Hornady has an incredible track record with cartridges over the last 20 years: 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 300 PRC, 17HMR. The list goes on. In fact, I’d guess that 60% of the new hunting rifles in most gun stores today are chambered in a cartridge designed by Hornady.
The 7mm Precision Rifle Cartridge is a long-action centerfire rifle cartridge designed to shoot 180 grain bullets at 2,950 fps. It is intended for long-range shooting due to its ability to utilize high BC bullets, and is also uniquely suited for hunting large animals such as elk.
Pros and Cons of the 7mm PRC
- Ideal for elk hunters who want extended range capabilities
- Tough to beat for shooting at short ELR distances such as 1,000 yards (though the 300PRC will certainly outperform at distances around 1 mile)
- Laser-like trajectory can drop less than 20″ at 400 yards
- Incredible resistance to wind deflection due to its ability to shoot high BC bullets at fast speeds
- Shoots some of the highest BC bullets on the market. Being a 7mm, having a suitable max COAL, and using a fast twist rate, it can handle even the longest 7mm bullets.
- Likely to have industry-wide adoption for chamberings in popular rifles if this cartridge should follow the success of the other PRC cartridges.
- Works well in shorter barrel lengths due to the fat case with a modest length and overall case capacity.
- May take years before ammo becomes easily available. 300PRC was announced 4 years ago, and it is one of the hardest cartridges to find on shelves.
- Recoil is on the upper end of what most adult shooters can tolerate to shoot accurately without a muzzle brake or suppressor.
- Long-action cartridge adds 1/3 lbs to some rifles, and doesn’t allow for as short of barrels
Comparing 7mm PRC to Similar Cartridges
The 7mm PRC is similar to a 7mm Rem Mag, but it can shoot heavier bullets with higher BC’s, has no belt which causes problems for reloaders, and slightly less case capacity so longer barrels are not necessary. Think of it as a modernized 7mm Rem Mag.
|Cartridge||Bullet Weight||Muzzle Velocity||Muzzle Energy||Action Length||Caliber|
|Gunwerks 7 LRM||180||3,025||3,657||Long||0.284|
|300 Win Mag||180||3,000||3,597||Long||0.308|
|7mm Rem Mag||180||2,825||3,189||Long||0.284|
The Precision Rifle Cartridge line is now broad enough that for many hunting uses, shooters will have a tough time deciding between the 6.5 PRC, 7 PRC, and 300 PRC.
As you can see from the above table, the 7mm PRC is most similar to the Gunwerks 7 LRM. In fact, Aaron Davidson, CEO of Gunwerks, jokingly said that the new 7PRC is the 7LRM. Obviously, there are many technical differences between the two, but they do fill a nearly identical hole in the market.
Personally, I have said for a long time on the Youtube channel that my ideal hunting cartridge would be a 7mm shooting 180 grains at 3,000 fps. That’s exactly what the 7PRC is, but it is by no means the only cartridge that offers those specs.
My prediction? The 7mm PRC will beat the following cartridges in sales over the next 20 years: 280AI, Gunwerks LRM, and the 7mm Rem Mag. Personally, I like all three of those cartridges for different reasons, but I think this new cartridge will become so popular over the next few years that those cartridges will quickly fade in the rearview mirror. Obviously, the 7mm Rem Mag isn’t going to just vanish in the next 10 years. It’s an incredibly popular cartridge, but over time, I expect the 7 PRC to overtake it.
The following table compares the 7 PRC to several other cartridges using Hornady’s Precision Hunter line of ammunition.
|Energy at 200||Max Effective Range (2,000 fps)||Drop at 400||Drift at 400||Bullet Weight||Muzzle Velocity|
|7 PRC (175gr ELDX)||2840||770||23||7.3||175||2975|
|7 PRC (195gr Berger EOL)||2891||720||25.5||7.0||195||2825|
|7 PRC (160gr CX)||2563||690||23.5||8.5||160||3000|
|300 Win Mag||2812||561||26.1||11.3||200||2820|
|7mm Rem Mag||2519||684||23.23||8.5||162||2940|
The recoil of the 7mm PRC produces 27.7 ft-lbs of energy at a recoil velocity of 14.1 fps. That is more recoil than a .30-06 but less than a .300 Win Mag. It is on the upper end of what most large adult shooters can comfortably tolerate.
