Why 6.5x55?


January 28, 2004, 12:34 PM
I'm considering a hunting rifle that is in 6.5x55. The only thing is, I'm not sure why I would want that caliber. I have a Swedish mauser in that caliber, but I don't know what I would hunt in that caliber.

Can some of you give me some insight into this caliber. I've heard several guys say it's their favorite caliber, but I don't know why. What does the recoil compare to? What do the ballistics compare to? What other calibers does it compare to? Does it duplicate any other caliber?

(Is 6.5 around .243?)

Thanks for any help,

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January 28, 2004, 12:46 PM
6.5x55 is almost identical to the .270 winchester. Its a darn good deer hunting caliber.

El Tejon
January 28, 2004, 12:54 PM
Because it is near perfection.:D

January 28, 2004, 01:05 PM
Because it is near perfection.

That's what I want to know about. I hear these kinds of comments about the 6.5x55, but I don't know why it is said. Can anyone enlighten me?

Thanks again,

January 28, 2004, 01:09 PM
The 6.5x55 is a near match for the .270 at range, wihile the recoil is much less, and the accuracy arguably greater. At the muzzle, the Swede makes less power and velocity, but due to the Ballistic coefficient and design of the bullet, by the time it reaches 100yds, they are near even, and at 200yds, the 6.5x55 is ahead by a fair margin. Thats why the Swede is so good.

January 28, 2004, 01:10 PM
It's a .264 that shoots anywhere from 100 grain to 140 grain with a minimum amount of recoil.

http://www.fieldandstream.com/fieldstream/shooting/article/0,13199,461212,00.html a bit more information can be found at the link above.

January 28, 2004, 01:12 PM
The bullets are long for the caliber (diameter). This gives it excellent balistics (balistics for a 140gr 6.5mm bullet are equal to that of a 190gr .308 bullet). Also, it enables it to penetrate greater than it's on paper power levels would indicate. To paraphrase, it kills out of proportion to it's energy. I haven't killed anything with this caliber myself, but I understand it's deadly on deer sized game and can be used against small to medium sized black bears (with a tough bullet), elk, and moose (at least they do in Scandinavia). Because velocity is in the low to middle range and bullets are still fairly light compared to a 30-06, it is low recoiling. Even in my Winchester Featherweight, it is a caliber I can shoot all day. 100 rnds is not a hard trip to the range. It's an easy caliber to load for.


January 28, 2004, 01:14 PM
The recoil with my CZ 550 6.5x55 is very mild. The recoil seems softer than my 6mm Remington for some reason. I've been working up loads for it and on paper/manual data I should be approaching 2800 fps with the 140 Sierra GameKing. The 140 grain 6.5mm is almost identical in ballistic coefficient and sectional density to the 150 grain .270. I'm looking forward to trying the 160 grain round nose for when the deer line up shoulder to shoulder :evil: .

(edited because I goofed on the velocity estimate)

January 28, 2004, 01:58 PM
sweet to shoot. It is an excellent Deer Gun all over North America.

January 28, 2004, 02:00 PM
Chris has captured the essence.

Animals aren't armored, though we in North America persist in believing that magnums (or 30-06-based cartridges) are necessary for a hunting rifle. Europe has never believed it, though Australia seems to be leaning the North American direction in this. I suspect the high-velocity movement was as much an effort to flatten trajectories originally as it was to add killing power. If you shoot at typical Euro-distances, how flat a trajectory will you need? I haven't been to Australia, but my impression is long open range possibilities for shots, much as in western North America.

If you push a 0.264 diameter bullet into the vitals of a game animal at 2500 feet per second, however, chances are that a heavy bullet will remain intact and penetrate to where it will do some good. Until recently, that hasn't always been the case with bullets at significantly higher velocities. So, I conclude, the 2500-2700 fps Swede, when it hits, tends to have a low failure rate, which lent to its legend of near magical killing power.

This 2500 fps is generated with less powder than some other cartridges, which means lower recoil, which tends to mean people shoot it accurately.

