reloading for the Swedish Mauser 6.5 x 55


July 28, 2007, 11:33 AM
It's a m96 (actually a m41/B), receiver dated 1908. I've only taken it shooting one time so far - with factory ammo. I shot a box of 20 Fed Classic, and then shot 10 rounds of Win super-X.

The rifle shot great groups with both (at 50 yds), although 14" high :confused: . One thing that bothered me was that one round of Fed Classic resulted in a stuck bolt - could not lift the bolt handle to eject the round. I did manage to lift the handle after fiddling with it for a while. Does this mean the ammo was too hot?

I read somewhere that when loading for old swede rifles, to stick to pressures < 45000. I loaded up my first handloads for this rifle last night. I used the once fired brass from my previous shooting session, and used a Lee Collet neck-size die to neck size only. I seated the bullets (Hornady 140gr SP) out to 3.015". I then used the Lee FC die to put a crimp on.

The powder I chose was Reloder 22. I loaded 5 rounds each of: 40gr, 40.5gr, 41gr, 41.5gr.

There is a large discrepancy between manuals on the swede and 140gr bullets with Reloader 22. Speer start load is 44gr, max load is 48gr. Lee is very similar with a start load of 43.9gr and a max of 48.1. However, Sierra start load is 37.7gr, and max load is 45.7. That is considerably lower than the other manuals. Unfortunately Hornady does not list R22 with their 140gr loads.

I chose to make my test loads as mentioned above - from 40gr to 41.5gr. May be light, but I want to take care of this old sniper rifle, and all I do is shoot paper anyway.

What do you guys use for your m96 swede loads?

I may go to the range tomorrow to try out these 20 handloads. Hope they don't shoot 14" high like the factory ammo. I may need to adjust my Ajack sniper scope. I know how to due to this thread:

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July 28, 2007, 12:27 PM
I have shot up to 47.5 grains of RL 22 in my swede (M38) and had no ill results. The actions are strong enough to take a little more than the listed pressures. Those pressures are more for 96's in bad shape and the M1894's. Mine looks like it will need to have the bullets seated out more however, and mine shoots about 8-10 high at 100 as well. It is the norm.

July 28, 2007, 05:36 PM
A friend of mine found some tall front sight blades some years back to help our Swedes zero out at 100 yds. I can't remember where he got them. I haven't reloaded for the old girl yet, but will soon now that I have some brass to work with. I would be interested in your results.

Jake in TX
July 28, 2007, 05:55 PM

I also shoot an m/96. Mine is a Mauser Oberndorf, dated 1900. I starting load was 40 grains of RL22, using 140 grain Sierra Matchkings. My most accurate load is 45.2 grains. My m/96 still has the original rear sight, with the shortest distance of 300 meters. This is why these rifles typically shoot so high at 50 and 100 yards. I use a target which is 8" in diameter and hold on the bottom of the color. At 50 yards, I'm putting the bullets in the center.

I believe you are starting out OK. I personally do not like American made brass for 6.5x55, as the case head diameter is typically too small. Lapua and Norma make correctly dimensioned brass for 6.5x55, but it is pretty costly. Wolf Gold brand uses Prvi Partizan brass from Serbia (I believe), and it is much more reasonably prices. Good luck with your load development. Maybe I'll see you at a range.

Jake in TX

July 28, 2007, 06:46 PM
Jake, your 96 shoots center hits with a proper 6 oclock hold? Is that with the listed 45.2 grains??

Jake in TX
July 28, 2007, 07:03 PM

Yes, it does, at a 50 yard range (not 100 yards).

Jake in TX

July 28, 2007, 08:32 PM
my first time at the range (as detailed in the OP), shot 14" high at 50 yds. The night before I went to the range, I set the elevation dial on "1", for 100 meters.

However, when I got home and removed the scope from its metal protective container, I noticed it was set on "6" (600 meters). I'm not sure if I accidentally moved it before shooting, or after shooting at the range when I was stuffing it back into its container, or if I accidentally moved it while unpacking it when I got home... in other words, I'm not sure if I accidentally moved it to "6" AFTER shooting, or BEFORE shooting.

