30-06 vs 6.5x55 versatility


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Rustle in the bushes
September 20, 2012, 12:49 AM
Im trying to decide between the two cartridges. As a reloader I can load the 30-06 up and down, my question is how effective is it when loaded down? For instance lets say I want to make it shoot like a 6.5- Lower recoil, reasonably accurate- Can I achieve this by loading 140gr bullets in my 30-06? The rifle has an 11" twist.

Im wondering if the 30-06 can be loaded down and be made an effective lower recoil cartridge, or are there things the swede is just gonna do way better?

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Andrew Leigh
September 20, 2012, 01:14 AM
You don't say what you will be shooting with it?

I have been through this "versatile rifle" thing and frankly most everyone I know will end up with one load, and on the 30-06 will be either a 165 or 180gr. where I come from.

I have both and am happy with both. The 30-06 is loaded at 180gr. and gives the ability to comfortable shoot Kudu and Eland as well as Blue Wildebeest with confidence in the hitting power.

The 6.5mm when loaded with 140's or 160gr. Will comfortablly take Kudu with the correct shot placement. I would want the extra power from the 30-06 for the other two.

I could not chose between the two and like both. I would let the purpose of my shooting determine the calibre and arm your self for the largest deer species you will shoot. If you are hunting for thin skinned game then the 6.5 will be more than adequate.

If your wife or kids will be shooting then a 6.5mm is the one. The 6.5 is legendary for punching above it weight. You may also want to consider the terrain you will be shooting in, thick and heavy brush would favour the 30-06 with a heavy bullet.

Finally if you are marginally recoil intolerant then steer away from the 30-06 which is noted as being on the fringe of most shooters limit. One can develope a flinch and that is a real pain.

Good luck, I would not want you decision. Personally to download a 30-06 to 140 gr. defeats the object of buying the 30-06 unless the download is to accomodate a smaller person etc while having the ability to shoot the heavier loads.

ArchAngelCD
September 20, 2012, 01:36 AM
IMO the 30-06 is the most versatile rifle cartridge ever developed. No other can be loaded with such a wide range of bullet weights and still be effective on game. You can load bullets from 90gr all the way up to 220gr, not other cartridge can do that.

Way back when I could not buy another rifle because there was no money for another rifle. I had only 2 rifles, a 30-06 surplus and a 30-30 Marlin levergun. I wanted a varmint rifle but like I said, no cash. Well, I gave a 110gr bullet a try in the 30-06 and there you go, a varmint rifle for the price of a box of 110gr bullets. I must admit, 125gr bullets shot better but the 110's weren't all that bad either. I like owning a .223 bolt action rifle for varmint hunting now but sometimes I miss the old times when out of necessity I made due with what I had.

Sheepdog1968
September 20, 2012, 03:15 AM
IMO the 30-06 is the most versatile rifle cartridge ever developed. No other can be loaded with such a wide range of bullet weights and still be effective on game. You can load bullets from 90gr all the way up to 220gr, not other cartridge can do that.

Way back when I could not buy another rifle because there was no money for another rifle. I had only 2 rifles, a 30-06 surplus and a 30-30 Marlin levergun. I wanted a varmint rifle but like I said, no cash. Well, I gave a 110gr bullet a try in the 30-06 and there you go, a varmint rifle for the price of a box of 110gr bullets. I must admit, 125gr bullets shot better but the 110's weren't all that bad either. I like owning a .223 bolt action rifle for varmint hunting now but sometimes I miss the old times when out of necessity I made due with what I had.
I know what you mean about making due with what you had. For abou 15 years I got by with just four firearms and was quite happy.

blarby
September 20, 2012, 04:25 AM
I find a heck of a lot more 30.06 brass than I do 6.5x55.

I find it every week...heck, I found 8 pieces today.

I can count on one hand how many pieces of 6.5 I've found in my life.

Thats a nod in one direction for versatility in my book.


