Looking for feedback from Africa hunters with experience using 6.5mm cartridges

ILCAPO

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I am probably opening up a pandora's box, but thought I'd ask. I have a Model 96 Swedish Mauser that I had customized back in the 90s. Dumb move in that I made it too fancy to hunt with. My gunsmith buddy went all out on it, jeweling the bolt, and had a stock made with exhibition grade English walnut. It's a showcase piece. I'd cry if I scratched it.

Looking to get a nice 6.5 for field use. I'll admit I like good looking rifles, with nice wood, but am not going to go so overboard this time. Might be a project gun. Might be a commercial if I can find one I want.

I know the 6.5 x 55 SE well. Great overall round, within its range. But I've been reading about the lesser known 6.5 x 284 Norma and understand it's quite impressive both in terms of accuracy (used a lot by competition shooters) and as a flat shooter with a potent punch. Trying to avoid going with a wildcat (aka, 6.5-06 A-Frame). The guns won't sell later because the vast majority of people don't hand load. I'm okay with less than common, but want to go with something that is at least available commercially.

I'm seeing more rifles available in the 264 Winchester Magnum than the 6.5 x 284. But it seems to be too similar to the 7mm Rem mag, which I already have. I'm not looking for a magnum, but something to fill the gap between the .257 and the 7mms I have.

Thoughts? Experiences?
 

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'Have used my own .264-300WSM creation in Africa to great success using 140 gr NPTs and 160 gr Woodleigh SPs. I'd be a tad nervous to use one of the smaller-cased 6.5s, however, if you limit your range and use only the highest SD bullets (Woodleigh,) it should do the trick (just as it did for Bell, Jameson, Selous, et. al. on much larger stuff!) The 6.5-06 A-Sq was SAAMI-approved so factory ammo is available. It's an upgrade from a lot of the smaller cases that are being pushed on American hunters these days (for profit.) The 6.5-284 also has factory ammo available these days, as it's fairly popular (also a better choice than the smaller cased 6.5s, and on par w/ most magnums in this caliber.) Out of what you mention, the .264 Win or 6.5-284 is the way to go (and you wouldn't go wrong w/ a 6.5 PRC (RCM), .26 Nos or 6.5-300 Wby, either! Take a good look at the PRC!!) It takes a lot more steam to effectively kill plains game vs. deer, especially at odd angles. 'Dropped everything from hyrax to giraffe with the aforementioned .264 (@ 3,200 fps and 3,000 fps with the 140s/160s) in Africa. It performed better than a modest case .338 I brought along on one safari. What was it really built for? Deer and sheep at long distances in America. Bansner's Ultimate Ovis lightweight mountain rifle (shoots like a benchrest gun.) There are many great semi- and fully custom rifles available today in America. Consider the Dakota takedown in 6.5 Wby and 375 HH (or 416 Taylor) or 6.5 PRC and 375 RCM-as you have to select cartridges based on the same case if extra barrels/calibers are desired...You can upgrade it with many additional custom touches! Good luck. (Rem's old 6.5 Rem Mag is fine too, but getting harder to find quality factory ammo for it. A lot of people are now shooting the 6.5 RSAUM as well. I tried a friend's in TX and we were shooting 2" targets (and then Aoudad) at 850 yds with his setup! That might be fun in the Great Karoo!
 
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Tra3

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I thought a 6.5 Creedmoor was a kid gun. Then i watched my son have good success with it. I have since hunted with it and been pleased overall with the performance. While it killed a bull elk for me this year, it seemed a bit small. (although I don’t think the elk thinks so).

Most of my guns have more power than a 6.5CM. I don’t see the 6.5mm calibers as one purchased for the power, it is usually for a light rifle that is accurate (especially because of the low recoil). The low recoil also makes it more fun to shoot.
 

gillettehunter

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From your description I'd suggest the 6.5 PRC. Seems to be coming on strong. Looks like a 140 gr bullet at 3000 fps is not unreasonable to expect. I suspect that you would find that to be a deadly combo.
Bruce
 

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I used the 6.5x55 a fair bit and with great success in South Africa on game up to kudu in size hunting with Chumlet Safaris. On the same hunt, my buddy used his 6.5x55 to cleanly kill the usual antelopes at various ranges along with a zebra at a bit over 100 yards. That said, I wouldn't choose a 6.5 again. This is not due to capability but to ammo availability and re-sale. My 2 cents.

