6.5X55 SWEDISH MAUSER

SA Jagter Hunter - - INHOUD -

S­we­den a­dop­ted the 6.5x55 as a mi­li­ta­ry car­trid­ge in 1894 for use in their Mo­del 94 rifle, a mo­di­fied ver­si­on of the 1893 S­pa­nish Mauser bolt-acti­on. The car­trid­ge was al­so cho­sen for the Nor­we­gi­an Krag-Jor­gen­sen mi­li­ta­ry rifle. It re­mai­ned in mi­li­ta­ry ser­vi­ce in S­we­den and Nor­way for ma­ny y­e­ars – until af­ter WWII in fact.

The 6.5x55 is accu­ra­te and very po­pu­lar for tar­get shooting and hunting in S­can­di­na­via – it ac­counts for a­bout half of the 75 000 moo­se ta­ken an­nu­al­ly in S­we­den. It has been said t­hat the 6.5x55 has the re­coil of a .257 Ro­berts, shoots as flat as a .270 and pe­ne­tra­tes li­ke a 7x57. Whi­le t­hat may be a s­lig­ht o­ver­sta­te­ment, this S­can­di­na­vi­an .264” is ne­vert­he­less an ex­cel­lent car­trid­ge, and it is the­re­fo­re sur­pri­sing t­hat it has not be­co­me mo­re po­pu­lar el­se­w­he­re in the wor­ld. In the 1950s and 1960s the Ca­na­di­ans be­gan u­sing it, and a­bout ten y­e­ars la­ter the A­me­ri­cans al­so star­ted be­co­ming a­wa­re of the vir­tu­es of this car­trid­ge.

O­wing to the strong Eu­ro­pe­an in­flu­en­ces in A­fri­ca du­ring the co­lo­ni­al era, me­tric ca­li­bres ha­ve al­ways been po­pu­lar on the Dark Con­ti­nent. All the 6.5mm cartridges saw qui­te a bit of use, though no­ne we­re e­ver as po­pu­lar as the 7x57. Ho­we­ver, w­hen che­ap, high-qua­li­ty sur­plus Swedish mi­li­ta­ry Mau­sers be­ca­me a­vai­la­ble in re­cent y­e­ars, they sold li­ke hot ca­kes, and af­ter u­sing them on ga­me ma­ny hun­ters be­ca­me fer­vent 6.5mm S­we­de fans.

The 6.5mm S­we­de is w­hat re­lo­a­ders call an ‘ef­fi­cient’ car­trid­ge, t­hat is, it u­ses less po­w­der to a­chie­ve the sa­me bal­lis­ti­cs as cartridges of lar­ger ca­se ca­pa­ci­ty. With bul­lets up to 130gr, the 6.5mm re­qui­res 6 to 10 grains less of a gi­ven po­w­der than the .270 to obtain very si­mi­lar velo­ci­ties, and it u­ses bet­ween two and fi­ve grains less po­w­der than the 7mm-08 with 100120gr bul­lets. This not on­ly ma­kes it mo­re e­co­no­mi­cal but al­so ge­ne­ra­tes less re­coil and muz­z­le blast.

Alt­hough the 6.5x55 is slo­wer than the .270 and the 7mm-08 with all bul­let weig­hts, in terms of practi­cal per­for­man­ce, it co­mes very c­lo­se with 120 and 140 grai­ners. So c­lo­se in fact t­hat the 6.5’s bul­lets on­ly drop 1 to 1½” mo­re at 300m. Bul­lets t­hat are long re­la­ti­ve to their di­a­me­ter, i.e. which ha­ve a high secti­o­nal den­si­ty fac­tor, u­su­al­ly pe­ne­tra­te bet­ter than shor­ter, big­ger ca­li­b­re bul­lets of the sa­me weig­ht.

A 140gr 6.5mm has a hig­her secti­o­nal den­si­ty fac­tor than a 160gr 7mm bul­let (.289 vs .287). And the 6.5’s 160 grai­ner has a secti­o­nal den­si­ty of .328, which be­ats t­hat of the .308-ca­li­b­re 220gr bul­let (the he­a­vier bul­let will, of cour­se, still ha­ve a gre­a­ter mo­men­tum). High secti­o­nal den­si­ty is the re­a­son why the ‘mild’ S­we­de’s 160gr bul­let is so ef­fecti­ve for its weig­ht, e­ven on lar­ge an­te­lo­pe. ‘Ka­ra­mo­jo’ Bell e­ven tried the 6.5s on e­lep­hants but soon stop­ped be­cau­se the long bul­lets de­for­med too e­a­si­ly in the tough he­ads.

For an­te­lo­pe hunting the 6.5 is as good as the .270 and si­mi­lar ca­li­bres. Lo­a­ded with a 120gr bul­let at 2 900fps the 6.5 is out­stan­ding for spring­buck and bles­buck whi­le a pre­mi­um­gra­de 140gr bul­let at 2 650fps will ta­ke ca­re of ga­me up to the si­ze of a har­te­beest out to 200m. For c­lo­se ran­ge work in thick bush a 156 or 160gr bul­let at 2 300fps should do the trick on ku­du-si­zed ga­me.

So­me re­gard the litt­le 6.5 as too lig­ht for a­ni­mals in the ku­du class but be­cau­se of its mild re­coil most rifle­men shoot mo­re accu­ra­te­ly with it, and we know t­hat accu­ra­te shot pla­ce­ment is mo­re im­por­tant than ca­li­b­re si­ze (as­su­ming a­de­qua­te pe­ne­tra­ti­on and bul­let per­for­man­ce, of cour­se). Alt­hough we ha­ve to be con­ser­va­ti­ve w­hen re­com­men­ding hunting ca­li­bres for dif­fe­rent si­zed a­ni­mals, I do feel at ti­mes t­hat ma­ny hun­ters are o­ver-gun­ned, re­lying mo­re on ca­li­b­re and po­wer to kill than shooting skill. Hun­ters don’t

need big­ger bul­lets and hig­her velo­ci­ties as much as they need hig­her le­vels of shooting skill and self-dis­ci­pli­ne to know w­hen and w­hen not to pull the trig­ger.

As far as we could es­ta­blish, rifles in 6.5x55 are ma­nu­fac­tu­red by Carl Gus­tav, K­ri­co, Sa­ko, Tik­ka, Sau­er, S­teyr-Mann­li­cher CZ and Win­ches­ter. Tho­se who o­pe­ra­te on a tig­ht bud­get can shop a­round for a sur­plus mi­li­ta­ry Swedish Mauser, but the­se, though on­ce re­a­di­ly a­vai­la­ble, are now dif­fi­cult to find. The ot­her op­ti­on is to ha­ve a cu­s­tom or se­mi-cu­s­tom rifle built. Fac­to­ry am­mu­ni­ti­on and re­lo­a­ding com­po­nents are re­a­di­ly a­vai­la­ble and the ran­ge of bul­let weig­hts (85 to 160gr) is wi­de e­nough to sa­tisfy most hunting needs. A rifle cham­be­red for S­we­den’s 6.5x55 would al­so be i­de­al for la­dies, young­sters or small-fra­med per- sons, or a­nyo­ne who is in­ti­mi­da­ted by re­coil.

It is not k­no­wn ex­act­ly who de­sig­ned the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser but w­hoe­ver it was, did the hunting wor­ld a fa­vour. This u­ser-friend­ly car­trid­ge is as re­le­vant in the new mil­len­ni­um as it was o­ver 120 y­e­ars ago.

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