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I really didnít have to worry over the length of the range.....because of the caliber and the rifle.......
Holding the cross bar of the scope on the antelopeís back above his left shoulder, I gently touched the trigger...at three pounds, it broke clean...the recoil was negligible and I was back on target fast enough to see the end of his lurch and him going down. When we paced it off, discounting the rises and down turns of the land, to where he was hit....it was a long 228 paces from the muzzle. And hit he was...the exit wound was about 2 Ĺ inches wide, behind the right shoulder....the bullet had gone thru the left shoulder and wrecked everything in between....then exited.
A 270 Winchester? My fine old military 6.5X55 sniper rifle? Some other hot shot long range shooter...or a fine tuned bolt action and long barrel? None of the above. This rifle started as Winchesterís 24 inch barreled leveraction Mod.94 chambered in 7 Waters. The load produced 2650+ fps with a 130 grain spire point boat tail bullet.
I said Ďstarted out as Winchesterís 24 inch barreled 7 Waters because I turned it into a scout rifle, cutting the barrel back to just under 22 inches. Starting with the XTR series rifle gives you a very hansom package to begin with. Midnight blue, full length loading tube, excellent checkering and good solid walnut. This one is the older action, it has the side ejection but no cross bolt safety. Even with the side ejection I decided to put the scope on the barrel right in front of the action...Why? Because as a scout rifle I wanted the ability to keep my eyes on the target, raise the gun and the scope would be right on it also. When the scope is out there, very little practice brings that ability to the forefront. And for fast snap shots on deer and such in forested or heavy brushed areas itís excellent.
Iím using a Tasco pistol scope of 4 power with a long eye relief. It has duplex cross lines so it has a built in double sighting points.
Watersí little seven never really took off as a leveraction round...at least not like some lever calibers. And it is a shame. Ken Waters of Handloader and Rifle magazine fame designed the cartridge to be a necked down 30-30 to 7mm. Winchester redesigned it, by pushing the shoulder forward and shortening the neck...giving much needed powder room. I would say that itís ballistics are about 20 percent better than the 30-30 but with lighter bullets. When I clip the soft point off the 130 boat tail, so I can load them in the tube...no appreciable difference is found down range compared to the uncut bullets. We tested the cut bullets loaded with the same load as the uncut, both in a 10 shot groups, went into the same 4.8 inches at 200 yards....
Even cast bullets do exceedingly well. They can be blunt but still fly well because they are only .284 body size to begin with. And being long for their weight gives them excellent penetrating power. Loading the 140 grain RCBS over 38 grains of H414 gave 2424 fps from this little rifle and 30 inches of penetration in very wet phone books. They exit deer at almost any angle except a straight in butt, or chest shot. I use a 1 in 15 alloy at this velocity, but for small game and lower velocities I use 1 in 19 mix, heat treated with high antimony content (6%) as well as the tin. Pushing the 139 grain Speer boat tail over 2600 fps is no real trick when using ReL#15...I use 36 grains....and that is a top pressure load. So donít try it straight, drop it some and work up.
But the 130 grainer gives better velocity by far and is as good ballistically as the 139 grainer and Speer makes it in a fine boat tail shape. The question is..does the boat tail shape help with a cartridge that is limited in range???? I think it does. Taking both 130 grain bullets by Speer...their flat base and their boat tail...over 36.5 grains of ReL#15 my rifle gave nearly the same velocities with both...an average of 2654 fps...with a three inch high at 100 yards for both...the flat base dropped 12.7 inches and the boat tail 8.9 inches at 300 yards!!!!
The boat tail went into just under a 7 inch group and the flatbase was a little larger at 9+ inches...both fine performers...but Iíll stick with the boat tail. As I said, I clip the nose off for loading in the tube...it doesnít bother accuracy or expansion one iota.
Can you varmint hunt with a 7 Waters? You bet! 40 grains of 748 under a 7mm 110 grain JHP will push it close to the magic 3000 fps...and the 115 gr JHPs almost as fast. The 120 grainers over 39 grains of 748 will get real close to 2900 fps....and believe me a few shots with these varmint loads and the crows, coyotes...and such, will stop laughing at you when you step into the field with a levergun. And the 120 grainers are cross over bullets that can be used on deer sized game as well.
