Hornady has a pretty good record of their new cartridge introductions. The 7mm PRC is one of their latest releases. Today we will look at what the middle PRC brings to the bench.
The incredible popularity of the 6.5 PRC and 300 PRC show that these new cartridges have incredible potential, but what does the 7 PRC do that your 7mm Remington Magnum won’t?
The 7 PRC is a long-action seven-millimeter magnum rifle cartridge. As its namesake suggests, the cartridge is designed with precision in mind. Hornady claims the PRC uses high-quality brass to hold back the magnum pressures and utilizes better propellants for more consistent velocities.
These features allow the PRC to launch the 175 ELD X at a blistering 3000 feet per second.
Other 7mm Magnums like the Remington Mag don’t typically have the barrel twist for that. And those that could push the same speeds are usually quite over-bore, resulting in terrible barrel life and expensive brass.
The 7 PRC offers shooters a purpose-built precision cartridge that maximizes the performance of heavy .284 bullets from a standard long-action rifle.
I am a huge fan of fast-moving 7mm cartridges, so I jumped at the opportunity to get knee-deep into the 7 PRC.
7mm Precision Rifle Cartridge (PRC) Review
With such great potential, the 7 PRC is an outstanding candidate for many different activities, first and foremost for me though is its potential as a superior hunting cartridge. Seven-millimeter cartridges have a great spread of bullet selections to pick from, so regardless of your target species, there can be a seven for you.
The high Ballistic Coefficient (BC) of the heavier seven-millimeter bullets can carry massive amounts of energy for even the largest North American game. Alternatively, being a precision cartridge, it will do excellent long-range hunting work on standard-sized big game.
And since I brought up long-range, I may as well mention that the 7 PRC is also a great choice for those who just want to shoot targets that are far, far away. And since it can easily fit into a standard long-action, it’s a simple rebarreling to run the PRC in a gun you probably already have.
As a hunter myself, and one who enjoys hunting big game at whatever distance they present themselves here in these Rocky Mountains, the 7 PRC was immediately appealing. Other hunters who wish to apply precise shots on game or targets from great distances could excel with this cartridge. Whereas if you don’t anticipate shooting bullets over 150-160 grains, nor at distances exceeding 400-500 yards, the 7 PRC may be more cartridge than you really need. Not that it has ever stopped any of us from doing that…
You should definitely do a little research before jumping into something like the 7PRC. You’ll want to ensure you get a barrel with the appropriate twist rate to take full advantage of the cartridge.
|Powder Capacity||57- 67 grains (depending)|
|Primer||Large rifle (magnums)|
|Bullet weights (recommended)||150-195 grains|
|Barrel twist (recommended)||1:7.5|
|Parent Case||.375 Ruger|
|Brass Manufacturer||Hornady, Petersen|
Pros & Cons
- Very fast muzzle velocity
- Impressive flat trajectory
- Heavy bullet selection
- High efficiency for more energy on target
- Efficient powder burn for prolonged barrel life
- New cartridge adoption
- Not inexpensive
7mm PRC at the Range
I was very excited to get the 7 PRC off the ground. I had some factory ammunition from Hornady, but I also wanted to load some of my own to see how the PRC handled some even larger and longer bullets like the 195-grain Berger and the Sierra 197 SMK.
With two rifles chambered in the 7 PRC, I had a great opportunity for comparison. The first rifle is a Christensen Arms Ridgeline FFT with a twenty-two-inch 1:7.5 twist barrel. The other is a barrel for my Desert Tech SRS M2, and it is a twenty-six-inch 1:7 twist barrel.
Both rifles would serve as excellent hosts of this new precision cartridge.
First up was the Christensen Ridgeline FFT. After zeroing the rifle at one hundred yards, I shot a few groups to see how it patterned. The lightweight Christensen bumped pretty well with the heavy PRC loads, and while it shot good enough for most purposes, I wanted more.
The Ridgeline did seem to show an affinity for the 175 over the 180-grain bullet. Either of them would suit me just fine for hunting purposes. The velocity from the twenty-two-inch Christensen barrel was lower than Hornady’s listed, which I expected. I was curious to see how the same ammunition performed in my twenty-six-inch SRS barrel.
