Best 7mm-08 Ammo For Hunting Elk, Deer & Other Game

Many people use the sweet shooting 7mm-08 Remington for hunting deer, elk, and many other species of game with great results. Here are a few outstanding 7mm-08 ammo options that will serve you very well on your next hunt.

The cartridge we now know as the 7mm-08 first came on the scene as a wildcat cartridge descended from the .308 Winchester. Using a .308 case necked down to shoot 7mm/.284″ bullets, the 7mm-08 Remington cartridge has long been a favorite of hunters who want a short action cartridge that offers a good balance of manageable recoil, a relatively flat trajectory, and plenty of killing power on medium sized game.

Not surprisingly, the 7mm-08 cartridge quickly caught on with North American hunters when Remington formally standardized the the cartridge back in 1980 and it remains a favorite to this day.

For that reason, just about every big ammunition manufacturer like Barnes, Browning, Federal Premium, Hornady, HSM, Norma, Nosler, Prvi Partizan (PPU), Remington, Swift, and Winchester produces several different variants of 7mm-08 ammo for hunting deer, bear, elk, and many other big game animals.

While the 7mm-08 Remington excels on deer sized game, it can also be quite effective on bigger game like elk and even moose when using high quality ammunition loaded with premium bullets. The cartridge also has relatively mild recoil and is therefore fairly popular with small framed and/or recoil shy hunters.

It’s important to realize that different hunting situations necessitate the use of different kinds of 7mm-08 ammo for best performance and using the wrong ammunition can lead to disastrous results.

For instance, a mild recoiling load that’s ideal for use on whitetail deer at short range requires would be a terrible choice for use on really big game like elk.

The 7mm-08 Remington can be quite effective on elk and even moose. To be perfectly honest, the cartridge is on the light side for game that size though, so proper bullet selection is critical if you plan on using the 7mm-08 for elk.

Fortunately, hunters now have access to a great selection of controlled expansion 7mm bullets that perform very well on really big game like elk and moose.

Lightweight 120 grain and 125 grain bullets are great for deer hunting, but hunters who use those lighter bullets on larger game will very likely experience issues with poor penetration, especially on steeply quartering shots. For this reason, I strongly recommend using premium quality controlled expansion bullets that are 140 grains or heavier if you plan on using the 7mm-08 Remington for hunting really big game like moose.

Keep all of this in mind when you select 7mm-08 ammo for an upcoming hunt.

Additionally, while they are very accurate and are certainly capable of killing big game animals, I don’t recommend using bullets designed for target shooting like the Sierra MatchKing or Hornady ELD Match for hunting.

This is because target or match bullets usually aren’t designed for optimum terminal performance on big game animals and you may run into issues with poor penetration. 

Instead, it’s best to stick with 7mm-08 Remington ammo specifically designed for hunting that uses soft point, jacketed hollow point, or similar hunting bullets.

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of 7mm-08 factory loads specifically designed for just almost any big game hunting situation. So, regardless of whether you’re using a bolt action a Remington Model 700, a Ruger Hawkeye, a Savage 110, a Tikka T3, a Weatherby Vanguard, or some other hunting rifle, there is pretty much guaranteed to be something for everyone on the list below of the best 7mm-08 ammunition for hunting.

In this article, I’m going to show you the best 7mm-08 ammo for hunting deer, pronghorn, black bear, feral hogs, elk, moose, and all sorts of other big game. I’ll also go over the strengths and weaknesses of each individual load and help you select the right ammunition for your specific needs.

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Federal Premium Nosler AccuBond

Best 7mm-08 Ammo For Hunting federal accubond

Federal Premium offers a loading that uses a 140 grain Nosler AccuBond bullet, which is perfect for those in need of some quality 7mm-08 ammo for deer, elk, or bear hunting.

Just like the name says, the AccuBond is a bonded bullet where the lead core is chemically bonded to the jacket, so you don’t have to worry about the bullet “grenading” or expanding too rapidly upon impact. It’s not quite as tough as the Nosler Partition, but these features make the AccuBond a much better choice for an elk hunt than typical cup and core bullets from Nosler, like the Nosler Ballistic Tip.

At the same time, AccuBond bullets are pretty darn aerodynamic and will reliably expand at lower impact velocities. So, this ammunition delivers nice extended range performance without being too fragile for close range shots on big game.

Add it all up and this 140 AccuBond load is ideal for game like deer and pronghorn and will also work on larger and tougher game like black bear and elk.

  • Bullet Type: Nosler AccuBond
  • Bullet Weight: 140 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .485
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,850 feet per second

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Also Available at: Optics Planet and Palmetto State Armory.

