6.5x54 M-S at Distance

Dirtdart

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It is so sad, that Sierra discontinued the 160 gr semi.

In my opinion, this was the best bullet availabe for the 6,5x54 MS

160 gr Hornady, also is ok.

In my experience, it is not necessary to seat it to the cannelure and crimp, because recoil is negligible.

6,5x54 MS and a 160grainer is a great combination in the field, especially when you want to deal with something bigger


HWL
I agree 100%. I had originally seated to the cannelure (no crimp) only to find out that my rifle didn't like it. I am fortunate that I have almost 200 of the Sierra 160's laying around but when they are gone, they are gone.
 

Brian Rothhammer

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You can contact Reed's Ammunition and Research about loading projectiles for you. Here's their standard 6.5X54 M-S offering.

https://shop.reedsammo.com/65x54-MS-mannlicher-schoenauer_c215.htm

I would recommend Reed's.

I purchased some 9.5X57 from him and the brass was of proper width and shoulder profile (many 'obsolete handloads' for the 9.5X57 are not) and they were stuffed with the (now nearly extinct) Hornady 3715. I haven't had a chance to shoot any yet but they measure and weigh correctly, visually match original DWM531, and operate flawlessly through the Schönauer magazine of my M1910 Takedown.

Ron had originally shipped me the wrong size but was very quick, friendly, and professional about replacing them (he paid return shipping and reship of proper size, of course). I actually increased the order and now wish I'd bought more.

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Left to right; Reed's 9.5X57, my old handload, original (1926) DWM 531, once fired brass from my old handload.
The ones I loaded previously were from .35 Whelen brass sized through RCBS dies, filled with Hornady 3715 (270g RN).
(Not the best scan - sorry.)

Here are the original DWM proprietary cartridges for the Mannlicher Schönauer M1900 - 1903, M1905, M1908, M1910 from the 1939 Stoeger catalog:
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Ballistics:
36095498tc.jpg


Also from the 1939 Stoeger, here are other specifications of your 6.5X54MS, A.K.A. 6.5X53MS, A.K.A. 6.7X53MS, A.K.A. .256 Mannlicher Schönauer:
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Westley Richards, 1937 - 38:
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Eley (Kynoch) drawing of 6.5X54:
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Brian Rothhammer

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OMG its an 'olde worlde' 6.5 Creedmore.


What's old is new again.


36096555ye.jpg


From safariclub.org:

01/28/2019
Boddington-6.5-old-and-new.jpg

: Old and new, left to right: 6.5x53R, 6.5x54 MS, 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser, .256 Newton, .260 Remington, 6.5mm Creedmoor. Of the older cartridges, only the 6.5x55 remains popular, but the Creedmoor is the most popular non-military 6.5mm cartridge the world has ever seen.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave you must be aware that the 6.5mm Creedmoor is the hottest centerfire cartridge on the planet! Everybody’s talking about it and everybody wants one. Gunmakers are chambering it to more platforms, and selection of loads is increasing rapidly.

The 6.5mm Creedmoor is a neat little cartridge, but I find its sudden rise to popularity a real phenomenon. You see, it’s not new, — although its celebrity certainly is. Designed primarily as a long-range target cartridge, the 6.5 Creedmoor was introduced by Hornady in 2007. At first it rolled along without much fanfare. Then, after nearly a decade, it took off like a rocket. Typically, a new cartridge either quickly gains acceptance, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t take off fairly quickly, then in my experience it rarely ever will. The Creedmoor broke that mold.

The Creedmoor is a good and very accurate cartridge. Its ballistics are credible but not flashy — 140-grain bullet at about 2,700 fps. Light in recoil, it’s fun to shoot. It takes advantage of the 6.5mm (.264-inch) bullet diameter’s long-for-caliber bullets, which tend to retain velocity well. The Creedmoor’s short case is well-suited to long, aerodynamic bullets, which has endeared it to long-range shooters. Although muzzle velocity is modest, such bullets remain supersonic until way out there (beyond 1,200 yards). This is critical in long-range shooting because the turbulence of crossing the sound barrier is avoided. And the farther you can shoot with the least recoil is to the good.

However, the current popularity of the 6.5mm Creedmoor goes far beyond the relatively small cadre of serious long-range shooters. It’s being snapped up by hunters and target shooters, both casual and avid. There is one more unusual thing about the Creedmoor’s rise: The fact that it’s a 6.5! 6.5mm, caliber .264, has been a standard and popular bullet diameter in Europe since the 1890s, but there have been many decades when you couldn’t give away a 6.5mm here in the United States and over the years most of the (few) domestic 6.5mm cartridges have failed.

