, can be up to 200fps. As a rule, a 22” barreled short (but not minimal) throated 7x57 will produce 2800fps with 140 grain bullets and 2600fps with 160-162 grain bullets.
 
Rifles featuring standard military spec throats fitted with  24”  barrels will produce 3100fps with 120 grain bullets, 2900fps with 140 grain bullets, 2700fps with 160-162 grain bullets, 2600fps with 168 grain bullets and a mild 2550fps with 175-180 grain bullets. As mentioned, the occasional rifle will produce 3000fps with 140 grain bullets but such performance is rare.
 
Twist rate is another factor that varies from rifle to rifle and while a 1:9 twist is ideal, some custom barreled rifles feature 1:10 twist barrels. In 1-10 twist barrels excellent accuracy can be obtained with light weight 120 grain bullets such as the Nosler ballistic Tip, through to 140 grain bullets. In faster twist barrels, especially where bullet jump to the rifling is long, best accuracy is obtained with 140 through to 175 grain bullets.
 
Sierra produce a very basic range of projectiles in 7mm. Lightweights include the 120 grain Pro-Hunter, the 130 grain Single shot pistol and the 130 grain MatchKing. The Pro-Hunter is an OK performer for light game, tougher than competitors such as the Nosler Ballistic Tip but in some ways lacking the high BC’s needed to make such a combination effective at extended ranges. A light but stout bullet always works best on light game at impact velocities of above 2600fps.  The 130 grain Single shot pistol has a much softer jacket than the Pro-Hunter to ensure that it expands readily at pistol velocities. At rifle velocities, the SSP is a fairly useful, inexpensive lighter medium game (under 60kg/130lb) bullet. Expansion and wounding at longer ranges is, as can be expected, excellent. This projectile is brilliant when down loaded to 2700fps as a youth load, producing reasonably fast kills at 300 yards (2000fps). 
 
Sierra’s mid weight projectiles include the 140 grain Pro-Hunter, the 140 grain GameKing, the 150 grain GameKing and the 150 grain MatchKing. The 140 grain GK is not a particularly good all-rounder though it is not on its own in this regard. Many budget / basic 140 grain 7mm bullets are the same. At close ranges, penetration of the 140 grain GK can be poor due to its frangible nature, yet at longer ranges, wounding potential can be lacking due to a combination of marginal BC's, the relatively stout jacket of the GameKing and the limitations of the 140 grain bullet weight. Having said this, Sierra have attempted to give the hunter the best of all worlds within their capacity. The bullet blow and shallow penetration that is of concern, is a means by which the GameKing produces wide wounding. With mild muzzle velocities so common in both the 7x57 and 7mm-08, Sierra have done their best to maximize wounding potential. The result of this is as suggested, the risk of poor penetration at close ranges. Ultimately, the 140 grain Sierra GameKing does its best work on game weighing around 40kg (110lb), preferably in open country where shots typically range from 100 to 300 yards.
 
The 140 grain Pro-Hunter is substantially better for closer range work on medium game than the 140 grain GameKing but has a fairly low BC for longer range shooting. Fast killing is obtained above impact velocities of 2600fps (125 yards) with clean, broad wounds but slightly delayed killing at lower velocities. This projectile is well suited to lighter weight animals up to 60kg (130lb) giving excellent penetration when used accordingly but is also entirely adequate for larger bodied medium game up to 90kg (200lb).
 
The 150 grain GameKing is a slightly odd performer. Bullet blow up is almost guaranteed at impact velocities above 2700fps and kills can be quite spectacular at close ranges on game in the 60kg range. As velocity falls below 2600fps, the 150 grain GK opens up to produce a massive frontal area, mostly because of the rather heavy jacket employed in the GameKing design. This projectile is a far better all-round sheep/ goat bullet than various 140 grain offerings but still lacks the soft structure and high BC required for true long range work. Sierra seem to have tried in most instances, to make the GameKing bullets as flexible as possible, rather than for specialized applications.
 
