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Introduced in 1917, the 7x64 was created by the famous German cartridge and projectile designer Wilhelm Brenneke. Following the first world war, the 7x64 became popular in Europe and has remained so ever since. In its home continent, this cartridge is used on Red deer, boar and Chamois. The case design of the 7x64 is almost identical to the .30-06, making the 7x64 very similar to the .280 Remington.
There are relatively few 7x64 rifles outside of Europe although European brand rifles are sometimes exported in this caliber. The 7x64 is common in South Africa but in the U.S, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, rifles chambered for this cartridge are often regarded as collectible pieces.
With a choice of bullet weights ranging from 120 to 180 grains, the 7x64 potentially offers ample power and flexibility to tackle most of the worlds medium game species. That said, some factory loads, where available, can be a little mild in comparison to full powered hand loads. With hand loads or select factory loads, the 7x64 is very similar in power and performance, to the .280 Remington.
Although several manufacturers produce 7x64 ammunition in Europe, the most readily available export ammunition is produced by PMC, Sellior & Bellot and Norma. PMC currently list one load, a 170 grain soft point giving 2625fps from a 24” factory test barrel for a realistic 2550fps. This load is best suited to close range hunting of lighter medium game, offering no initial hydrostatic shock but outstanding penetration due to minimal bullet deformation at low impact velocities. PMC is also ideal for those looking for an inexpensive source of brass for reloading.
Current Norma loadings include the Nosler 140 grain Ballistic Tip at 2854fps, the 140 grain Nosler Accubond at 2953fps, the 156 grain Norma Oryx at 2790fps and the 170 grain Norma Vulcan at 2755 fps. These loadings typically give velocities 60 to 70fps below test barrel figures when fired from 24” barreled sporters. The 140 grain Accubond load is a good all round performer on lighter medium game. Unfortunately, Norma have not matched the velocity of the ballistic Tip to the Accubond, otherwise, having the same form factor and BC, both loads could have been used in an interchangeable manner.
The 156 grain Oryx is a tough, slow expanding, deep penetrating projectile. For several years, Norma utilized Woodleigh projectiles, eventually copying the design, branded as the Oryx. This projectile is designed for large animals such as Moose and no doubt it has been used on countless Moose. Nevertheless, the 7mm caliber is far better suited to lighter animals and although this bullet design is optimal, wounding is somewhat limited. The Oryx is very similar to the 160 grain Woodleigh Weldcore. Both are very tough, stouter than the InterBond and Accubond and far tougher than the Nosler Partition yet wider wounding than the TSX at close ranges. Kills on light game can be slow due to the need for great resistance at the target however the opposite extreme should also be avoided. The 156 grain Oryx is best suited to game weighing between 90 and 320kg (200-700lb). The 170 grain Vulcan is simply spectacular on medium game at close to moderate ranges. Like the Oryx, the BC of the Vulcan is very low, a shame considering its outstanding killing performance. The Vulcan is of a controlled expanding design but tends to continue to shed back to its rearmost core. The wound channel is wide and remains wide to throughout penetration. This bullet is best suited to game weighing less than 150kg (330lb) out to moderate ranges. For woods / bush hunting, if snap shots are to be taken at varying angles and error of shot placement is to be expected, the 170 grain Vulcan is a veritable cruise missile.
Sellier & Bellot list four standard loadings, one semi premium and one full premium loading for the 7x64. Standard loads include a 130 grain soft point at 2809fps, a 158 grain HPC ( very similar to Remington Bronze point ) at 2638fps and 173 grain SPCE soft point at 2526fps. The S&B semi premium load features the 175 grain Sierra Gameking at 2523fps while the premium load features the 140 grain Barnes XLC at 2625fps. Sadly, Sellier & Bellot ammunition often falls well short of factory advertised figures which is disappointing considering that the test barrel figures are themselves extremely shy of what the 7x64 is capable of.
The famous RWS ammunition company of Germany also produce several loads for the 7x64. These are often not readily available outside of Europe, more due to trends in bullet design than any other factor. Europeans tend to shoot at closer ranges than do hunters from other areas of the world and to this end, European ammunition often features low BC projectiles. European loads are also designed to work through older standard length M98 actions as opposed to the long actions built in the U.S. As an example, the RWS 162 grain Cone Point (KS) has a BC of .381. Performance on game regarding wound channel diameters, hydrostatic shock and penetration is identical in every aspect to the 162 grain Hornady SST at close ranges, it is simply impossible to tell performance apart. However; the SST with its BC of .550, delivers consistency of performance over a long range. Apart from range factors and availability outside of Europe, RWS produce some very effective moderate range ammunition.
Presently, most owners of 7x64 rifles outside of Europe hand load. 7x64 brass can be sourced from Norma, PMC, Sellior & Bellot and RWS. Please note, both RWS and older Hirtenburger brass have very heavy case walls limiting case capacity in comparison to other brands. The head diameter of the 7x64 is slightly smaller than the .280 (probably originally to avoid any patent issues with the Mauser brothers 8x57) however .270/.280 brass can be formed into 7x64. The 7x64 case is ever so slightly shorter than the .280 in case length dimensions but features slightly less body taper, evening out case capacity.
Like the .280, the best powders for the 7x64 are those in the 4350 through to 4831 burn rate range. Twist rates for rifle barrels tend to differ slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer and from decade to decade (1:9-1:10), therefore, experimentation with the full range of 7mm bullet weights is often a requirement. Most European factory sporting rifles are furnished with 24” barrels, some older rifles also feature 26” barrels. As previously stated, older rifles that feature the M98 action as the platform, usually have limited magazine space (84mm). In contrast, the 7x64 CIP chamber specification calls for a long freebore. In rifles with short magazines but long freebore, top velocities are usually still obtainable, providing the faster 4350 burn rate is used to avoid powder cramping.
From 24” barrels, maximum safe working velocities for the 7x64 include 3050fps with 140 grain bullets, 2950fps with 150 grain bullets, 2900fps with the 154 grain SST and InterBond, 2850fps with the 162 grain A-Max and SST, 2800fps with the 168 grain VLD and 2700fps using the 180 grain VLD. These velocities duplicate 24” barreled custom throated .280 rifles.
For comments on hand loaded bullet performance, please see the .280 Remington text.
There are very few second hand 7x64 caliber rifles on the market. Those who use it, like it and aren't generally happy about parting with this effective cartridge.
Note: For hand load data see .280 Remington tables.
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