The SRS M2 is a different animal. It’s more suited towards a sniper purpose or something a little more tactical. While the Ridgeline is purpose-built for hard hunting, so keeping that in mind, I expected the performance to be a little dissimilar.
With the SRS M2 on the firing line, I changed targets out and loaded the five-round magazine.
The rifle had been a 338LM only minutes prior, but I swapped it out for the 7 PRC right there on my shooting mat. With a brand new and unfired barrel I would have a slightly different POI, but I knew it would be close.
The first shot landed a couple of inches off, but in the interest of not wasting ammo, I left it alone and fired four more shots. The accuracy was immediately noticeable. I found myself squinting for a second, thinking, “Am I hitting the same spot?”
After adjusting a few things on both rifles, I decided to stretch them out a bit. After all, this PRC was meant to run.
I peered across a deep canyon that lay before me, and across the way, I looked at a small rock that I had beaten senseless over many years. It lay protected under a cliff and free of snow and surrounded by dirt that would easily show my misses.
At nine-hundred and fifty yards, it wasn’t a close target either.
I took turns at the rock with both rifles, having calculated the drop using my Trasol Ballistic application and using the muzzle velocity obtained moments prior with my Magnetospeed chronograph.
I dialed only 20.9 MOA (6.1 MRAD) for the shot using the SRS, which put me right on top of it. The Ridgeline’s lower muzzle velocity needed a bit more elevation; it required 24 MOA (7 MRAD) to hit the target.
I managed to hit the rock several times with the Ridgeline, the SRS, on the other hand, hammered almost every shot. I figured it was time to shoot something actually quite far, so I picked out another target at 1800 yards.
The tighter accuracy of the SRS M2 was very apparent at that distance, and despite dropping to below 1300 FPS at that distance, it was still possible to see the impacts. With a proper wind hold at that distance, the bigger bullets from the 7 PRC were kept within a twenty-four-inch target.
Quality belt-less brass
The 7 PRC has a quality brass supply from both Hornady and Petersen. Other manufacturers will likely also start making brass for it as well. This gives the PRC a leg up over many of the other popular magnum 7mm’s.
Spec’d for Right Twist
Many of the other 7mm magnum cartridges have antiquated barrel twists. Bullet technology has come a long way, and shooting some of these newer bullets requires a faster twist barrel. The standard twist rate for the 7 PRC will handle nearly all the heavy 7mm bullets available today.
High BC Bullets
7mm bullets are great performers at long-range. And the newest high BC bullets are perfect companions for the PRC. Together they make the cartridge an undeniable power house for long-range shooting and hunting.
How We Tested
During the testing of the 7mm PRC, I ran the ammunition over a Magnetospeed chronograph to test velocity. Hornady claims that the powders used in the 7 PRC make it very consistent.
I found during testing that it was running very close to posted velocities, close enough to consider it atmospheric anomalies.
For accuracy testing, I fired five-shot groups at 100 yards. I then averaged these groups out to see what kind of predictability they had.
Once I had accuracy and velocity tested and annotated, I punched the data into my ballistic computer to generate a realistic drop chart. I wanted to see how this thing performed way down range.
I started with some modest distances of 300 and 500 yards, shooting at targets that were .5 MRAD in diameter. After easily hammering those targets, I stretched it out to 600 and then 770 yards, with predictably good hits on both before moving to the further targets mentioned above.
Handloading the 7 PRC
Loading the 7 PRC would take a little more effort than normal, as it typically is when getting into a new cartridge. At the time of writing this, brass is only available from either Hornady or Petersen, both of which offer quality components.
Since I already had a great selection of the Hornady, I wasn’t about to undertake the wait and enterprise needed to get more from Petersen. I figured I’d make due with what I had on hand.
The 7 PRC needs the better propellants manufactured today, as many of the older and perhaps more common powders don’t give it quite the push it needs to awaken this ballistic monster. With Retumbo and H1000 disappearing from the shelves, a serious PRC loader is going to need to look at RL-25 and RL-26 pretty hard, as well as some other magnum powders like N-165 and IMR 7828.
