March 11, 2023
Hornady's new 7mm PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is probably the best long-range 7mm cartridge ever introduced. As with all rifle cartridges, handloading tuned ammo for it helps achieve the best it has to offer. The 7mm PRC's DNA is 100 percent long range. As such, loading highly aerodynamic bullets is recommended. The cartridge doesn't offer any advantage with light 7mm bullets.
As spec'd by SAAMI, the 7mm PRC has a rifling twist rate of 1:8. This enables it to effectively stabilize the long-bodied, streamlined projectiles. Lead-core bullets of 168 grains ranging up to 195 grains and monometal bullets of 160 grains up to 168 grains provide optimal performance in the 7mm PRC. Examples are Barnes 168-grain LRX bullet; Berger 168-grain VLD Hunting, 180-grain VLD Hunting, and 195-grain Extreme Outer Limits Elite Hunter; and Hornady 160-grain CX, 175-grain ELD-X, 180-grain ELD Match and 190-grain A-Tip.
The 7mm PRC has a cartridge case design characteristic that affects handloading technique, particularly projectile seating. Like its 6.5 PRC and .300 PRC siblings, the 7mm PRC is engineered with a lot of head height. This allows long bullets with stretched-out, fine-entry noses to be seated well out of the case, so the bases don't intrude into the powder reservoir. This is important, as you'll see in a moment.
The parent case is the .375 Ruger, which is a non-belted case with quite parallel sides and relatively steep 30-degree shoulder angle. It's actually a quarter-inch shorter than the classic 7mm Rem. Mag. and has less capacity when filled to the case mouth. The 7mm PRC case contains 82 grains of water; the 7mm Rem. Mag. contains 85 grains of water.
However, since you don't have to seat long, heavy-for-caliber bullets deeply into the powder reservoir, loaded 7mm PRC cartridges actually have greater internal capacity than 7mm Rem. Mag. cartridges.
Overall 7mm PRC case length is 2.280 inches. Trim-to length is 2.260 inches. Overall maximum loaded cartridge length is 3.340 inches. This puts the 7mm PRC into the “standard .30-06” cartridge length category. As with every cartridge, if desired, handloaders may load to longer max length if their rifle's magazines will allow it. SAAMI pressure limit is 65,000 psi.
Currently, cartridge cases are available only from Hornady. That's not a problem, because the Hornady cases I've used in my testing and handloading and hunting with the 7mm PRC have been stellar.
If you want to milk every ounce of potential out of the 7mm PRC and your Hornady cases, trim them all to equal length, then weight-sort and neck turn them. You'll end up with top-notch cases equal to any task.
My reloading dies are standard Hornady versions, and they've served very well. Presumably, other manufacturers such as RCBS and Redding will soon get on board, and we may see match-grade dies as well.
As nearly all propellant charges will be well north of the 60-grain threshhold compatibility with Large Rifle primers, it's best to use Large Rifle Magnum primers. I've been using Federal 215 Gold Medal Match primers, and they've provided splendid consistency.
Data for the 7mm PRC are currently available on the Hornady reloading app. I developed the loads in the accompanying chart from early recommendations by Hornady technicians based on their lab work. They suggested Reloder 26 and H1000, with RL-26 being particularly magic.
However, at first I didn't have any RL-26 on hand, so I started with H1000. To my delight, every load averaged less than three-quarters of an inch at 100 yards. Even with the relatively short 20-inch barrel on the Gunwerks Nexus test rifle, velocity was rather good.
Accuracy with Hornady's 180-grain ELD Match bullets was eyebrow-raising, averaging 0.42 inch over a series of three-shot groups. This bullet has an incredibly good ballistic G1 coefficient of .796, and Hornady's factory ammo is spec'd to generate about 2,950 fps in 26-inch barrels. That makes it one of the most capable extreme-range cartridges on the market.
Thanks to the 7mm PRC's head height, handloaders will find it easy to finesse seating depth for best accuracy. Load thin-jacketed cup-and-core bullets to kiss the rifling. Load thick-jacketed bonded-core and monometal bullets 0.050 inch off the rifling leade so as to avoid pressure spikes, and tune from there. Generally, best results with such will be found between 0.020 and 0.100 inch off the leade.
As with all bottlenecked, centerfire cartridges fed from box magazines, there's no need to crimp seated bullets. Just allow the neck tension to hold them in place.
For Idaho's 2022 spring bear season, I loaded up a batch of 7mm PRC ammo using 150-grain Hornady CX bullets. My wife and two daughters proceeded to clobber three black bears with the 7mm PRC.
A few months later, the 160-grain CX was launched. My first try at working up a handload resulted in a load under half m.o.a., courtesy of RL-26. Clearly, the 7mm PRC is a well-behaved, inherently accurate cartridge that's easy to handload for splendid results.
I haven't yet experimented with a broad variety of projectiles by manufacturers other than Hornady. However, I'm looking forward to doing so.
Candidly, before learning the details of the 7mm PRC, I was a deep skeptic. I didn't believe we had any use for another 7mm Magnum. After handloading and shooting and hunting with it, I'm a convert.
I experienced a powerful testimony of the cartridge's right to exist at the SAAM shooting facility in Texas. Using a Remington 700 chambered in 7mm PRC, I shot steel targets all the way out to a mile. Then I put five consecutive 180-grain ELD Match bullets onto a 24x48-inch steel plate at 1,800 yards. I became a believer.
I now consider it the best 7mm magnum ever designed, and tuned handloads take it from splendid to spectacular.
WARNING: The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor Outdoor Sportsman Group assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data. Shooting reloads may void any warranty on your firearm.