The 160 and 175 grain GameKing projectiles are in many ways too stout to produce fast killing from the 7x57. Such projectiles tend to be a pain to work with as on the other hand, bullet construction is not stout enough for taking consistently successful raking shots on tougher animals either. Neither of these projectiles have extremely high BC’s and Sierra’s alternative, the 160 grain Hollow Point GameKing suffers an abysmal BC of .400 for its weight and can also be a slow killer on lighter or lean animals at moderate to longer ranges.
 
The Sierra MatchKing range of bullets are erratic performers on medium game. The SMK is available in the weights 130, 150, 168 and 175 grains. If the SMK hits major bone, the results can be spectacular. The same will often occur with rear lung shots, the SMK rendering deep yet wide wounds. That said, the SMK will often (average 50%) fail to expand or fragment. When this happens, it appears as if the quarry has been missed altogether with death occurring after a period of minutes, not seconds. The 150-175 grain SMK projectiles are best used on tougher animals such as Boar, offering optimum bullet resistance to promote bullet expansion.
 
Speer produce a large range of 7mm projectiles. Lightweights include the 110 and 115 grain hollow point varmint bullets, the 130 grain BTSP and 130 grain Hotcor. The 130 grain bullets are devastating on very light framed game, the BTSP having a surprisingly high BC of .424. Neither of these projectiles produce deep penetration on medium game, especially the BTSP which is designed to gradually disintegrate on impact. It should be noted that both are useful for creating light recoiling loads, suitable for teaching youngsters while still achieving broad wounding.
 
Medium weight Speer projectiles include the 145 grain Hotcor and BTSP combination along with the 140 grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw and 145 grain Grand Slam. For many years the 145 grain Hotcor was a highly rated medium game bullet, used by 7x57 owners throughout the U.S, Australia and NZ. Without a doubt, the 145 grain Hotcor is a good projectile. The design is slightly outdated with the likes of the new generation core bonded projectiles now available however, the Hotcor is still a good performer. Well placed shots striking shoulder bones of medium game result in fast killing out to 300 yards but the Hotcor often gives slightly delayed kills on light animals when shots strike behind the foreleg into the rear lungs at ranges beyond 150 yards. The 145 grain Hotcor is suitable for game weighing up to 120kg (264lb), gives adequate penetration on raking shots (not tail on) and almost always produces a retained bullet weight of 73 grains.
 
Speer’s 145 grain BTSP is a true open country game bullet. This projectile, like all of the Speer BTSP range, suffers disintegration at close range and is not a good woods hunting option where raking shots are the norm. For broadside shooting of game weighing up to 80kg (180lb), the BTSP produces very broad wounding, giving good performance out to 500 yards (2000fps).
 
The premium 145 grain TBBC is as can be expected, a tough performer. This projectile produces fast killing at impact velocities above 2600fps (125 yards), clean but slightly delayed killing out at 200 yards and very delayed killing at 300 yards if no major nerve centers are hit. Penetration is excellent from every angle on medium game.
 
The 145 grain Grand Slam projectile was designed many decades ago to compete with the Nosler Partition range. During the course of my research I purchased a pack of 145 grain Grand Slam projectiles and commenced initial tests in the 7x57 on common feral goats. Unfortunately, every quartering away shot resulted in bullet blow up and shallow penetration. Although this was probably a batch problem, I never again tested any of the Grand Slam bullets. This paragraph is the only reference to the Grand Slam within this knowledge base.
 
