Kinda like asking which is better, the 308 or 30-06....pick the one you like best. In a Handi, I think the 7mm-08 would be better, not because of caliber, but because it comes in a 22" barrel and the 280 has a 26" barrel.
What type of woods...thick or open...heavy cover or thin...long shots or close or everything inbetween???
I look at it this way...if your wanting to maximize your cartridges...higher velocity...go with the 280...if the 4" of extra barrel bothers you...go with the 7-08...
Both cartridges are very good cartridges..both have taken their share of deer...but...you can always download a 280 to get 7-08 recoil and velocity...you won't safely load the 7-08 as high to get the 280 velocities..
If I was hunting real close...say up to 200 yards...I'd opt for the 45-70...and a 300 grain Nosler Partition...that's just me...I used that load on deer and it flat out drops them...
Well, I hunt some areas in thick brush and some areas in open hardwoods. And very litte clear cuts. I was looking at the 308 and the 30-06 the other day and decided I would like a 7mm instead of a .30. I hear their are a lot of different bullet selections for the 7mm. And i want to get into reloading but not sure how yet. So, I guess Im kinda starting from scratch.
not to be a smart guy, but if you want to split the difference, with a caliber that will hammer deer, black bear, and most of the elk out there go with the .270 Win'.
it'll shoot Flatter/Faster than the 7mm-08 ---- with each having a 22" barrel. and it won't leave much to the .280 Rem' at distances to 300 yds' or a little more. the difference is......the loading manuals don't all load the .270 to the 52,000+ cup that is actually allowed for that cartridge. (54,000 cup in some manuals!) i'd expect that the .270 is harder on barrels than the 7mm-08, however.
i'd go with the .280 Rem' if i didn't mind the .26" barrel, but the 22" barrel on a .270 Win' sure is "Handi"! the lack of target-grade projectiles in a .270 is somewhat a concern.....but Speer has produced them in the past....if that will ever matter to you.
You can't really beat the 45-70 or the 30-30...they are truely Legends of the rifle world...you would be hard pressed to find any cartridges that have taken more game than the 2 of them...but...if your a 1 rifle kind of guy...and don't plan on hunting any long clear cuts or power lines...where the shots can be on the long side...both the 30-30 and the 45-70 will work nicely...BUT...if you can access some long power lines...I would go for the 280...but that's just me...you can have it there when you need it...and down load it quiet easily...ole DitchDigger can tell ya about hunting power lines with his 280...he's got a dandy spot on a big power line by a lake up on a hill...with some pretty long shots available...
I have a 22 hornet, 30-30, and 25-06 in the handi-rifles. Im just debating on the 30 cal or the 7mm. Im not all that familiar with the 280, and I'm just looking for something new. Sounds like I should look at the 45-70 a little closer also.
Back to the original question - there is no practical real-world difference between the 7-08, .280, .270, .308 or .30-06 for the type of hunting the original poster asked about. Out to 400 yards there is very little difference in trajectory between any of them and all have ample power to quickly anchor game. There is a cottage industry devoted to trying to find a difference between them, but after many decades they are all still being used successfully.....
I have used the .45-70 a lot, and it does anchor deer and bear quickly, but it has substantial recoil with medium/maximum loads compared to the 7-08, along with a more looping trajectory if shots over 150 yards are required. I love it, but it is a more specialized cartridge. The .30-30 has pedigree too, but it is outperformed by more modern small bore cartridges with higher velocities that drop game more quickly.
As an example of how closely the 7-08, .280 and .270 compare, all with 140-grain CoreLokts:
Cartridge.......200 vel.........250 drop.........400 drop
Obviously there is no practical difference between any of them, and the choice is purely personal preference.
I have one of each 7-08 & 45-70 both are great shhoters the 7-08 gets its best groups with the 139 gr hornady light magnums, 45-70 shoots most everything well. I prefer short rifles so 22 in barrel in a single shot is just right, 20 or less in a repeater for me. Longest shot I have ever taken was just under 300 yrds with a 308 BLR worked quite well.
Try one if you like it try the other if you like it you have 2 more, if you don't like em they are not hard to swap or sell
enjoy & happy handi hunting
Everyone has made valid points regarding a choice. Lonestar included a good comparison and you could add the .308 and .30-06 to that list and still be in the ballpark.
You stated that you do not yet reload, so you rely on purchasing your cartridges. To become proficient with a rifle, one needs to shoot it a lot. Until you begin reloading, you may want to select a caliber that will not break the bank to shoot. You already have a .30-30, which is one of the calibers that has been suggested, but you said you want something different.
If expense is an issue, then the choice may be restricted to the .308, .270 or .30-06. They seem to be the least expensive and available at a greater variety of locations than most. That is not to say the 7-08, .45-70 and .280 are not available at many of the same locations, but you would be fortunate to find them at the prices of the others.
I have a .45-70, a .280 and a .30-06. The .45-70 is a lot of fun to shoot and shoots well. It is comfortable to shoot until you bump up the loads. It is also an easy caliber to reload. The ammo is somewhat expensive at around $20.00 per box for Rem/Win loads. Some cowboy ammo can be had for around $15.00 in my area. The .280 and .30-06 are proven calibers and are not bad to shoot in the Handi. A box of .45-70 ammo can cost almost twice that of the .30-06, depending on the time of year. The .280 is in between the two.
Which is better for the woods? When considering a capable deer bullet in the 7mm or .30 cal range, the bullet weights are going to be similar. You have to choose your shot and be confident in your ability to shoot the gun accurately.
So what does all this mean?
Examine the area you will be hunting and the realistic and maximum distance you may have to shoot. Your hunting location may influence the size of the barrel length and weight of the gun. Choose a caliber you can shoot comfortably and is capable of completing the task at hand. Consider the cost of the cartridges (if this is an issue).
Any of the cartridges mentioned in this thread are capable for what you desire, you just have to decide which is best for you.
In general, it seems to me that the answer to this question *for a Handi-rifle* is easy: the .280 rem, since the main advantage 7mm-08 has over 7x57 or .280 (in a repeating rifle) is the short action, so you can have a shorter, stiffer, lighter receiver. But in a single shot, that doesn't matter, so why not get the one with a little more oomph, in case you need it?
But, OTOH, as pointed out, if you're talking short barrels, you'd get only a smidge extra oomph from the .280 - but you would get SOME extra power, particularly in heavy bullet loadings. Even if you lopped off your .280 to 22", with a 175 gr bullet, you'd still get at least 100 fps more out of the 280 than the 7-08.
As for a good woods gun, that would be one choice, but a better one for thick woods with few and far between clearings (and small ones) would be a .45-70 or .35 Rem.
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