View Full Version : 7mm 120gr bullets

Northwest Cajun
December 30, 2004, 07:47 PM
Hi all,
I'm looking for a good lite 7mm bullet for deer and target practice.
My goal is to push them 2800-2900 fps out of a 20" youth rifle.
Here is what I've heard so far by doing searches on various boards:

Nosler 120BT better/ tougher than they used to be, good for deer
Hornady 120SP Varment bullet, no good for deer ,OK for anything smaller
Sierra Pro hunter, havent heard anything about them.
Speer makes 130's I'd go w/ hot core, havent heard anything about them.
Barnes triple shock,havent heard anything about them but probably pretty good.
Any recomindations?
"IF" I were to hunt pigs, I'd use the Hornady 139 SST or Interbond at around 2700fps Does that sound good?

Happy new year!

Long Path
December 31, 2004, 06:19 PM
I just sent a query to Sierra about the feasibility of the 120g ProHunter for deer at those velocities. (Note: At 7mm Mag velocities, I think that the 120 would be utterly inappropriate for deer.)

I don't know how heavily-constructed the 120 is. I load 120's in the .257 Rbts with good results as a deer load, and the Roberts is just a necked-down 7mm Mauser case. But that tells us nothing about the applicability of the larger caliber bullet. In general, I like the heavier 7mm bullets.

You know that the 140's and 150's (Game Kings or Pro Hunters) (http://www.sierrabullets.com/bullets/caliber.cfm?Type=rifle&Caliber=7MM) will be good deer bullets in the 7mm-- are you married to the 120's? You mention the "youth model," which leads me to believe that you're attempting to tame the recoil down for a small person, yes? You can push a 140g to 2700fps easily, and if you want reduced recoil, tone it down to 2600 fps. Lots more margin for error, should you hit a shoulder and/or need more penetration. :)

Northwest Cajun
December 31, 2004, 11:37 PM
Long path, You are right , sort of.
I'm building a Scout rifle in either 7mm-08 or 7x57( havent made up my mind yet, still in the planning stages) I'm looking for a light kicking load that is also good for a 150lb black tail @ 200yds. I like to (KISS) Keep it simple $#%^*! and stick to a one bullet load for everything. Powder will be Varget.I'd like to start with 120's, but if they wont do it, I'll move up to 139/140 which is about as heavy as I'll go.
I am planning to take a tactical rifle course later this summer and with shooting 150+ rounds in one day at targets 200-300 yds, I'd like the lightest kicking load out there but that can still do the job.

Happy new year!


Rich Lucibella
January 1, 2005, 09:45 AM
Makes no sense to me.

You're planning a Scout project. You're wedding that to a 7MM and then cutting down the bullet speed and weight to lighten the recoil. Hardly supports the KISS principle, IMHO. Check your ballistics tables.....that 120 grain, 2700 FPS bullet is gonna have a trajectory almost identical most .308 loads.

Hey, now...a .308, huh? Great deer/hog/varmint cartridge. Ammo in cheap supply. Light weight; non-punishing recoil. AND it's a short action....kinda perfect for a Scout rifle.

Hunting results with the light 7mm rounds have been almost universally reported as spotty at best; disastrous at worst.


Northwest Cajun
January 1, 2005, 10:44 AM
None taken, Happy New year!

Since I'm still in the planning stages, I welcome the critisiums.
If the 120gr 7mm bullet at the speeds I'll be pushing is equal in power & trajectory to the 150gr 308 round and has 1/4 the recoil out of a 6 & 1/2 lb rifle, thats exactly what I'm looking for. Same punch, smaller package.
It could also be used as a first rifle when my 7 y/o gets a little bigger or for my wife, if I could ever get her to go hunting with me. :)

I make all my own ammo, ( with the help of your wonderful website's data base, thanks) so practice ammo is easy.


Rich Lucibella
January 1, 2005, 11:53 AM
I don't think it's a "bad" idea or anything like that. Your money, your project. It's ALL good!

I just wonder if you'll accomplish what you believe you will.
I still don't follow some of the numbers:
- You intend to use a Magnum receiver to obtain short action trajectory, with less than standard .308 hunting effectiveness.
- You then intend to lighten the long action gun up to a basic .308 weight

Yet you expect it will exhibit 1/4 the recoil as the very caliber you're attempting to "back into". If that's possible just by using the lighter weight bullet, my hat is off to you. But I suspect you'll see recoil more in the .308 range than something significantly lighter....again with a less effective bullet.