If I was shooting with it set on 600 meters, then that would mostly explain the 14" high POI. If it was still set on "1" while I was shooting, then I'll either have to aim low all the time, or take off the elevation dial, and refasten it back on, but at a 90 degree angle to what it was before (that would in effect allow it to go lower than "1").

Jake - the 45.2gr would probably be close to the mil-spec performance. I may buy some Norma brass. I figure since I am using a Lee Collet neck sizer, that I'll get good life out of my brass.

Next time I take it shooting, I'm going to double check that it is still on "1" before shooting.

July 28, 2007, 08:46 PM
Bender - is your M41/B have all matching numbers?

Those were hand selected and custom built. NICE rifles...a bit expensive today...but WELL worth the money.

Ol` Joe
July 28, 2007, 09:06 PM
Your loads of 40/41grs of R22 are very light.
Speer suggests starting at 44 gr and Alliant suggests a max of 48.1 gr. Subtracting 10% as a starting place gives us 43.3 gr with a 140 gr bullet. I suspect you will find as velocity goes up with higher powder charges the POI will drop. I have loaded the Swede with 46-47gr of R22 & a 140 gr bullet in a old M96 and presently use 47.5 gr with a 140 gr Sierra BT in a rebarreled Mark X. I`d raise the charge a couple grs and see if POI drops and accuracy improves, I`ll bet you will see some improvment.

July 28, 2007, 09:22 PM
since the 6.5 x 55 is still chambered in modern rifles, and also formerly in the rem 700 and win 70, I thought maybe the loads in the manuals were a little hot for the old swede military rifles.

My next 20 reloads will be five each of 42, 42.5, 43. 43.5gr of Reloder 22.

As stated in the OP, I seated the bullets out to 3.015". It looks kind of funny, with the bullets sticking out that far, but I read that the old swedes have long throats.

would a 120gr bullet shoot lower?

Ol' Joe - the ammo that was shooting 14" high was factory, not my light reloads. It was the first time I had shot 6.5 x 55, but it felt pretty stiff to me... so I'm sure the factory stuff was of a decent power.

July 28, 2007, 09:45 PM
You will need a tall front sight as no combination of bullets will reduce the point of impact 14". Sarco has them.

You knock off the old sight, with a brass drift, install the new sight. Go to the range and first get your windage correct at something like 25 yards. You can do a bit of front sight filing at 25 yards, but don't over do it. When you get out to 100 yards that is when you reduce the height of the front sight a little bit at a time. About .006" equals one inch at one hundred yards. I would use a 6" dial micrometer to measure sight height before and after every filing. I would keep write the blade height down after filing. That way I would get cautious about not filing too much as I got close to getting the elevation correct. As you are real close you should concentrate on getting a good flat top to the blade.

It should take about an hour. File a bit. Shoot a bit.

In my 29" M1896 I chronographed some 1986 143 grain Swedish Ball. The average velocity was 2615 fps. If I were to duplicate that load I would give IMR 4350 a try. That powder is relatively slow burning, has given me great results in things like 270, 243. Should work well in a 6.5

Bob F.
July 28, 2007, 10:05 PM
I think Brownell's carries those sight blades also, about $5-6 IRRC. Looking for powder suggestions for the 120gr bullet in a 20" bbl?!?!?


July 28, 2007, 10:18 PM
to clarify, this is a m41/B which has a scope.

This scope is off to the left side, so you are able to use the iron sights even if the scope is mounted. It has a quick-release mounting system, so that the rifle can be quickly changed to scope or no-scope.

the 14" high is while I am aiming with the scope. I have not shot the rifle using the iron sights yet.

dcloco - the rifle is mostly matching (the receiver / bolt group is mostly matching), some parts elsewhere on the rifle are diff numbers. Purchased thru Samco. I am mostly happy with it, it is in fairly nice shape, and I have gone over it part by part and compared everything to what Poyer says in his For Collectors Only swedish mauser book. It seems kosher. And yes, it was quite expensive...

If I can figure out a good handload, and maybe get the scope POA/POI to be closer, it will probably become my favorite milsurp...

by the way - I love the 6.5 caliber, it' seems like a great caliber.