Speer produce three styles of conventional 160 grain bullet, the BTSP, the Hotcor and the Mag-Tip. The 7mm Mag-Tip seems to have been removed from the Speer line recently, perhaps because most 7mm shooters favor high BC bullets. The Mag-Tip, is simply a flat nosed version of the Hotcor, designed to avoid bullet tip deformation within rifle magazines during recoil. A secondary benefit of this design is that in the 7x57, bullet jump is minimized. The Mag-Tip also has the advantage of promoting immediate shock transfer via its wider meplat however, results tend to be minimized by the limitations of the 7mm bore diameter. The best feature of the Mag-Tip is, or in this case was, the bullet cannelure. The Hotcor is truly outstanding when a cannelure is added to its jacket, wounding remains the same but following the initial wide wounding, the cannelure becomes a fail safe device arresting bullet expansion at a given point. This removes the possibility of bullet blow up, not that this is a problem when the 145-160 grain Hotcor bullets are used in the 7x57.
 
The 160 grain Hotcor, like the Mag-Tip, is an interesting projectile. Regardless of muzzle velocity (2600fps to 3100fps), this bullet does not cause hydrostatic shock on light or lean medium game animals. Kills on lighter medium game are often delayed but upon inspection of vitals, it becomes apparent that the Hotcor has fully expanded and rendered a deep broad wound. The slow killing is a result of a momentary delay in expansion on impact, literally the first half inch of penetration. On larger game, over 90kg (200lb), the 160 grain Hotcor has the potential to produce shock but only at impact velocities above 2600fps or point blank range from the 7x57. The 160 grain Hotcor displays excellent penetration on medium game and is suitable for woods hunting, reaching vitals from tail on shots on light to medium weight deer species.
 
The 160 grain BTSP is well suited to 7x57 velocities. The BC of this projectile is not immensely high at .519 but performance is uniform. This projectile has a high SD and is extremely soft, a combination which tends to produce uniform results on a wide variety of game at all velocity boundaries down to 2000fps (400 yards from the 7x57). As for penetration, even though this projectile is not designed for deep penetration, at 7x57 velocities, the BTSP will reach vitals of medium game from most angles.
 
The 160 and 175 grain TBBC projectiles produce exceptionally deep penetration on large bodied game however wounding is limited at 7x57 velocities. If using the 7x57 on heavy game, neck/spine and head shots produce the best results, optimizing the performance of the 160 and 175 grain TBBC bullets.
 
Nosler are currently very popular amongst 7mm users. One of the best light weight, light game projectiles available for the 7x57 is the 120 grain Ballistic Tip. This projectile is explosive and produces violent, fast killing wounds out to impact velocities of 2400fps or 340 yards from an MV of 3100fps. The 120 grain BT is best suited to game weighing no more than 40kg (110lb) if full, cross body penetration is to be expected. With frontal shots on game of this weight at close ranges, the remaining fragments of the BT usually arrest mid rumen.
 
The 140 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip is very average in performance which is odd, considering its 120 and 150 grain counterparts are so effective. The 140 grain offering is instead, much like the Sierra GameKing, neither deep penetrating nor immensely wide wounding or dramatic. The 140 gain Accubond is a much better performer, wounds are the same diameter, thoroughly destroying lung tissue due to fragmentation/ loss of frontal area yet reasonably deep penetrating. The 140 grain Partition is also a better performer than the BT for the same reasons. Neither of the latter can be said to produce narrower wounds than the BT at moderately long ranges, both the AB and Partition are extremely well suited to light to medium weight game, up to around 150kg (330lb) as a safe maximum body weight.
 
The 150 grain Ballistic Tip is a wide wounding yet reasonably deep penetrating projectile. Its jacket is slightly softer and more malleable than the 150 grain GameKing. On light to medium game, exit wounds are often only in the region of 1” diameter yet lung tissue can almost always be found outside of the exit wound, suffice to say, internal damage is devastating out to a range of 300 yards. The 150 grain BT, like the 160 grain Speer BTSP and Hornady A-max, is one of the more useful open country hunting projectiles for the 7x57.
 
Another traditional favorite projectile amongst 7x57 users is the Nosler 150 grain Partition. SD has a pronounced effect on Partition performance and the 150 grain offering is somewhat superior to its 140 grain counterpart, without any sacrifice in effective range due to its higher BC. It cannot be reiterated enough that as plain as the Partition may seem in comparison to modern designs, this is a violent killing projectile with little peer.
 