If your wife or your boy at 8 or 9 can handle a .308, I think that's fine...though I still wonder why you wouldn't build it on an easier to operate short action frame. (Like the .308 which you can then download should someone in the family think it's still a bit much.;))

January 1, 2005, 11:59 AM
Check your ballistics tables.....that 120 grain, 2700 FPS bullet is gonna have a trajectory almost identical most .308 loads. Yup. Sure is nice to be able to duplicate the sectional density of a 150gr 308 bullet in a smaller, less demanding package. :)

Hunting results with the light 7mm rounds have been almost universally reported as spotty at best; disastrous at worst. I dunno about that. Maybe this is true with the bigger (overbored) 7mm chamberings, but I've had really good success with both Hornady and Sierra 120gr .284 bullets moving out at 2700fps in my 7x57. The last handful of deer taken with 140gr 7x57 or 150gr 308s lost more meat than I like, and the 120gr 7x57 downloads seem to help nicely in that regard.

I wouldn't use these loads for mulies or really big whitetails, but for anything from a large coyote to antelope to roe and fallow deer - it's the Hammer Of Thor. For the bigger deer, I switch to 139 Hornady's or 145gr Speers, also loaded to 2650fps-2700fps. As an aside, I just broke down and bought a box of 120gr .284 Barnes XBTs and will be trying them on fallow deer in about a month.

In case it hasn't come across, I am a big fan of the 'smaller' 7mm cartridges (e.g. 7x57 and 7mm/08) packaged into a sub-7 1/2lb field rifle (with scope). Down-loading 120gr bullets for the lighter, less-dense game seems to be just the ticket to get a decent trajectory, low recoil, and minimize meat damage.

Rich Lucibella
January 1, 2005, 12:19 PM
Thanks much for the correction and elucidation. I was ASS-uming 7mm Mag as opposed to the 7mm Mauser varieties.....and should have stated 7mm mag in each instance....BIG difference. (Also should have gleaned the info from the bullet weight. Don't see any offerings for the 7mm RemMag under 139 grains).

If we're talking about the 7X57, it makes great sense for a younger man or wife and should do quite well in a general rifle course also. Not a "short action", but not a "long action" either.

In the words of Emily Latella, "Never Mind". :D

Northwest Cajun
January 1, 2005, 01:04 PM
It would be a 7-08 or 7x57 but leaning tward a 7-08.
I hope to use a Rem model 7 youth or Howa 1500 youth in 7-08
If I go 7x57 it would be a small/intermidate mauser. It all depends what is avilable when I get back from my deployment.
I'm sorry I didn't state that in the first post.
I can see where you were comming from If you were thinking 7 mag. :eek:

rbernie, Please let me know what kind or performance you get from the 120's.This is the kind of info I was looking for.


Long Path
January 1, 2005, 05:05 PM
Yeah, I almost fell into that mistake, too, Rich.

But still-- I think that following the KISS priciple would involve going with a near duplication of an available factory round. The classic weight for the 7mm is the 140g, hands down. A lot of deer hunters who wanted a little flatter trajectories have appreciated the 130g load, but the improvement on the trajectory is really not much, and gives up some SD.

Keep in mind: The 7mm--08 in 140 is bound to have reduced recoil from the .308 150g at similar velocities. As Rich said, the .308 has a pretty tame recoil. Seriously-- I'm a big guy, but I'm no "Recoil Stud". A 150g .308 is really pretty pleasurable to shoot, so long as you're shooting a rifle with a decent stock. (Note: Ishapore SMLEs are the notable exception! They kick all out of proportion to the cartridge!)

But if you're married to the 120g, I think I'd look for the bullet that is of the strongest construction and gives practical accuracy out of your rifle. Do NOT make the mistake of picking a lighter-constructed bullet just because it's a little more accurate. The kind of rifle you're talking about is not a sniper rifle; you just need "practical accuracy." You don't need MOA accuracy, but you do need a bullet that can handle a variety of tasks. Looking at the Nosler Partitions (http://www.nosler.com/chartpartition.html), they offer four 7mm Partitions, but the lightest is the 140.

Paul B.
January 1, 2005, 06:44 PM
Well, I have a great deal of respect for the 7x57 round and the 7mm-08 is for all practical purposes the same thing. A neat round with reasonably mild recoil in light rifles.
However, and these are just my thoughts on the subject, there was a reason Jeff Cooper when he thought up the "scout" idea went to the .308/7.62 NATO round as the proper cartridge for the concept. One of his points was a round capable of taking game as heavy as 400 pounds, and possibly a bit heavier, using a 150 gr. bullet.
I have several rifles chambered to the .308 round, ranging in weight from 5.0 pounds to 11 pounds, all rifles with full magazines and scoped. The 5.0 pound rifle is built on a 1912 Steyr Mauser action with a very thin lightweight barrel and ultralight thumbhole stock. Recoil, even from the bench is no problem with my pet handload using 165 gr. bullets.
Personally, I feel that the .308 is more versital (sp) than the 7mm-08 inasmuch as if you should at some time down the road plan to hunt larger game than deer, aa .308 will take elk handily. Once you go with bullets heavier than about 150 gr., the bullets start cutting into the powder area of the 7mm-08, much more so than with the .308. You also have more options in handloading with the .308. My wife's favorite bench load is the 150 gr. Winchester Power Point bullet seated over 25.0 gr. of IMR-4895. Extremely accurate in her rifle and recoil seems to be almost nil. Our serious hunting load is 49.0 gr. of W-760 in Winchester brass with a 165 gr. Speer Hot-core. I've taken deer out to 250 yards with that load and recoil is quite tolerable from a Ruger 77 RSI. My wife has the same rifle, and that just happens to be the only load either of those two rifles seems to like.
My most accurate .308 is a Winchester M70 push feed that has delivered groups as small as .375" although .50 to .75 is more the norm. It outshoots my heavy barrelled Savage 110S. Go figure.
Hope I haven't given you the idea that I'm telling what to do, far from it. Just my thoughts based on shooting the .308 for about 32 years. :)
Paul B.

