I love my Remington model 788 7mm-08, it has killed coyotes, deer, antelope, and my first bull elk at 400 yards. It does have a very short barrel though, kicks like a mule. I have been really impressed with the lack of drop too.
The 7-08 is a heck of a gun. Especially if you reload, then you can really maximize its capability. I shoot 120 grain tsx's out of mine right around 3025 fps and 140 grain accubonds at 2900 fps. Deer dont stand a chance. Just like most any gun, with plenty of practice and the right optics you can kill past 300 yards with 08 with plenty left to spare.
You might have fun with a Stevens 200 7mm, I think retail is $420 you could buy a trigger for $135. Reload 160 class bullets of choice to about 3050fps.
.280 Remington would be my choice.
I'm a previously confesed 284 hater. Oh I tried to come over to the caliber. Tried a 700 mountain rifle in 7-08 the instatnt they were available. It turned out to have a chamber problem and had to go back to Remington. They turned it around in short order,and off to the range we went. No love there. Maybe it was the rough start we got off to. Maybe it was the fact it didn't like any 150gr bullet I threw at it. Don't know,but I sent it on it's way. There was a 280 M77V about that time as well. I shot the heck out of it but couldn't justify the weight of the rifle for a big game round and fell out of love with it too. There is the semi custom M700 LA 284 Win too. The picture of accuracy. I'm still waiting for it to worm it's way into my heart. It's a wonderful round in a very accurate rig. Just not all warm and fuzzy about it yet.
My brother in law on the other hand fell in love with the 280. Then the 7 RM. His adamant pro "7" position prompted me to do more study on the subject. The huge following the 7RM had driven me to reconsider it. On paper it isn't anything special. Heck the old ought 6 will run with it out to 400yds. With a 180gr bullet to boot. The 7 Remmy is anything but exciting with the bullets over 160gr. Okay,but nothing special. Then it happened.
2 years ago I bought a T3 in 7 Remington Magnum. Mostly because I needed a gun fix,and didn't have a 7 mag in the T3 yet. I justified the purchase by dubbing it my daughters elk rifle. I figured she could handle the recoil just fine.(it is VERY pleasant to opperate). There are some high quality bullets in the 140/150gr range that I figured she would do fine with at a minimum recoil. Good trajectory. Quality factory fodder on every street corner. Yada yada yada. Off to the range we go again. It all became crystal clear. The thing shot VERY well with 140gr Sierras. Better yet with 150gr bullets of any brand. I took 2 deer with it the first fall,3 weeks after firing the first rounds from it. One was a doe at 300yds 2" under the chin. The thing almost shoots it self. Stupid simple to own and opperate. Little felt recoil. Endless componant options as well as factory fodder. All with 20gr less charcoal than the Ultra. What's not to like?
From all that. 35 years of justifying not owning one. I have come to the conclusion that my next rifle to end all rifles is inevitable. Within the year I will settle on one very nice,light,accurate rifle to be my last. A life time of being a gun looney. Owning something like 75 different factory offerings,in a myriad of different chamberings. Buying,tweaking,testing then trading. I'm burned out and ready to concentrate my efforts in the preference point system and spending as much time as I can in the Rockies. This rifle is going to be the 7 Remington Magnum. Throated for the 160gr bullet. In a 24" barrel. I won't argue for it,or against it. I've owned rifles that would leave the 7RM for dead. The 338 Win Mag. The 300 Ultra. The 300 Win Mag. All make a better argument for the one gun battery. It's not just about the numbers. I've run them to death. It's about what feels right,and the 7 RM suits me right down to the ground.
One gun nuts opinon.
i have room full critters that have fallen to the mighty little 7-08. Grizzly bear, elk, caribou, mule deer, moose, yada yada. To me I think it is the best all purpose round there is. longest ranged kill @ 462 yards on a caribou. My dad killed a bull with it @ 392 yards last fall with one of my 7-08s. I have my 12 year old son banging a 12"x12" gong @ 500 yards with a kimber 7-08. Lite recoil, easy to reload, the cheapest of the 284 calibers to reload, bullet selction, and time proven 308 case whats there not to like about the mighty little 7