Depending on what kinda action you have, you can load 30.06 any way you want it- very reduced loads using H4895 are a sure bet for accuracy and training recoil for the lil'ns. They dont pop semi-auto actions real good though.

All the way up to near "magnum" :D loadings fully stuffed with RL19... that'll cycle your gas action... Heck, that'll pop-start a small import 4 cylinder it ya set it just right against the bumper...

R.W.Dale
September 20, 2012, 04:30 AM
With the advent of trail boss the 30-06 can be loaded anywhere from 32long to near 300win mag depending on what you want to do.

I'm giving the nod to 30-06 for sheer versatility not only because of the WEIGHTS it can shoot but also the bullet types. Namely cheap cheap commercial cast or plated bullets.

As to your questions about effectiveness, a 150g RN bullet at 2300fps has no weither it was launched from a 30-30 or a downloaded 06 casing

axxxel
September 20, 2012, 04:39 AM
Move to Sweden. The driveways of our shooting ranges are basically paved using 6,5 brass.

Both cartridges are great. Over here moose and brown bear are commonly hunted with 6,5. I've seen plenty of moose go down to a well placed 6,5. Nothing wrong with the .30-06 either. I'd go with the one that fits in the nicest rifle I could find.

rayatphonix
September 20, 2012, 04:45 AM
I have loaded 130 grain varmint bullets in my 30-06 with much success. I got 1" groups with my first loads using surplus 844 powder. I've also got a 260 Rem. I've shot 120 to 129 grain through it. I don't recall any difference in recoil between the two.

interlock
September 20, 2012, 05:06 AM
both are great. both are very versatile... the 30-06 will allow you to shoot heavier bullets if your rifle can spin them. The much vaunted 6.5 x 55's ability to punch above its wieght comes from the high sectional density and moderate velocities that it produces with them... fo course if you are shooting a 30-06 with heavy bullets it will also have hery high sectioonal density.

i shoot 30-06. i normally shoot 165 gr but have shot 150's.. so long as they are not max loads the recoil is ok.

hope this helps

steve

Pilot
September 20, 2012, 05:19 AM
Split the difference. How about a 7MM Mauser or 7MM-08?

ArchAngelCD
September 20, 2012, 06:00 AM
Split the difference. How about a 7MM Mauser or 7MM-08?
There are at least 40 cartridges between the 6.5X55mm and the 7.62X63mm, splitting the difference is a tall order and really not that cut and dry. While the 7mm-08 isn't a bad suggestion and brass is not rare I'm going to be different and suggest the 7.5X55mm Swiss in keeping with the "theme" of the thread... ;)

All kidding aside, the 7mm-08 is a good suggestion and like I said, brass is not hard to find. An even better suggestion might be the 270 Win. With the 270 you get the flat shooting characteristics of the 6.5X55 and some of the versatility of the 30-06 along with slightly more energy on target. The 270 Win might be the way to go too...

shootr
September 20, 2012, 06:33 AM
To OP's original question - you can download the 06 and significantly reduce recoil. If what you're hunting fits the performance envelope, you're good to go. A reloading manual will give you all the info you need to make that determination wrt energy and trajectory. The rest is all practice.

FWIW, correct practice can also cure sensitivity to recoil, as can various recoil reducing devices and apparel. IMHO, both 06 and 6.5 x55 are great rounds and do the job. I shoot and hunt with both. 06 is a sentimental fav and the 6.5 is the first "custom" I built. Wouldn't get rid of either. Killed a lot of deer with both.

If you can swing it, get one of each. If not, get either one. There's no wrong answer!

MachIVshooter
September 20, 2012, 11:36 AM
Split the difference. How about a 7MM Mauser or 7MM-08?

+1

6.5x55 and .30-06 are both fantastic rounds, no question. However, the 7x57 offers excellent performance with modest recoil, and is also one of the most efficient rifle cartridges extant. Brass and loaded ammo availability in the USA is a bit better than 6.5x55, too.