When I first shot the 7 PRC in a lightweight rifle, I was surprised by the stout recoil; however, adding a muzzle brake or a suppressor tames the rifle dramatically. I shot a coyote yesterday with the 7 PRC and had no problem seeing the bullet impact the coyote and the aftermath without losing my view of the target in the scope due to recoil.
|Cartridge||Bullet Weight||Muzzle Velocity||Recoil Energy||Recoil Velocity||Powder Charge|
|300 Win Mag||180||3,000||28.7||14.3||69|
|7mm Rem Mag||180||2,825||23.4||12.9||62|
7 PRC Cartridge Design
Before SAAMI drawings of the 7 PRC were released, I fully expected the 7 PRC to follow the industry-wide trend of overbore hot-rod cartridges. I thought for certain it would have more powder capacity than a 7 Mag so Hornady could advertise the new cartridge “beating” the old standard.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cartridge is quite mild. The 7 PRC has very slightly less case capacity than the 7mm Remington Magnum, but also has a twist rate and neck length capable of shooting much heavier bullets than are common in a 7 Mag.
|Cartridge||H20 Capacity||Max COAL||Case Length||Shoulder Angle||Head Diameter||Neck Length|
|300 Win Mag||83||3.34||2.62||25||0.532||0.2639|
|7mm Rem Mag||82||3.29||2.5||25||0.532||0.2712|
The 7 PRC is designed around the 180-grain ELD-Match bullet; however, some people will certainly point to the fact that the 7mm Rem Mag has been able to shoot 180-grain bullets for many decades. The specified twist rate for each cartridge dramatically impacts the ability for a firearm to spin a bullet fast enough to stabilize a long bullet in flight.
Shooters will gravitate toward heavy-for-caliber high-BC bullets in the 7mm PRC. I have a table showing the highest BC 7mm bullets, but here are a few bullets likely to be popular in the 7mm PRC:
- 175gr Hornady ELD-X
- 160gr Hornady CX
- 180gr Hornady ELD-M
- 195gr Berger EOL
- 183gr Sierra MatchKing
- 180gr Berger VLD Target
- 180gr Berger VLD Hunting
- 175gr Berger Elite Hunter
- 175gr Nosler Accubond
Below are the specified twist rates for many similar cartridges to the 7 PRC. A faster twist in the rifling of a barrel allows the bullet to spin more quickly to stabilize longer (and consequently heavier) bullets.
|Cartridge||Twist Rate||Bullet Weight Range|
|28 Nosler||1:9||120 – 185|
|300 PRC||1:8.5||175 – 250|
|Gunwerks 7 LRM||1:9||180 (Factory)|
|300 Win Mag||1:10||125 – 220|
|300 WSM||1:10||125 – 220|
|7 PRC||1:8||160 – 195|
|6.8 Western||1:7.5 (Browning), 1:8 (Winchester)||110 – 175|
|7 SAUM||Varies||120 – 185|
|7mm Rem Mag||1:9.5||120 – 185|
|280 AI||1:8 (Varies)||120 – 185|
Converting Your Rifle to a 7 PRC
Backfire was the first publication to put together a 7 PRC as soon as the SAAMI specs for the cartridge were released. Building a rifle with no reloading data and no established manufacturing was a challenge, but now you can easily get a rifle rebarreled for 7 PRC.
I highly recommend Preferred Barrel Blanks for this job. I had them make me a short 20″ carbon fiber-wrapped barrel chambered in 7 PRC. I’m getting impressive velocities despite the short length, and the accuracy has been insanely good–one of the most accurate rifles I’ve ever shot.
Be cautious when rebarreling a rifle into any of the “PRC” cartridges. Due to the extremely tight tolerances of these cartridges, I’ve seen MANY manufacturers struggle with delivering barrels that spike pressures or have brass that doesn’t fit right. The #1 reason I recommend Preferred Barrel Blanks is because they’ve sorted through those issues and can deliver problem-free prefit barrels.
The cool thing is that Preferred Barrel Blanks does prefits for just about any action you already have. You can get a new barrel for your Ruger American, Tikka, Bergara, Savage, etc. Or, you can of course use a custom action like a Terminus, Defiance, etc. As long as it’s a standard long-action, you should be just fine putting a 7 PRC barrel on it.
