Consider the 7x57mm Mauser for Handloading
Date: Nov 13 2020
With all the new or improved cartridges on the market today, I’m sure the 7x57 Mauser is not on your “hit list” as a cartridge for your next rifle or hunt. But then again, if you consider that some of the great hunters like W.D.M Bell, Jim Corbett or Jack O’Connor and his wife, Eleanor, enjoyed the company of both a rifle and cartridge in this caliber, possibly a second look is in order, but you’ll have to work hard to use it in the field.
First, these rifles are not that easy to find, but they are out there, albeit on the secondary market. In 1981, Remington introduced its famous “Classic” series and the first one out of the gate was the 7x57 Mauser. Checking the internet, these rifles can be found, ranging from Ruger (both the M77 and Ruger No. 1), Merkel, Winchester Super Grade, CZ 550 and Rigby. For the price of $7,000 to $14,000, the Rigby’s will include a free safari with the purchase of these custom rifles. Custom builders will jump at the chance to build you one, and Bishop for example, made mine many years ago on an Interarms Mark X action fine-tuned for the cartridge.
Okay, now that we have a rifle (we hope), handloading the 7x57 just adds to the fun. While some may turn away from a vintage cartridge like the 7x57, keep in mind that ballistically, it is more than adequate for most North American big game following closely behind the .270 Winchester or the .280 Remington. With bullet weights going up from 100 to 175 grains in various designs and configurations, this cartridge can be tailored to most any chore in the hunting field.
Dies are not a problem with just about everyone from Hornady, RCBS, Lee, Lyman or Redding offering their wares in a multitude of models in two or three die sets. Primers are standard with no mention of magnum primers needed. Brass is available brand new from most of the big hitters in the industry, as is once-fired brass at gun shows. When it comes to powders, the 7x57 is so versatile that just about everything from H-4895 to IMR-7828 can be used with great success.
My own experience shows that the 7x57 Mauser is not only an accurate cartridge with one-inch groups or less as a normal with my favorites below, but easy and tolerable with a variety of components. For small game, the Hornady 120-grain hollowpoint with 45.5 grains of H-4895 will hit the low side of 3,100 fps. A 140- or 150-grain bullet with Reloder-19 and 49.5 or 50 grains will get you accuracy with a mean velocity of around 2,850 fps. I found Winchester 760 good for most any 160-grain selection (45 grains) and moving up to the heavier 175-grain Nosler, IMR-4064 is a good bet with 40 grains for 2,430 fps.
In this day and age of high-powered this or high tech that, it’s nice to have a cartridge you can rely on for any hunting foray in the field. While your buddy might have a super-duper, knock-me-down .30 caliber magnum; count on the 7x57 Mauser to bring home the bacon with less recoil, great accuracy and all with a cartridge that has nothing to prove. After all, it’s been around for 128 years.
That should say it all…