Speer makes a 145 grain jacketed soft point, I have to neck size only, and jiggle the case with a long drop tube...but I can get 35.4 grains of ReL#15 under it. I donít know why I would ever use this rifle on elk...but this bullet at 2520 fps in the ribs would do as good as many other lite calibers Ďtried and trueí elk loads. For the off chance that I might run into an elk, while deer hunting....which is a very slim possibility, but the point is...it has the power to do the job. Can you even imagine how many elk have been taken with 30-30s in the early years of the 1900s thru the 1940s? Before the big belted magnums came rushing in after WW2....and the thinking of the hunter was altered to maximum velocity and power at any cost. For close country, treed areas, brush hunting and stand hunting the little Waters 7 is hard to beat....
Taking a RCBS 7-168 grain cast bullet over 28 grains of 748...gives 1910 fps. And thatís better than the old 30-30 165 grain load. This is a long bullet and has to be loaded deep cutting powder room, so that has more influence over velocity than high pressure. But does this bullet penetrate...when I was testing loads for my first book on leverguns in the 1980s....I was testing this bullet at around 1800 fps from a then wildcat 7mm08 on a Rem/700 bolt action. We were ridding the range of feral cattle....and the rancher who owned and rented the state land, was butchering and packing the meat on a small refer/truck. It was quite an operation, and the last of itís kind. Just a year or so later the dog food companies started buying up the feral cattle so they could advertise ĎREAL 100% BEEFí in their dog food. Both we as shooters and the Indian school kids lost out on that deal.
But that 168 grain RCBS bullet would break big bones and keep trucking right on thru...side shots usually showed an exit wound even taking ribs going in and going out...35 to 40 inches of penetration was not at all unusual, with excellent blood trails, not that we needed them....these feral cattle ran 800 to 1500 lbs in weight. And they are not some soft cow in a closed field, they are tough...aggressive....nasty...and pass on their unwanted genes into very expensive Burma and Black Angus cattle.
They are free ranging...and the females are as nasty as the males. I see no difference in the 168 grainer at 1800 to 1900 fps from the 7/08 or the 7 Waters. Velocity should be thought of in terms of range not power.
If a 7 Waters can be loaded to 2500 to 2600 fps with a 140 to 145 grain bullet...then it will perform out to 150/200 yards on large game, what a 140/145 grainer loaded at 3000 fps from a 280 Rem will do at 300/350 yards....
A small elk will run around 300 to 500 lbs....most are shot well under two hundred yards...as I said, I would go after elk with a better cartridge....but that doesnít mean a good hunter couldnít do the job with the 7 Waters....now I know some geek will E-Mail me all hot and bothered about "recommending" the 7 Waters as an elk rifle...donít bother - I donít, reread the above.
I like the model 94 Winchesters....and the 7 Waters fits the standard 94 action very well. It is exactly what it was designed for...a light, handy, and fairly powerful round and rifle for deer and black bear. If I had my druthers...and some day I may....I would take a Winchester Big Bore action (fatside) chambered for the 307, pull the barrel and take a 7 Waters barrel and rechamber for the wildcat 7mm/07. Thatís ostensibly the 7/08 with a rim.
Then you are taking 3000 fps with the 140 grain bullets. Itís like having a light 270 Winchester on a levergun action......You could easily surpass the original ballistics of the 7X57mm bolt guns. Those old guns had to be kept at 45,000 psi or so...the Win 94 BB is a 50,000+ cup action. I predict one of the great hunting loads from this wildcat would be the 160 grain round/soft nose at 2750+ fps....all the way up to large game.
With the right scope put on the barrel so snap shots will be quick, a 20 to 22 inch barrel, fast reloading of the second shot, you have a scout rifle to beat all scout rifles....Humm...I wonder if Winchester has any 7 Waters 24 inch barrels still in stock?Good shootiní