Hornady’s 7mm PRC, or Precision Rifle Cartridge, is being advertised as a 21st Century 7mm magnum, but what exactly does it bring to the table?
Hornady’s new 7mm PRC cartridge updates the 7mm caliber with modern cartridge design philosophies to get even more performance out of the 7mm/.284-caliber bullet. It promises even more performance potential than 7mm Remington Magnum without the drawbacks of previous hot 7mm rounds.
But is it worth ditching your Rem Mags for? Well, that’s a little complicated. Let’s dive in.
The 7mm PRC
7mm PRC uses a similar design ethos to 6.5mm Creedmoor and some other modern rifle cartridges. Namely, the case shoulders are blown forward and the bullet is seated further forward. This augments case capacity but can keep the overall length short enough to use in a standard (.30-06, aka long) action rifle.
The result is rather impressive. Advertised velocities put the 7mm PRC at just behind the true 7mm magnums like 7mm Weatherby Magnum, 7mm Shooting Times Westerner, 7mm Remington Ultra Magnum and 7mm Mashburn Super Magnum.
Hornady’s available loads for 7mm PRC currently include a 180-grain ELD Match at 2,975 fps, a 175-grain ELD-X at 3,000 fps, and a 160-grain CX copper monometal at 3,000 fps.
The drawback of 7mm Remington Magnum, of course, is that it never really pushed the 175-grain bullets to actual magnum velocities (most factory loads are 2,850 fps or slower), whereas the elder 7mm magnum loads push the 175-grain pills to 3,000 fps or more but require a magnum-length action. The 7mm PRC appears to solve this problem.
The implication is a superior long-range cartridge, especially for big game (arguably) short of the great bears. Early reviews indicate superlative accuracy, not only sub-MOA but close to 0.5-MOA.
In other words, 7mm PRC seems to be everything the 7mm Remington Magnum claims to be but is not, and it will almost certainly be cheaper than 7mm Weatherby Magnum which is barely any more powerful. As a bonus, rifles should be a lot more affordable too.
7mm PRC Vs. 7mm Remington Magnum
Firstly, 7mm PRC generates slightly more chamber pressure than 7mm Rem. Mag. (65,000 psi versus 61,000 psi) but fits in the same action length.
So…what does the extra pressure (and velocity) do for trajectory? Let’s start by taking a closer look at 7mm PRC (all ShootersCalculator charts were calculated using a 100-yard zero, a 1.5-inch height over bore, a 10 mph 90-degree crosswind and no atmospheric corrections).
Here’s a 1,000-yard trajectory for Hornady’s 160-grain CX load, calculated using the G1 ballistic coefficient of .596 and the advertised muzzle velocity of 3,000 fps:
As you can see, the bullet is still supersonic at 1,000 yards (in fact, it doesn’t go transonic until 1,600 yards) and still carries 1,000 foot-pounds of energy at 950 yards, which is the legal minimum in some states for big game.
Here’s the same table for Hornady’s 175-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter load, which has a mind-boggling G1 BC of .689:
Much the same story, but this time the bullet retains more than 1,000 foot-pounds of energy at 1,000 yards. In fact, it doesn’t fall below 1,000 foot-pounds until nearly 1,200 yards, and it stays supersonic until 1,850 yards. The bullet is traveling faster and carries more energy at 1,000 yards than a .44 Magnum at the muzzle.
Bear in mind, though, that the old 7mm Remington Magnum is a wickedly capable cartridge on its own. Factory loadings can sometimes fall short of their full potential…but how close is it to the 7mm PRC?
Hornady doesn’t offer 7mm Remington Magnum with either the 160-grain CX or 175-grain ELD-X, but here’s what a 160-grain CX trajectory would look like loaded to 2,850 fps:
While less impressive, consider that the 7mm Remington load is still supersonic at 1,000 yards (remaining so to just past 1,500 yards) and doesn’t drop below the 1,000-foot-pound minimum until just past 850 yards.
Were Hornady to offer the 175-grain ELD-X load in 7mm Rem. Mag. at typical velocities for 175-grain loads (around 2,850 fps), it would look something like this:
That’s still incredibly impressive, as the bullet retains more than 1,000 foot-pounds of energy and is still traveling at 1,676 fps at 1,000 yards. This load would remain supersonic to just beyond 1,725 yards and would still be traveling faster and carry more energy at 2,000 yards than the average 230-grain .45 ACP at the muzzle.
While Hornady’s new cartridge improves considerably on the 7mm Remington Magnum, you don’t get into any sort of serious difference until past 1,000 yards. From 0 to 300 yards, the 7mm Remington is a bit slower, drops slightly more and is a little more effected by wind than its 7mm PRC counterpart, but the differences are negligible.
An improvement? Yes, but you have to really push the limits of both for the advantages of 7mm PRC to become apparent.
7mm PRC Rifles
At the time of writing, the only major manufacturers offering factory rifles chambered for 7mm PRC are Savage Arms and Mossberg.
Savage is offering the Apex Hunter XP, Apex Storm XP, 110 Timberline, 110 Ultralite, 110 High Country and the new Impulse straight-pull rifle in both the Big Game and Mountain Hunter models. MSRP ranges from $709 for the Apex Hunter XP to $2,347 for the Impulse Mountain Hunter, which includes a PROOF Research carbon-fiber barrel.
Mossberg offers two models of their Patriot Predator bolt-action rifle, one with a matte blue barrel on a synthetic stock and one with a brown Cerakote finish on a Strata camo synthetic stock. These rifles retail for $519 and $616, respectively.
Custom rifle makers are starting to offer 7mm PRC models as well, and the cartridge can also be fired from a 7mm Rem. Mag. or .300 Win. Mag rifle with nothing more than a barrel swap.
Is Making The Switch Worth It?
So, should you get a new rifle chambered for 7mm PRC?
There’s no question that the 7mm PRC is an improvement on the 7mm Remington Magnum. It pushes the projectile to actual magnum velocities in a standard-length action and has serious potential as a cartridge with stunning long-range capability.
There’s no question that it would make an excellent choice of cartridge for medium game. There’s no question it would (and most likely will) do very well in long-range rifle matches as well.
The only real question is whether that extra capability actually means anything to you in the real world. Maybe it does, and maybe it doesn’t.
For most hunters, it’s not really going to make much difference. Shooting small- to medium-body whitetails at 200 yards or less hardly requires a bullet that’s still supersonic at 1,500 yards. Same thing goes for most hogs.
Game animals inside 400 yards aren’t going to notice a difference. A hole punched through the thoracic cavity at 2,200 fps is going to kill something just as easily as a hole of the same diameter punched in the same spot at 2,500 fps. Placement, as always, is the lion’s share of lethality.
If you’re a serious long-range rifle shooter and competitor, it may be that the seriously impressive trajectory and insanely high ballistic coefficient will give you a bit of an edge over a 6.5mm Creedmoor shooter. If so, then it might be worth it.
If you just plink on a steel silhouette 500 yards away in the back 40…probably not so much.
7mm Remington Magnum is probably not going anywhere. It’s one of the most popular rifle cartridges in the world for a reason, is incredibly capable with quality modern ammunition and will be cheaper than 7mm PRC for the foreseeable future.
However, most people who own a Porsche 911 will never meaningfully approach its mechanical limits either. They buy one because the car makes them happy, not because they have any real use for it. The only people who do really have a use for one are actual race car drivers.
The point here is that on paper, 7mm PRC is incredibly capable. If you have a real use for that capability, then by all means get in on it…but don’t let it stop you if you want it just because.
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