7mm-08 for Elk Hunting: Why It's an Excellent Choice

Susan Fernandez November 11 2021

With its creation, the ammunition manufacturers and cartridge gunsmiths experimented with the cartridge and created several wildcat cartridges, such as 7mm-08 Remington. If you pay some attention to its name, you will see that 7mm-08 is a 308 cartridge and 7mm caliber combination. This blend of short-range cartridge and high BC (Ballistic Coefficient) bullet is becoming popular among hunters lately.

.308 is a well-known cartridge.7mm-08 has become the ideal choice for hunters when it comes to elk hunting. A light short action rifle, low recoil, and a vast range of impressive bullets are its benefits. It is not wrong to say that 7mm-08 is the ideal (.308) wildcat cartridge.

What is a wildcat cartridge?

It is a custom cartridge that is not mass-produced and is generally created to maximize a specific characteristic of an already accessible cartridge. 

So if you are looking to round for elk hunting, then 7mm-08 is an ideal choice. Still not convinced? Then let's take a deeper look and check why you should add it to your list.

7mm-08 Remington: A Light Rifle

Carrying all the supplies on your back for longer distances when hunting can become a daunting task. So every hunter knows the importance of lighter gear, and they try to lower the weight. Similarly, this weight adjustment also includes the rifle setup.

7mm-08 Remington makes the rifle lighter because it is a short action cartridge, meaning less metal is used in action's construction, and less metal means less weight  (action is the part of a firearm that loads, shoots, and ejects the bullet shell). 7mm-08 is derived from the .308 and has a short and slow twist. It can be used with different targets and purposes: deer hunting, black bear hunting, varmint hunting, elk hunting, etc.

These days lighter rifles have a weight of around 6 pounds which is quite low compared to 9 pounds long action. But some expensive 7mm-08 rifles are even lighter and weigh less than 5 pounds. One such example is Kimber Mountain Ascent it weighs around 4 pounds 13 ounces.

While it's true that heavier rifles help in tackling the recoil but 7mm-08 also has a plus point in this regard. The recoil of 7mm-08 is mild to the point that even young and new hunters can easily control it. The recoil reduction also improves the accuracy.


7mm-08 has a lot of advantages compared to the conventional .308 cartridge.

  1. One major benefit is the 7mm caliber. The 7mm bullets are slimmer and have a high BC (Ballistic Constant) which means that the drag of gravity and air on this bullet will be less than 30 calibers of .308 faces.
  2. Next comes the bullet selection. There is a vast variety of bullets you can choose from for your 7mm-08 cartridge. Hand loaders can build their perfect custom bullets to fulfill their needs. For a bigger game like an elk, you should choose a heavier bullet with more penetrating power, such as Hornady's ELD-X.
  3. Rifle chambering is another advantage. Unlike .308, 7mm-08 does not require a magnum action.

There are many "small" actions in the market which cost much less than magnum actions and can handle high-pressure cartridges like 7mm-08 easily. But it all depends on what you choose for yourself. Most of the time it comes down to the budget and rifle configuration you want to build. For example, if you already have an existing long-action heavy hunting rifle, then replacing it with a small lightweight 7mm-08 Remington is not advised because it will be useless for its original purpose (long-range).

Many hunters also favor 10 rounds over 5 rounds when using rifles for elk hunting or any other big game hunting.

7mm-08 Remington: Not Too Short But Not Too Long Either!

There are many calibers available in between 308 and 300 Win Mag, but most of them are short actions with an overall length (OAL) of 2.810". This makes them useless for long-range shooting because they hit the rifling before reaching the target.

7mm-08 is different, though. It has an OAL of 2.840". This range is good enough for long-range shooting and yet not too long to be a useless cartridge for short-action rifles.

Effective Range

When hunting a big animal like elk, the minimum recommended energy is 1500 ft-lbs, and 7mm-08 can generate this energy effortlessly with a 162-grain bullet. The effective range of 7mm-08 cartridge is 400 yards. 

When the bullet leaves the muzzle, it has around 2469 ft-lbs energy, and at around 200 yards, the energy will be around 1973 ft-lbs. 400 yards is the threshold where the energy will be reduced to 1555 ft-lbs.

What makes 7mm-08 suitable for Elk Hunting?

  • Suitable range: This cartridge can take down an Elk within 250 yards or less (if shot placement is good). It has a flatter trajectory than other calibers used for elk hunting, such as the .300 and .338 calibers. The lighter weight of the gun makes it easier to carry for longer distances as well.
  • Low recoil: 7mm-08 has mild recoil which allows hunters to maintain accuracy while taking a fast follow-up shot, making it an excellent choice for elk hunting.
  • Vast bullet variety: Hand loaders have a vast amount of options available when considering bullet type and alloy for 7mm-08 cartridge because there is no bottlenecked cartridge design that restricts case length or capacity compared to other cartridges such as the .30-06 Springfield or popular wildcats like .270 Win or 30/30 Winchester, etc.
  • Availability of factory ammo: There is a wide variety of factory ammunition available for 7mm-08 and it has been used extensively by hunters and target shooters.
  • Affordable: Factory ammo is less expensive compared to other popular cartridges such as the .300 Win Mag, 30/30 Winchester, etc., which makes it an affordable option for those who hunt elk periodically.

Tips for elk hunting

  1. Ensure safety: Always make sure that you are safe while hunting because when it comes to big game hunting, one shot is enough to take down the animal. Do not take long follow-up shots with 7mm-08 cartridges because elk can run very fast and can cause significant damage if hit in the wrong places.
  2. Know the effective range of your cartridge: When hunting, you should know how far is too far for your cartridge so that you do not waste bullets on overly long shots which will definitely lose most of its energy before reaching the target.
  3. Practice firing at longer distances: Experienced hunters always practice firing at ranges between 300 yards and 500 yards because this range matters a lot in big game hunting.
  4. Practice shooting prone position: Prone position is excellent for taking down an elk, so practice it before the hunting season begins to avoid wasting time while in the field.
  5. Shoot for vitals: The best place to aim when using a 7mm-08 cartridge for Elk Hunting is the heart/lung area because this spot provides a quick and humane kill and prevents meat loss too, especially if hit behind the shoulder.

7mm-08 is an ideal cartridge for hunting elk because it has a lot of advantages to offer. From long-range shooting capability to low recoil, 7mm-08 has got you covered. Before taking up Elk Hunting with 7mm-08, always remember to practice firing your rifle at longer distances so that you can maximize its potential.