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

ILCAPO

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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

Didn't know that. Very interesting. Thank you. Always thought the .284 was 7mm.
 

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Used my 6.5 CR on springbok and impala last year with Hornady ELD-X 143s. One shot kills out to 286 yards.
 

ILCAPO

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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)

I am not a huge fan of magnums, and will only use them if I need them. Out in Colorado, for instance. Bought a Browning A-bolt hunter in 7mm Rem Mag as my first rifle, because I was in Colorado looking to hunt mule deer and elk. Gun store recommended either a .30-06 or the 7RM, saying the latter was a flatter shooter. It was, and it worked well. Since then I bought a 300 Winchester magnum. Never have fired it. Only bought it because the price was right. Got it in the late '90s. It was a limited edition (1 of 500) Model 70 Win from Reinhart-Fajen stock maker. Its fitted to a fancy tiger stripe maple stock. I got it for long-range elk hunting, but in Africa would only bring it if I was hunting in the Kalahari or other area calling for long range shots.

I favor easier recoil, and am apparently your average shooter, as the .30-06 is about as much as I care for in terms of recoil. My .35 Whelen is heavier, but acceptable as long as I don't load with heavy rounds. I actually might consider putting a muzzle break on that one.

I have a 6mm Remington, .257 Roberts, and 6.5mm Swede, and all are a joy to shoot. Again, the only problem with my Swede is it's really a show piece, too fancy for the field. I was looking to get another 6.5mm which I wouldn't be afraid to get scratches on, and thought either another Swede or perhaps something along those lines, without going to the magnums. Again, the 264 Winchester is too similar to my 7mm Rem Mag to bother with. I would just default to the 7RM if it came to that. As discussed earlier, I was looking more at the 6.5 x 284 because it appears to provide more than the Swede but not go overboard like the magnums.

For this first hunt I'm not going to need a magnum, because it will be pretty much bushveld hunting; either in Limpopo or Mpumalanga or the northern part of Kwazulu-Natal. The outfitters I've been talking to all say that their areas will be such that most likely the longest shot I may face is 250 yards, with many being much closer. At that range, a good classic, rather than a magnum, is called for. Ergo, the .35 Whelen for the heavy stuff. Looking for this to be a lighter rifle.
 

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7mm is .284 270 is.277
According to several PHs I've spoken with from 2014-2019 in Namibia, that is a recommendation (7mm.) I believe their current policy is minimum Energy (which makes great sense, because a 6.5 mm has a higher SD than a comparable 7 mm bullet, and thus penetrates even better at the same velocity. As the hot 6.5s produce more V per bullet weight, excepting the largest 7 mm mag cases, they generally also result in more terminal Energy than the 7.) I'm not a fan of the tiny cases (intended to fit AR-15 military actions, only to be "re-pimped" for hunting use when sales waned) but the mid-sized 6.5s (3,000-3,300 fps) are a force to be reckoned with, be it velocity, high BC (resulting in a flat-shooting rig), good terminal performance, and relatively little bullet drop over distance, as well as super accuracy and very little recoil. It cannot be beat. The bullet is the most important choice. I've never heard a native complain about meat damage. Rather, they were quite happy to have it! On the converse, how many 3-legged plains game (and stomachs grumbling natives) are running around due to poor shot placement in puny cased rounds, or how many hunters are there that searched for 2+ days for their quarry when they could've been hunting the full bag, as intended? Use More Gun. -Robert Ruark
 

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I think the SA min caliber was .240 if I recall correctly. No issues there, either. Your PH can advise further on the matter...
 

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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.
It's the bullet that does all the work; read up on sectional density (SD) and the fact that the heavier 6.5s have some of the highest (>.330) resulting in superior penetrating power in a relatively small package. That's the beauty of it...Don't just take my advice, read up on its effective use by Bell, Jameison, Selous, et. al.
 

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I think you've just about answered your own question. A plain old 6.5 x 55 Swedish Mauser is what I'd recommend. Almost all of mine have been sporterized to some degree. The first one I bought came with a Ram Line Stock that it still wears, but I have replaced the scope, trigger and safety. It puts both 140 Gr. and 156 Gr bullets into well under an inch at 100 yds. For a working rifle it is all one could ask for especially if you handload. When pushing a 140 Gr. NP at 2775 FPS the old Swede doesn't leave much on the table when compared to the latest 6.5 hotshots.
 

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Quick hi -Jack, what about 6.5x65 or 6.5x68? I'm going with one of these in an FN98, does anyone have experience with them and which would you go for and why?
 

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Used a 264 Winny during my first couple of trips to Africa. Worked fine on everything South of eland..........Would be even better these days with the newer bullets.....FWB
 

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Minimum caliber requirements are not blanket rules everywhere. I've seen camp rifles on farms in RSA in .223 and .243 being used for plains game.
 

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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?
Why not just use the 7mm Mag? It would be better for PG than most of the 6.5's.
 

Hogpatrol

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Rather than buying a 6.5 of some stripe, you could take the 7RM and the .257R. The latter would work for the small ones.
 

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Take a look at the 6.5 GAPP SAUM. It’s faster than the others. I shoot the 140gr Berger Hybrid with great results. My wife and clients have taken mountain goats, deer and elk with it several times. I took my Marco Polo sheep with it. Of course, shot placement is paramount. One shot kills on all. I have an ammo company that loads the ammo for me and it is easy to order.