July 29, 2007, 12:16 AM
My load for my 1914, 1911 and sporterized Swede of unknown date is 47.5gr of R22 and a Nosler Partition or Sierra Game King. Both have the same POI and I have shot a 1" group with the 1911, 2 1/2" with the 1914 and 9/16" with the sporter, all at 100 yards.

H4350 and 4831 have also been good, but I've had the best results (obviously, those are damn good groups imo) with the R22. The Swede loves lots of slow powder and a big, long bullet.

Unless you use Norma brass you may experience some denting in the shoulder area when you resize the brass. US brass is slightly different dimensionally than Swedish brass, but shouldn't be a problem after the first reload.

July 29, 2007, 12:19 AM
Not bragging about my shooting capabilities or inabilities...but two of my three Swedes I will put up against any (within reason) over the counter rifle at ranges of 600 yards or greater.....even if they use a scope! The Swedes are GREAT rifles.

July 29, 2007, 12:26 AM
R22 seems to be what you all are using. The bullets I'm using are the Hornady 140gr SP - they have a flat base. I think when these are gone, I'll buy some BT ones. since I am using the neck-size only die, BTs are much easier to seat.. and supposedly they fly straighter... but I'm not sure about that.

what twist rate do M96s have?

I need to get me one of those m38s too...

July 29, 2007, 06:31 AM
I am using the 140 hornady's too. I think I will go to 140 sst or amax just cuz I love hornady bullets. Was toying with getting the nosler 140 hpbt but not sure about the close performance it may have on animals, namely deer.

highlander 5
July 29, 2007, 08:00 AM
here's a formula to figure how much higher/lower your sight needs to be.
take the height that you are off in inches divide by the distance you're shooting in inches multiply that number times the barrel length that number will be how much you sight has to come up/down.
Example I had a rifle that shot 9" high at 100 yards from a 28' barrel
so 9" divided by 1200" = .0075 x barrel length 28" = .210 higher front sight

Ol` Joe
July 29, 2007, 09:08 AM
what twist rate do M96s have?

1/7.5", most new Factory rifles I`ve looked at have 1/8".

Finn Aaguaard (noted African hunter & writer) wrote in his tests on the 6.5 Swede, the best bullet in his opinion for the 6.5x55 was the 140 gr Sierra BTSP for use on deer sized game. I`ve used it and the 140 Hornady with better accuracy going to the Sierra in my rifles. I feel a bit different about the best bullet though and have settled on the 129 gr Hornady SP for deer in both my 6.5 Swede, and 260 Remingtons. It seems to perform as well as the larger hornady and is a bit more accurate then either 140 gr bullet in my rifles.

July 29, 2007, 12:30 PM
Highlander, I hate to correct you but there are 36 inches to a yard and 100 yds would be 3600 inches. 3 feet to a yard 12 inches to a foot. Thanks for the example though

July 29, 2007, 02:14 PM
I went shooting this morning and shot my first 20 reloads in my swede rifle.

I loaded 5 rounds each of: 40gr, 40.5gr, 41gr, 41.5gr.

my first shot (40gr) was 2" to the right of the bullseye. My 2nd & 3rd shots (also 40gr) were in the bullseye... I thought "wow, my problem is solved...". Unfortunately, all other shots (hot barrel I guess) were high and to the left. Highest shot was around 7", most were between 2" and 6" high. Still, it was a lot better than the first time I shot the rifle with factory ammo (14" high). I figure I must have moved the elevation dial accidentally while shooting the first time.

I agree that 40gr seemed kind of light... I liked the feel of the 41gr load and the 41.5gr load. I don't hunt, so for shooting paper it seems good enough.

good twist for long skinny bullets...

July 29, 2007, 05:53 PM
I have a regular 1896. Is it possible to put a scope on it like the M/41 without permanently altering the rifle?

July 29, 2007, 06:17 PM
hmmm... not sure. Somebody may make a no-gunsmithing mount... but nobody that I know of

Jake in TX
July 29, 2007, 07:00 PM
There is a company called S&K Scope Mounts which makes a scout scope type of mount. It replaces the rear sight, so you use a long eye relief or pistol scope with it. I recently bought one, but have not yet tried it out. Maybe next weekend.

