7mm PRC - is it that good?
Does the 7mm PRC live up to the hype, or is it just another 7mm magnum?
I'll review it for longer range hunting performance, against seven other 7mm cartridges.
And do it based on metrics, including:
• Killing Power Score
• Windage go/no-go charts
• Weapons Employment Zone analysis
This is a blog packed with information. To help you and me answer the big question.
Is the 7mm PRC really any good.
This Blog is all about the 7mm PRC.
Does it live up to the expectations? Or is it just hype?
Before we get started, I suggest you combine this information with other sources to get both breadth and depth in your assessment.
Should I get a 7mm PRC?
I shoot a 7x64, which is similar to a 280 Remington.
But I've long been in the market for a more potent 7mm cartridge.
I originally had my eyes on the 7mm Remington Magnum, but I am intrigued by the 7mm PRC.
Not because I'm into true long-range hunting.
But because I think that even at regular hunting ranges, a ballistically superior cartridge will give me more options to shoot, a greater margin for error, and more downrange authority.
Am I right, or am I wrong?
Is the 7mm PRC the ticket.
Let's find out.
But how do we evaluate the cartridges?
I'll review it from four different perspectives.
• Core specs
• Killing Power Score
• Windage go/no-go charts
• Weapons Employment Zone analysis
I've decided to compare it with established 7mm cartridges, to understand if the 7mm PRC is a fantastic, as some folks claim.
For clarity, here's how I designed the test.
I wanted to be practical, so I based it on factory ammunition.
And I wanted it to focus on best of class ballistic performance for hunting, so I used data for Hornady Precision Hunter ammunition.
I ran my last test based on similar sectional density values, to get a like-for-like comparison for deer sized animals.
Here, I've gone with the heaviest bullet available in the factory ammunition. To get the best ballistic performance.
The 7mm PRC has been SAAMI specced with an 8" twist. All the other cartridges are 9" or 9.5".
And, that's where the PRC scores the first point, in my view.
The faster twist rate allows you to shoot longer bullets. Which is important when you pick long sleek high-BC bullets.
And as you will see from this diagram, it's only the PRC that's loaded to shoot the 175 grain ELD-X bullet.
A quick test revealed that the stability factor for this bullet starts to drop below the optimal threshold when used in a barrel with a 9" twist.
This fact is not just about long-range hunting. It's also relevant for folks like me, who are soon forced to use mono-metal bullets.
This type of bullet is longer, due to the lower density of the material. And it requires a faster twist rate to stabilize.
When compared with traditional lead bullets.
That's one of the challenges I have with my current rifles. Something I want my next rifle to address.
Accuracy and extreme Spread
The engineers at Hornady have proved their worth with the 6.5 Creedmoor.
It's one of the biggest successes in modern cartridge development in my view. Both performance-wise, but also commercially.
Can they replicate that success with the 7mm PRC?
The folks at Hornady highlight a couple of points about the 7mm PRC that are worth including.
Here's what they say.
"It designed from the start to allow long, aerodynamic bullets to be used without having to be seated too deeply into the case. This results in less infringement on powder capacity and lends to high levels of accuracy and minimal extreme spread for muzzle velocity."
Firstly, it means you can make better use of the entire case capacity when using long bullets.
And I think that's a real benefit. Given most of the other 7mm cartridges weren't developed for today's long bullets.
That's another plus.
Secondly, accuracy and extreme spread for muzzle velocity are big factors when it comes to long-range hunting.
Accuracy is also a critical factor for longer shots and in strong winds. Even if you're someone who doesn't engage in true long-range hunting.
It's great if the 7mm PRC is easy to develop accurate loads for. I don't have any data, though. And to the best of my knowledge, none of the other candidates are inaccurate.
They can all be accurate with careful load development.
So I can't award any point on that basis.
Minimum muzzle velocity
Bullets are built to work within muzzle velocity minimum and maximum.
And it's worth checking how the bullets fare.
The ELD-X bullets are designed to work down to 1600 fps.
The 7mm-08 hits this minimum at 865 yards, the 280 Remington does it at 920, and the 280 AI does it at 965 yards.
The rest were above the threshold out to the 1000 yards I ran the test data for.
Based on other test data, I suppose the PRC will be the winner here, but as I'm not a long-range hunter, all of the cartridges meet the minimum specs way further than I will take a shot.
Now we've ticked the boxes for the foundational specs.
Let's look at how the cartridges compare with regards to Killing Power Score.
In a past deer cartridge test, I used the Killing Power Score.
You have to be careful when using any kind of formula. Or any kind of threshold, for that matter.
With that said, I think the killing power score is a good indicator. As long as you use it with other metrics. And as the basis for a sound evaluation.
