6.5x54 M-S at Distance

Discussion in 'Up To .375' started by fsrmg1, Sep 1, 2018.

  1. fsrmg1

    fsrmg1 AH Veteran

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    I have a lovely scoped M1903 6.5x54 take down sporting rifle with the 22" barrel that I would like to use as my medium game rifle. I've used her out to 200m quite successfully with 140 gr projectiles in the (mild) 2400 fps range, but would like a load with some more range for shooting goats out to 300m.

    Does anybody have any experience using lighter projectiles with moden powders at speed? I was thinking of using either Hornady or Nosler 120 and 130 gr SST/Balistic tips loaded with H4350 and Reloader 17. I estimate that I should be able to get 2700-2750 with the 120 gr and 2600-2650 fps with the 130 gr safely within original design pressures.

    Has anybody done this before and if so, what were the results? I'm not looking to hot rod, I just want to broaden the useful envelope by using lighter modern projectiles and propellants.

    Also, please don't tell me to get a modern long range rifle if I want more range, I like this rifle and intend to keep using her. I'm basically doing this so I can find more reason to use her more. ;-)
     

  2. bruce moulds

    bruce moulds AH Elite

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    the 120 gn sierra is a good goat bullet in the 6.5x55, so should be similar in your gun.
    bruce.
     

  3. fsrmg1

    fsrmg1 AH Veteran

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    I don't know if Sierra has changed the way they make their 6.5mm 120 gr Pro Hunter projectiles over the years, but I bought a couple boxes of them back in the early 80's and found that they didn't provide reliable expansion on caribou unless hitting bone. That was using them in a 264 Win Mag as well. This was why I was thinking of using the plastic tipped ones, so I know they will expand at 6.5 M-S velosity.
     

  4. Clodo Ferreira

    Clodo Ferreira AH Veteran

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    Hi fsrmg1

    I would try the Nosler Partition 125 grs. Like all N P, the front part is very soft and expands, usually, at very low velocities. And the rear section penetrates without question.

    Good luck!
     

  5. bruce moulds

    bruce moulds AH Elite

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    our aust goats are light framed and small, and you might be right about the expansion.
    i tried 100 gn noslers and found that in 6.5/06.
    maybe the 95 gn hornady vmax would be more what you look for?
    you could get them moving faster for trajectory and expansion.
    might be too much of a good thing?
    my friend shot many goats with the 120 sierra in 6.5x55, and found that while tough for the game size, they could be used for shots at any angle, raking and texas heart shot included.
    side on chest shots required good placement due to the bullet being fairly tough.
    to sierra hunting hollow points expand less than their soft points, but you would not think it to look at tham.
    bruce.
     

  6. 7x57Joe

    7x57Joe AH Veteran

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    The 1903 is finicky about bullets other than the round nose variety and may not feed from the magazine. I agree with Clodo on the Nosler Partition, the soft nose will definitely open up and it will penetrate.
     
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  7. fsrmg1

    fsrmg1 AH Veteran

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    I'm lucky to not have a finicky rifle then, it feeds anything silky smooth into the chamber, including an empty case.

    I'll keep the Nosler Partition in mind for hunting animals a bit tougher than the feral goats goats I'll be going after.
     

  8. HWL

    HWL AH Fanatic

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    I would stay with the 160 gr Round Nose.

    It is by far the best performer for the 6,5x54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer.

    For the "long shot", find the distance with a range finder, adjust your scope, and have a deliberated shot.

    Austrian hunters in the mountains do so since 1903....


    HWL
     
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  9. fsrmg1

    fsrmg1 AH Veteran

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    The 160 gr RN has its place, but why stick to steam power when there are so many new designs that are better suited for the desired job.

    I'm sure a range finder would still extend the range of a sleek fast moving 120-130 gr beyond the range the slow 160 gr. Wind drift also starts to play a factor as well. Higher BC and velocity means less drift.
     
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  10. HWL

    HWL AH Fanatic

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    6,5x54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer and 160 gr Round Nose is a blattle proven combinat.

    And keep in mind, the bullet will do the job, not the trajetory....

    I tested a lot of loads with light bullets in the 6,5x54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer.

    But I could not find a load, accurate enough for the real long shot.


    HWL
     

  11. fsrmg1

    fsrmg1 AH Veteran

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    I have my loads now that gives me 1 MOA accuracy. I was out doing load levelopment today and was able to shoot just over a 2" group at 200m, but I had to do the following to get this sort of accuracy.

    My rifle is an older pre-war version with the .268" grooves. To get properly fitting projectiles I ordered a set of 3 reducing dies from Lee. For projectiles I started with Hornady 130 gr .277" Moly SST. Fairly easy to roll them on a case lube pad and size them down in small steps. I ran them through the .268" sizer twice to make sure they were even and not over. Once done I gave them a good wash with hot soapy water and dried them off. A couple hours in a warm oven helps get any residual moisture out under the tips.

    That done, I annealed the necks on Norma cases, with are thin enouph to allow easy chambering a .268" bullet. RWS are just a bit thicker and need a bit of thinning in my rifle. Once annealed, I lubed inside the necks and expanded them with a tapered .30 cal neck expander. After that I sized the case just enouph to chamber them with slight press closing the bolt. This eliminated any headspace.

    For bullet seating length, I set up an unheadspaces dummy round and seated the bullet until I just stopped feeling any seating pressure. The OAL was 3.078" and my rifle's magazine accomodates 3.060" OAL, which is a perfect seating depth for this combination.

    I used Rem and Win std large rifle primers, both gave just about identical results.

