Gun or caliber you’ve never owned but always wanted?

Albert GRANT

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Us leftys don't get much love in the firearms world. Except for our wallets, they tend to get much exercise
That's why I just said to hell with it and got used to shooting righty rifles!
 

Brian Rothhammer

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I'm curious . Does anyone actually make factory loaded Ammo for the .256 Mannlicher anymore ?
I saw a Mannlicher model in Switzerland many years ago. But it didn't have the detachable rotary magazine. Instead , you fed a clip containing 5 rounds of .256 into the rifle . After you fired four shots and chambered the fifth , the steel clip would drop down onto the ground. I was really intrigued by it . The owner told me that you can't apparently load the gun without the clips. I think he called it an in-block clip. I would think that for a hunter this is a very big disadvantage. Imagine blasting away at game in the heat of the moment , and after your fourth shot , your clip has dropped off somewhere in the bush.


Those are en bloc magazines, 'en bloc' meaning 'all together'. Such 'clips' were used on some Mannlicher military arms designed prior to the Mannlicher Schönauer of 1900, as well as on several other firearms. The U.S. M1 Garand used an en bloc system.

The cartridges used in the en bloc fed Mannlichers do not interchange with those of the Mannlicher Schönauer models. The en bloc fed versions used a rimmed cartridge, those with the Schönauer magazine were rimless. The 6.5's are of the same capacity, however, and when used with the the same powder and projectiles have identical ballistic performance.

Here is an excerpt from an article in American Rifleman, November 1959:



The Mannlicher 6.5X53R (rimmed) cartridge and its en bloc clip:



Mannlicher 6.5X53R, Mannlicher Schönauer 6.5X53. --Note - various catalogues of the 20th Century used different size designations for the same cartridge, i.e.. 6.5X53 MS = 6.5X54MS :



Mannlicher Schönauer magazine with 6.5X54:



Der Mannlicher Schönauer:



Click link for animation of M1895 Mannlicher:

Click here for link to additional info. on 6.5X53R (6.5X54R) from Municion.org : http://www.municion.org/6_5x54r/6_5x54r.htm

Loaded ammo for the rimmed cartridge : https://www.buffaloarms.com/6-5x53r-dutch-140-grain-sp-loaded-ammunition-box-of-20-amo6553r

'Factory' loads are usually available for the 6.5 Mannlicher Schönauer. That is an advantage of the M1903 over the M1905 (9X56), M1908 (8X56) and M1910 (9.5X57), which are scarce and rather expensive.
Here is 6.5X54 MS from Grafs: https://www.grafs.com/catalog/category/categoryId/166


Der Kaiser:
 

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Brian Rothhammer

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Those are en bloc magazines, 'en bloc' meaning 'all together'. Such 'clips' were used on some Mannlicher military arms designed prior to the Mannlicher Schönauer of 1900, as well as on several other firearms. The U.S. M1 Garand used an en bloc system.

The cartridges used in the en bloc fed Mannlichers do not interchange with those of the Mannlicher Schönauer models. The en bloc fed versions used a rimmed cartridge, those with the Schönauer magazine were rimless. The 6.5's are of the same capacity, however, and when used with the the same powder and projectiles have identical ballistic performance.

Here's more.

From the 1939 Stoeger catalog, ballistics of the 6.5 Mannlicher (rimmed) and 6.5 Mannlicher Schönauer (rimless):











Magazine chargers ('Stripper clips') and en bloc. Notice the Mannlicher Haenel, M1895, M1893, en bloc. The Mannlicher Schönauer models of M1900 - M1924 may be quickly loaded from above with the five round 'strippers:


For military use the cartridges 'en bloc' were were slapped in, fired, and the used 'clips' left behind. Fresh cartridges were supplied to troops as shown, en bloc and cartridges as a unit.

Here's more from the November, 1959 American Rifleman article:

 

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Hoss Delgado

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Mannlicher Schönauer animation:

Wow , this is really helpful ! Thanks man. Is it true that the 6.5 × 54 MM round nosed solid FMJ ammo at the time would often split at the case neck ? Something about the bullets only being held in place by pressure to the cartridges
 

Brian Rothhammer

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Wow , this is really helpful ! Thanks man. Is it true that the 6.5 × 54 MM round nosed solid FMJ ammo at the time would often split at the case neck ? Something about the bullets only being held in place by pressure to the cartridges


I have read several references to 'bad ammunition' having been an issue with early 6.5mm Mannlicher ammo, but do not recall the particulars. Whatever the case, W.D.M. Bell took several African Elephants with his trusted M1903 carbine and not too many people are shooting Berdan primed cartridges these days.

I am more familiar with the 9.5X57 MS, as I load for an M1910 Mannlicher Schönauer. If you're considering an early model Mannlicher Schönauer (M1900 - M1910), be aware that your cartridges must very closely match the shape, profile, overall length of the originals in order to function smoothly in the legendary Schoenauer magazine.