Right now, the 6.5mm is having a great day in the sun, and it isn’t just the 6.5mm Creedmoor. The shorter 6.5mm Grendel, sized to fit the AR-15 frame, is also red-hot. It’s a bit too soon to make any predictions about the new 6.5mm PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge), also from Hornady, but for sure there’s a lot of buzz. We also have two new super-fast 6.5mm cartridges, the 26 Nosler, and the 6.5-.300 Weatherby Magnum.

So perhaps we’ve turned a corner and the 6.5mm will find lasting popularity in the U.S., but this is not the first time the 6.5mm has caught our eye!

GOING BACK

Smokeless powder began to replace blackpowder in 1886. For the next decade, the world’s arms makers scrambled to develop smokeless powder cartridges, incorporating the parallel development of the jacketed bullet. Between 1891 and 1900, seven 6.5mm cartridges were adopted by various militaries around the world. Almost all used long, heavy-for-caliber bullets from 150 to 160 grains, mostly at typical “early smokeless” velocities between 2,300 and 2,400 fps. Some have nearly vanished while others are familiar from the surplus military markets: 6.5x50 Japanese, 6.5x52 Carcano. Military cartridges, however, do have a history of becoming popular sporting cartridges.

The first to have significant impact in the sporting world was the rimmed 6.5x53R Mannlicher. Adopted by the Netherlands and Romania, it quickly became popular among British sportsmen. Following the British convention of naming cartridges by the smaller land (rather than groove) diameter, they quickly called it the “.256.” It’s rare today, but the two with the more lasting impact are the 6.5x54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer, adopted by Greece; and the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser.

The 6.5x54 is a rimless cartridge that was quickly dubbed the “new .256” to distinguish it from the 6.5x53R. Both the 6.5x54 and 6.5x55 attained significant followings in the United States. Ernest Hemingway had a 6.5x54 Mannlicher on his “Green Hills” safari in 1934. It is still seen today; our esteemed Editor, Steve Comus, admitted that he has three and still hunts with them. The 6.5x55 has been more popular over here; it is still loaded by U.S. ammunition companies and occasionally chambered in domestic rifles (Kimber for example). In the early years, however, the only American 6.5mm was the .256 Newton. Based on the .30-’06 case necked down, it was designed by Charles Newton in 1913, and was loaded by Western until 1938.

Boddington-6.5-alive-percival-hemingway.jpg

PH Phillip Percival and Ernest Hemingway on the safari that gave us The Green Hills of Africa. Hemingway had a Mannlicher in 6.5x54 MS on the safari, often referred to in the book.
Charles Newton’s last manufacturing effort failed in the 1920s. There would not be another American 6.5mm cartridge for more than 30 years. It was, of course, the .264 Winchester Magnum, introduced in the Winchester Model 70 “Westerner” in 1958. Fast and flat-shooting, at first the .264 Win. Mag. looked like a superstar; the gunwriters gushed, and initial sales were excellent. In 1962, however, Remington’s 7mm Remington Magnum blew the .264 off the market. The “Big Seven” is more versatile, but the .264 had issues that the public soon discovered. There was some blue sky in the initial published velocities; it was supposed to push a 140-grain bullet at 3,200 fps, but it never quite got there. Later the claim was reduced to 3,030 fps where it remains today. It needed the 26-inch barrel the Westerner was introduced in, and throat erosion was rapid.

The .264 Win. MAG. is still loaded but rarely chambered. Oddly, this handwriting was already on the wall in 1966 when Remington introduced its 6.5mm Remington Magnum. Based on the 7mm Remington Magnum case shortened and necked down, the 6.5mm Remington Magnum fits into short bolt actions and comes close to the .270 Winchester in performance. It never went anywhere, and it was about that time when gunwriters (if not manufacturers) started talking about “the curse of the 6.5mm” in America.

The .260 Remington may be the final evil done by this curse. Introduced by Remington in 1997, it is simply the .308 Winchester necked down to 6.5mm. Jim Carmichel, then of Outdoor Life, described it as the “most accurate cartridge based on the .308 case.” Honestly, I haven’t seen that, but here’s the odd thing: The .260 Remington is ballistically identical to the 6.5mm Creedmoor. Some 1,000-yard shooters prefer it, but despite being so similar—and-predating the Creedmoor by a decade—it has not been nearly as popular as the Creedmoor. The Creedmoor has created not just new interest, but more American interest than ever before in the 6. 5mm. It seems to me we now have three “classes” 6.5mm cartridges: Fast, faster and fastest.