Vacek
September 20, 2012, 11:40 AM
I like both but my preference far and away is 308. I have 2 basic loads. Nosler 130 grain Ballistic Tip behind 44 grains of Varget and a 165 grain AccuBond behind 44 grains of Varget. My wife has no problem with either although she does prefer the 130 grain.

That being said, my 26" Swede 96 was just awesome in 100 yard accuracy. We are talking 5 shots in the size of a quarter... (not inch, the coin) I sold it for $300 (with scope and sporter stock) to my nephew. Yes I gave it away for all practical purposes, but he needed a rifle to put some meat on the table; and I also have a 38 with aperature.

He verified the scope sight-in with two shots and then took a deer at 125+ yards with the third shot. I guess the deer just dropped dead right there. That was with Hornady 140 grain SST. He still has 37 cartridges left as I gave him 40 cartridges that I had reloaded with the gun.... Yes, I practically gave it away...he needed a rifle. :o

By the way, you can form 6.5X55 out of 30-06 brass. The rim is a little different but it is done often.

gunner69
September 21, 2012, 12:44 AM
I have both the 30-06 and the 6.5x55. Several years ago I had an accident that makes it painful to shoot the 30-06. The 6.5x55 however, does the trick in killing whatever I have come across without the kick. I started both my wife and young son (14 years old) on the 6.5x55 both stuck with it.

mr16ga
September 22, 2012, 12:14 AM
I shoot and reload for both the 6.5 Swede and the 30-06. Franky I can't tell the difference from the recoil point of view between them. One thing it is somewhat difficult to come by correct 6.5X55 brass. The Swede is a lilttle bigger than the standard Mauser case by a few 1/1000's of an inch. You will get unsightly bulges in the undersized brass that most of the major brands sells. This is a big deal to me. The bad news is the brass size varies form batch to batch so you got to take a caliper to the new brass to find out exactly what size it is. This has been a problem with the 6.5x55 from way back when.

mr16ga
September 22, 2012, 12:19 AM
By the way, you can form 6.5X55 out of 30-06 brass. The rim is a little different but it is done often.

I disagree about making 6.5x55 form .30-06 brass. It can be done but the results is not right. If you really want I will post the numbers to prove it.

R.W.Dale
September 22, 2012, 12:54 AM
I disagree about making 6.5x55 form .30-06 brass. It can be done but the results is not right. If you really want I will post the numbers to prove it.

I agree with you about it not being right.

However Winchester and Remington do just that with every 6.5x55 case they make

lefteyedom
September 22, 2012, 01:58 AM
To take a different approach to the recoil "issue"; does the rifle fit.
06 is not beast in the recoil department if the rifle's stock is properly fitted to the shooter.
An 8 pound rifle with a good recoil pad is a reasonably comfortable shooter.

Andrew Leigh
September 22, 2012, 03:11 AM
Wish the OP would re-enter into dialog!

Rustle in the bushes
September 22, 2012, 05:17 AM
Sorry Ive been overwhelmed! Solid opinions from folks thatve been doing this ages longer than I have.

Elk hunting is an aspiration that I wanna be future proofed for- TBH I dont know what kind of shots I'm gonna get and for the most part its gonna be target training and deer(for atleast a year). I do like the idea of developing some good calling/hunting skills and going for closer shots- which the 6.5 would be great for. It would also be great as a scope rifle trainer(that isnt my .22lr). that doesnt beat me up when I shoot 50-100 rounds.

Realistically I dont see myself taking shots any greater than 200 yards, even that after a season of practice. 300 if I worked like crazy on my shooting.

I guess Im not sure what the practical benefits of a 30-06 with a 180 gr bullet would be at that range vs a 6.5. But I think I might go 30-06 just 'cause I can go 180 if I want to. Still not sure how its gonna perform if I load it down to a 6.5 level of recoil for practice :banghead:

highlander 5
September 22, 2012, 08:46 AM
no one has mention using sabots with .224 diameter bullets. Remington makes or used to make the "Excellerator" round,a saboted 55 gr .224 diameter bullet at somewhee in the 3500 fps + range.