Otherwise, expect to load only two cartridges at a time into your rifle. The early Schönauer magazines can be rather particular as to what they're fed. If the bullet profile is not right or set to proper depth, loading the third cartridge will likely cause a jam as the first becomes misaligned and stuck. With cartridges built to the original profile, however, one can load from five round strippers (most 8mm Mauser clips work fine) with a slight push of the thumb and the magazine will function flawlessly.


From Stoeger catalog, 1939.

As the pre M1924 magazines lack the 'guide ring' that was added to later models, the cartridges rely on close tolerance to the machined profiles of the magazine spool and housing, in which they act rather like pin bearings. Any variation from original bullet profile and overall dimensions may cause binding of the cartridges in the magazine. If you use shorter or differently shaped projectiles, expect to experiment with such until you find profiles and seating depths that will function in your magazine. It's necessary that there be sufficient bearing surface where the projectile rides along the milled area at the lower magazine body.


Schoenauer magazines; Left, M1903 through M1910 - Right, M1924 and later.
(Axel Eichendorff photo)

On M1924 and later magazines the 'guide ring' holds cartridges in alignment at the shoulder, thus allowing use of shorter, narrower, differently shaped, or more deeply seated projectiles if desired.

There is a wealth of information regarding Mannlicher and Mannlicher Schönauer rifles and carbines on NitroExpressForums.
 

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Hoss Delgado

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I have read several references to 'bad ammunition' having been an issue with early 6.5mm Mannlicher ammo, but do not recall the particulars. Whatever the case, W.D.M. Bell took several African Elephants with his trusted M1903 carbine and not too many people are shooting Berdan primed cartridges these days.

I am more familiar with the 9.5X57 MS, as I load for an M1910 Mannlicher Schönauer. If you're considering an early model Mannlicher Schönauer (M1900 - M1910), be aware that your cartridges must very closely match the shape, profile, overall length of the originals in order to function smoothly in the legendary Schoenauer magazine.



Otherwise, expect to load only two cartridges at a time into your rifle. The early Schönauer magazines can be rather particular as to what they're fed. If the bullet profile is not right or set to proper depth, loading the third cartridge will likely cause a jam as the first becomes misaligned and stuck. With cartridges built to the original profile, however, one can load from five round strippers (most 8mm Mauser clips work fine) with a slight push of the thumb and the magazine will function flawlessly.


From Stoeger catalog, 1939.

As the pre M1924 magazines lack the 'guide ring' that was added to later models, the cartridges rely on close tolerance to the machined profiles of the magazine spool and housing, in which they act rather like pin bearings. Any variation from original bullet profile and overall dimensions may cause binding of the cartridges in the magazine. If you use shorter or differently shaped projectiles, expect to experiment with such until you find profiles and seating depths that will function in your magazine. It's necessary that there be sufficient bearing surface where the projectile rides along the milled area at the lower magazine body.


Schoenauer magazines; Left, M1903 through M1910 - Right, M1924 and later.
(Axel Eichendorff photo)

On M1924 and later magazines the 'guide ring' holds cartridges in alignment at the shoulder, thus allowing use of shorter, narrower, differently shaped, or more deeply seated projectiles if desired.

There is a wealth of information regarding Mannlicher and Mannlicher Schönauer rifles and carbines on NitroExpressForums.
Well , to be fair , Mr. Bell took only 12 elephants with the 6.5 × 54 MM Rimless Mannlicher Shoenauer round. From his own words in " Karamojo Safari " , he own two Mannlicher rifles. One was a 6.5 × 53 Rimmed model 1895 Dutch Mannlicher rifles made by Gibbs. This rifle was regulated for only soft nosed bullets. Bell used it only for plains game and never took an elephant with it.
He eventually got his hands on a 6.5 × 54mm Rimless Mannlicher Shoenauer carbine customized by Daniel Fraser ( who hollowed out the stock to make the gun weigh 5 1/2 pounds ) . This gun came with a stock of solids ( Military 160 grain full metal jacket round nosed Ammunition made by Steyr themselves) . Bell noticed that the bullets were only hold in place to the cartridges by pressure at the case neck and that there was no wadding between the bullet and powder . But he decided to try it out on elephant that very day. He used it to shoot 12 bull elephant , each with a single shot to the brain. But at the 13th shot , he had a misfire which left the bullet stuck in the barrel throat of his rifle . After that day , Bell went back to using his .275 Rigby Mauser . He later had the bullets dug out from the skulls of those 12 dead elephants and discovered that the 6.5 × 54 Mannlicher Shoenauer full metal jacket round nose solids , had all bent into hook like shapes when hitting the elephant skulls. He never used it on Elephant after that.
 

Brian Rothhammer

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Interesting information, but...