If you’re new to this, just call Preferred Barrel Blanks at (435) 635-6900 and tell them you read about them on Backfire and you want a 20″ carbon fiber-wrapped prefit barrel like the one they made for me. When it gets mailed to you, you screw it on and you have a 7 PRC! Simple as that. Below is a picture of the 7 PRC that Preferred Barrel Blanks built for me (Note: I also bought a MDT HNT26 chassis from them, which they had in stock).
Factory Rifles Offered in 7 PRC
I have a complete article on the best rifles available now in 7mm PRC.
As soon as the cartridge was officially announced, Hornady announced many rifle makers that will be producing factory offerings for the 7 PRC.
Factory Mass-Market Rifle Makers
- Christensen Arms
- Fierce Firearms
- JP Sauer and Sohn
- Ruger (in 2023)
- Seekins Precision
- Springfield Armory (in 2023)
- Proof Research
Custom and Premium Rifle Makers
- Allterra Arms
- Altus Shooting Solutions
- Best of the West
- GA Precision
- Hill Country Rifles
- H-S Precision
- Horizon Firearms
- McWhorter Custom Rifles
- Short Action Customs
- Stuteville Precision
- TS Customs
- West Texas Ordnance
I was somewhat surprised by the list of firearms manufacturers who are not yet jumping on board with the 7 PRC. Tikka, Browning, and Bergara are conspicuously missing from the list and yet they all chamber for the 6.5 PRC.
Since this new cartridge has been announced, I’ve talked with my contacts at many of the major rifle manufacturers and have been surprised by how many of them are extremely frustrated with working on PRC chamberings in their rifles. There have been many changes to the reamer specs of the other PRC cartridges, and the tight tolerances make manufacturing difficult.
Reloading for the 7 PRC
I’ve done a significant amount of handloading and reloading for the 7 PRC over the last few months. Using dies from Whidden, I got to work.
Initially, I expected H1000 or Retumbo to be the best powders for the 7 PRC since they are fan favorites of the 7 Mag. I quickly saw that the 4 fewer grains of case capacity in the 7 PRC made these powders not ideal. So far, my favorite powder for reloading the 7 PRC is H4831SC using standard large rifle primers.
The challenge of loading for any of the PRC cartridges is the extremely tight tolerances. Even fairly experienced reloaders sometimes struggle to get reloaded brass to fit properly into the rifle.
Obviously Hornady makes dies for the 7 PRC, but I personally am not a fan of their dies. The only other company I’ve seen with die sets is Whidden Gunworks. They sent me their full-length bushing resizing die and micrometer seating die and I’ve been amazed with the quality. Seriously, it’s by far the nicest die set I’ve ever owned–and I’ve tried just about every brand out there.
Loading the 175gr ELD-X Bullet in the 7mm PRC
Important Note: This is anecdotal testing. Your results may vary. Unlike a load data book from one of the ammunition companies, I am not measuring pressure with a computer. I’m just looking at the brass for symptoms of being over-pressure, but sometimes those symptoms don’t show up until a cartridge is significantly overpressure as could be measured by a computer. This is for academic purposes only. Do not rely on my anecdotal testing for your rifle. If ya do… you might blow your face off.
First, let’s take a look at H4831SC powder loaded with a 175gr ELD-X bullet. This is using CCI Large Magnum primers, and shooting out of a 24″ test barrel.
|Powder Charge||Velocity (fps)||Notes|
|64gr H4831SC||2,950||Over Pressure from Here on Out, But No Visible Signs|
|66.5gr H4831SC||3,010||Lightly compressed load|
|67gr H4831SC||3,037||Visible Pressure signs|
Next, I loaded H1000. Unfortunately, the chronograph (Labradar) glitched out and didn’t record all the velocities, but I did at least shoot the following two that were recorded. Note that BOTH of these are a compressed load, so you couldn’t really go much faster than this with H1000.