Heavy weights from Nosler include the 160 grain Accubond, the 160 grain Partition and 175 grain Partition. All are very fast expanding, wide wounding projectiles but at 7x57 velocities, are not as fast killing on medium game as more frangible designs. Instead, these projectiles are best suited to large animals such as Elk out to moderate ranges. The 160 grain AB and Partition tend to produce deeper penetration on large game when utilized in the 7x57 as opposed to the magnums.
 
Hornady produce a wide range of projectiles for 7mm users. Varmint projectiles include the 100 grain HP, 120 grain HP, 120 grain soft point and 120 grain V-Max. Apart from the V-Max which is very similar in performance to the 120 grain BT, the traditional varmint bullets are pretty ho hum on lightweight medium game.
 
Mid weights from Hornady include the 139 grain SST, the 139 grain Interlock BTSP, the 139 grain Interlock soft point flat base and finally, the 139 grain InterBond. The Interlock bullets are, like so many of the 139/140 grain offerings, very modest performers. Wounding is neither exceptionally wide or deep yet for hunters on a limited budget, the BTSP in particular, is able to achieve desirable results on lighter framed animals.
 
The 139 grain SST is slightly unusual. Wounding is much more dramatic than the Interlocks out to all comparative ranges yet penetration is poor at low velocities. At close ranges, the SST expands on impact, followed by a reduction in frontal area as the expanded ogive swages back against the shank. At longer ranges of 250 yards and beyond (below 2400fps), the 139 grain SST lacks the energy it needs to swage back and form a mushroom. Instead, jacket core separation occurs within vitals, the stout jacket becoming a parachute, the heavier core leaving the jacket behind. The SST is still an excellent, violent wounding open country bullet but does not give the deep penetration one might expect at low velocities and in many ways, performs much better in the 7mm Remington Magnum.
 
Hornady’s 139 grain InterBond is a well designed projectile but like the SST, is much better suited to the 7mm Rem Mag than the 7x57. This core bonded projectile produces wide wounding at close ranges and deep penetration at all ranges but at impact velocities below 2600fps (280 yards), kills can be very delayed. The InterBond is a good Hog bullet, an OK Elk bullet but again, is not quite as devastating as long soft bullet designs. Neither the 139 grain SST or IB derive any benefit from annealing due to the lack in SD which poses major limitations on performance to begin with.
 
The 154 grain Hornady Interlock soft point is an excellent game bullet but lacks one major feature, a good BC for 300 yard shooting in high winds. Regardless, this a good, cheap, all-rounder for hunters on a limited budget. The 154 grain Interlock, odd as it may seem, is a little too heavy and too slow, when fired from the 7x57, to produce dramatic results on medium game at anything beyond close ranges. Hornady also produce a 154 grain InterBond which is again, too stout for fast killing of medium game in the 7x57.  At 7x57 velocities, the IB is more suited to tough game and should be annealed (see 7mm Rem Mag). One odd projectile is the 154 grain SST. This is a very emphatic killer and at longer ranges, produces wide, fast killing wounds if major bones are encountered to promote bullet expansion. The 154 grain SST is a generally good all-round medium game bullet in the 7x57, especially with care to shot placement at longer ranges.
 
The 162 grain Interlock was designed for the 7mm Remington Magnum but is in no way a stout or slow expanding projectile. This and the 154 grain Interlock are both inexpensive yet effective medium game killers. As with most 7mm projectiles, at impact velocities below 2600fps, the Hornady bullets lack the ability to produce hydrostatic shock therefore, in the absence of CNS damage, kills are almost always delayed. That said, the heavy 154 and 162 grain Interlocks produce a wide and reasonably fast killing wound channel, down to impact velocities of 2200fps. 
 
