While the 8x57mm Mauser may not have been a Mauser development, the Mauser factory took the case that resulted and developed an entire line of incredibly popular military and sporting cartridges from it. Some fell into obscurity, such as 8x51mm Mauser and 6.5x54mm Mauser. Others became popular for a time but were eventually eclipsed, such as 9x57mm Mauser and 7.65x53mm Mauser. But one has stood the test of time and remained one of the most popular rifle cartridges worldwide: the 7x57mm Mauser.
Originally developed for rifles involved in Spanish military trials, the 7x57mm Mauser was adopted by Spain when the country adopted the Model 1893 Mauser as its standard service rifle. The cartridge developed a reputation for flat shooting and superior long-range performance to other cartridges of the time, particularly during the Spanish-American War.
US forces in Cuba, even those armed with the new .30-40 Krag rifles, found themselves outgunned by the Spaniards armed with 7mm Mauser rifles. While the US was ultimately victorious, the Spaniards inflicted high casualty rates with their rifles, spurring US interest in the Mauser rifle and the eventual development of the 1903 Springfield rifle and the .30-06 Springfield cartridge.
The 7x57mm Mauser cartridge also played an important role in the Boer Wars, in which Dutch militiamen proved superior to British riflemen. The flat shooting and long-range performance of the 7mm Mauser rifles exceeded that of the British and their .303 British rifles, causing no end of disturbance to British forces in South Africa.
The reputation of the 7mm Mauser cartridge was so great that dozens of countries adopted it as their standard service cartridge. Most South American countries adopted it as their standard cartridge, as did Spain, Serbia, and others.
In British use the cartridge was known as the .275 Rigby, and found a home among British sportsmen who valued its excellent performance as a hunting cartridge. The famed elephant hunter W.D.M. “Karamojo” Bell is said to have killed hundreds of elephants with the .275 Rigby, dispatching many of them with a single shot to the brain. That is a testament to the 7mm bullet’s high sectional density that allows for deep penetration.
Initial service loads of the 7x57mm Mauser featured round-nosed bullets of about 173 grains traveling at 2,200 to 2,300 feet per second, for a muzzle energy of 1,850 to 2,000 foot-pounds. Later spitzer loads featured 139-grain bullets traveling at nearly 2,800 feet per second, for over 2,400 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Modern 7mm loads feature 175-grain bullets traveling at over 2,500 feet per second, again for over 2,400 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
The popularity of the 7mm Mauser cartridge has made it one of the few metric cartridges for which American rifles have been chambered over the past several decades. And its performance as an effective hunting cartridge that can be used by women and children too helps the 7x57mm Mauser retain its popularity. If you’re looking for a cartridge to serve you well in a survival situation, the 7x57mm Mauser is worth a look.