Barnes VOR-TX

Those who really like Barnes bullets are in luck because Barnes produces 7mm-08 ammo as part of their VOR-TX line. Featuring their legendary copper Tipped Triple Shock X (TTSX) bullets, this ammunition is designed for rapid expansion, high weight retention, and deep penetration. Specifically, Barnes manufactures a single load in 7mm-08 using 120 grain bullets.

This high velocity 120 grain load is great 7mm-08 ammo for deer and pronghorn hunting. Some hunters use this ammunition on bigger game like elk, but I think there are much better ammunition choices if you want to use your 7mm-08 for elk hunting. In particular, I think Federal’s loadings with the 140 grain Trophy Copper and 140 grain AccuBond are both better options for elk hunting with the 7mm-08 Remington.

This load is also 100% copper, which makes it an ideal choice of lead free 7mm-08 hunting ammunition for use in states like California that that don’t permit the use of lead bullets.

  • Bullet Type: TTSX Boat Tail
  • Bullet Weight: 120 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .373
  • Muzzle Velocity: 3,005

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Also Available at: Natchez Shooters Supplies and Palmetto State Armory

Federal Premium Trophy Copper

Best 7mm-08 Ammo For Hunting federal trophy copper

Hunters in search of a high quality alternative to Barnes bullets should definitely check out Federal Premium’s new Trophy Copper line of ammunition, which has been endorsed by the MeatEater crew. Like the Barnes TTSX, the Trophy Copper provides a devastating mix of high weight retention, rapid, yet controlled controlled expansion (to approximately twice the original diameter), and deep straight-line penetration.

This ammunition is available using a 140 grain bullet, which is a much better option for hunting bigger game like elk than the 120 grain bullet used in the Barnes VOR-TX line for the cartridge. With those things in mind, this 140 grain Trophy Copper load is an outstanding choice of 7mm-08 ammo for elk, moose, or bear hunting where it’s really important to use a heavy, well constructed bullet.

This is also perfect 7mm-08 ammunition for an African safari where really large or tough game like blue wildebeest, kudu, or eland are on the menu. This ammunition is not just limited to really big, tough game either. Indeed, it’s also great for game like whitetail and mule deer.

In fact, this is my #1 recommendation for the best all-around 7mm-08 ammo for hunting most species of North American big game like deer, elk, black bear, pronghorn, and feral hogs.

With proper shot placement, this ammunition will deliver excellent performance if it hits bone or soft tissue at short range as well as at several hundred yards. Just aim for the vitals, do your part as a shooter, and the bullet will do the rest.

Federal Premium Trophy Copper ammunition is another choice of lead free 7mm-08 hunting ammunition for use in states like California that that don’t permit the use of lead bullets.

  • Bullet Type: Federal Trophy Copper
  • Bullet Weight: 140 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .489
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,800 feet per second

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Also Available at: Optics Planet and Palmetto State Armory

Hornady Custom Lite

Best 7mm-08 Ammo For Hunting hornady lite

The 7mm-08 Remington is a popular cartridge for new, small framed, and or recoil shy hunters. In particular, it’s a common choice for children to hunt with.

With this in mind, Hornady offers a reduced recoil 7mm-08 option as part of their Custom Lite line of ammunition. This is a reduced power load that uses a lighter bullet fired at a slower than usual velocity. This results in an exceptionally mild recoiling 7mm-08 load that’s still deadly on deer sized game at short to moderate range.

This ammunition is loaded with a 120 grain Hornady SST bullet, which has a reputation for great accuracy. The SST bullet will also still reliably expand at low impact velocities, which makes it a good choice for a reduced power loading like this one. With all that in mind, it will deliver good terminal performance, but don’t expect a complete pass through (even on a broadside shot), especially on bigger bodied animals.

With all that in mind, this is great 7mm-08 deer hunting ammo for recoil shy hunters. So if you need an accurate, low recoiling 7mm-08 ammo choice for your child to deer hunt with, then Hornady’s Custom Lite 7mm-08 ammo is just what the doctor ordered.

Since this load fires such a light bullet at a low muzzle velocity (just 2,675 fps), I DON’T recommend using this ammo on bigger game like elk or taking shots on deer past about 200 yards with it though.

  • Bullet Type: SST
  • Bullet Weight: 120 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .365
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,675 feet per second

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Also Available at: Brownells, Natchez Shooters Supplies, Optics Planet, and Palmetto State Armory

Hornady Precision Hunter

Best 7mm-08 Ammo For Hunting hornady precision hunter

The 7mm-08 Remington is not commonly thought of as a long range cartridge. However, it actually has better extended range performance than many people think (better than the 6.5 Creedmoor in many respects).

