" Shooting the 7 mm-08 at Rio Salado
Winchester Model 70 Featherweight 7 mm -08
Recently I received a new model 70 in 7mm-08 for testing and evaluation. This model is also offered in the 22-250, 243 and 308 calibers. I wanted the 7 mm 08 because I haven’t had a chance to work with one and I feel that in a lightweight package it would be a good choice. I also wanted to have an effective hunting rifle that is both light and has low recoil. This rifle is excellent for small framed hunters and beginners. The 7 mm -08 was introduced in 1980 by Remington, though it was a wildcat since 1958. It is an efficient cartridge which makes it desirable for handloading. In the past 30 years with the improvements in ammo and bullets the 7mm has really come into its own. It is a good example of an effective hunting rifle that won’t stomp you. Low recoiling rifles are a lot easier to shoot then a shoulder buster. That is especially true with beginning shooters. Due to its more streamlined bullets it will out range its parent the 308. It would be nifty in 338 Federal and 358 Winchester caliber offerings. Recoil would go up but not enough to bother an experienced hunter.
Shooting the Winchester model 70 in 7 mm -08 The Hawkeye scope proved to work well with the model 70
The rifle is quite handsome with a nice piece of wood for the stock. The 20” barrel has no sights but the receiver is drilled and tapped for a scope. The MSRP is $899 which would take it out of the low price range. Personally for that price they should include a Weaver base which would cost them a very few dollars. The bluing is nice and even which enhances the attractiveness of the gun. It has the controlled feed action based on the Mauser model 98 which is a major plus in my book. It has the three position safety which allows you to empty your gun when on safe or it can lock the bolt closed. That is a good feature if you are walking through low hanging tree branches as they won’t open up the bolt without you knowing it. The MOA trigger is easily adjustable and has no creep or over travel. I did not find it necessary to adjust the trigger on my sample. All in all it is a nice compact rifle offered in some flat shooting calibers. With those calibers offered it would be good out to 300 yards for some big game animals. The 22-250, one of my all time favorites, would be a joy to hunt varmints with. I think that if Winchester brought out a plain Jane version with a composite stock for less money they might have a winner as more shooters may opt for it as opposed to the more expensive model. Anyway it is just my opinion for what it is worth.
Factory ammo worked well in this test
For shooting I mounted a Hawkeye 3 X 9 scope which proved to have excellent optics. It also has a lighted reticule which is handy in low light situations. The adjustments are very easy to work with and you don’t need a screwdriver as in some other scopes. Also the power adjustment is also very easy to work with. I have used some scopes that are hard to adjust from 3 to 9 X. The Hawkeye scope line contains many products such as spotting scopes and binoculars. For more info on these fine products you can go to http://www.hawkeoptics.com/ to shop online or find a local dealer. I received ammo from Barnes, Hornady and Doubletap. After sighting in we shot some groups at 100 yards. We were getting groups of 1 to 1 & ½’ which I thought were a little large but we were contending with a brisk wind that was blowing from right to left at varying speeds which did nothing to shrink the groups. The targets were also moving from side to side which enhanced accuracy not a bit. I have shot those brands of ammo a lot and I know that they are capable of better accuracy then we obtained on that day. Recoil was pleasant and functioning was perfect as expected. A second trip to the range improved the groups somewhat. As with any rifle it has its preferences in ammo. That is the fun in experimenting and reloading. Not only do you get more practice but you get to know your rifle and ammo better.
Cast bullets work well
As I always do I let several people with varying amounts of experience shoot it in order to get some feedback. Everyone was impressed with its looks and shooting. One young lady really liked it and in fact was hitting a 200 yard target with no problems. The Hawkeye scope also received good reviews. One comment made by a couple of shooters was the bolt was smooth, a feature sometimes not found in new guns. It seemed like it was already broken in. I shot some factory ammo and all of it performed well and would be suitable for hunting. For info on these fine brands of ammo you can go to http://www.hornady.com/bullets/rifle or http://www.barnesbullets.com/ http://www.doubletapammo.com/php/catalog/index.php I used Barnes, Hornady and Sierra bullets for my handloads you can go to their sites for bullets and www.sierrabullets.com for their line of reloading bullets.
I wanted to chronograph some loads to get an idea as to its potential. In power the 7 mm-08 is similar to the much older 7 X 57 Mauser though the Mauser can be loaded up a bit more because of slightly larger case capacity. That would be true only in modern strong rifles and the difference would be insignificant especially with light bullets.
LOAD BULLET VELOCITY COMMENT
48 X IMR 4895 100 grain Hornady HP 3094 high es
8 X Trail Boss 100 grain Hornady HP 1312 nice
45 X IMR 4895 120 grain Hornady 2932 ok
Barnes 120 grain 2973 accurate
42 X IMR4895 139 grain Hornady G-Max 2608 ok
Hornady 139 grain G-Max 2837 consistent
Double Tap 140 grain TTSX 2793 nice
48 X 760 140 grain Sierra FB 2768 consistent
8 X Trail Boss 140 grain cast RN 1204 very consistent
8 X Trail Boss 145 grain cast sp 1162 accurate
45 X Big Game 150 grain Barnes TTSX 2530 ok
45 X Big Game 150 grain Barnes X 2545 nice
42 X Big Game 175 grain Hornady 2339 woods load
During the testing there were no malfunctions of any kind. It turned out to be quite a flexible rifle as there is a very large selection of 7 mm bullets second only to the 30 calibers. The rifle handled everything well including the cast bullet loads. I had three different ladies shoot it and in spite of the fact that they were beginners they handled the rifle just fine. The loads I listed are representative of the verity of bullets available. Due to its mildness premium bullets are not necessary though they can be put to good use. Since the case is fairly small it isn’t temperamental to reload such as a larger case may be. The medium range powders work the best though with a heavy bullet a slower powder may do ok.
Model 70 is easy for a woman to shoot
If you don’t mind paying the asking price this is a good choice for a light compact hunting rifle. For a woman or youngster it makes an ideal rifle for a verity of large game hunting and wouldn’t be bad for varmints such as coyotes. If you are shopping for a rifle in this price range I can recommend that you give this model a try. For more info on this fine rifle and other Winchester products you can go to www.winchester.com
Weight 6 & ½ lbs
Safety 3 position
Trigger MOA adjustable
Sights none Tapped for scope
Total Length 39 & ½”
Drop @ comb ½”
Drop @ heel ¾”