Hornady’s 162 grain SST is not particularly well suited to the 7x57 for use on light or lean game.  Wounding is relatively wide but kills tend to be very delayed, especially in comparison to the A-Max. The heavy SST comes into its own when used on game weighing between 90 and 150kg (200-330lb) out to ranges of around 300 yards.
 
The best of the Hornady range is the highly frangible 162 grain A-Max. In fact, this may well be the best all-round projectile ever produced for the 7x57 and 7mm08 powered cartridges. The A-Max is noticeably and measurably faster killing than other bullet styles at close and also long ranges. Penetration is surprisingly good, regardless of weight lost due to its thin jacket and on light framed deer, this projectile has the ability to reach vitals with tail on shots, not that the A-Max is best utilized in this way. The key to outstanding all-round performance with the 162 grain A-Max is mild muzzle velocities no greater than 2700fps. From the lower muzzle velocity of 2600fps, the A-Max produces wide, fast bleeding wounds out to 300yards (2200fps) with a slight reduction in wounding between 300 and 475 yards (2000fps). The A-max continues to excel below 2000fps in the absence of bone strikes. This projectile requires very little resistance to initiate expansion and for this reason, is a more ethical killer at longer ranges approaching where wind factors make exact shot placement more difficult. Occasionally, pin hole wounding (rear lung/ liver shots) can occur at velocities lower than 1800fps yet this also occurs with competing designs, such are the limitations of our current technology.
 
Hornady also produce two 175 grain Interlock projectiles, one featuring a spire point design and the other, a round nose. Both are very soft projectiles which are much better suited to 7x57 velocities than magnum velocities if deep penetration is expected. Both can be considered as budget alternatives to premium bullet designs such as the 160 grain Partition but neither will out penetrate the superior premiums. The heavy Interlocks expand immediately and reliably producing a relatively wide wound out to moderate ranges, ideally suited to woods/bush hunting medium game. The round nose bullet has the potential to produce more rapid expansion on impact but it should be noted that as far as trauma and ‘stopping power’ go, most small bore round or flat nose bullets do not display a dramatic change in performance as is found amongst the large bore (.385” upwards) round or flat nose bullet designs.

Remington produce a range of conventional projectiles available as hand loading components. The two most commonly available are the 140 and 150 grain Core-Lokt. Both of these projectiles have low BC's giving poor long range performance but at close to medium ranges, expand readily while retaining a good shank. Like all conventional bullets, the Core-Lokt is not 100% reliable however bullet failures are very rare and the 140 and 150 grain offerings are perhaps the best medium game bullets available for hunters on a tight budget. 

Barnes produce TSX projectiles in the weights 120, 140, 150, 160 and 175 grains. Of these, only the 120 grain TSX can be called a useful all-rounder. The 140 grain bullet, regardless of its excellent wounding and penetration, tends to produce quite delayed kills on light or lean game at impact velocities below 2600fps.  The 120 grain bullet can be driven much faster than the 140 grain offering and on impact, meets much more resistance.

On large framed animals, the heavier Barnes TSX bullets have the potential to produce free bleeding exit wounds. The 140 and 150 grain TSX are well suited to Elk sized game, the 160 and 175 grain bullet adequate for larger animals.  The 140 grain TSX driven at 2900fps has the ability to penetrate a cattle beast broadside through the shoulders but the wound channel is very small. For this reason, on heavy game, all of the 7mm’s tend to perform better with neck or head shots, taken at close to moderate ranges, regardless of the ability of a projectile to produce deep penetration.

Berger produce one projectile which is adequately suited to the 7x57, the 168 grain VLD. This projectile has a small bearing surface which allows it to be driven at the same velocities as 160-162 grain bullets. The Berger is much like the A-Max in its ability to produce exceptionally wide wounding at low velocities. The Berger tends to gradually disintegrate while the A-Max will often shear into larger fragments however, sometimes the A-Max will disintegrate while the Berger bursts into larger fragments, such is the nature of light jacketed, non controlled expanding bullets. In either case, the 168 grain Berger is an excellent all around projectile at 7x57 velocities. It may seem to go against all logic to use a slow heavy bullet in the 7x57, particularly at extended ranges however, the A-Max and Berger are dramatically superior to other bullet designs at impact velocities below 2600fps.
 

