6.5x55mm for Plains Game?

timbear

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This is one for the experts: Is the 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser adequate for Plains Game (excluding eland and giraffe)? I realize of course that shot placement is paramount, and that elephants can be killed with a .22 if you get it right, I am more interested in hearing from someone who has tried the 6.5x55. Moose are taken regularly with it in Sweden, so it's no popgun, and mine has killed fallow and red deer as dead as you can wish for, but I keep hearing how tough African game are. To preempt the likely questions: I am comfortable shooting to 200m, 250m if pushed, and I use factory ammunition, 140gr Remington Core-Lokt. Any advice would be very welcome!
 

sestoppelman

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Well on the one hand you say you are more interested in hearing from those who shoot one, on the other hand you state, "Any advice welcome" so here goes. My dad was always a huge fan of this round for all the ballistic reasons. Much large game has been taken by this round and smaller rounds. Yes it will kill anything that walks. It would have to be considered on the light side for eland which can weigh more than buffalo, though not as hard to kill. My inclination would be to go to a heavier and more premium bullet if you handload. Chances are your factory load is fairly anemic but results sound good enough. For most plains game it would be fine. African animals are no tougher than any animal, thats just hype. Put a good bullet where it belongs and the game is yours. The Core-Lokt is a good bullet but there are lots better bullets out there now. Good luck!
 

enysse

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6.5x55mm (6.5 Swedish)


The 6.5 is a very old cartridge that has always been extremely popular in Europe, and for good reason. It has been an excellent long range competition cartridge with excellent 6.5 bullets available. There have also been companies such as Lapua and Norma that have always loaded superb match grade ammo for it. Over the years I have become a fan of this cartridge based off of its history, pleasant shooting qualities, and great long range accuracy. Unfortunately, the 6.5x55 has never really been considered for much long range shooting in the USA, although to serious long range shooters and European shooters its no real surprise at how well this cartridge does. In the USA there was a brief bit of interest in this cartridge a few years ago but the thing that has hurt it recently is the introduction of the short action 6.5 cartridges such as the 260 Remington, 6.5x47 Lapua and 6.5 creedmore. These all produce performance on par with the USA loaded 6.5x55 ammo, but in a short action. But, you see, the 6.5x55 actually has more case capacity than the others but because there are so many very old rifles built and chambered for this cartridge, most of the USA manufacturers are not willing to load this cartridge to its potential. Instead of labeling the ammo "modern firearm use only" they have decided to handicap everyone using the 6.5x55. In Europe, this is not a problem so Lapua, Norma and others load it to much higher velocities. HSM here in the USA is also working on a hot version of the 6.5x55 with the sierra 142 SMK as well and that should be out very soon and readily available for the USA shooters.

The 6.5 has long been known for its excellent accuracy and absurdly high ballistic coefficients. With some of the European loads available and with HSM introducing a full capacity load, the 6.5 can be seriously considered for sniping. Additionally, I can really see the benefits for Law Enforcement applications, as it generally shoots a lighter bullet then the .308, but heavier then the .243, falling nicely right in between. The 6.5 deserves consideration for military application also, and has been chambered in some older military sniper rifles (WWII vintage). The round actually outperforms the .308 match loads in both the 168gr and 175gr, and its less susceptible to wind and arrives on target with as much energy at ranges over 600 yards. The penetration should be good as well with the superior sectional density of the 6.5 bullets. The only other problem I can see is the lack of sniper grade weapons chambered for the 6.5. But most of the custom sniper rifle manufacturers will chamber their rifles in any caliber the purchaser wants (Sometimes for a small additional fee). Hopefully rifle manufacturers will realize the great potential of the 6.5 and start to produce their sniper rifles in 6.5x55, though with the popularity of the other 6.5 short action cartridges, I doubt this will happen.

Recommendation: The 6.5x55m makes a very good Law Enforcement round as well as a very capable military sniping cartridge. When using the heavier bullets the round is excellent at ranges up to and potentially beyond 1000 meters far out performing the 308 rounds.
From a Sniper Central Website

I have no experience with the caliber but think it should be fine for your purposes. I guess Federal make a Trophy Bear Claw in this round too.
 