Well, Hornady’s Precision Hunter line does include the 7mm-08. That load is a very good 7mm-08 ammo option for hunters looking to squeeze every bit of long range performance out of the cartridge. Loaded with the extremely aerodynamic Extremely Low Drag eXpanding (ELD-X) bullet, this ammo is perfect for western hunters going after game like mule deer or pronghorn who need the very best 7mm-08 ammo for a long range hunting situation.

Hornady advertises that the ELD-X bullet has the best-in-class ballistic coefficients over their entire trajectory and that their Precision Hunter ammunition also offers match grade accuracy (usually sub-MOA).

Though the ELD-X does not have a bonded core like the Hornady InterBond, the ELD-X does feature a thicker jacket and an InterLock ring to help control expansion, increase weight retention, and minimize the chances of core-jacket separation. For this reason, the ELD-X is still devastating on deer and pronghorn sized game, but it’s also a much better choice than their SST bullet for use on larger game.

While it’s possible to use even heavier bullets in handloads, most 7mm-08 factory ammo tops out with 140 grain bullet weights. However, this load utilizes a 150 grain bullet, which is one of the heavier bullets available for the cartridge.

Add it up and you have some 7mm-08 ammunition that’s capable of delivering great terminal performance on a wide range of big game for shots at 400+ yards.

  • Bullet Type: Hornady Extremely Low Drag eXpanding
  • Bullet Weight: 150 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .574
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,770 feet per second

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Also Available at: Natchez Shooters Supplies, Optics Planet, and Palmetto State Armory

Remington Core Lokt

Best 7mm-08 Ammo For Hunting remington

Are you a “meat and potatoes” kind of hunter who just wants some reasonably priced and dependable 7mm-08 ammo for hunting deer, feral hogs, and black bear? Well, Remington’s 140 grain Core Lokt soft point will probably work really well for you.

This ammo is not the latest and greatest stuff by any means. However, this 7mm-08 Remington ammunition has been around for a long time and untold numbers hunters have successfully used Core Lokt ammo to take just about every species of big game in North America.

These are good bullets and a hit with one through the vitals of a deer, hog, or even a black bear will make for a very short tracking job. After all, there’s a reason why the Core-Lokt bullet is called the “deadliest mushroom in the woods.”

With all that in mind, Remington Core-Lokt ammo would not be my first choice for use on bigger game like elk or moose. However, it will certainly work in that role and lots of elk and moose hunters use this ammunition successfully each year, especially on cow elk or immature bulls.

This ammunition is very reasonably priced and has one of the lowest costs per round out of all the 7mm-08 ammo on this list though. If you’re on a strict budget and can’t afford premium ammunition, then I’d suggest using the 140 grain Remington Core Lokt load above any of the other “budget” 7mm-08 ammo options, especially if you want to use it on bigger game.

  • Bullet Type: Core-Lokt Pointed Soft Point (PSP)
  • Bullet Weight: 140 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .390
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,860 feet per second

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Also Available at: Cabela’s, Natchez Shooters Supplies, Optics Planet, and Palmetto State Armory

Winchester Deer Season XP

Best 7mm-08 Ammo For Hunting winchester

The 7mm-08 is one of the most popular cartridges used by deer hunters in the United States. Not surprisingly, Winchester offers a 7mm-08 load as part of Deer Season XP line of ammunition. The Extreme Point bullet this rifle ammo uses is similar to Winchester’s Power Point bullet, but the Extreme Point has a large diameter polymer tip that’s specifically designed to produce a gigantic wound channel along with massive impact trauma.

This normally results in a very short tracking job and a very easy to follow blood trail. Additionally, Deer Season XP ammo is designed specifically to compete with other popular whitetail deer hunting ammo options like Federal Fusion, Federal Power-Shok, Hornady American Whitetail, Winchester Super-X, and Winchester Ballistic Silvertip in terms of accuracy, reliability, and terminal performance.

The Winchester Deer Season XP line is also competitively priced and has one of the lowest costs per round out of all the 7mm-08 Remington ammo choices on this list.

So, not only does this ammo have a reputation for producing a giant wound channel and minimizing the distance deer run after being hit, but it’s also very reasonably priced 7mm-08 ammo. All things considered, this Winchester ammo is one of my top recommended brands of 7mm-08 ammo for whitetail deer hunting.

I do NOT recommend using Deer Season XP ammo for bigger game like elk or moose. If you need a budget ammo option for hunting bigger game, go with the 140 grain Remington Core Lokt I previously recommended.

  • Bullet Type: Extreme Point
  • Bullet Weight: 140 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .484
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,800 feet per second

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Also Available at: Natchez Shooters Supplies and Optics Planet

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The Lyman 50th Edition (p205-206), and Hornady 10th Edition (p364-369) reloading manuals were used as references for this article. 

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