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6.5 x 55 Swede

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by sdj, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. sdj

    sdj Well-Known Member

    I was considering obtaining a bolt action 6.5 x 55 Swede for longer distance target work. I would appreciate any input and insights that folks here on the THR might have. At first I'll be purchasing factory ammo, of which Federal makes a couple strains of match ammo.

    Any likes, dis-likes or gotchas with the 6.5 x 55?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    Great cartridge, but factory ammo is downloaded so as to be safe for old pre-98 Swedish Mausers, and Norwegian Krags that are still out there. Now, if you are talking about a commercial action and you reload, you are talking only 25.5MOA from a 100 yard zero to 1k. I shot in 1000 yard competition for many years with a custom built 6.5x55.

  3. RPRNY

    RPRNY Well-Known Member

    My favorite cartridge and rifle. I particularly like the old 160 gr RN in my Swedish Mauser with its 1:7.9 twist rate. Be aware that several manufacturers use a 1:9 twist rate and some of them seem to struggle to stabilize even 140 gr VLD type bullets.

    As per above, US manufactured factory ammo is anemic and doesn't do justice to the cartridge. Handloading will make this cartridge shine.

    Also keep in mind that as much as the Swede is beloved, its more modern cousins are very good, from the later coming 6.5 Creedmoor to the .260 Rem. If not looking to shoot bigger than 140 gr bullets, you may find rifles in 6.5 Creedmoor or .260 Rem more available and economical. Having said that a Sako 85 Bavarian is my lottery win rifle. I don't know if any of the "new" Model 70s are done in either cartridge, but that would be interesting, while a Savage 11/111 with good glass could be done for @ $1000.

    I love my Swede, but the .260 is just as good for 140 grs.
  4. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Well-Known Member

    I have an early 1940's Swedish Mauser manufactured by Husqvarna that probably has the smoothest action I have ever used. It is a gun that is far more accurate than the shooter. I also build my own loads for it but I am at work and do not remember the specifics.
  5. cal30_sniper

    cal30_sniper Well-Known Member

    For hunting of large varmints and deer to elk sized game, I'd say you'd be hard pressed to find a better rifle than a Swede Mauser. They are light, easy to carry, and sufficiently powerful to hunt just about anything inside of a couple of hundred yards. I've got three, a military correct condition M96, a sporterized M94 carbine, and a sporterized M96 rifle with a cut-down 20" barrel. The M94 is a light, handy, iron sight rifle that I like to swing over my shoulder when I'm going places. The M96 sporter I use is set up for hunting bobcats and coyotes with 85 grn HP bullets. It will function equally well on deer sized game and up with 140grn or 160grn bullets.

    That said, if you're looking for a long distance precision rifle, you might be better off with another setup. I'm not saying the Swede Mauser won't do it, it will just be easier cheaper with other calibers (6.5-06 comes to mind if you're set on the .264 bore diameter, as does 6.5-284). If you're set on the 6.5x55 cartridge for long range work, do yourself a favor and get one built on a M98 Mauser or a modern sporting rifle. Then you can safely load the 6.5x55 to modern pressure potentials. Most of the 96 Mausers out there are quite capable of handling even stout pressures, at least for a short while. The problem comes in with longevity and factor of safety. The M96 action is not designed to handle escaping gas well at all. When you're playing with increased pressures to squeeze that extra velocity out for long range shooting, this can be a problem. If you screw up the reloading process you will be much more likely to pay for the mistake with your life or serious injury than if you're using a M98 Mauser or modern action with better gas handling abilities. There's also no telling what the metallurgical condition of the rifle is, or what abuse it's suffered in it's 100+ years of existence.

    That's the long and short of the swede in my experience. An awesome cartridge and rifle as long as you respect its limits. If you want a hotrod, look elsewhere.

    Also, ammunition loaded to European pressure specs is commonly available through Prvi Partizan. It, along with Norma, Sellier and Bellot, and Lapua loadings are noticeably hotter than their American counterparts.
  6. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Well-Known Member

    I have had both a Swedish M38 and a CZ in 6.5X55. I now have a Steyr in a modern receiver in 6.5X54. Different cartridge but I am able to safely load it to 6.5X55 specs.

    The chamber that is cut for a Swedish 6.5X55 is usually relatively long throated in order to let you shoot 160 grain bullets. So you have to get one that has the rate of twist for the 160 grain bullets which would be 1 in 8.

    If you get less twist you just get a long throated rifle that will only shoot smaller bullets. I had my CZ rechambered with a custom reamer and it would shoot 130 grain bullets very accurately.

    That said the 160 grainers will sail like missiles and remain stable a long way out making pretty accurate long distance shooting possible. I don't think any other bullet matches or exceeds the sectional density of a 160 grain 6.5 bullet.

    I'd go with a modern receiver and double check the twist to make sure it was 1 in 8.
  7. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Well-Known Member

    I have hunted with and played around with Swedes for 35 years now. I have shot the Swede in the M-38, M-96, Winchester Featherlight, Winchester Sporter, and Sako Finnlight. All have been accurate.

    The range, ballistics, energy, sectional density, recoil, and little noise make it a most ideal deer and target round.

    Norma ammo being expensive the next best for me has been the Winchester Super X in the Silver box. I load my own with a ballistic tip and IMR 9350 powder that can be sighted in on a postage stamp.

    The ONLY cons I can think of are that this ammo is not readily available at big box stores and the long case requires a large action hence longer pull of the bolt.