Northwest Cajun
January 1, 2005, 08:49 PM
Thanks Paul,
I've read two of Col Coopers books. I highly reccomend any of them for every rifleman. I know he thinks the .308 is ideal but he also says the 7-08 would do too.
I have a choice of 3 rifles for Elk. 30-06, .338-06 and a 45-70.Even though I could load a 7x57 or 7mm-08 to take an Elk, I have much better rifles that would work.
The scout will be for targets, deer or If I ever get back home, pigs. I think I have a grasp on it's capabilities.
BTW I have a 308 already, It's an M1A, kinda heavy to haul around the woods and the game warden would not take kindly to the 20 rd mags :rolleyes: :)
Thanks guys for all the inputs

January 3, 2005, 10:41 AM
Once you go with bullets heavier than about 150 gr., the bullets start cutting into the powder area of the 7mm-08 One of the reasons that I'm a fan of the 7x57 is the fact that I can run a 100gr varmint/plinking load (@ 2.945 OAL) and a 120gr light-skin game load (@ 2.945 OAL) and a 140gr mulie load (@ 2.975 OAL) and a 154gr elk load (@ 3.025) in the same rifle as I run a 175gr "BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY" load (@ 3.025 OAL). If a 160-175gr bullet won't drop 'em, I don't want to be hunting 'em. :D

Long Path
January 3, 2005, 06:50 PM
Just got this response back from the tech at Sierra Bullets:
Matt, the 120 works great in the 7x57 for deer with heart/lung shots. Just stay out of the shoulder with it at closer ranges. You will get expansion and not enough penetration from the shoulder blade at the higher velocity. We have a lot of people use that bullet with great success for women and kids, where they are trying to cut down on the recoil. In the 6.5x55 and 260 Remington, the 120 Pro Hunter ( #1720 ) for it also works great under the same type conditions. Hope this helps.

Carroll Pilant
Sierra Bullets

Rich Lucibella
January 3, 2005, 10:14 PM

January 5, 2005, 01:47 PM
In sectional density we trust.... :p

January 5, 2005, 08:45 PM
120's work just fine on Whitetails at that speed. I prefer the ballistic tips rfom Nosler.

Someday I'll list my 120gr 7mm STW experiment. 3750fps.......

Jeff Loveless
January 6, 2005, 12:03 AM
I've been down this road myself, maybe my experience can add something...

I normally hunt with a .280 Rem in a Model 700 Mountain Rifle. Light, handy - I love it. Have had excellent success past 12+ years using 140 and 150 Nosler Ballistic Tips on 125 -175 lb whitetails.

A couple of years ago my (then) 14 y/o daughter graduated to hunting on her own with 'my' rifle. It fit her well and she liked it. I got a Ruger M-77 in same caliber to use. Loaded some lighter, slower 120 gr Bt loads hoping the recoil wouldn't be too bad, so she could shoot and practice more. Also adhereing to KISS principal, I used them also. Both rifles sighted in, no chance of confusing ammo, etc. Plus, I wanted her to know that Dad was using the same ammo - that I had not planted some wimpy girl ammo on her!

At ~2700 fps, we've taken 4 average size deer in last 2 years. I cannot tell the difference from all the times I was using the heavier bullets. One shot kills each time - one deer going approx 40 yds b4 dropping, all the others less.

It is hard to tell if the recoil is really significantly less - maybe it is not. You never notice it when hunting anyway, and just telling her it SHOULD be less, plus her gaining more experience, etc might have done the trick. Either way the loads are accurate and deadly on shoulder, chest shots on average size Arkansas deer.

Having said that --- I/we will probably go back to the 140 gr load @ 3050 fps starting next year. I have a good supply of those bullets and she will consider it another stage of growing up to move up to the heavier bullets. I hope, anyway.

Bottom line - our goals are different perhaps, but the 120 gr 7mm Nosler Ballistic Tip at a reduced velocity has worked well for us. At least that would be the opinion of a 14-15 year old girl and her Dad.

Good luck,

Northwest Cajun
January 6, 2005, 11:00 AM
Thats exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for, THANKS! :)
It may be a year or two but I plan to hunt deer/ pigs in SW Arkansas. A buddy has 250 acers down there. I figure the rifle I'm building would be just about perfict.