FAST

Some of the older military 6.5mms were pretty slow. Not too long ago I chronographed some European 6.5x54 ammo. With the heavy 156-grain bullet, it was clear down to 2,000 fps — far below specifications. 6.5x50 Japanese and 6.5x52 Carcano ammo is still available but is also loaded very slow because of concerns over weak actions. Otherwise there aren’t any really “slow” modern 6.5mm cartridges. Slowest is the 6.5mm Grendel, designed by Alexander Arms; again, it’s sized for the AR-15 action, so cartridge length is limited. Standard is a 123-grain bullet at 2,610 fps. If I was looking for an AR-15 “upper” with significantly better performance than the .223, especially for hunting, I’d go to the Grendel.

The common “fast” 6.5mms are the Creedmoor, .260 Remington and 6.5x55. They are actually ballistic equals. The 6.5x55 suffers from concerns over older (pre-1898 Mauser) actions, so American factory loads are mild. However, the 6.5x55 has greater case capacity than the Creedmoor or .260, so with handloading can exceed either. Against that, the 6.5x55 has a longer case and cannot be housed in a short action, while the 6.5 Creedmoor and .260 Remington are short-action cartridges. So, take your pick but figure all three will push a 140-grain bullet at about 2,700 fps.

These are marvelous cartridges for deer-sized game, and certainly adequate for elk at medium ranges. Using heavier bullets, the 6.5x55 remains a favorite for moose in Sweden and Finland! All three are excellent long-range target cartridges with mild recoil and great performance, but in my view none of the three should be considered long-range hunting cartridges, especially for game larger than deer. The energy just isn’t there. But there are faster 6.5mms that deliver more energy downrange!

FASTER

I suppose 300 fps faster doesn’t sound like a huge improvement, but things change a lot when you get the aerodynamic 6.5mm bullet to 3,000 fps. There are three common cartridges in this class: 6.5-.284 Norma, .264 Winchester Magnum and the new 6.5mm PRC. A fourth is the European 6.5x68. Though almost unheard of in the U.S., the 6.5x68 is an unbelted cartridge popular among European hunters, especially for chamois. All of these are ballistic equals. The 6.5-.284 Norma, based on the .284 Winchester case necked down, was standardized by Norma in 1999. It can be housed in a short action, while the rest require standard (.30-’06-length) actions. The 6.5-.284 was intended as a long-range target cartridge, likewise the brand-new 6.5 PRC.

Boddington-Turkish-ibex-26-Nosler.jpg

A long-horned and big-bodied ibex taken in Turkey with the then-new 26 Nosler. The shot wasn’t particularly far, but a 130-grain AccuBond flattened this billy.
However, all of these are excellent hunting cartridges; push an aerodynamic 140-grain bullet at 3,000 fps and you can project about 1,900 foot-pounds to 300 yards. In my mind this makes this group sound elk cartridges to beyond 300 yards; and for the deer/sheep/goat class you can go farther. I have the most experience with the .264; I got my first .264 in 1965 and I thought it was magic. It wasn’t, but I still have a soft spot for the .264, and I’ve used it recently in Africa and Asia as well as for North American hunting.

FASTEST

For decades, the .264 Winchester Magnum and 6.5x58 were the fastest 6.5mm cartridges. In 2014, Nosler changed the game with its 26 Nosler, a 6.5mm based on the big .404 Jeffery (or 7mm Remington Ultra Mag) case shortened a bit and necked down. It can be housed in a .30-’06-length action, and it propels a 140-grain bullet at nearly 3,300 fps. Two years later, Weatherby changed the game again with its 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum. Based on the full-length .300 Weatherby case necked down, the 6.5-300 requires a magnum-length action. It’s about 100 fps faster than the Nosler so, with no argument whatsoever, it is the world’s fastest 6.5mm cartridge.

The difference between the two is not extreme. I have used them both with excellent accuracy. Obviously, you are projecting more energy farther downrange. Both are superb long-range cartridges for deer-sized and mountain game, and clearly both are fully adequate for elk-sized game at significant range, but whether I would consider any 6.5mm an ideal choice at the extreme ranges some folks are shooting at today is another story. Ultimately, you are still dealing with relatively light bullets of moderate diameter. So even the fastest cartridges don’t turn the 6.5mm into a long-range brontosaurus buster. But, man, do they shoot flat and, on game, you will notice that the bullet gets there fast!