Red Leg

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With a Sectional Density (SD) of .287, the 140 gr 6.5x55 is in the same penetrating class as the 160gr 7x57. Assuming a true premium bullet, I think it would work fine for most plains game. I personally prefer more frontal area to start with, but the Swede would do just fine.
 

Nyati

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Almost any caliber will kill any animal, with the proper shot placement . Fine, we all agree on that.

However, in the field, for many reasons, we may not be able to take the "perfect shot". So why take the chance of wounding an animal with a smaller caliber, when you have a higher probability of a kill if you use a larger caliber ?

I just don t understand it .

My advice is to choose the largest caliber you feel comfortable with, and use premium bullets, a .300WM, or .338WM will do finely.
 

Code4

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Nyati, you don't have to take a shot that is less than perfect. You can choose to watch the animal wander off. That is the difference between success with smaller calibres and useing the largest we can handle. If all you want is the trophy and the kill then yes, use the largest you can shoot well.

I know of one 6.5x55 used in a southern African country with great success and there was a write up in one of the north american magazines a few years ago about an American useing a Remington 700 Classic in 6.5x55 in Zimbabwe, also with great success.
 

timbear

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Okay, I guess I have to elaborate. When - not if, when! - we finally make it to Africa, my wife will be hunting as well. She uses a Remington 700 in .243 back home, which is probably on the light side for PG. I think she would be comfortable with my 6.5x55, but I remember she took a dislike to the recoil of the .308 when we tested rifles for her (albeit some time ago). So the question really is: should she take the 6.5x55 (I would bring my 375 H&H anyway), or do we re-start the selection process, looking for something "beefier"?
 

Code4

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Stay with the 6.5 if she likes it. Not all PG are huge and tough and there is a massive diversity of smaller game capable of being taken with the .243. Not Zebra etc., but the Warthog, Impala, Blesbok, Springbok the small five etc.. There is a tremendous hunting that can be done relatively cheaply with a .243.

If she wants to shoot Gemsbok etc then she will have to 'man' up.
 

Red Leg

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308's, particularly in light rifles, can be suprisingly nasty little kickers. I remember a little Ruger international that was no fun at all off the bench. The 6.5 will work and it will even do for zebra, wildebeest, and gemsbok but only if the first shot is perfect and only if it is made with a premium deep penetrating bullet. A lot of women struggle with rifles because they are designed against a larger standard size (i.e. the 70% male frame). That sort of discomfort gets compounded when we have them try the things at a bench. If you haven't, I would suggest you let her shoot some of the larger calibers off sticks. You do the sighting in. Perceived recoil is always a lot less. I would try to find the largest caliber that she can handle without angst from the sticks and then trim the stock so that it fits her. Several of the Steyrs have stocks which can be shortened as they come from the factory. An all day, multi-round, stern chase on a zebra or blue wildebeest can be just a big a demoralizer to a new African hunter as heavier recoil.
 

Nyati

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Nyati, you don't have to take a shot that is less than perfect. You can choose to watch the animal wander off. That is the difference between success with smaller calibres and useing the largest we can handle. If all you want is the trophy and the kill then yes, use the largest you can shoot well.

I know of one 6.5x55 used in a southern African country with great success and there was a write up in one of the north american magazines a few years ago about an American useing a Remington 700 Classic in 6.5x55 in Zimbabwe, also with great success.

You see your point, Code4.

However, I would really hate to leave a wounded animal in the field, because my shot turned out to be less than perfect, and I did not use "enough gun".
 

Oldsarge

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Listen to Redleg! This is one of my pet peeves, people who spend entirely too damned much time shooting off the bench in search of the sub-MOA group from a rifle that doesn't need it. Yes, by all means, sight the rifle in for her and then have her shoot off sticks, the way game is actually taken in Africa. In five safaris I've yet to encounter a benchrest in the bush. Once she discovers that with a broad buttstock and a good pad, lots of calibers she feared are nothing to get excited about, consider getting her a 9.3x62 or a .338/06. Either of those will handily nail any plains game in Africa and put down both leopard an lion most effectively. If she wants a buffalo, be ready to back her up with something in excess of .40.
 

Code4

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You see your point, Code4.

However, I would really hate to leave a wounded animal in the field, because my shot turned out to be less than perfect, and I did not use "enough gun".

