6.5 x 55 Swede for African plains game

Discussion in 'Up To .375' started by Quaticman, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. Nosler guy

    Nosler guy AH Veteran

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    Really don't understand why any one would bother taking a 6.5 anything to Africa - when there are so many better options and the price of a rifle is a very small percentage of the expense for a safari - lose one animal like a kudu and all of a sudden your gun has cost you more than it is worth ...
     

  2. Daga Boy

    Daga Boy AH Veteran

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    Rifles in 6.5 calibre have gained massively in popular over here in recent years and I would say currently outsell .270's.
    The thing is that they shoot and kill very well without significant recoil, so you can have them in light, handy rifles .
    Based on experience I would say that the terminal effect of a decent 140gr bullet fired from a 6.5 x 55 is roughly the same as that of a 180gr bullet fired from a 308 or 30-06.
    6.5mm bullets also fly incredibly well, so they work well at long range with appropriate bullets (witness the huge popularity of the 6.5 creedmoor with long range guys). In fact you have to go to a 190gr bullet in .308 cal in order to get comparable bullet flight; and those need quite a bit of stoking, so they require a pretty heavy rifle in order to be manageable and shoot well.
    While 30 cal rounds do pack a bit more punch at close range you will most certainly not lose any animal because of opting for either a 6.5 or a 7mm instead. In fact possibly the opposite unless you opt for heavier premium bullets as lightly constructed bullets in 30 cal are known for blow ups at bush ranges (I am talking 165 grainers at 25- 75m). I have seen similar problems with .270's and 243's ( as in surface blow ups/total bullet failure); however I have never experienced anything like that with a 6.5. (Note that I load to 2400fps for bush use. This reduces the risk of fragmentation, increases penetration and saves meat).
    To put thing in perspective,bearing in mind that "Karamojo" bell shot probably more than 1000 elephants with a 7 x 57 and there really isn't very much difference between a 6.5 x 55 and a 7 x 57 in the field.
     
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  3. HWL

    HWL AH Fanatic

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    ...use enough gun....

    HWL
     
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  4. sgt_zim

    sgt_zim BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    While a 1000-1500# bull moose isn't the equal of a cape buffalo, don't lose sight of the fact that 10s of thousands of moose have been harvested over the last century with low pressure loads out of Krag Jorgensens and 96 Mausers.
     

  5. Nosler guy

    Nosler guy AH Veteran

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    You will have a hard time selling this line in our hunting camp.

    I will admit that I have very little experience with 6,5's, but our family has shot a lot of game with 7mm-08 with premium 140 gr bullets (probably not a world different). I have seen that round in action, witnessed how it worked, or often it didn't work as well as I would have expected. My children shot those 7mm-08's, and you can't believe how happy and relieved I was when they grew up and moved on to bigger things. They all shoot 30-06 (or bigger 30's) with 180 gr bullets - Based on my experience there is no comparison between a 140 gr 7mm bullet at low /medium velocities and a premium 180 gr bullet fired from a 30 -06[/QUOTE]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2018

  6. Art Lambart II

    Art Lambart II AH Fanatic

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    The 6.5 x 55 is a great round but ask yourself this question, if a 60" Kudu give you a chest on shot at 80 yards what rifle do you want in your hands? My father @Shootist43 loves the Swede, so much so that he had one made for our first safari in 2016, in less than two weeks he is attempting the Spiral Slam with Pawprint Safaris in South Africa and the Swede is staying home. Not because he lacks faith in the round or his shooting skills, it's staying home because he owns rifles better suited to the task. If the 6.5 x 55 is the only high power rifle you own you'll be fine but if you own a 30-06 take it to Africa instead.

    To be fair to the 6.5 x 55 in November and non safari years the only rifle to leave my dads gun safes is a Swede. He owns several 243's, 270's, 308's and 7 x 57's and none of them will ever see the light of day as long as he owns a Swede.
     