Andrew Leigh
September 22, 2012, 09:17 AM
If Elk was my aspiration then the 30-06 would be the tool, you have that extra headroom. The 30-06 with a Barnes or the like would do you very well and you can take anything smaller.

ArchAngelCD
September 23, 2012, 12:37 AM
Realistically I dont see myself taking shots any greater than 200 yards, even that after a season of practice. 300 if I worked like crazy on my shooting.

I guess Im not sure what the practical benefits of a 30-06 with a 180 gr bullet would be at that range vs a 6.5. But I think I might go 30-06 just 'cause I can go 180 if I want to. Still not sure how its gonna perform if I load it down to a 6.5 level of recoil for practice :banghead:
That is the benefit, being able to load a 180gr, 200fr or even a 220gr bullet. I use a 30-06 for most of my hunting and i shoot a 165gr bullet most times. That will take most game and it's not that hard on the shoulder.

BTW, shooting off a bench and a rest is much worse on your shoulder than shooting off-hand. Since you won;t have a bench in the field I highly suggest you practice off-hand shooting. Not only will it increase your shooting skills it will save your shoulder too.

TwoEyedJack
September 23, 2012, 12:15 PM
If you want to use the rifle for elk, don't waste your time with the 6.5X55. Everyone says they will limit their shots to 200 yards, but when you see that 6X6 on the next ridge at 350 yards, you will be glad you got the '06. Most elk I have shot have been at less than a hundred, but it it nice to have the added range of a larger cartridge. I personally use a .338 win mag on elk and have never felt it was too much rifle.

Coltdriver
September 23, 2012, 12:54 PM
I have had two 6.5X55 SE's and I now own a modern 6.5X54 MS which I load to 6.5X55 spec. I have owned a couple of 30-06's but I sold em and now have a .308.

I have reloaded for all of them.

A 6.5 is not remotely in the class of a 30 06. Run some ballistics software, look at the arc and particularly at the energy at every terminal state.

The only thing a 6.5X55 has going for it is the unmatched sectional density of the 160 grain bullets.

But unless you are gifted with knowing the ballistic arc of your round or you are able to slowly and methodically shoot from a static position and you know your ballistic arc the 160 grain bullets leave you with a 200 yard hunting rifle. Sure they can be fired accurately out to further distances but at 400 yards you are coming down at close to a 45 degree angle. Like I said, if you really know your ballistic arc:)

And it has been my experience that the 6.5X55 chambers are, naturally, cut to take the 160 grain rounds. This means you will never get close to the lands with a 130 or 140 grain round. That jump will challenge your ability to be really accurate with the lighter round.

The 30 06 can easily be down loaded to get a lighter recoil. But you can also minimize recoil with a good limb saver on your butt stock.

All that said I am taking my 6.5X54 MS deer hunting this winter. I have some 157 grain oryx bullets and some 140 grain partitions. If the shots turn out to be too long I will have my .308 in reserve.

savanahsdad
September 23, 2012, 01:07 PM
I know this is 30/06 vs 6.5X55, but have you thought about a win short mag ? as you reload that would be a great pic , you could load it down to a 6.5 (kick) or up to a 300 H&H . I have a 7mmWSM and I have load it down to a light 7mm-08 (130gr SPBT) and it kicks less than my 7mm-08 , and I have loaded 160gr's that put a hole strait through a 1/2" steel plate at over 100 yards ! I thought it would GONG.. but it whent CLACK , and I could see light throught it ! so for the widest range of loads in a 30cal the I would say the 300WSM would be at the top of the 30cal class , you can get the same bullets for it as you can for the old 30/06 yet it would be in a smaller lighter gun with a short action and you can load up more and down about the same.