CB
 

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My wife has used her 6.5 CM exclusively on 2 previous hunts to RSA and will again in May. Favors shot placement over power. Has taken everything with Hornady 129gr SST. All one shot kills.
IMG_1885.jpeg
 

Cousin Bongo

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7mm is .284 270 is.277

This has been covered ad naseum over the years in the gun rags...and probably on forums too. In a nutshell, for instance, the 270 Winchester bore starts out a bit under 7mm when the hole is drilled and it ends up right at 7mm - or about .276” - when the barrel grooves are cut and, therefore, utilizes what actually amounts to a 7mm bullet. On the other hand, the 7mm Mauser & 7mm Remington Magnum, for examples, start out with what amounts to a 7mm hole bored into the barrel and they end up right at .284” - which is really about 7.2 mm - when the grooves are cut and they, therefore, use bullets that are actually about 7.21 mm in diameter. 7mm is actually 0.2755906”...which is a lot closer to .277” than .284”...which is actually 7.2mm... but those giving cartridges their names don’t pay attention to any of that a lot of times.

CB
 
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shark_za

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Looking to get a nice 6.5 for field use.

Thoughts? Experiences?
Reading your post I take from it that you want to know if people use the 6.5x55 in Africa. Even down here 6.5x55 rifles are available in CZ, Sako, Howa, Tikka and Mauser brands.
Right now I can buy 5x factory loads from the gun shop closest to my house and another 4 different ones if I travel about 15 minutes north.
Thats not bad at all for factory ammo in South Africa. I can also get 50 different bullets to reload (second only to .30 cal) ; its a great time to shoot a .264 bore.

https://safarioutdoor.co.za/departments/ammo/centerfire/l/calibre:6-5x55-swedish

I am left handed to that shoved an even bigger challenge in my face but I settled on a great Left Handed Tikka M695 and could not be happier; it relegated a .30-06 and 45/70 to the gun safe to be sold after not being used for some years.
It shoots MOA with most factory ammo and I can get hand loads with Sierra Boat Tails and even Hornady Interlocks to half that size.
Shooting 156gr Oryx bullets I don't have to stand down to any animal short of Eland, and hey, I'll even take the odd cow of that species with it. If I had to shoot I big bull as a once off, I would probably do so too.
The recoil or lack there of is one of the other reasons its my go to hunting rifle.

(For an overseas hunter chasing big once in a lifetime trophy's I may suggests a .300 Mag with heavy bullets but for me and the ballistic enthusiast I would not hesitate to choose the 6.5x55SE)
 

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Tra3

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The 6.5’s work, but if more recoil is not an issue, I’d go bigger. I didn’t mention that my son shot 6 African PG with the 6.5CM. 5 were one shot kills, largest was a Hartman’s zebra.
I just bought my son an R8 with a 6.5CM barrel. As he grows, I expect he will move up to a larger caliber. I elected to get an R8 with a .375 H&H and .300 win mag.
We will use those rifles in Namibia in June. Our PH bought a 6.5CM after seeing it work.
Note: we used 142 grain nosler ABLR bullets in the 6.5
 

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Yep, a can of worms opened for sure. On plains game out to 600+ I've used a 6.5x47 Lapua, 6.5-284 and a 26 Nosler, the latter severe overkill. My hunting partners have successfully used the 6.5 Creedmoor on plains game. Shot placement with the right bullet, a 6.5 shooting a 130+grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2800 or more will work. IIRC, the zebra in my avatar went TU with a 130 Berger HVLD at 265 yards out of a 6.5-284.
 

Tra3

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@Hogpatrol do you think the 26 nosler is overkill? I’m genuinely curious. I find that a fast bullet is great at 350+ yards, but then you end up shooting something at 75 yards and it ruins a lot of meat.
I ask because I have only a few years to labor over the decision of what next larger caliber to get my son (I suppose it will be his decision, but I suspect I’ll be paying).
 

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@Hogpatrol do you think the 26 nosler is overkill? I’m genuinely curious. I find that a fast bullet is great at 350+ yards, but then you end up shooting something at 75 yards and it ruins a lot of meat.
I ask because I have only a few years to labor over the decision of what next larger caliber to get my son (I suppose it will be his decision, but I suspect I’ll be paying).