  7. 9.3x57 Freak

    9.3x57 Freak SILVER SUPPORTER AH Member

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    Well, my 50 cent.
    I just returned from SA. Did 1w of plains game hunting.
    Had some problem and lack of time to have my Blaser S2 in 8x75RS fixed before my trip to Northern Limpopo :(
    My Sako AIII 375H&H Mag was in the custom shop.
    So suddenly my Sako AV Fiberclass, cal 6.5x55, was my to go gun.
    I had it for ~25 years and always used 156gr Oryx. It makes ~2650 fps in the chrono depending on the temp. Usually makes a 5-10mm 3-5 shots at ~84m, (i use Norma MRP). Yes, I am a fan of heavy for caliber.
    The hunt:
    I got 2 impalas, 1 Blesbuck, 1 Warthog and 1 Blue Wildebeest.
    The Blue WB was a frontalshot at ~170m. Good hit, lots of blod.
    He ran about 70m in 1 sec... before he dropped. Sadly we didnt find the bullet in him.
    The 2 impalas both were ~70-80m sideshots, the bullets went through. Warthog quartering to me at ~60-70m, perfect sideshot. Dropped when hit. Penetrated both shoulder, found bullet under the skin. 84% weight and 2.5 x expansion.
    Blesbuck perfect sideshot, 200m, penetrated both shoulders, no bullet found.
    So it all went ok. But for WB etc i will use a bigger caliber next time.
    (I hope this was readable since my native language is Swedish, and I am barbequing right now :) and spell check are F with me.)
    Skål!
     

  8. sgt_zim

    sgt_zim BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    And zero difference between 7x57 and 7mm-08, for that matter.

    @Nosler guy - what do you consider low/medium speed for a 140 gr .284? Nosler and Hornady both show 2700-2800 fps as safe speed/pressure for almost every load they publish in 7mm-08.

    175 gr 7mm-08 is a little slower than a 180 gr 30-06, but they're about the same mass, have about the same SD, and similar BCs for similar construction (RN v RN or Spitzer v Spitzer)

    As far as 6.5x55, like I said, Norwegians and Swedes have killed a lot of moose with 156 and 160 gr bullets at 2200-2300 fps since they started using those guns for sport hunting in the early 20th century.

    Nothing against 30-06 - it's my all-time favorite cartridge. But it isn't a significant improvement over 7x57/7mm-08 or 6.5x55/260Rem/6.5CM.

    I saw video of a guy take a blesbok from a lasered 792 yards with a 260 Rem, shooting the Hornady 143 ELD-X (land owner wanted to cull a couple rams out of his herd to bring in new blood). I'm not suggesting that this is ordinary, but it does suggest that even at 1600-1800 fps, these very long-for-caliber bullets hit far above their weight.
     

  9. sgt_zim

    sgt_zim BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Only one question: how much MRP? That's about 150 FPS faster than what Norma has published for that load. Is Norma publishing loads for the old M96 and KJ like Hornady does? Nosler publishes data for modern sporting arms, but it seems Norma and Hornady do not.

    BTW, your English is much better than my Spanish or Italian. ;)
     

  10. Art Lambart II

    Art Lambart II AH Fanatic

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    @sgt_zim - My wife shoots a 7mm-08 and it works well with 140 grn bullets but one of the problems it has is the magazine is to short to accept a 175 grn bullet loaded to the recommended length. The only way to use the heavier bullet is to seat it deeper in the case and losing case capacity, to my knowledge because of the short action that is a problem for all of the 7mm-08 bolt guns. The 7x57 on the other hand was designed for 170-175 grn bullet and that is what it used to earn its great reputation in Africa.

    As for using the 6.5x55 for Moose that is true, my dad asked one of the Scandinavian hunters on this site about using the Swede for Moose and he said "Sure, if you want him to walk closer to the road. The only people these days who use a 6.5X55 on Moose don't own a larger rifle."
     
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  11. Nosler guy

    Nosler guy AH Veteran

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    I would consider the 2700 - 2800 fps that you mentioned to be a meduim speed for a 7mm 140 gr bullet (would be achieved by a lot of the popular 7mm cartridges) - but I would suggest that very few 7mm-08 will achieve that velocity, as most manufactures will have used a 26 inch barrel to gather that data, and I haven't run into too many of those on the gun shelf. Most of the compact 7mm-08's that wear short 18 and 20 inch barrels, and when chronographed they will fall well short of those numbers, into what I would consider low velocities for that bullet. After all some of the 7mm magnums are capable of spitting out that same 140 gr bullet in the 3300 - 3400 fps range

    And you will also have a hard time convincing my hunting camp that an '06 " isn't a significant improvement" over the calibers you list
     

  12. 9.3x57 Freak

    9.3x57 Freak SILVER SUPPORTER AH Member

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    Sgt_zim, PM sent.
     

  13. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    9.3x57 Freak, I load my 6.5 x 55 Swede with 46.5 Gr. of H4350. that gives me 2775 FPS pushing a 140 Gr bullet. The ballistics are similar to what a 7 x 57 or a 275 Rigby would get pushing a similar weight bullet. I normally use this caliber for deer and Hogs (Boar). Recently I purchased some factory Norma with 156 Gr Oryx bullets but have not fired them. What powder and charge weight do you use to get the 2650 FPS with the Norma 156 Gr Oryx? Out of curiosity, have you taken any moose with your 6.5 x 55?
     