    Powder was ADI AR2209, which is sold in the rest of the world as H4350. I also tried Rx17. I started at recommend starting in a few manuals and worked up in 0.5 gr increments. I loaded up enouph to do 2 groups per increment and I always do the exercise twice to verify and repeat. In this case, 2 loads stood out giving 1 MOA accuracy. For H4350 40.0 grs gave 2620 fps and Rx17 40.5 grs gave 2685 fps out of my 22 5/8" barrel.

    Hope this exercise helps others looking to get modern lighter bullets to perform well in an old classic.
     
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  12. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    More work than what I'd want to do but you sure have that rifle and load process figured out. Do you have a ballistics program to figure out the energy at 300m for your rifle with that load? If not, p.m. me the rifle twist rate, velocities, and exact bullet weight and I can crunch the numbers to give you a ballpark amount.
     

  13. fsrmg1

    fsrmg1 AH Veteran

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    I used the Norma ballistic ap to see what to expect at the range. Through interpolation, I estimated the projectile had a BC of .477 after reducing, so I plugged this in with an estimated velocity of 2650 fps. For a 3" max POI above line of sight, it said:
    +2.86" at 100m (2443 fps/1636 fpe)
    +2.69" at 150m (2345 fps/1507 fpe)
    +0.64" at 200m (2246 fps/1383 fpe)
    +/-0.0" at 210m (2227 fps/1359 fpe)
    -3.50" at 250m (2153 fps/1273 fpe)
    -9.90" at 300m (2060 fps/1163 fpe)

    Range results showed the bullet hitting very close to the mark at 200m when sighted as suggested at 100m.

    Looks like I have my 300m goat load if I aim high on the shoulder.
     
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  14. HWL

    HWL AH Fanatic

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    Do they all rotate well through the magazin and into the chamber?

    HWL
     

  15. fsrmg1

    fsrmg1 AH Veteran

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    Absolutely, with your typical silky smooth feeding.

    When researching this project, I noticed that there was a range of cartridge OALs listed, 3.010" to 3.063". The former is found in some of the contemporary publications, with the latter in the older traditional articles. I went with the traditional length, which seems to work well for my rifle.

    My rifle will feed just about anything, but it seems to feed rounds smoothest when they have an OAL of 3.00" or greater.
     

  16. fsrmg1

    fsrmg1 AH Veteran

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    Just back from the range after developing another load. I wanted to work up some cheaper practice and general use loads, so this time I used some bulk Winchester 270 calls 130 gr Power Points.

    After running them through my sizer dies down to .268", I seated one in a fired case that I put a little crimp in the neck to hold the bullet in place, but still allow the throat to push the bullet into the case while I chamber it. After carefully extracting the round and measuring it, I did it a few more times to verify consistency. The OAL was at 3.058" in all cases, so t desided to use 3.040" as my seating depth.

    I desided to use ADI AR2209 (H4350) powder, and 40 grains of it seemed to be the go to load when using both the 130 gr Hornady SST and Taipan HPs. I loaded up a few dozen of these and headed to the range. I also took a box of Taipan to use as a control measure.

    Since the rifle had already been sighted dead on at 200 m for the SST load with Rx17, I started off at that range and was pleased to see that the Win PP load was centered on the target, just a few inches lower. This is expected as the PP ballistic coefficient is much lower than the sleek SST, plus it is also running about 70 fps slower (2620 vs 2690). I shot three more groups to verify with the average at about 2 1/2" spread (smallest was 1 3/4").

    Looks like I'm ready to go hunting now, and I've booked it for mid December. My next post should be my hunt report.
     

  17. HWL

    HWL AH Fanatic

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    DSC02144.JPG

    My attempt, making the 6,5x54 M-S a flat shooter….

    When I bought the rifle, steel and wood were in really bad condition, the barrels rifling was almost gone.

    I threw away the old barrel and installed a new one for .264 dia. bullets.

    Same with the old scope. witch found a new home in the hands of a collector.

    I mounted a Leupold 6,5-20x40 on claw mounts. finished the wood, blued all the steel, bedded the action and did some other improvements.


    HWL
     

  18. fsrmg1

    fsrmg1 AH Veteran

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    Hello HWL,

    What sort of success have you had? I've not tried anything lighter than 130 grains yet and was thinking of going down to 120 for a bit more velocity.

    My rifle is a takedown model, but I have bedded the stock in the recoil lug area and first 1 1/2" of barrel channel. This really seemed to settle things down.

    This weekend I did another trip to the range for more load development. I was shooting 140 grain HP Taipan projectiles with 40 gr H4350. I had prior seated them to 2.995", perhaps because I was using a Sierra manual and they have a similar profile to the Sierra and that was what they used. This load delivers a nice and consistent 1 1/4" 100 m group.

    Anyway, this time I seated them to 0.015" off the rifling, for on OAL of 3.050". The group immediately shrunk to an amazing 0.36" at 100 m. For that bullet, this will now be my go to load, though velocity is only about 2400 fps.
     

  19. HWL

    HWL AH Fanatic

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    With the old barrel and RWS 159 gr soft soint bullets, I was able to hit a picup truck at 100 yards.

    Now I shoot a 139 gr Lapua Scenar Match, and the rifle performes fine with this.

    But I would like to switch back to a 160 grainer, may be Hornady round nose.

    This cartridge is on the light end and it generates it's ability to kill heave game from heavy, peep penetrating bullets.


    HWL
     
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  20. Hoss Delgado

    Hoss Delgado AH Fanatic

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    Sorry to resurrect this thread , but l am intrigued by this round. Does anyone still manufacture / sell loaded 6.5×54 Mannlicher ammo anymore ? Specifically the 160 grain full metal jacket round nose solids ? It seems that the only loaded Ammo available for this gun nowadays is the soft nose variety.
     
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