October 27, 2022
Barbary sheep, also known in Texas as aoudad, are known for being tough critters to put down with a single shot. They are dense and built with heavy hide that makes bullet penetration difficult. Originally from the Barbary Coast of Africa they have developed a strong presence on the landscape in west Texas. In September, I went on my first hunt for these tough critters at the Cibolo Creek Ranch where I also tested Hornady’s latest cartridge and a precision rifle from AllTerra Arms.
For the hunt we used Hornady’s new 7mm PRC. Growing up, I shot a .270 and naturally progressed to a 7mm Rem. Mag. When I heard of the 7 PRC I was intrigued. This would be the first chance I had to test this new round since it has been the worst-kept secret in the shooting world over the past 6 months.
The PRC, though like a 7mm Rem. Mag., has some slight differences that improve the cartridge's overall abilities. It has a shorter and fatter casing than the standard Rem. Mag., boosting its speed by about 40FPS at the muzzle. It also has a faster twist rate (1:8), which in turn helps to stabilize heavy-for-caliber bullets. For this hunt, we were shooting Hornady’s Precision Hunter line with a 175-grain ELD-X. Compared to the 162-grain ELD-X out of the 7mm Rem. Mag. that has a BC of 0.631, the 175-grain has the edge at 0.689.
After getting settled in at El Cienega, we headed to the range to sight in the rifles. AllTerra Arms, a growing rifle maker out of Boise, Idaho, brought two different rifle variations for the hunt. Their flagship AllTerra Carbon and the one I couldn’t take my eyes off, their Mountain Shadow Carbon. The Mountain Shadow Carbon sports just a 22-inch barrel made by CarbonSix and was topped with Kahles K318i. It weighed in right at 8 pounds with an Atlas Bipod up front. AllTerra rifles carry a ½-inch group guarantee when shooting premium ammo. I quickly learned that guarantee was not just marketing hype. With just a few minor adjustments, I had the Mountain Shadow Carbon sighted in and ready for the field.
After sighting in we started to work up DOPE. I found the gun to be shooting just under the Hornady specs, averaging right at 2893 FPS, but consistent. After using the Hornady 4DOF calculator app, we started to stretch out the legs on this round. I first started at 400 yards, shooting a MOA-sized steel plate. After a tight five-shot group, it was time to reach out further to 700 yards. This round yielded another tight five-shot group.
Finally, it was time to shoot the 12-inch plate at 1,000 yards. Having a slight hold for a 5-7 mph wind, I was able to consistently put rounds on target. This first test of the 7 PRC proved to be rather enjoyable. Shooting less than a box of ammo, I already felt incredibly confident in the setup.
After a delicious lunch from the staff at Cienega, the head guide Trent, Miles from Hornady, my cameraman Adam and I all jumped into a side-by-side and headed out to look for a mature aoudad ram. At this point, I’d yet to ever lay eyes on an aoudad, but before the hunt I did some extensive research to understand as much as possible about the animals. I learned what to look for, how to judge a mature animal and studied likely movement patterns but still was no expert. Trent helped put all my inexperience at ease and answered a plethora of questions.
As we drove around the ranch, it didn’t take us long to find a group of sheep—ewes and lambs. Continuing to another rock out cropping, we found another group of sheep, this time there was a ram in the bunch. I quickly checked him out and tried my best to convince the group we needed to get a closer look. Trent shook his head and said, ”A bit small, we can do better.” We continued on, again finding more sheep but nothing measuring up to our guide’s liking.
This routine filled our afternoon. Sheep were everywhere in the rocks, crevices, and cacti of this ranch. Deeper into the ranch grounds, there was big, mountainous terrain. I turned to Trent and said, “Now this is sheep country.” He responded with just a sly grin. We stopped on a knob to glass and almost instantaneously Trent tells us he’s found a large band with “multiple mature rams.” Now we’re in business!
We made a long 2-mile loop, down through the creek bottom and two drainages before we reach a flat roughly 600 yards from the herd. Inching closer, we made it to a large rock pile, and I quickly build a solid shooting position. With the cameraman over my shoulder, Trent to my left, and Miles calling out ranges, we watched as the largest ram and another mature ram start to fight. They were head butting, locking horns and pushing each other around through brush with clouds of dust flying.
This went on for close to ten minutes. All of us in awe, as we were witnessing some of the most intense aoudad behavior imaginable. After what seemed like an eternity, the two rams break up. The smaller flees, with the larger chasing close behind. They do this dance covering nearly 100 yards in a matter of seconds. Miles called out yardage, “494, “462”, “428, “401.” All the while I’m checking DOPE, spinning down my MOA on the Kahles scope and resettling behind the rifle.
Finally, the larger ram gets settled down and starts to walk, Miles called the range at 393. I make one final adjustment and control my breathing. Settling in, putting pressure into the trigger it breaks. Trent confirms a solid hit, I reload and reacquire the ram in the scope as he starts to do the stiff-legged dance. He fell in mere seconds.
Putting my hands on my first aoudad, I was impressed with the sheer size of these animals. Not only are their bodies massive, but the horns are truly impressive. Trent mentioned that this ram was the best he’d seen taken from the ranch. I could tell from the mass and length that he was mature. Trent pulled out the tape to measure the length of the ram’s horns: 34 ½ inches from bases to tip—a true giant.
To watch the entire hunt on our YouTube page - TEXAS TEST DRIVE -
After another day of hunting where Miles took a great Aoudad ram himself with the same rifle, we went to work on shooting mechanics with Terry Houin, a retired Navy SEAL and owner of The Precision Collective. The goal was to work on shooting in various positions commonly found in hunting situations. Engaging targets out to 850 yards, everyone involved was able to take away a newly acquired skill from Houin.
We then went to what they have named the Gold Range on Cienega. The range has a multitude of targets ranging from 300 yards all the way out to a mile. After shooting out to a thousand, it was time to really stretch test the capabilities of this setup and shoot the mile target. Working in a 10mph wind, we were all able to put confirmed hits at a mile. A true testament of the AllTerra rifles and the 7 PRC.
The new 7 PRC might be an up-and-coming round from Hornady, but I think it will be a force to be reckoned with in the fast 7mm bracket. As a lifelong fan and shooter of similar-style cartridges, I’m currently looking into a way to convert one of my Rem. Mags. into a 7 PRC. More to come on that this winter.