I loaded the 175 ELDM and the larger 183 and 197 Sierra Match Kings using some of those powders over CCI 250 primers to get some fantastic results. The Christensen Ridgeline didn’t have as much room for seating bullets long, but the SRS has an incredibly long action and magazine for such purposes.
And in the past, I have exploited that space to get unbelievable speeds, and I would do the same with the 7 PRC.
My SRS barrel was chambered using an Alpha Munitions reamer that certainly seems cut for the big bullets and longer seating depths. I should also mention that the newer generations of Sierra Match Kings, like the 183 and 197 have extremely long and tapered designs which also allow them to be seated longer than most. This allows for additional powder space for even more velocity and gas volume.
Make sure you use safe and published load data, as handloading is not without its dangers.
Factory Ammo Used
For this review, I used two different Hornady loads. The first was the Precision Hunter featuring Hornady’s 175-grain ELD X bullets. The other was a Hornady Match load shooting the 180-grain ELD M bullet.
The 7mm Short Action Ultra Magnum is another good option for a 7mm magnum, and it does well with heavier bullets.
Though the SAUM is a short-action cartridge, you can get significantly better performance from a long-action. It, too, needs more difficult and expensive brass supply, so keep that in mind.
The 7mm Remington magnum is probably the most common 7mm magnum available.
The only downside to it is the standard twist rates. If you put together a 7mm Rem mag with a fast twist like 1:7.5 or 1:8 it would do much better with the heavier and more efficient bullets.
Why would someone go with 7mm PRC?
The 7mm PRC provides a fast twist, high velocity option for shooters. The barrel twist allows you to shoot heavy bullets with high BC for long-range accuracy.
How does 7mm PRC compare to .270?
There is no comparison between the .270 Win and the 7 PRC. The .270 features bullets in the 115-150 grain class, with velocities around 2900 FPS or less. The 7PRC shoots 170-190 grain bullets at velocities exceeding 2900-3000 FPS.
Is 7mm more powerful than .308?
Though they shoot similar-weight bullets, the .284 bullets of the 7 PRC have a much higher BC, and they are fired at significantly higher velocities. The 7 PRC, like most seven-millimeter magnums, leaves the 308 far behind in trajectory and energy.
Rifles chambered in 7 PRC
Aside from the two mentioned here, there are several other companies making rifles chambered in this caliber:
- Allterra Arms
- Altus Shooting Solutions
- Best of the West
- Boring Rifles
- Fierce Firearms
- GA Precision
- Hill Country Rifles
- H-S Precision
- Horizon Firearms
- J.P. Sauer & Sohn
- Kelbly’s Inc.
- McWhorter Custom Rifles
- Mesa Precision Arms
- MOA Rifles
- Owens Armory
- Proof Research
- Ruger (coming 2023)
- Seekins Precision
- Short Action Customs
- Springfield Armory (coming 2023)
- Straight Jacket Armory
- Stuteville Precision
- TS Customs
- West Texas Ordnance
The 7mm PRC is an outstanding cartridge, if for nothing else than the new specified barrel twist. Sure, you could produce similar results using other cartridges, but it’s also easy to just pick it up as a turn-key system with its high-quality brass supply and selection of fine bullets.
Is it worth upgrading from what you have? That is another question you need to figure out on your own.
If you’ve got a long-action rifle that is in need of a new barrel, this would certainly be on my list of potential candidates. Or if you are shopping for a new hunting rifle or long-range shooter, this would be an excellent choice. And dies are available from Hornady if you are a handloader like myself, which can certainly offset the cost of expensive new cartridges.
If you need a powerful downrange performer for hunting or long-range plinking, the 7 PRC would surely fill that need. But if you find yourself in a deer stand looking over a couple hundred acres of beans or dry senderos in Texas, where you can’t see more than a couple hundred yards, the 7 PRC may be much more than you need.
But don’t let that stop you from joining the PRC family.