I like the 7mm WSM , you can't go as big as you can with 300 but if you can punch through a 1/2" steel plate I'd think you could kill anything from a deer to a Chevy. !:what:

savanahsdad
September 23, 2012, 01:14 PM
I have had two 6.5X55 SE's and I now own a modern 6.5X54 MS which I load to 6.5X55 spec. I have owned a couple of 30-06's but I sold em and now have a .308.

I have reloaded for all of them.

A 6.5 is not remotely in the class of a 30 06. Run some ballistics software, look at the arc and particularly at the energy at every terminal state.

The only thing a 6.5X55 has going for it is the unmatched sectional density of the 160 grain bullets.

But unless you are gifted with knowing the ballistic arc of your round or you are able to slowly and methodically shoot from a static position and you know your ballistic arc the 160 grain bullets leave you with a 200 yard hunting rifle. Sure they can be fired accurately out to further distances but at 400 yards you are coming down at close to a 45 degree angle. Like I said, if you really know your ballistic arc:)

And it has been my experience that the 6.5X55 chambers are, naturally, cut to take the 160 grain rounds. This means you will never get close to the lands with a 130 or 140 grain round. That jump will challenge your ability to be really accurate with the lighter round.

The 30 06 can easily be down loaded to get a lighter recoil. But you can also minimize recoil with a good limb saver on your butt stock.

All that said I am taking my 6.5X54 MS deer hunting this winter. I have some 157 grain oryx bullets and some 140 grain partitions. If the shots turn out to be too long I will have my .308 in reserve.
use Barns-X there long,, sometime to long in heavy 140gr and up but great for loading down , jump issue all fixed.....

Andrew Leigh
September 23, 2012, 03:05 PM
Shooting 130gr. Accubonds from a CZ550 6.5mm with a 0.6mm jump or .023".

Rustle in the bushes
September 24, 2012, 02:05 AM
noted- checking out the WSM. learning a ton about calibres atleast :)

GooseGestapo
September 24, 2012, 05:17 AM
Actually, the .308" 220gr bullets exceeds the 6.5mm 160gr for sectional density.
The .308 is .331 wheras the 6.5 is .328

Given the 50% greater weight and frontal area, it's no wonder that the .30/06 holds a higher level of esteem amoung experienced big-game hunters. Though the actual performance from a well placed shot may be moot. As Elmer Keith once said regarding the .35Whelen vs. the .30/06, the Whelen is "apt to make them flinch a bit more when hit", regarding elk. This too, has been my experience regarding the 6.5 vs .30 on deer... as well as .35 vs. .30 or .338 vs. 30.

I have a .260 and own several .30cal, to include a couple of '06's. (also smaller, larger and in-between).
I suggest the OP do as I did.
Start with the .30/06. Then if you have the urge, get a .260/6.5 later.... ditto the .270... I'm ambivilent on the .243 and .270's, but thats a personal thing....

The 6.5's require a 1/7 or 1/8 twist for stabililty with the Round Nose 155-160's. My .260Rem shoots the discontinued 160gr Sierra RN under 1" for 5-shots at 100yds, but is "iffy" with the 129gr SST's(~3"), and no-go with the 140gr SST's(5"+), wheras it shoots under MOA with a flat-based 140gr Speer or Hornady.
I've never had a problem with 220's from a 1/10" .30/06, but a .308wcf would give only 2,100fps max and 5" groups with a 220 (1/12" twist bbl).

I've shot 55gr Accelerator, and accuracy is TERRIBLE. 4" @ 100yds was the best I ever saw, and was with the factory Remington ammo. I have gotten ~1" at 50yds with 78gr RN cast bullets over 5.0gr of Bullseye powder and was a wonderful "plinking" load from a b/a .30/06.
The .30/06 IS the versatitilty KING.

Try finding 6.5 or .260Rem at your local Walmart.....
But try to decide on an '06 load.... 150,165, 180gr, Red box, grey box, green box, blue box, choices, choices, decisions, decisions.....!!!!!

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