In addition to its lower recoil, it's an inherently accurate round. Many accurate long-range rifles are made from this caliber. I suspect some of that is a result of the 6.5mm/0.264 bullet being relatively unpopular in North America. Barrel-making tooling for this caliber isn't overused and remains nearly new, making possibly better barrels on the average. Speculation.


January 28, 2004, 02:29 PM
My interests lie in the Remington 700 for the most part.
The 1994 Classic (they're still out there for sale) was in 6.5x55 Swedish.
I'd LOVE to have one of those someday.
I imagine it would be extremely accurate, and with very clean lines to it, a nice addition to my other 700's.

BUT, in an old magazine article I have in my "Winchester Group" ---

(a group is essentially a pile of magazines thrown together in the bookcase for any particular 'group' of info I need. You've got those, too?)

--- is an excellent story about a Model 70 Featherweight (post '64, I think) in 6.5x55 Swedish that was extraordinarily accurate.
Mention was made of a pre '64, too, that was about as accurate.
That Featherweight in 6.5x55 would be a super good looking shooter, I think.
I always thought that if I were to own a Winchester 70, my pick would be the 6.5x55 Featherweight.

January 28, 2004, 02:49 PM
Note: in the original guise the 6.5x55 used IIRC 160 grain bullets. That is where it gained its enviable reputation. 140 grain or worse 100 grain will reduce its performance a large amount. JMTC

Mike Irwin
January 28, 2004, 03:35 PM
The 6.5x55 gained its reputation for penetration, as did most of the other 6.5s, by using FMJRN bullets of heavy construction and very long length.

Today, given the wide array of expanding bullets that are available, the difference in performance between bullets of different weights is significantly less important.

January 28, 2004, 04:13 PM
Why not just buy a 260 Remington?.......same bullets, ballastics are identical, and it uses the 308 case which is widely available........

Vern Humphrey
January 28, 2004, 04:23 PM
The 6.5X55 was originally designed for a 160 grain bullet, and as a result, the barrel has a very fast twist. You can shoot long, heavy-for-caliber bullets for big game, such as moose. The 6.5X55 is probably the most popular moose round in Scandanavia (where moose are called "elk.")

At the same time, you lose no ability to use lighter bullets for smaller game, like deer and antelope. It also makes a nice coyote gun.

I have a Swedish M96, one of those sporterized by Kimber when they were reorgainzing to get back in business, and I love it.

January 28, 2004, 04:27 PM
Why not just buy a 260 Remington?.......same bullets, ballastics are identical, and it uses the 308 case which is widely available........

If you're only shooting factory ammo, I'd go with a 260. You'll probably get more velocity. Ammo availability is a wash. Both are obscure compared to the 270s and 30-06s of the world. If you reload, the 6.5x55 offers a touch more case capacity, even more if you shoot an Ackley Improved version.

BTW, here's a good article on what you can do with the 6.5 Swede by Paco Kelly: http://www.sixgunner.com/backissues/paco/swede.htm


January 28, 2004, 05:17 PM
Okay, thanks for all the good info. Is 6.5x55 ammo scarce? Are there good factory loads, with good bullets/premium bullets?

One of the reasons I'm considering the 6.5 is, I kinda have this thing about getting a sporting rifle in the same calibers as my surplus rifles. I have no explaination for it other than insanity. "My name is Steve and I'm a gunaholic..." I wish I could find a factory rifle in 8x57 (other than the 700 Classic).

I don't know why, but I've never really been into the .270. I can't really explain it. I have .30-06s and have felt I could do most anything with those that I could with a .270. Also, I think the heaviest .270s are 140gr?

If I decide to get the 6.5, I wonder which would be better - the Win. 70 Featherweight or the CZ 550 American?