I'll make a separate video on the Killing Power Score. I'll link to it here and in the playlist at the end of the video.
Let's look at the scores.
For the record, this table includes the threshold for CXP4. Which are thick- skinned, dangerous animals.
Maybe apart from black bear, which I don't have any experience hunting, none of these cartridges are suitable for CXP 4. And certainly not with the ELD-X bullet.
This emphasizes the fact that you should be cautious when using these metrics.
A lot more could be said, but I'll park that for another video.
The takeaway here is really quite simple.
The 7mm PRC is capable, power-wise, way beyond what I will use it for.
But so are most of the other cartridges.
The greater KPS comes at a cost. Recoil.
These catridges are not heavy recoiling in the greater scheme of things, but enough that you can't get away with a sloppy shooting position.
By the way, the 7mm-08 and the 280 Remington are only here for comparison.
They're not on my own list of actual contenders.
So far, so good.
At this point, we've seen the PRC tick all the boxes for CXP 3 game out to quite long ranges.
And you can almost call them hygiene factors.
But we still haven't touched on the big question.
How does the 7mm PRC perform with regard to wind drift?
Types of shot
In the RedKettle efficient hunting framework, we operate with three types of shots.
1. Maximum point-blank range
2. Dialling for bullet drop
3. Dialling for bullet drop and wind drift
I won't go into them in detail here, but mention two things.
When I say maximum point-blank range, I refer to both the horizontal and the vertical components. Which are bullet drop, wind drift, and the maximum group spread.
And compensating for wind drift is an advanced technique.
Don't try something you haven't demonstrated you can do consistently and confidently on a range.
Go/no-go wind comparison
For scenarios 1 and 2, you want to understand how far you can shoot. Given three components:
• Target size
• Wind value
• System accuracy
The target size is the vital zone or what other part of the animal you have decided to go for.
The wind value is the combined effect of wind speed and direction.
And the system accuracy is the combined accuracy of you and the rifle from a given shooting position.
Together they will help you calculate go/no-go charts.
I could talk a lot more about this stuff, but will reserve that for another video.
Instead, let's look at two scenarios.
A large deer vital zone of 10" and a bull elk vital zone of 18".
Yes, you can find bull elk with larger vital zones, but 18" is a good number for an adequate shot.
And, this is a comparison, so the exact number is less important than how the individual cartridges compare.
Go/no-go charts for 10" vital zone
First, look at go/no-go charts for a 10" vital zone.
The clear winners are the 7mm PRC and the 28 Nosler.
For 10 mph wind, the Nosler looks a step worse, but it's due to rounding and the resolution of the measurements.
The Nosler gets there by burning a lot of powder.
The PRC does this with a higher BC bullet.
You could feed the Nosler a heavy bullet, but you'd have to get a gunsmith to build you a rifle with a barrel in an 8" twist. Not even Nosler themselves do that in a factory offering.
And I want to base this test on a practical approach as much as possible.
Saying that, I have to play the devils advocate.
Because right now, anything 7mm Nosler is difficult to come by. We'll get back to that later.
Even if the PRC and the Nosler take the first place, how do they compare to the other cartridges?
The index scores will help answer that question.
Apart from the 7mm-08, which is not even a contender, they're all in the nineties. For all wind values.
I must admit, I had expected the PRC to leave the other candidates a little further behind. Apart from the 28 Nosler.
But it is consistently better. Enough that it's a plus in my book.
By the way, it's worth examining a specific example.
Imagine a situation where you are able to shoot your system at 1 MOA accuracy.
And you're hunting a large deer with a 10" vital zone.
You know the maximum wind value on the day is 10 miles per hour.
Then you can shoot at the following distances without adjusting for wind.
• 7mm-08 at 245 yards
• 280 Rem at 255 yards
• 280 AI at 260 yards
• 7mm WSM at 265 yards
• 7mm PRC at 280 yards
• 7mm Rem Mag at 265 yards
• 7mm STW at 270 yards
• 28 Nosler at 275 yards
The PRC has 20 yard futher reach than the 280 AI.
It doesn't sound like much, but there's a different way of seeing the windage data.
Which I'll get to when we talk about Weapon Employment Zone analysis.
What about the same scenario for a bull elk?
Go/no-go charts for a 18" vital zone
Let's look at the go/no-go charts for an 18" vital zone.
Which is a good standard for a bull elk if you want to give yourself a healthy margin for error.
For an 18" vital zone, under the same conditions, you're looking at the following maximums.
• 7mm-08 at 335 yards
• 280 Rem at 350 yards
• 280 AI at 355 yards
• 7mm WSM at 365 yards
• 7mm PRC at 385 yards
• 7mm Rem Mag at 360 yards
• 7mm STW at 370 yards
• 28 Nosler at 380 yards
That's about 100 yards further for all cartridges.
