There is nothing miraculous about this 7mm cartridge; it just does what it is supposed to. When used within its capabilities it offers a great blend of strength, speed, flat trajectory, shootability, and bullet choices. Used inappropriately, for example on steep-angled quartering shots at heavy critters or with the wrong bullets, Brenneke’s 7mm is no better than others.
The name of the cartridge says a lot about its dimensions. The .285 inch bullets sit atop a 64mm long case, which is 2.559 inches. The maximum overall length is 84mm/3.307 inches, thus it fits standard-length actions. Case capacity is 69.9 grains of water. That is quite a bit of room for slow-burning powders. Case shoulders at about 20-degrees combined with a bit of body taper eliminate feeding issues, even under extreme conditions. The case dimensions are a product of their time — slim and a bit tapered rather than fat with straighter walls and shaper shoulders favored in today’s precision shooting cartridges. For practical hunting purposes, the 7×64 case form is more of an advantage than a disadvantage. The slimmer shape makes it easier to build magazines for 4 or even 5 rounds. This comes in handy on driven hunts, hog hunts, and culling operations.
Aiming for Military Contracts
Brenneke tried to convince the German military to use his 7mm rather than the 8mm Mauser. The military considered the 7×64 due to its superior ballistics but ultimately decided the benefits were not worth the hassle of changing all its service rifles. Near the end of WWII, the Brenneke was considered for a sniper rifle, but it never made it into production. To this day, the cartridge remains a civilian cartridge only.
Moving to America — Not
As expected, The 7×64 never “made it” in North America, but it did eventually inspire a copycat. (More on that below.) In Europe, it was one of the go-to cartridges of the day, one of the best cartridges for anything from small roe deer to chamois, red deer, wild boar, and even moose. It was a top seller well into the 1970s and is still widely used, partly because some countries don’t allow civilians to own military cartridges. But after the 1970s it took a step back to make room for the increasingly popular 30-06 and 308 Winchester. Their advantage was wide distribution across the globe, ammunition widely available in even the smallest shops in the most remote places. As traveling for hunting adventures became more and more common, shooting a .30 caliber rifle at home and around the world made a lot of sense.
Something for Everything
Despite the 30-caliber surge, every European gun maker offers models in 7x64mm. Hunters on any budget can find a new gun or something nice in the used gun market. From cheap to expensive, heavy to light, long-barreled to short, there is a 7×64 Brenneke for everyone.
Factory ammunition features bullets from 120- to 177-grains, offering plenty of choices for all species. The 120- to 140-grain bullets are perfect for flat, open country roe deer or high country chamois. The 140- to 177-grain bullets of medium to hard construction are great choices for everything bigger. There are quite a few lead-free bullets, so hunters in lead-free states have no problem, either.
Handloaders can go as light as 100 grains for varmints or as heavy as 195 grains (for example the Berger Elite Hunter bullets) for long-range performance or heavy critters.
For the most part, American .284-inch bullets can be used in the 7×64 Brenneke without accuracy suffering. Due to the fast twist rate of 1 in 8.66-inch, heavy bullets are properly stabilized, too. This is a definite advantage compared to the 270 Winchester, which has similar power and ballistics but can’t stabilize bullets much heavier than 150-grains.
Although it is not labeled as a magnum cartridge, it definitely needs longer barrels of 24 inches to reach its potential. Launching its bullets from shorter barrels will result in a definite speed loss.
On the North American continent, I see the 7x64mm shine on hunts for deer, pronghorn, or mountain game. But even the biggest bull elk will fall to a well-placed 7mm bullet. Feral hog habitat is a perfect playground for this cartridge, too. It would not be my first choice for moose or the big bears, but these species have been humanely killed with this or comparable cartridges over the years. In Scandinavia, hunters still successfully use the 6.5×55 Swedish for moose hunting, so a 7mm cartridge is certainly up to the task. Black bears, regardless of the hunting method, can be tackled with the 7×64 Brenneke.
Most African plains game is fair game for the 7×64 and the right bullet. Eland, bongo, and buffalo (if legal) are probably too large to call the 7×64 a perfect fit, but no other horn-carrying African animals pose too big a challenge. Leopard hunting calls more for precise shooting than massive power, so the 7×64 could certainly work. Any wounded leopard wouldn’t be the cartridge’s fault so much as the shooter’s.
7×64 Brenneke vs. 7mm Remington Magnum
Now I guess what you really want to know is how the 7x64mm stacks up against its competitors. It seems reasonable to compare it to the American 7mm cartridge, the 7mm Remington Magnum. Clearly, the Remington is faster and carries more kinetic energy when comparing identical weights. But let’s have a closer look nonetheless.
A 177-grain TIG-bullet (Torpedo Ideal Geschoss, also an excellent Brenneke invention) flies from the 7×64 at 2,789 fps for around 3,061 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. Hornady 140 grain GMX bullets loaded in their Superformance product line hit 2,705 ft-lbs with a speed of 2,949 fps, while their 165 grain SST‘s bring 2,818 ft-lbs of energy at 2,798 fps.
From a 7mm Rem Mag a 177-grain TIG has a speed of 2919 fps, hitting with 3,359 ft-lbs. This is roughly 10% more energy than the 7x64mm carries with the same bullet loaded by the same company. The 7mm Rem. Mag. is more powerful. But that comes at a cost. Not surprisingly, the Rem. Mag. kicks harder and barks louder burning 17% more powder to gain 10% more velocity than the Brenneke. That’s not what I call efficient. It’s also noteworthy that the 7mm Rem. Mag’s. advantage depends on 26-inch barrels, while the 7x64mm works fine with 24-inch tubes. You need to decide if the power advantage is worth the costs.
7×64 Brenneke vs. 280 Remington
Finally, we address the elephant in the room: the 280 Remington. This necked-down offspring of the 30-06 has been called a 7×64 Brenneke rip-off ever since it appeared in 1957, a half-century after the Brenneke. Both rounds are so similar you have to look closely to see the differences when they’re perched side-by-side. Both shoot the same bullets to similar velocities. The 280 is usually chambered in 1:10 twist barrels, but ultimately the differences between the two are more theoretical than practical.
Two 7mm Cartridges You May Not Know — Ron Spomer Outdoors is written by Avery Olmstead for www.ronspomeroutdoors.com