Fair enough. We all get to make our own choices and what suits us best, works best. :cool:
 

johnfox

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I know of one 6.5x55 used in a southern African country with great success

As Code4 intimated above, it was my mate who used a Sako Finnlight in 6.5x55 with me in Namibia around this time last year. He used 140gr Accubonds on the bigger animals, kudu, oryx and red hartebeest and 129gr Hornady interlocks on springbok when we did a bit of culling in the Kalahari.

All shots with the exception of the kudu were pass throughs and none of the animals took even one step. It was the first time PH and I had seen the Swede used on game and to put it bluntly, we were both bloody impressed.
Having said that, Ross is a very good shot, he took one springbok at a lasered 290yds off sticks, and his shot placement was textbook on everything he shot and that to me is the very essence of the capability of a cartridge is whether the shooter has the ability to make the most of it.
A bad shot is a bad shot regardless whether is was made with a 22 hornet or a 338mag.

If your wife can shoot, the Swede, with good bullets allied with sensible shooting distances will produce the goods.
 

enysse

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Sounds like you friend Ross...knew his rifle, which is the first and last thing everyone should know before they get on a plane to Africa. If I gave my wife a 338/06 or 9.3x62 to shoot for plains game. I would expect her to kick my butt later or turn the rifle on me (lol). A good pad and proper stock...I agree with..but most woman like a light shooting gun. Heck a light loaded 308 Win...would be a good choice.
 

Joseph Snyder

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Okay, I guess I have to elaborate. When - not if, when! - we finally make it to Africa, my wife will be hunting as well. She uses a Remington 700 in .243 back home, which is probably on the light side for PG. I think she would be comfortable with my 6.5x55, but I remember she took a dislike to the recoil of the .308 when we tested rifles for her (albeit some time ago). So the question really is: should she take the 6.5x55 (I would bring my 375 H&H anyway), or do we re-start the selection process, looking for something "beefier"?
Remington 700? They are something to be avoided! I've heard numerous accouts from the Military that you touch the bolt, it goes off every 15 or less shots, the bolt also breaks off. There was once a TV Special on The History Channel telling how the Remington 700 has killed so many people by accident just by touching the bolt or flicking the safety 'On' or 'Off'. I would not trust anything like that-I still have all limbs!:D
 

enysse

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I wouldn't believe everything you here about the Remington 700. They are super accurate guns. The one thing I do hate about them is the push feed function. I really like their safeties.
 

Shakey

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Remington 700? They are something to be avoided! I've heard numerous accouts from the Military that you touch the bolt, it goes off every 15 or less shots, the bolt also breaks off. There was once a TV Special on The History Channel telling how the Remington 700 has killed so many people by accident just by touching the bolt or flicking the safety 'On' or 'Off'. I would not trust anything like that-I still have all limbs!:D

The Military has and continues to spend considerable money on Remington 700s. I own 5 myself, from 6.8 SPC to .375 H&H. After thousands of rounds I have yet to witness one go off unintentionally. Although they are push feed, I have yet to have one jam or mis-feed. They probably remain the best selling bolt action rifle of all time, and for good reasons. Apparently this is what gets discussed on another forum...
 

jaeger

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I wouldn't believe everything you here about the Remington 700. They are super accurate guns. The one thing I do hate about them is the push feed function. I really like their safeties.

Exactly. I love my remmy 700. It's more accurate than i can hold it and I ain't broken it yet. Which is a minor miracle. I like 'em, and as you rightly say 'enysse' they have great safeties.....
 

Joseph Snyder

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The Military has and continues to spend considerable money on Remington 700s. I own 5 myself, from 6.8 SPC to .375 H&H. After thousands of rounds I have yet to witness one go off unintentionally. Although they are push feed, I have yet to have one jam or mis-feed. They probably remain the best selling bolt action rifle of all time, and for good reasons. Apparently this is what gets discussed on another forum...
Please tell me, I am dreaming to know-WHAT does this have to do with the other Forum? :banghead: Do you have the old or new model? Answer me that.
 

Joseph Snyder

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I wouldn't believe everything you here about the Remington 700. They are super accurate guns. The one thing I do hate about them is the push feed function. I really like their safeties.
I wouldn't trust one-even if it IS a new model. My Remington Model Six in .308 WInchester has never failed, unlike the 700 or 770. Please read reviews online and you will see.
 

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