“I settled on the 7mm-08 Remington as the best combination of power with modest recoil, but I was and continue to be shocked at the incredible performance of this little cartridge.”
It seems that every time I write a gun review for this, or any other, outlet it comes with a disclaimer. So, here it is. I had never seen, let alone fired, a rifle chambered in 7mm-08 Remington before Kerry and Carol O’Day of MG Arms sent me one of their Ultra-Lights.
Readers may recall that my first experience with an MGA Ultra-Light involved a dangerous game cartridge – the .416 Taylor. Needless to say, the 7mm-08 Remington has significantly less recoil than a .416 caliber rifle.
Also, unlike the .416 Taylor, with its skeletonized Remington Model 700 action, the 7mm-08 Remington was built around a similarly-skeletonized, Howa Model 1500 action.
As with each of the MGA Ultra-Lights, the bolt is fluted and skeletonized to reduce weight.
The trigger is the MG Arms go-to: a Jewell Triggers adjustable model that is light and incredibly crisp.
The rifle sports MGA’s Super Eliminator muzzle brake. It may not be needed for recoil reduction on such a mild cartridge, this feature allows the shooter to ‘call’ their shots because of the great reduction in muzzle lift.
The 7mm-08 Remington Ultra-Light wears a 13-ounce Kevlar stock with a with a black and tan camo pattern.
Finally, the Ultra-Light came from MG Arms equipped with a crystal-clear Swarovski Z5 3.5-18x x 44 scope.
I have been reviewing quite a few open-sighted firearms lately, so it was a real joy to give my eyes a rest with such a wonderful optic. (For a great tutorial on the Z5 Series Ballistic Turret System, check out this video by H-S Precision’s Josh Cluff.)
Shooting the 7mm-08 Remington Ultra-Light
Along with the Ultra-Light and the Swarovski scope, MG Arms even worked up some custom handloads for my review.
They also ‘generously’ sent me a jpeg of a representative group obtained when they were sighting-in the 7mm-08.
Actually, I requested the photo of the sight-in group. So, the performance anxiety I experienced while driving to the range was entirely my own fault.
The format for the range trial reflects my usual approach. I emphasize tests that provide an estimate of how well a firearm will work for hunters, rather than for those interested in competitive shooting.
This is NOT because I think less of competitive shooters and their skills (my older brother competed several times for a place on the US Olympic pistol team). But I’m a hunter, and so I prefer to design protocols that provide me the best litmus test(s) for hunting applications.
With that in mind, though I recorded accuracy data from the bench, I did not lock the Ultra-Light into a rigid rest. I used sandbags and fired with the butt supported by my non-trigger hand.
Likewise, I fired from two ‘field-rests’, both produced by Lilian Camalet of 4StableSticks: a model designed for seated shooting and a standing rest (‘Ultimate Leather’) model.
Along with the accuracy analysis, I also used my LabRadar unit to chronograph 11 of the 95 cartridges. The mean muzzle velocity was 2531 fps, and the mean muzzle energy was 1990 ft-lbs.
The velocity and the ballistic coefficient for the 140-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets resulted in the following trajectories: 100-yards = 0″; 200-yards = -3.5 inches; 300-yards = -13 inches.
Though the bullet drop was significant, the accuracy remained excellent out to 300 yards. Pictured below is a 300-yard, 3-shot group obtained using the 4StableSticks ‘seated’ rest.
In fact, the accuracy, as illustrated by the following bar graph was outstanding from all three rest types. All distance and rest type combinations provided sub-MOA groups. In terms of hunting applications, this indicates that animals the size of African pygmy antelope (~20 pounds) could be harvested ethically with this rifle at distances of 300 yards or less.
Whether you plan to head overseas, or focus on North American species, the MG Arms Ultra-Light in 7mm-08 would be an excellent rifle choice. If you have the skill it will be wonderfully effective in the African bush, whitetail woods, sheep mountains or Pronghorn plains.
The accuracy and energy levels are sufficient for each of these applications. And at under seven pounds, the Ultra-Light would also be a pleasure to carry, especially over long distances or up steep inclines.
Specifications: MG Arms Ultra-Light Rifle
Action Type: Howa Model 1500 (customized)
Overall Length: 44″
Barrel: Pac-Nor National Match SS
Barrel Length: 21”
Muzzle Brake: MGA Super Eliminator
Weight: 6.8 lbs. (with Swarovski Z5 3.5-18x x 44)
Stock: Kevlar 13 oz.
Recoil Pad: Pachmayr Decelerator
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style * * * * *
I looked back at my earlier review of the first MG Arms Ultra-Light. Here is what I wrote concerning ‘style’: “I love the look of wood stocks and traditional bluing. However, my personal rifle carried on hunts throughout North America and in Africa wears a dark gray synthetic-stock and rust-resistant finish. The MG Arms Ultra-Light is very stylish, its particular style reflecting its niche as a super-light, and yet incredibly durable, rifle. It will look very good in photos with game taken.” I still agree with that for this second MGA Ultra-Light rifle.
Fit and Finish: * * * * *
The metal and stock finishes are excellent and would stand up well to Georgia rain, Alaska snow and cold, and South African dust.
Accuracy * * * * *
As one of my professors once said, “data are data.” The bar graph shows how very accurate this rifle and ammunition combination is at all distances and off all rest types.
Ergonomics * * * * *
Though this rifle is an Ultra-Light, it balances beautifully when holding it offhand. The reduced weight, even with a mounted scope, means that a hunter who isn’t a triathlete should be able to carry this rifle for long distances and up-and-down mountains without blaming the firearm for their wishing to die.
Reliability * * * * *
This is a precision-made bolt gun based on an excellent action. The bolt, chamber and magazine worked together perfectly.
Overall * * * * *
The appearance, handling and mechanisms of the MG Arms Ultra-Light in 7mm-08 Remington, as with the first MGA Ultra-Light I encountered, is a paradigm of the highest-quality gun manufacturing. The engineering and gunsmithing skills of the MG Arms owners and staff were reflected in the superb skeletonization of parts to reduce weight as well as the wonderfully smooth mechanical workings. Likewise, the stock-design and construction added greatly to a sleek appearance. The stock and metalwork combination produced an extremely easy to shoot, and highly-accurate finished product. Even at the price, MG Arms Ultra-Light is a rifle worth more than it costs.
Mike Arnold writes about firearms and hunting at his blog Mike Arnold, Outdoor Writer.