7mm-08, 160gr AB on a Cow Elk


Jul 14, 2018
First off, I want to offer a big "thank you!" to everyone here on this forum. Over the last few years, I found this site to be a great source of information on loads, bullet performance, rifles & gear...you name it. In particular, some QuickLoad help assisted me in working up a great load for my 7mm-08 & the 160gr AccuBond over top of RL17 (MV of 2725 fps out my Tikka T3x). I've used this load to take two mule deer so far, but those were both in the timber at around 85 yards. Both broadside, both dropped to the shot, and (no surprise) no recovered bullets. Not much of a challenge the cartridge/bullet.

This year, I decided to take this rifle/load hunting for cow elk. I found a small group of cows at about sundown. One stepped out of some cedar trees in a clear grassy spot down hill of where I was at about 360 yards, quartering towards me. I took the shot, and she immediately tensed up & walked a very quick half-circle back behind a tree where I could only see her head. A few seconds later, she flopped over and didn't get back up...no more than 10 seconds after the shoot.

Upon inspection/field dressing, I found the bullet (pictures below) had entered between two ribs about 4 inches behind her right shoulder blade and passed through her lungs, liver, and a little of her stomach before coming to rest against the offside hide. My rough measurement says it went through about 22" of elk. Vertically, the bullet hit a little high, in the top 1/3 of her lungs, 4-5" below the top of her ribs/spine. This is my fault for not re-ranging her after moving around to get into a stable position, not the fault of the bullet. :)

The recovered bullet (after cleaning) weighs 140 grains, yielding ~87% weight retention. My ballistic calculator puts the bullet going about 2250 fps, with 1800 foot-pounds of energy at impact.

I had some reservations about using this heavy of a bullet in the 7mm-08, thinking it might not open up well at extended range/lower velocities. Looks like my worries were unfounded, at least for this particular AB. I couldn't ask for any more from the bullet given the conditions.

All told, this is the 8th elk I've taken with a Nosler AB bullet (previously 4 using a 30 cal/165gr from a 30-06 at a MV of 2900, ranges from 75 to 380 yards; 3 with a 7mm/140gr at a MV of 2825, ranges from 85 to 350 yards). I haven't been disappointed yet. It really seems to be a great design, at least in the three examples I've used.

Edited to add: Sorry I didn't have a picture of the elk before field dressing/packing it out. I didn't have my phone with me the night I got her, so the best I could include was the rifle and packed out meat/proof-of-gender.


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Great write up and congratulations ! I run the 160gr AccuBond as well but in my 280ai and am totally impressed with its performance. I am currently in the process of working up a load in my wife's 7mm-08 with a 140gr AccuBond over reloader 17. I appreciate you sharing your experience!

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Congratulations on your cow elk. That 160 gr AB certainly did the job. Impressive performance.

Nice job! I load that bullet at 2750 in my Ruger No 1 in 7x57 and I wouldn’t hesitate to go after an elk with it. Your story just confirms it.
Impressive performance, to be certain. Congratulations on filling your freezer with some excellent meat.
I have only used the 284 cal 160gr AB in my 7mm STW over the years. It has performed very well harvesting game from 15 to 415 yards, including antelope, deer, caribou, moose, elk, mountain goat, bighorn and stone's sheep.
At an initial velocity of 3222 fps, the bullets that have been recovered have had an average of double expansion and a weight retention of 90-95%.
Am going to use the 150gr AB in my 280 Rem and the 140gr in my 7mm-08. Expecting similar results as experienced with the 160's, and what others are getting in their 7mm-08's.
Congratulations on your elk, she will be outstanding table fair. I have taken several elk with the AB and find your performance similar to mine, they are a fine bullet, for game.
That 160 AccuBond is about the best all around 7mm bullet I’ve used. Like Bill, we have clipped a few elk and such with them now and they don’t leave much to be desired.
Congratulations to that cow!

I would probably still use it if I wouldn't have to use lead-free in some areas.
Found a good one, so I use it and do not switch...

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I've only shot one cow elk with the 165 gr. from my 30-06. Shot was right about 100 yards and she went maybe 30 yards before expiring. Bullet hit at the short ribs and ended up in the mess that was her left lung. I never recovered the bullet and there was no exit wound. I can only guess the bullet was still in the mess that was her left lung. I'm loading 160 gr. Speer Hot Core up to 7-08 levels and just have to get around to picking up some 160 Accubonds to try. I'm seeing some interesting results with RL17 in the 7x57 and 30-07. Might just be a good on in the 7-08 as well looking at the OP's results.
Paul B.