Bell noticed that the bullets were only hold in place to the cartridges by pressure at the case neck and that there was no wadding between the bullet and powder .

Are you saying that the case necks were not crimped, or ?

Wadding does not hold a bullet in place. Bullets that I have loaded are 'held in place' by the tight fit between projectile and case neck, i.e.. 'pressure at the neck' and by the crimp imparted by the seating die. I have a full box of 1926 dated DWM 531 that bears a strong 'military crimp' and a deep cannelure on the steel jacketed soft point projectile.



 

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Hoss Delgado

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I am no expert on the Mannlicher but here are the pages from Karamojo Safari from Bell's own mouth

Screenshot_20190606-003808.png
Screenshot_20190606-003821.png
 
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Brian Rothhammer

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Next page? It was just getting interesting regarding the '.256' (British for 6.5 - as .375 Rimless Nitro Express is to the 9.5X57).

From what you've provided, my only logical guess is that he was referring to lack of a crimp. Back to the 9.5X57, while every (German made) DWM 9.5 I've personally handled has had a heavy 'military' crimp, I have seen photos of other vintage 9.5X57 cartridges that do not. Regardless, lack of a crimp could not possibly be the cause of a case head failure which is what Bell described in the excerpts I provided (from WDM Bell's Wanderings of an Elephant Hunter, 1923).


No crimp, 9.5X57 (.375 RNE).

Also from Bell:

Speaking personally, my greatest successes have been obtained with the 7 mm. Rigby-Mauser or .276, with the old round-nosed solid, weighing, I believe, 200 grs. It seemed to show a remarkable aptitude for finding the brain of an elephant. This holding of a true course I think is due to the moderate velocity, 2,300 ft., and to the fact that the proportion of diameter to length of bullet seems to be the ideal combination. For when you come below .276 to .256 or 6-5 mm., I found a bending of the bullet took place when fired into heavy bones...

It seems that Bell's primary dissatisfaction with the 6.5 (which he later praised as one of his 'four favorites') was that of the projectiles bending after penetrating an elephant's skull. The projectile of the 6.5MS is often referred to as 'pencil like', as it is quite long relative to its width. This exceptional sectional density made them formidable killers on other game.

Also from Bell, regarding the 6.5X54:

For years after that I continued to use the .275 and the .256 in all kinds of country and for all kinds of game. Each hunter should use the weapon he has most confidence in.
 

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Brian Rothhammer

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I am no expert on the Mannlicher but here are the pages from Karamojo Safari from Bell's own mouth

Here, from the same author and book that was published in 1923, is a passage that provides more detail of the '13th shot' incident:

I once lost a magnificent bull elephant through a .256 Mannlicher going wrong. I got up to him and pulled trigger on him, but click ! a miss-fire. He paid no attention and I softly opened the bolt. Out came the case, spilling the flake powder into the mechanism and leaving the bullet securely fast in the barrel lead. I tried to ram another cartridge in, but could not do so. Here was a fix. How to get that bullet out. Calibre .256 is very small when you come to try poking sticks down it. Finally I got the bullet out, but then the barrel was full of short lengths of sticks which could not be cleared out, as no stick could be found sufficiently long, yet small enough. So I decided to chance it and fire the whole lot into the old elephant, who, meanwhile, was feeding steadily along. I did so from sufficiently close range, but what happened I cannot say. Certainly that elephant got nothing of the charge except perhaps a few bits of stick. That something had touched him up was evident from his anxiety to get far away, for he never stopped during the hours I followed him.

Here, from the same book, is (the author's) stated opinion of British made cartridges of the day:

I have never heard any explanation of the undoubted fact that our British ammunition manufacturers cannot even yet produce a reliable rifle cartridge head, anvil and cap, other than that of the service .303. On my last shoot in Africa two years ago, when W and I went up the Bahr Aouck, the very first time he fired at an elephant he had a miss-fire and I had identically the same thing. We were using .318’s with English made cartridges. Then on the same shoot I nearly had my head blown off and my thumb severely bruised by an English loaded .256. There was no miss-fire there. The cartridge appeared to me almost to detonate. More vapour came from the breech end than from the other. I have since been told by a great authority that it was probably due to a burst case, due to weak head. On my return I complained about this and was supplied with a new batch, said to be all right. But whenever I fire four or five rounds I have a jam, and on investigating invariably find a cap blown out and lodging in the slots cut for the lugs of the bolt head. Luckily these cartridges are wanting in force; at one time they used fairly to blast me with gas from the wrong end. The fact that these faults are not conspicuously apparent in this country may be traced to the small number of rounds fired from sporting rifles, or, more probably, to the pressures increasing in a tropical temperature.

As I read it, the summary of (the author's) referenced remarks regarding his experience with cartridge failures is that early 20th century cartridges of British manufacture were poorly constructed with the exception of the 'service' .303 (per his opinion of 1923) and were prone to case rupture and loose primers.