    It is, for my money, as close to ideal as you can get. I am also a fan of, not surprisingly, the .260, 7mm08, .257 Roberts, and 7x57.
  8. cal30_sniper

    cal30_sniper Well-Known Member

    I would imagine that if you were shooting at a thousand yards, you're going to be grabbing something in the range of a 107-142grn hollow point boat tail Matchking. The only 160 grn bullets I know of for the 6.5mm are the Hornady roundnose and the Woodleigh protected point. Neither of those have the BC of the 107-142 grn bullets (in fact, the Hornady roundnose 160grn has a terrible BC of .283). A worse BC with a slower muzzle velocity is definitely not good for long range performance. Using some rough max load data and a quick calculation, the 107-142 grn bullets with a 500 yd zero would have a drop at 1000 yards of roughly 20-22 MOA, with the 123 grn slightly edging out the other two for least drop. In comparison, the Woodleigh would have 29MOA of drop, and the Hornady an awful 51MOA of drop. If you're shooting for distance, the middle weights are going to be where you're at. If you're hunting, that might be a different story.
  9. 303tom

    303tom member

    The 6.5 Swede Rules.................
  10. The_Armed_Therapist

    The_Armed_Therapist Well-Known Member

    It should be at an advantage over similar cartridges, such as the .260, 6.5 creedmoor, .25-06, etc... However, like others have mentioned, the available factory ammo is down-loaded. It's a little disappointing, but it still performs well enough for what you'd like it to do. If you eventually reload your own, you'll have one of the most superior rounds available for what you want.
  11. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Well-Known Member

    European ammo is loaded warmer that American ammo. I have a Howa 1500 which I don't recommend to people because it is ridiculously bullet picky and there are many online reports of other people having accuracy problems with them as well.

    Personally I think the idea of buying Federal ammo for now and reloading later is not the best course of action. Federal 6.5x55mm ammo is weak, expensive and the brass will wear out fast because one, federal brass is soft and just does across a variety of rifle calibers, and two because American made 6.5x55 brass isn't true to spec. It is undersized and will stretch excessively around the base. See the attached picture in this thread. http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=692864

    If you are going to go the 6.5x55mm route, avoid the Howa and avoid American loaded ammo. If you want to shoot some factory ammo to build up a supply of brass go with PPU, Wolf Gold (which I believe to be re-badged PPU) or S&B. Or just buy some Lapua or Norma brass from the get go.

    If I was getting back into the 6.5mm rifle class I'd look long and hard at the 6.5 Creedmore. Hornady makes a couple real sweet target loads for it and it is a barrel swap away from converting to the AR10 platform. The 6.5x55mm has no problem generating more velocity with a 140gr bullet, but you will have to go over max load when reloading.
  12. Gunnerboy

    Gunnerboy Well-Known Member

    6.5 swede.... The last of Ancient Norse wizardry and black magic rolled up into a cartridge that out performs the 308 at 1000m.
  13. cal30_sniper

    cal30_sniper Well-Known Member

    Absolutely correct info on the American brass. I made the mistake of picking up a box of Remington brass in 6.5x55 for my first reloading attempt. It is defintely made off of the smaller 7x57/8x57/30-06/308 case head. The swede case head and body is significantly larger, and bulging is present even after the first firing.

    I highly recommend Prvi Partizan ammo. For ~$14 a box, it can't be beat. Very accurate stuff. I ordered up 200 rounds right after they started importing it. It shoots good, and the brass is top notch. I also prefer their loading for 7x57, which I shoot a lot of as well.
  14. ExAgoradzo

    ExAgoradzo Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the tip on the American ammo. I knew I'd get something out of this thread!
  15. Water-Man

    Water-Man Well-Known Member

    I've got a Tikka T3 in 6.5x55 SE. A great combination.

    The Tikka has a 1 in 8 twist rate and can handle the heavier loads.

    I like Norma and Lapua brass best.
  16. 106rr

    106rr Well-Known Member

    I have a Steyr SBS in 6.5x55 with a Minox 3x9x40. It is a superb rifle cartridge combo. The most accurate ammo in mine has been Federal 140 gr but Remington 140 gr Corelokt is also great. I think a modern action is best and safest to shoot. When loaded to modern pressure levels it is a much different cartridge with a flat trajectory and great accuracy with low recoil.
  17. T.R.

    T.R. Well-Known Member

    My wife hunts with a custom Browning in 6.5mm Swede. It's a very accurate rifle with moderate recoil. But if I could do it over again, I'd have bought her a 270 and had the muzzle MagnaPorted. Cost would be half but same accuracy and recoil.

    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  18. jimbeaux82

    jimbeaux82 Well-Known Member

    I have a CZ 550FS in 6.5x55 and it is a great rifle. All of the comments about American ammo being anemic are true, but I have not seen any problems reloading American produced brass at all. I load 140gr bullets up to 2800 fps without any pressure signs in mine using Rem or Fed brass. PPU is even more anemic than American ammo but S&B is loaded full power and that is what I would shoot if I did not reload.
  19. Greenmachin3

    Greenmachin3 Well-Known Member

    I have only ever fired a 6.5 swede on two occasions. One was sighting in my father's new Steyr Mannlicher Classic, the other was taking an elk up near Flagstaff AZ with it. The 6.5 Swede is one slippery round. Up to about 500 yards the .308 still has more energy, but because of how slippery the 6.5 bullet is, it actually has better energy and terminal ballistics past 600-700 yards. Up to 200 yards it feels like a laser beam. I would say .270 flat. Fantastic round. Never hand loaded though.
  20. 303tom

    303tom member

    Numbers matching Husqvarna M96................
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2013

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