Closing Comments


The 7x57 is slowly fading into the background as a classic from yesteryear, superseded by the 7mm08 Remington. Since the year 2000, the 7mm08 has grown exponentially in popularity due to the trend towards light weight, light recoiling rifles combined with the availability of high pressure factory ammunition.
 
This now vintage cartridge is neither more potent or less powerful than the 7mm08 and although the 7x57 can sometimes achieve higher velocities with 162-175 grain bullets, in the grand scheme of cartridge design, both the 7x57 and 7mm08 are very mild in comparison to the .280 and 7mm Magnums. The 7x57 is a cartridge for hand loaders and can be adapted to a wide range of hunting situations and game weights.  Recoil is mild in suitably fitted rifles and with the right projectile, this cartridge is a clean, humane killer of medium game. The ability to utilize soft 160-162 grain high BC bullets gives the 7x57 a significant advantage over the 6.5mm bore, performance which cannot be measured within ballistics programs or this knowledge base and must be seen to be fully appreciated.
 
Suggested loads:  7x57 Barrel length: 22-24”
No ID   Sectional Density Ballistic Coefficient Observed  MV Fps ME
Ft-lb’s
1 FL 139gr Superformance .246 .486 2760 2351
2 HL 139gr SST/IB .246 .486 2800 2419
3 HL 139gr SST/IB * .246 .486 2900 2595
4 HL 145gr Speer Hotcor .257 .416 2800 2524
5 HL 145gr Speer BTSP .257 .472 2800 2524
6 HL 162gr Interlock .287 .514 2650 2526
7 HL 162gr A-Max .287 .625 2650 2526
8 HL 160gr Partition .283 .475 2650 2495
 
Suggested sight settings and bullet paths           
1 Yards 100 150 248 287 325 352 375 400
  Bt. path +3 +3.4 0 -3 -7 -10.2 -13.9 -18
2 Yards 100 150 252 292 325 350 375 400
  Bt. path +3 +3.5 0 -3 -6.5 -9.5 -13 -17
3 Yards 100 150 263 302 325 350 375 400
  Bt. path +3 +3.6 0 -3 -5.1 -7.9 -11.1 -14.7
4 Yards 100 150 247 285 325 350 375 400
  Bt. path +3 +3.4 0 -3 -7.3 -10.5 -14.3 -18.6
5 Yards 100 150 251 290 325 350 375 400
  Bt. path +3 +3.4 0 -3 -6.6 -9.7 -13.3 -17.3
6 Yards 100 125 236 272 325 350 375 400
  Bt. path +3 +3.3 0 -3 -8.7 -12.2 -16.2 -20.7
7 Yards 100 125 240 279 325 350 375 400
  Bt. path +3 +3.3 0 -3 -7.9 -11.2 -14.9 -19.1
8 Yards 100 125 234 272 325 350 375 400
  Bt. path +3 +3.3 0 -3 -9.1 -12.7 -16.8 -21.5
 
 
No At yards 10mphXwind Velocity Ft-lb’s
1 300 6.5 2225 1528
2 300 6.4 2261 1577
3 300 6.1 2349 1703
4 300 7.6 2177 1525
5 300 6.6 2246 1624
6 300 6.5 2155 1670
7 300 5.3 2239 1803
8 300 6 2117 1592
 
 
Note: Fast barrels / 24’ barrels.
 
7 x 57 mauser final.jpg

 
  Imperial Metric 
A .473 12.01
B .472 11.99
C 20 deg 45’  
D .430 10.92
E .321 8.15
F 1.726 43.84
G .378 9.60
H 2.235 56.8
Max Case 2.235 56.8
Trim length 2.225 56.5

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