And actually quite far, given the wind conditions.
I will call out that it requires you to deliver 1 MOA accuracy under field conditions. Which is easier said than done. More on that in another video.
I'm working on checklists to help you with all that. I'll link here when I have more information.
For the comparison, the patters are the same.
The Nosler and the PRC in the lead, but not by a country mile.
I want to mention one thing.
Scenarios 2 and 3 are based on a check of the maximum wind value on the day. With an accurate wind meter. These numbers require you to be bang on when you set your ceiling.
What if you are or plan to be competent enough to dial for wind?
That's scenario 3.
The single best way to evaluate the cartridges is by using "Weapon Employment Zone" analysis.
Wind call sensitivity and WEZ
Weapon Employment Zone analysis was developed by Bryan Litz and the team at Applied Ballistics.
I'm not affiliated with them but use their software. They've given me permission to share the results here.
Long story short, WEZ analysis can give you a hit probability, based on the standard deviation for key ballistic metrics
The input side is an advanced topic, and I won't go into details here.
It's a powerful tool, and I recommend it to all hunters. External ballistics is not just for long-range hunters.
It's about knowing the limitations of you and your shooting system. And relevant for anyone shooting in open country.
You run a Weapons Employment Zone analysis by inputting standard deviations for multiple ballistic variables, inclduing wind value, air pressure and more.
As well as the accuracy of you and your system and the size of the target. And the distance to the target.
To me, this type of analysis gives you an idea of how much room for error you have. Which is what I talked about when reviewing the no/no-go charts.
I've used 1 MOA accuracy and run the test for a 10" and an 18" circular target.
I then changed wind value in 0.25 mph increments until I got above 99% certainty, for each cartridge in intervals out to 900 meters.
I kept all other input the same.
As with the go/no-go analysis the 7mm PRC and the 28 Nosler take the lead.
The main observation is that the benefit is higher the closer you are to the target.
At about 500 yards, the closest competitor is the Shooting Time Westerner. And the difference is only half a mile per hour.
The data resolution is low when working with 100-yard increments for distance. But the data still gives you a good picture of what's happening.
Here's my conclusion on this test.
The 7mm PRC is not a magic wand.
Top of the range accurate gear is the foundation for long-range shooting and hunting.
But it's only the entry ticket.
You can't get there without developing the right level of skills and experience.
Having said that, great gear will give you more room for error.
And if I were going long-range hunting, which I'm not, I would want that extra edge. And I would work to optimize all other aspects as much as possible.
Even though I'm not a long-ranger hunter, I still like to optimize. And to me, the added performance you get from the 7mm PRC is a bonus. Another point.
It is worth noting that your group size is a crucial factor here.
I've gone with 1 MOA, which is a practical minimum. But it's also a challenge to get there under field conditions.
1 MOA might not sound like much if you judge by posts on internet forums.
But, remember, even if you have a half or even quarter MOA rifle, you must replicate that accuracy from a field position.
Easier said than done.
So, is the 7mm PRC really that good?
The data shows it's marginally better.
These benefits are relevant if you want to optimize for performance in the wind.
It's still so new that ammunition and components will be scarce. Which is a drawback. But that's also the case for at least the 28 Nosler and the Shooting Time Westerner.
I counted 28 gun makers who do or will make rifles of this caliber. So I think it's a matter of time before that changes.
I think the benefits of the 7mm PRC are substantial enough that it will become relatively readily available.
And with that, here's my conclusion. Presented in three scenarios.
If you already own a 7mm magnum you're happy with, don't sell it. Keep using it.
Don't have a 7mm high-performance cartridge, but want or need one right now.
In that case you have four choices.
Pick the 7mm Remington Magnum for availability.
Go for the shooting time westerner for performance.
Buy a 280 Ackley Improved if you want excellent performance from an efficient cartridge.
And get a 28 Nosler if you want top-of-the-range performance and have access to industrial quantities of gunpowder.
If you have time to wait, go for the PRC for that extra performance and better options with mono-metal bullets.
What will I do?
Before I say that, I want to stress this.
Whatever your choice, remember a cartridge is a tool.
It must fit into a deliberate plan supported by skills and knowledge. I use the efficient hunting framework to keep me on that narrow path.
Here's a link to our free e-book if you want to know more.
In my optimization-obsessed mind, the 7mm PRC is my pick.
I'm not in a hurry.
I am also wondering if the 300 PRC is a better choice for an all-round big game hunting rifle for CXP 3-size animals, like elk and the large African plains game.
Without a major penalty in recoil.
Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments.