Q: I am looking for a hunting rifle for my wife. She has been using my .243 Winchester Featherweight, but would prefer a lighter rifle chambered for a mild-kicking cartridge that’s adequate for deer and pigs.
The 7mm-08 seems to qualify but what brand and model lightweight rifle should I get? One that’s not too expensive.
A: You’ve made a good choice. The mild recoil of the 7mm-08 will allow your wife to put the bullets in the right spot.
It’s on a par with the 7mm Mauser and its velocity is 300fps short of the various 7mm Magnums, but correct shot placement, not extreme velocity, kills big game.
The 7mm-08 shoots well with .284 bullets ranging from 120 to 160gn, but I’d recommend your wife sticks with 120 and 130gn bullets, which kick less and are adequate for pigs and deer.
For pigs and fallow deer I recommend the Hornady 120gn FTX and the Speer 130gn spitzer, but for larger deer a controlled-expansion bullet like the Barnes 120gn Triple Shock ensures the bullet retains its weight and penetrates without increasing the recoil.
AR2206H and AR2208 provide good bullet speed with those light bullets.
Choosing a suitable economy-class lightweight rifle is harder. There are not many 7mm-08 rifles listed as being available new at the moment.
The very good Remington 783 has just come back on the market and NIOA lists the 7mm-08 as one of the chamberings, but the first shipment of 783s is so freshly arrived that you’d better ask your gun shop if and when they can get a 7mm-08 for you.
The budget-priced Ruger American is offered in 7mm-08 variants, including the Compact which may be a goof fit for your wife if she’s of smaller build. A new Tikka Tx3 Lite is listed in 7mm-08 with prices ranging from $1400-$1800 at the moment (mid-2023).
A second-hand rifle would be a good option, too, if something comes long at the right time.