Thanks again for all the help,

Black Snowman
January 28, 2004, 05:35 PM
For the money I don't think you can beat the CZ rifles. I love my CZ 550 Laminate Varmit in .308. It's more accurate than I am and I love the option of using the set trigger, even if the standard trigger pull needs a little spit an polish. Rings are pricy, I got mine for $50 which is about the best price you're going to find. But they're built to handle the power and rough handling of even their big safari models.

January 28, 2004, 06:05 PM
I have one of the guns that Vern Humphrey mentioned and I really like it. Both of the deer I have shot at with it made their way to my freezer. The bullets were 129 gr handloads (from a neighbor). I have also shot quite a few groundhogs with 87gr (I think) bullets. The few people I know that shoot this caliber seem to really like it.

January 28, 2004, 07:08 PM
It depends what you like. The Win M70 FWT is a lightweight, smooth, finished rifle, with an already good trigger that can be improved easily at home. The CZ is typically accurate out of the box, but to me isn't as polished, and has a stock that's too long for my comfort, and is heavier than its published weight. YMMV. I like the Ruger for the $489 I paid, but would have bought the M70 had I not found it. Again, YMMV.


rust collector
January 28, 2004, 09:48 PM
6.5 was a bit scarce 12 years ago when I got the first of 3 M96s I own. I bought 100 rounds from Century Arms along with the rifle. Since then, it has been offered by Remington and Winchester. I am also seeing very inexpensive ammo by Igman (Bosnian?) and others.

US loads are conservative so they don't blow up old style actions, but handloading opens up whole new worlds if you've got a sound, sturdy rifle. If you're suffering from magnum envy, others are better choices.

The uniqueness of this round is the low recoil, flexibility and accuracy in one package, plus low-priced well-built rifles that are readily customized if you like that sort of thing. I tend to shoot better with the Swede because it doesn't beat me up.

I think you'd like it.

January 28, 2004, 10:51 PM
Is 6.5x55 ammo scarce? Are there good factory loads, with good bullets/premium bullets?

It's not too hard to find. Before I started handloading, I found loaded ammo at most gunshops, all gunshows, and even Wal-Mart from time to time. Ammo tended to be 120gr or 140gr Jacketed Soft Point running at about 2500fps on average. Federal has/had a load using their HiShok bullet at 140grs. It was accurate enough in my gun to justify 8 boxes (before I started handloading that caliber). My handloads are more accurate, but not by enough to matter while hunting. Remington and Hornady also offer loads. I don't know what bullets they use though. Then there's all of the 2nd tier and Euro stuff (PMC, Sellier and Bellot, etc).

If you handload, there are a lot of 6.5mm bullets to choose from. My best load to date is with the Sierra Gameking 140gr, but I've only tried that bullet and Hornady's 129gr Interlock. There's probably another half dozen you'll find any decently stocked reloading bench (not including the hard cast bullets some people like in the 6.5 Swede...).

If I decide to get the 6.5, I wonder which would be better - the Win. 70 Featherweight or the CZ 550 American?

That would be your call. I looked at both, but in the end chose the FWT because I wanted something a little different. Since the 6.5x55 is so soft shooting, I could get away with a lightweight gun. The styling simply appealed to me more than the CZ.


January 29, 2004, 12:54 AM

How's this for different? ---
http://www.gunsamerica.com/guns/976422463.htm Nice pix.

9.3x62 ( .366 ) CZ 550

It doesn't come in 6.5x55 like this, the Mannlicher full-stock version.
The closest would be .270, but, dang, that's a good looking gun.

Check out the other calibers. Tough choice!
http://www.cz-usa.com/product.detail.php?id=17 CZ USA

January 29, 2004, 01:12 AM
You can later on get either a Swedish M96 Mauser, or a Swedish AG42B Ljungman autoloader in the same chambering! :D


January 29, 2004, 01:16 AM
By the way, does the 7-08 have any advantage over the 6.5x55?


January 29, 2004, 06:58 AM
Swedish AG42B Ljungman autoloader in the same chambering!

Oh cool! I wonder if Boyds makes a stock for it... :p

Seriously though, I like it. How does it shoot?


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