This is again shooting the 175gr ELD-X bullet out of 24″ test barrel with a large magnum CCI primer.
|Powder Charge||Velocity (fps)||Notes|
|68gr H1000||2,912||Compressed load|
|69gr H1000||2,958||No obvious pressure signs, but I didn’t feel I should compress further.|
Last, I shot Accurate Magpro powder with the same 175gr ELD-X and CCI large magnum primer out of a 24″ test barrel. Here’s what I found.
|Powder Charge||Velocity (fps)||Notes|
|68gr Magpro||2,789||Over Pressure from Here on Out, But No Visible Signs|
|71.5gr Magpro||2,942||Still a decent amount of case capacity left.|
I also received some information from a gentleman in Canada who built a 7PRC. Here’s what he reported using a 175gr ELDX, Federal 215M primers, and Reloder26 powder. Here’s that data using his 24.5″ barrel:
|Powder Charge||Velocity (fps)||Notes|
|63gr Reloder 26||2825||Most accurate group|
|63.5gr Reloder 26||2850|
|64gr Reloader 26||2895|
|64.5gr Reloader 26||2935|
|65gr Reloader 26||2940|
|65.5gr Reloader 26||Error||Given Hornady’s target load of 180gr at 2,950fps, this is likely a max load.|
|66gr Reloader 26||3,020|
|66.5gr Reloader 26||3,030|
|67gr Reloader 26||3,100||Over Pressure from Here on Out, but No Visible Signs|
|67.5gr Reloader 26||3,112|
|68gr Reloader 26||3,128||Recoil increased noticeably|
|68.4gr Reloader 26||3,141||Leakage around primer, VERY overpressure|
After seeing these numbers, I’m most interested in pursuing H4831SC for this cartridge. H1000 ran out of space for powder before I reached max velocity. Magpro had a lot of case capacity left, but wasn’t getting the velocity I’d hope to see without just burning a ton of powder.
Personally, my load for the 175 ELD-X in the 7mm PRC will be 64gr of H4831SC, which should yield around 2,925fps. I believe that should be a max load but still safe in my rifle, efficient loading, and impressive speed.
It seems that the cartridge was designed to compress the load right at the point where you’d reach pressure with these common powders.
Interestingly, I loaded 61.2 grains of H4831SC in a 7mm Remington Magnum, and a 7mm PRC. I used the same primer, and the same 175gr ELDX bullet. However, the 7mm PRC shot on average 105 fps faster.
There is still quite a bit more case capacity left with Magpro (my guess would be you could go to 77 grains before it compresses), so that could be an option for max velocity, but you’d be going through quite a bit more powder to get there.
Loading the 195 Berger EOL Bullet in the 7mm PRC
For this load, I chose the 195 Berger EOL and loaded it to max COAL of 3.34″. I used CCI large magnum rifle primers, and lovingly caressed each bullet before sending it on the ride of its life. I’m still using the same 24″ test barrel by Preferred Barrel Blanks for this cartridge.
|Powder Charge||Velocity||Pressure Signs|
|64gr H4831SC||2,850fps||No pressure signs|
|65gr H4831SC||2,911fps||Over pressure (Ejector mark)|
|64gr H1000||2,652||No pressure signs|
|65gr H1000||2,710||No pressure signs|
|66gr H1000||2,792||No pressure signs, compressed load|
|67gr H1000||2,839||No pressure signs, compressed load|
Loading the 150gr Hornady CX Bullet in the 7mm PRC
Note that with these loads, I switch to a standard large rifle primer–not a magnum primer.
|66gr H4831SC||3,198||Possible Pressure Signs|
|60gr H4350||3,197||Pressure Signs|
|61gr H4350||3,291||Pressure Signs|
I personally worked up my load using the 150gr Hornady CX bullet, but now Hornady has announced a new 160gr CX bullet with a much higher BC and only one band instead of the two bands on the 150gr CX. I will likely switch to that bullet once it becomes available.
Surprisingly, the factory ammunition for the 160gr CX bullet offers the same 3,000fps muzzle velocity as the 175gr ELD-X bullet. I expected it to go a little faster in the CX due to the lighter weight, but copper bullets can also increase pressures, so it seems that Hornady wasn’t able to get any increased speed out of it.
History of the 7mm PRC
Hornady officially announced the cartridge on October 26, 2022 at the NASGW Expo. The 7mm PRC was approved by SAAMI on June 7, 2022 and the public introduction was released on June 16, 2022. Backfire’s Youtube channel was the first publication to break the story of the cartridge’s SAAMI approval, and Backfire was also the first group to build a 7mm PRC and show it to the public.