Back to the '13th shot' issue, his proposed 'solution' to "have found another case and shoved it on to the bullet and all might have been well" seems just bizarre and more than a bit dangerous. The old muzzleloader's solution would seem to me far safer and wiser, remove the stuck bullet with a screw.

Perhaps I had mentioned, in the moderator deleted posts, that another website has an active Mannlicher forum. I make no attempt or effort at 'competing' or raining on anyone's parade, and act as no one's agent. I am just trying to get good, accurate information regarding Mannlicher Schönauer rifles and carbines to those who may benefit from it. As it is, there is more misinformation regarding the MS to be found throughout the 'net than there is valid information. Any reference I have made to other 'sites is for educational purposes only.
 
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Brian Rothhammer

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Well , to be fair , Mr. Bell took only 12 elephants with the 6.5 × 54 MM Rimless Mannlicher Shoenauer round... But he decided to try it out on elephant that very day. He used it to shoot 12 bull elephant , each with a single shot to the brain. But at the 13th shot, he had a misfire which left the bullet stuck in the barrel throat of his rifle ... He later had the bullets dug out from the skulls of those 12 dead elephants and discovered that the 6.5 × 54 Mannlicher Shoenauer full metal jacket round nose solids , had all bent into hook like shapes when hitting the elephant skulls. He never used it on Elephant after that.

"Only 12 elephants'?

Some would see that as a remarkable success rate for the little M1903 Mannlicher Schönauer (6.5X54MS) having taken twelve elephants (in expert hands), each with a single shot, out of 13 shots fired. Though the projectiles were bent, showing less than ideal terminal ballistics, the author states that twelve pachyderms had fallen instantly dead. All on the same day, no less.

I'm intrigued by the author's recollection, also stated in the excerpts you provided, that "Examining the cartridges for the .256, I noticed that they bore the genuine Steyr mark and should therefore have been the best for use in their own rifle."

Perhaps a cartridge collector or historian could weigh in here, but I can not recall ever having heard of or having seen any Steyr manufactured cartridges of any sort from any time. From other sources I've read, Bell was very fond of the '.256' after he had found properly made cartridges.

I do like this quote, from the pages you provided, regarding the 1903 Mannlicher Schönauer carbine; "I strode joyfully off into the bush, twirling around that dandy little gun." At first read, it conjured the image of him spinning the little stutzen like a 'six- gun'!

 

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Hoss Delgado

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"Only 12 elephants'?

Some would see that as a remarkable success rate for the little M1903 Mannlicher Schönauer (6.5X54MS) having taken twelve elephants (in expert hands), each with a single shot, out of 13 shots fired. Though the projectiles were bent, showing less than ideal terminal ballistics, the author states that twelve pachyderms had fallen instantly dead. All on the same day, no less.

I'm intrigued by the author's recollection, also stated in the excerpts you provided, that "Examining the cartridges for the .256, I noticed that they bore the genuine Steyr mark and should therefore have been the best for use in their own rifle."

Perhaps a cartridge collector or historian could weigh in here, but I can not recall ever having heard of or having seen any Steyr manufactured cartridges of any sort from any time. From other sources I've read, Bell was very fond of the '.256' after he had found properly made cartridges.

I do like this quote, from the pages you provided, regarding the 1903 Mannlicher Schönauer carbine; "I strode joyfully off into the bush, twirling around that dandy little gun." At first read, it conjured the image of him spinning the little stutzen like a 'six- gun'!

I do 100 % agree with you that 12 elephants are a feat. But when we are talking about a guy who dispatched 1011 elephants , a gun which he used to dispatch 12 certainly seems to be his less favored .
The Mannlicher was Bell's favorite , but for Elephant hunting l think not.
BTW , if you want the rest of Karamojo Safari , inbox me and l will send you a PDF :)
 

Brian Rothhammer

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I'm curious . Does anyone actually make factory loaded Ammo for the .256 Mannlicher anymore ?
I saw a Mannlicher model in Switzerland many years ago. But it didn't have the detachable rotary magazine. Instead , you fed a clip containing 5 rounds of .256 into the rifle . After you fired four shots and chambered the fifth , the steel clip would drop down onto the ground. I was really intrigued by it . The owner told me that you can't apparently load the gun without the clips. I think he called it an in-block clip. I would think that for a hunter this is a very big disadvantage. Imagine blasting away at game in the heat of the moment , and after your fourth shot , your clip has dropped off somewhere in the bush.


Here is a treatise on the .256 / 6.5mm : https://gunsmagazine.com/surplus-classic-and-tactical-firearms/smallbore-wonder/
 

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HWL

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...works even today....grab your Mannlicher-Schoenauer and go Africa, it's a great experience...

HWL
 

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