The entire 6.5mm landscape has changed — more cartridges, more capability, better bullets and much more availability. At this moment, in 2018, the 6.5mm has come alive. This time I think it’s here to stay, but only time will tell.--Craig Boddington
 

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Mr. Zorg

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Good article, the only point I can see of dispute is where Mr. Boddington claims the 6.5 CM broke the mold (or mould if you prefer) of cartridges that originally languish then suddenly become popular. I think the 7mm-08, adopted by Remington in 1980 ending its days as a wildcat, and chambering production rifles for the cartridge, broke that mold (or mould if you prefer), since it was "legitimized" 27 years before the 6.5 CM and was not very popular for more years than the 6.5 CM.

My first rifle was a 6.5 Carcano from GI Surplus back in the mid-70's. Milsurp ammo was more miss than hit on a hit or miss basis IME. In a box of 20 milsurp catridges, I was lucky to find 3 rounds I could close the bolt on. I sold it in the mid-80's and didn't own another 6.5 mm rifle until purchasing a .264 WM last year. It was built using an Interarms Mark X action and has a 26" barrel with an extra 2" of muzzle brake so it has a bit of an anteater look but shoots well. I haven't taken game with it yet, I'm hoping to hunt antelope with it at some point.

Nice to know someone else besides me has had a good experience with Reed's. He's very flexible.
 
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Brian Rothhammer

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Nice to know someone else besides me has had a good experience with Reed's. He's very flexible.

Reeed's, indeed.

USPS had misdirected the reship from Reed's (it was addressed correctly) as well. I had much contact with Ron, by phone and email, all very positive and productive. He's a straight shooter.

Several other reloaders make their 9.5X57 cases by merely running other _X57 brass through 9.5X57 dies, which leaves a shoulder too low and narrow for the MS. Ron understands this and draws his Norma brass straight before forming so the shoulder is formed properly and the case is of proper width throughout. He also does custom and 'wildcat' loads.
 

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I saw a very nice takedown MS on an Australian shooting video. They had gone to an auction recently. I couldn’t believe it didn’t sell at the starting price. It had been redone by one of the British gunmakers and even had the case. It was also in 6.5. Sorry for the hi-jack but I’m kind of jealous that ya’ll get to see and potentially have some of the really nice custom rifles. It was Enfield Heaven as well. We get the ARs but I don’t feel the same carrying them in the woods or brush.
Marco
 

HWL

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Several other reloaders make their 9.5X57 cases by merely running other _X57 brass through 9.5X57 dies, which leaves a shoulder too low and narrow for the MS. Ron understands this and draws his Norma brass straight before forming so the shoulder is formed properly and the case is of proper width throughout. He also does custom and 'wildcat' loads.

Making them from 9,3x62 cases works fine and avoids all the trouble.

I did this with several hundred cases and never had a problem.

HWL
 

flatwater bill

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Don't know about the RNS, but I bought several boxes of 156 grain Norma Oryx bullets last year, and at that time, they listed the 54 as factory loaded............Used 40 grains IMR 4350 with my 140 Sierras in the 80's and also had failures to expand.......129 Hornady Spirepoint was a killer..................You might be able to get some 160 fmj military loaded rounds and pull the bullets..............good luck..................FWB
 

rookhawk

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Update on this thread for the amazing authors @Dirtdart @HWL @Brian Rothhammer

I have a 6.5MS retailed and regulated by Westley Richards, 1903 type. I understand feed and land depth are tricky on this rifle from all I’ve read.

I tried to look around for good round nose options beyond the Hornady that appears cannot be crimped to the ferrule since its so far forward on the bullet. Norma makes a 156gr Vulcan that has a cannalure very low on the round. Has anyone tried this one as a hunting bullet?

Any other options that feed from the magazine on the British tuned and retailed 1903s you might suggest?
 

OxfordTheCat

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@rookhawk
For just round nose bullets you should have ample choice for a good hunting bullet:

Lapua Megas, Norma Alaska, Oryx, and Vulcan all in the neighbourhood.

For factory cartridges, RWS T-Mantel is around in 6.5x54 in a 159gr, which I'd probably consider a better bullet than the Prvi 156 (though I haven't shot anything with it) on the basis of their sporting cartridge history, but they're both gliding jackets, not a bonded bullet like the Oryx and (I think) the Vulkan.

Or are you having issues with the feed on some of those?
 

rookhawk

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@rookhawk
For just round nose bullets you should have ample choice for a good hunting bullet:

Lapua Megas, Norma Alaska, Oryx, and Vulcan all in the neighbourhood.

For factory cartridges, RWS T-Mantel is around in 6.5x54 in a 159gr, which I'd probably consider a better bullet than the Prvi 156 (though I haven't shot anything with it) on the basis of their sporting cartridge history, but they're both gliding jackets, not a bonded bullet like the Oryx and (I think) the Vulkan.

Or are you having issues with the feed on some of those?