S&K have a web site,


Keep increasing the charge, and you will probably find a much more consistent load.

Jake in TX

July 29, 2007, 08:28 PM
my groups climbed higher & higher as I went along. First shots were pretty much to POA. Next 5 were 2" higher, next 5 were an inch or 2 higher than the last 5, and the next 5 were also and inch or 2 higher than the previous 5.

Not sure if it was the barrel getting hotter, or the loads getting stiffer. I started with the lightest loads and went up to the heaviest loads. groups were fine, but they just kept getting higher.

I'm going to remove the elevation dial off the scope and reattach it at a 90 degree angle (so it can be turned lower than "1").

I'll load 20 more rounds with R22 and try again next time...

August 14, 2007, 04:14 PM
If you shot loads that were in low to high powder charge then yes each group will be higher. as fps increases so does elavation of point of impact.
Also for hunting deer I never used any bullet bigger than 100 & 120 in my 1896 Mauser

August 14, 2007, 06:57 PM
If you shot loads that were in low to high powder charge then yes each group will be higher. as fps increases so does elavation of point of impact.

Nope. At close range, POI in relation to POA will be LOWER as velocity increases.


August 14, 2007, 10:20 PM
I'm the OP. I'm going shooting this sunday with my swede and some more handloads. This will only be the 2nd time I've shot any handloads in this rifle.

I've loaded some more with the Hornady 140gr bullet, but this time with 42gr R22. Last time it was with 41 and 41.5 of R22.

I've also loaded some with the Hornady 129gr bullet, some with 37.2gr R22 and some with 38.5gr R22.

With the long barrel on the M1896, I wonder if slow powders and heavy bullets maybe give the rifle a split-second to start rising up in recoil... before the bullet leaves the muzzle...? That's why I wanted to try out a lighter bullet. Maybe the POI at 100yds would go down a little.

I'm also going to try a couple shots with each load at 200yds this time.

August 14, 2007, 10:34 PM
Let me know how that goes Bender....I jst installed a +3.5 front sight on my M38 and am on the fence on wether or not to put the original sight back on the gun or go with the mojo I have installed currently.

Jake in TX
August 15, 2007, 07:56 PM
BsChoy, I had a Mojo sight, and I didn't like it. I could use the original sight better than the Mojo. I have a ScopeMounts mount and NcStar pistol scope, but have not yet taken it out with that yet.

Bender, good luck with the new loads. I think you will find better results as the powder charge increases. I look forward to seeing your results.

Jake in TX

September 2, 2007, 09:35 PM
Got the swede sighted in (this is a m41b with the 4x sniper scope). Previously, it was shooting very high.

The change from 140gr bullets to 129gr bullets lowered the POI. It now shoots exactly to POA at 100yds. The elevation dial is about 1/3rd between "1" and "2", or 133yds. Close enough.

Jake in TX
September 2, 2007, 11:43 PM
Congratulations, Bender. How was the grouping with this load?

Jake in TX

September 3, 2007, 12:52 AM
The elevation on Swedish Mausers is metric. 1 would not be 100 yards, it would be 100 meters. 100 meters = 109 yards and change. Not really a big deal at 100 yards though. But something to remember if you try for long range. Also, you might want to research what the factory loadings were since the those factory markings on the scope and iron sights are for those.

Jake in TX
September 3, 2007, 09:59 AM
The original Swedish load, in 1894, was a 10.1 gram bullet (about 156 grains) pushed to a velocity of 2329 fps out of the m/96 rifle (29 inch barrel). The 1941 load was a 9.0 gram spitzer bullet (about 139 grains) at 2592 fps from the same rifle. This is per "Crown Jewels: The Mauser in Sweden, A Century of Accuracy and Precision" by Dana Jones, published by Collector Grade Publications.

Jake in TX

September 3, 2007, 12:11 PM
I'm not planning on shooting this rifle very much in the future.

Yep, I know that the swedes had the scope set for their "new" 1941 ammo - 139gr bullet.

I am going to buy 100 Lapua Scenar 139gr bullets and load them close to mil-spec performance. I see has good prices on them.