  14. 9.3x57 Freak

    9.3x57 Freak SILVER SUPPORTER AH Member

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    Shootist Pm sent.

    Regarding moose and 6.5x55.
    I hunt in 2 shooting teams. There are always a few 6.5x55 used in the teams. I usually have my old 9.3x57 with 286/320gr Oryx.

    The 6.5x55 are the smallest legal for hunting the ”big game” here in Sweden. Aka moose, boar, wolf, red stag, bear etc. The 6.5 usually have good precision and low recoil and cheap ammo. So, the hunters are often quite good hitting where they intended.
    But hitting a thick bone suddenly can make it complicated since the margin for errors are small.
    Shot placement matters, as always. But i also agree that a quality bullet with high SD have a lot more punch than you’d expect.
     
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  15. Dewald

    Dewald AH Veteran

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    Even though there are better choices for a one gun Safari, I rate the old x55 Swede and x57 Mauser very high.

    Certainly in the SA market most failures with a 6,5 of sorts is due to the stupid race for BC. People taking body shots with match bullets and expecting good performance. Since 1998 my 6,5x55 has put north of 300 animals in the salt with 140gr premium bullets, mostly Rhino solid shank, Partitions, a few Swifts and some others.
    537.JPG
    184.JPG
     

  16. Nicholas Barcomb

    Nicholas Barcomb AH Veteran

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    Dewald, which animals would those happen to be? I am looking at Zimbabwe, SA, or Namibia for PGs and buff at some point in the near future. Already have a .416 Rigby for the bigger stuff. I have a few different lighter calibers to choose from for the PGs and am leaning towards the 6.5 x 55 SE. I have loads with 140 gr and 160 gr PPRN Woodleigh's. I can also go .30-06 SPR with 165 gr, 180 gr, and 240 gr PPRN Woodleigh's if need be due to caliber restriction. I have never had any issues with my 6.5 x 55 SE dropping game efficiently.

    I've been reading this thread for a bit and noticed that some of the American contributors have a hard time understanding the 6.5 x 55's lethality on larger game. Seems near impossible to fathom for some and I would have been right with them if it weren't for my grandfather showing me the cartridge when I was young and starting to shoot. He did give me a Springfield 1903A3 in .30-06 for my 16th birthday, but after he passed, I inherited his entire collection along with the Kongsberg Krags in 6.5 x 55. I still shoot my .30-06, but when hunting, I go to my 6.5 x 55 because there is nothing like it on the planet, especially when the shot placement is in the right spot. Aim, squeeze the trigger, and the animal drops right where it stood. No tracking involved, it is just a pure joy of a caliber to shoot!!
     
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  17. Dewald

    Dewald AH Veteran

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    Nicholas, I’ve shot most common South African plainsgame with it. A good number of kudu bulls, blue wildebeest, Gemsbuck, Zebra etc.
    A number of clients have taken kudu and blue wildebeest with it as well.

    Obviously I don’t think it is better or worse than a lot of similar calibres, and I have great respect for my 7x57s, .308, 8mms and other medium bores. My experience has been that any quality bullet between 140 & 180 gr at a moderate velocity, around 2650fps does the job with little recoil and fuss, irrespective of the headstamp on the case behind it.
     

  18. sgt_zim

    sgt_zim BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I have a difficult time convincing guys in my hunting camp, too. Doesn't mean they're right, and almost certainly just means they're poorly informed on the matter, just like I used to be.

    There is nothing magical about the mechanics of ballistics or terminal performance, nothing magical about animal anatomy and physiology. A bullet has the capacity to inflict a rapidly fatal wound on its intended target, or it doesn't. In this, the .264 bullets, especially 140 grains and heavier, do exceedingly well. I use "marginally" not as a pejorative, but a simple statement of mathematics.
     
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  19. sgt_zim

    sgt_zim BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    One of my company's C-levels owns a couple hunting outfits in southern British Columbia. He hunts moose and black bear with only his 6.5-284 and 120 gr Barnes TTSX. Granted, that's a *little* hotter than what we get out of our 6.5x55, but at normal shooting distances, no better than what we get.
     

  20. sambarhunter

    sambarhunter AH Enthusiast

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    I took a bull moose in Sweden with the 6.5x55 I believe it was a Privi 165 grainer.
     
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