I haven‘t tried anything yet. New rifle to me. Just reading all the feed issues noted and the seller I purchased the rifle from didn’t boast of its accuracy. I believe that is because of either throat erosion or most likely, deep lands. Putting a pointed bullet in one of these surely is getting the bullet so far away from the lands that accuracy must suffer greatly. I’m looking for round nose bullets to get closer to the lands and feed effectively and will then test throat OAL and max Cartridge OAL.

That’s why I was looking at the Hornady 160gr and the Vulcan 156gr, they look like they’d get closer to the lands and that they’d feed.
 

Dirtdart

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I have not tried the Norma Vulcan but it looks like a viable candidate for sure. The only bullets so far other than the bullets in my previous post that have allowed full neck tension and flawless feeding are these oldies pictured. Obviously these are long out of production.

thumbnail_20210111_111557.jpg
 
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Hawk bullets, mostly round nose, lighter weight too for the 9 twist.

 

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rookhawk

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Hawk bullets, mostly round nose, lighter weight too for the 9 twist.


Yeah, I won't buy Hawk bullets. They made an error on an order (or thought I wouldn't catch them) and it could have got me killed. They promised me .511" 440gr bullets, hardened, with a .065" thick jacket so I could use them on Dangerous game in Africa. They charged me a premium and sent the bullets. When I tested them, they were soft lead. They never hardened them. That was the whole point of the order. They didn't refund my money nor did they send me proper replacement bullets.

That is an unacceptable level of negligence and customer service from a bullet manufacturer.
 

Dirtdart

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I forgot to mention in my last post that I picked up a box of the factory loaded PPU 156 grain SP RN and they did not cycle properly in my rifle.
 

rookhawk

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Anyone have GECO or RWS (same thing) ammo in the USA in 6.5x54MS? Any options for factory ammo other than the Grafs load and the PPU?
 

OxfordTheCat

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I forgot to mention in my last post that I picked up a box of the factory loaded PPU 156 grain SP RN and they did not cycle properly in my rifle.

As far as I am aware the PPU 156gr are frequently shot out of MS rifles (though admittedly, as far as I can recall reading it is concerning the military rifles, but the magazine is the same so should hold true) so this may point to a feed issue with your rifle if they won't cycle properly at all.

Do you have any corrosion on the feed ramp?

The PPU 6.5x54 is marginally shorter, so it can cause some troublesome feeding which is well known, but it shouldn't prevent the action from cycling entirely. At a glance, the RWS does seem to have a slightly different bullet profile than the PPU, perhaps more 'true' to the original round nose. It might be a better choice.

I need to pick up some 6.5x54 so I'll get some of the RWS on order and I can hopefully report back on the measurements between the cartridges.
 

rookhawk

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As far as I am aware the PPU 156gr are frequently shot out of MS rifles (though admittedly, as far as I can recall reading it is concerning the military rifles, but the magazine is the same so should hold true) so this may point to a feed issue with your rifle if they won't cycle properly at all.

Do you have any corrosion on the feed ramp?

The PPU 6.5x54 is marginally shorter, so it can cause some troublesome feeding which is well known, but it shouldn't prevent the action from cycling entirely. At a glance, the RWS does seem to have a slightly different bullet profile than the PPU, perhaps more 'true' to the original round nose. It might be a better choice.

I need to pick up some 6.5x54 so I'll get some of the RWS on order and I can hopefully report back on the measurements between the cartridges.


@OxfordTheCat what country are you in? You make it seem so simple to get RWS I'm assuming you're in UK or EU?
 

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degoins wrote on Treemantwo's profile.
I have a like new VC .450 I might part with. I had it built in 2013 and it has served me well. Also have a VC fitted leather trunk case for it along with the plastic case it came with. I'll take 14000 for all of it.
Matt W wrote on Jody's profile.
Hi Jody,
I have been looking for ideas on the best way to display my European mounts from Africa. I came across some of your shield work and was wondering if you would be willing to make one for me? If so, please let me know the cost. I like the shield with the two spears that you built for a member years ago. Thanks.
cal pappas wrote on Mnelson2's profile.
Nelson. Is this message a PM format. I want to send you my email, but don't know if this is the cirrect way to do it. I'm at <pappas@mtaonline.net> Send me an email with your phone and I will call you about a skull I have. I went to school in Boston and am from Bernardston in the west part of the state. Moved to Alaska in 1984 adn never looked back.
BeeMaa wrote on Justbryan's profile.
Sold a Blaser scope mount to him. He was a pleasure to do business with.
BeeMaa wrote on 375Fox's profile.
Sold a Blaser scope mount to him. Was a pleasure to do business with.
 
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