Luckily the marked insert on top of the elevation dial can be unscrewed and moved around. So after I shoot some of the Lapua bullets, I can make the markings on the dial correspond to where it is shooting.

Yesterday when I was shooting, I was using 38.3gr of R22 with the Hornady 129gr SST bullets. It felt a little "light" when I was shooting, but it was more than the starting load per the Hornady manual.

I love the caliber, and the rifle by the way :)

edit: oh yeah, I only shot at one target, but my last 3 shots after getting the scope adjusted were right at 2", but I'm not a great shot with any gun...

September 3, 2007, 12:54 PM
Luckily the marked insert on top of the elevation dial can be unscrewed and moved around. So after I shoot some of the Lapua bullets, I can make the markings on the dial correspond to where it is shooting.

That doesn't actually work. Well, it would for setting it at where it needs to be for one given distance. But then every other position it moves to will be off unless you are using ammunition with identical ballistics as the original Swedish issue.

I'm not planning on shooting this rifle very much in the future.
Why load for it then? I would get some surplus rounds that are made for the scope. Then get another M96 or 38 and load for that. Then you can shoot it all you want and you would still have your collectible M41 stay collectible without having to shoot needless rounds calibrating the scope and building a chart.

September 3, 2007, 02:51 PM
well, I guess I would shoot it around 100 rounds a year. and yes I would like another rifle in the 6.5x55 caliber - another swede, or even a used 70 or 700 if I could ever find one.

at the same time I got this m41, I also bought my first k31. But I've been spending all my time with the m41and neglecting the k31... Now its time to spend some time with the k31... :)

Jake in TX
September 3, 2007, 07:03 PM
Bender, the last load you shot in your m/41, was it 41.5 grains of Reloder 22 and a 140 grain bullet? If so, I still believe you need to keep testing up to 46 grains of Reloder 22. Good shooting!

Jake in TX

September 3, 2007, 09:28 PM
Yesterday's session, where I was finally getting POA & POI to be the same... was with Hornady 129gr SST bullets over 38.3gr R22. I still have a bunch of 140gr Hornady bullets left, so I will load some more of those also.

Last time I shot the 140gr bullets, it was with 42gr R22 I think.

I still have about 15 rounds of the 129gr bullets with 38.3gr R22 left. I may load up some 140gr bullets with a hotter load of R22, just to compare the POI with the 129gr load.

Ol` Joe
September 3, 2007, 11:56 PM
I`d raise the charge a little, your load is very light. Speer is the only book I have at hand and they suggest 44.0 gr of R22 with a 140 as starting, Allaints web site I believe states 48.1 gr with a 140.
I use R22 with both 129 and 140 gr Hornadies in my Swede and my gun loves it. I won`t give the exact loads but they way over what you are doing. H4350 is another good powder IMO.

September 4, 2007, 12:32 AM
Bender - something is wrong with your recipe. Have you triple checked your load book?

#1 - Alliant does not list R22 to be used with the 129 gr bullet.

#2 - When using the same powder, the lighter bullet....NEVER...uses less powder than a heavier bullet (bullets of the same composition).

6.5X55 Swedish Mauser
• Hornady 129SP
Recipes Case Minimum OAL
(inches) Bbl Length Primer Powder Charge Weight
(grains) Velocity
(fps) Pressure
(psi) Notes Print
Norma 2.935 24 CCI 200 Reloder 7 25.8 2,130 c.u.p.
Norma 2.935 24 CCI 200 Reloder 15 38.8 2,620 c.u.p.
Norma 2.935 24 CCI 200 Reloder 19 48 2,815 c.u.p.

6.5X55 Swedish Mauser
• Speer 140 Spitz
Case Minimum OAL
(inches) Bbl Length Primer Powder Charge Weight
(grains) Velocity
(fps) Pressure
(psi) Notes Print
Norma 3 24 CCI 200 Reloder 22 48.1 2,700 c.u.p.
Norma 3 24 CCI 200 Reloder 15 36.6 2,480 c.u.p.
Norma 3 24 CCI 200 Reloder 19 46 2,650 c.u.p.

Here is a link to Alliant's website for reloading info. Load&gtypeid=2&weight=140&shellid=1059&bulletid=205

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