In 2008, I ordered and purchased a Kimber rifle. I wanted a compact, lightweight rifle in a caliber suited to slightly smaller southern deer. I agonized over the choice between .260 Remington and 7mm-08, and I ultimately chose .260 Remington. The Kimber 84M Classic is a beautiful rifle, and with a 2-7x33mm scope, it handles like a dream. Unfortunately, Kimber’s accuracy claims are hype, and I never got the thing to shoot better than 1½ MOA.
I never did get over my feelings for the 7mm-08 Remington cartridge, which promised to have just slightly more recoil than a .243 Winchester, but capable of lobbing substantially bigger bullets. For a while now, I’ve told myself that my next big game hunting rifle would be in this caliber. I have had my eye on a few rifles, including the Browning BAR, which I figured I would get in 7mm-08.
A couple years ago, my brother and I had a fantastic experience still hunting in the rain. That season had been marked by long, steady rains. Knowing that deer do not move much during the rain, it didn’t feel productive sitting in a stand all day. We both enjoy rain, we had good rain gear, and we knew of an easy trail nearby. I realized that the rain had softened leaves and twigs on the ground, which would quiet our movement, and the sound of the rain itself would mask any noise we did make. I donned my rain gear and brought my most weatherproof rifle, a Winchester Model 70 Classic Stainless in 7mm Remington Magnum. We moved slowly down that trail for hours. It was necessary to carry the rifle at the ready, rather than on its shoulder strap. Consequently, I found myself wishing I had an all-weather rifle that was as light as my Kimber.
I haven’t forgotten that experience, and I have added a lightweight all-weather rifle to my wish list. Kimber, of course, makes some very lightweight rifles in this category, but they are very expensive, and the frustrating accuracy of my previous Kimber has not made me want to repeat the experience. Outside of that, the best choice seems to be the Savage Model 16/116 Lightweight Hunter. It is their standard pattern rifle, but with many weight-saving features, including a 20″ barrel with a narrow profile, a skeletonized receiver, and a spiral-fluted bolt. It is stainless steel with a synthetic AccuStock. The Model 16 is the short action, and it is available in 7mm-08.
I haven’t ordered it yet, cash flowing being what it is, but I have decided to do so soon. In the meantime, I have been tooling up to make 7mm-08 ammunition. I’ve ordered a set of Lee Precision dies. I just snagged 200 pieces of Starline brass, which should last me a lifetime. I have always been quite fond of Starline brass for pistol calibers, but this will be the first rifle brass I have bought from them. I have chosen the 139 gr. Hornady InterLock BTSP as the initial bullet with which to experiment. It is a bullet with good, no-nonsense construction, respected accuracy, and quite reasonably priced.