Overkill unless you're shooting a large animal at long ranges. As far as ruining meat, I'm not sure anyone is worrying about that on an African hunt. Side not, I had two 26 Noslers. The cartridge is hard on throats and both of mine are gone.
 

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'Have used my own .264-300WSM creation in Africa to great success using 140 gr NPTs and 160 gr Woodleigh SPs. I'd be a tad nervous to use one of the smaller-cased 6.5s, however, if you limit your range and use only the highest SD bullets (Woodleigh,) it should do the trick (just as it did for Bell, Jameson, Selous, et. al. on much larger stuff!) The 6.5-06 A-Sq was SAAMI-approved so factory ammo is available. It's an upgrade from a lot of the smaller cases that are being pushed on American hunters these days (for profit.) The 6.5-284 also has factory ammo available these days, as it's fairly popular (also a better choice than the smaller cased 6.5s, and on par w/ most magnums in this caliber.) Out of what you mention, the .264 Win or 6.5-284 is the way to go (and you wouldn't go wrong w/ a 6.5 PRC (RCM), .26 Nos or 6.5-300 Wby, either! Take a good look at the PRC!!) It takes a lot more steam to effectively kill plains game vs. deer, especially at odd angles. 'Dropped everything from hyrax to giraffe with the aforementioned .264 (@ 3,200 fps and 3,000 fps with the 140s/160s) in Africa. It performed better than a modest case .338 I brought along on one safari. What was it really built for? Deer and sheep at long distances in America. Bansner's Ultimate Ovis lightweight mountain rifle (shoots like a benchrest gun.) There are many great semi- and fully custom rifles available today in America. Consider the Dakota takedown in 6.5 Wby and 375 HH (or 416 Taylor) or 6.5 PRC and 375 RCM-as you have to select cartridges based on the same case if extra barrels/calibers are desired...You can upgrade it with many additional custom touches! Good luck. (Rem's old 6.5 Rem Mag is fine too, but getting harder to find quality factory ammo for it. A lot of people are now shooting the 6.5 RSAUM as well. I tried a friend's in TX and we were shooting 2" targets (and then Aoudad) at 850 yds with his setup! That might be fun in the Great Karoo!

Thanks. Again, I'm not looking for a magnum, per se. I have that 7mm Remington Magnum, and looking at the 264 Winchester Magnum, I found not much difference with the same weight rounds. I'm looking at the 6.5 not as a necessity, but as a "filler" gun I might have fun with, but which would be a solid choice for smaller/medium game in Africa, should I choose to take it with in the future. I would always take two rifles, with one being a bigger bore than 6.5mm. I just thought the 6.5 x 284 seemed to be a good middle of the road choice. Not a magnum, but carrying punch over that of the old Swede.
 

ILCAPO

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I thought a 6.5 Creedmoor was a kid gun. Then i watched my son have good success with it. I have since hunted with it and been pleased overall with the performance. While it killed a bull elk for me this year, it seemed a bit small. (although I don’t think the elk thinks so).

Most of my guns have more power than a 6.5CM. I don’t see the 6.5mm calibers as one purchased for the power, it is usually for a light rifle that is accurate (especially because of the low recoil). The low recoil also makes it more fun to shoot.

Yes. The 6.5mm would be the smaller of two rifles I would bring on any Africa hunt. It's just that on a follow on trip I would likely be looking for more in terms of the smaller animals; springbok, bushbuck, duiker, etc. That said, I do have a .257 Roberts. So all this might be an academic exercise.
 

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Chime in here Art. He has a bunch of 6.5s
@Shootist43
 

ILCAPO

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Minimum caliber requirement in Namibia is 7mm (.270") for plains game. Other countries have only minimum energy requirements, so take care which country you´re traveling...

Ah. That's good to know. Plan for South Africa on my first trip, but if I go again, it might be Namibia. The first trip will include stuff for the wife. Well, both of us. I also want to see Kruger NP, Capetown, and Victoria Falls if we can make that part of the trip.

A follow on trip, which everyone tells me is a given, might be to Namibia. I have also found in online research and that at the recent outdoor show in Harrisburg, PA that Namibia is far more cost effective. The hunting costs and trophy fees both are considerably less, making it a less expensive hunt overall.
 

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