I will be taking it to Zambia in 2022 for lighter plains game such as sitatunga and the lechwe species in the swamps where shots can get long from elevated stands. I will also take a .375 H&H for larger plains game or if I decide to shoot a buffalo.
 

ILCAPO

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Why not just use the 7mm Mag? It would be better for PG than most of the 6.5's.

I would/will if going to the Kalahari or like area. For me, the magnums, like the 7 Rem, are long-range guns only. I'm not interested in the 6.5 magnums either for the same reason. Having a 7 Rem Mag, and looking at the various 6.5 magnum types, it would be superfluous. No point. I'm planning to hunt the bushveld, at least on this first trip, and am told the longest shots I'm likely to face are 250 yards. Technically speaking, the Swedish Mauser should do the job. I was just curious about people's experiences with this caliber and their preferences. I may very well just go with another Swede and pursue custom loads to get the velocity up a little bit from the rather mundane loads most American ammo manufacturers put out due to the large numbers of older rifles still out there. Actually, I have two Model 1896 Swedish Mausers, which fall into that category. One is sporterized into a beauty, which I foolishly went overboard with years ago to the point I'm afraid to scratch it, and the other I am keeping in its original condition. It came with full set of gear (bayonet, sling, etc.) and I'm never going to change that. It's a military collector piece only. I'm looking for a commercial gun now. Just considering getting a 6.5, not completely committed to it.
 

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I would/will if going to the Kalahari or like area. For me, the magnums, like the 7 Rem, are long-range guns only. I'm not interested in the 6.5 magnums either for the same reason. Having a 7 Rem Mag, and looking at the various 6.5 magnum types, it would be superfluous. No point. I'm planning to hunt the bushveld, at least on this first trip, and am told the longest shots I'm likely to face are 250 yards. Technically speaking, the Swedish Mauser should do the job. I was just curious about people's experiences with this caliber and their preferences. I may very well just go with another Swede and pursue custom loads to get the velocity up a little bit from the rather mundane loads most American ammo manufacturers put out due to the large numbers of older rifles still out there. Actually, I have two Model 1896 Swedish Mausers, which fall into that category. One is sporterized into a beauty, which I foolishly went overboard with years ago to the point I'm afraid to scratch it, and the other I am keeping in its original condition. It came with full set of gear (bayonet, sling, etc.) and I'm never going to change that. It's a military collector piece only. I'm looking for a commercial gun now. Just considering getting a 6.5, not completely committed to it.
Great that you are looking at options. This is part of the fun!
 

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Thousands of scandinavian moose is killed every year by 6,5x55 so pretty sure it works in Africa also..
I’ve been reading that for years. Three or four years ago I did some research and info was pretty spotty. I did find one study done in Sweden. It stated the .308 Winchester was the most popular cartridge for moose, the Swede was pretty far down the list. I wish I would have kept the article. So the old saying was true back in the day but not anymore.

Take a look at the 6.5 GAPP SAUM.
I have a CZ 550 American 6.5x55, it’s my favorite rifle. I’ve decided I want a 6.5 with more velocity. Easy peasy, get a Winchester M70 .264 WinMag. There is an issue though. The barrel twist rate is 1:9 which is a tad slow and might not stabilize heavy VLD bullets or 156 grain bullets. My CZ wouldn’t stabilize 140 grain Berger Hunting VLD’s or Sierra 140 grain GameKings and it has a 1:9 twist. I took a hint and tried 130 grain Berger’s and they were great, that is what I use today. My experience is certainly not definitive but when you take into consideration that all the 6.5 Creedmoors come with a 1:8 or faster twist and so do Sako and Tikka 6.5x55’s, I’m not going to purchase a .264 WinMag with a 1:9 twist since my preference is heavy for caliber bullets.
A fast 6.5 is second on my want list. Since I hand load it will be a 6.5 SAUM or a 6.5 WSM in a long action. If I didn’t hand load it would probably be a 6.5 PRC. The Weatherby 6.5-300 and 26 Nosler are just a bit too much in the recoil department for me.
 

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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...

7mm is NAPHA recommendation on smallest caliber.

https://www.africahunting.com/threads/namibia-hunting-information.14219/
(relevant portion of that URL snipped here)

africahunter.gif
Minimum Equipment Requirements for Rifle Hunting in Namibia
- Namibia does not have a minimum caliber requirement for rifle hunting and rely by law on minimum energy (Eo - muzzle velocity). Smallest caliber recommended by NAPHA 7 mm (.284).
- Minimum energy (Eo - muzzle velocity)
Big Game
5400 Joule
(Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Rhino, Lion, etc.)
Large Game
2700 Joule
(Greater Kudu, Cape Eland, Oryx / Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest, Black Wildebeest, Hartmann's Zebra, Burchell's Zebra, Giraffe, Sable Antelope, Roan Antelope, Waterbuck, Tsessebe, Leopard, etc.)
Medium to Small Game
1350 Joule
(Springbok, Impala, Blesbok, Gray Duiker, Steenbok, Ostrich, Caracal, Black-Faced Impala, Red Lechwe, Damara Dik-Dik, Klipspringer, Black-Backed Jackal, Warthog, Cheetah, Nyala, Chacma Baboon, Game Birds, etc.)

6.5mm 140 gr at 2700 fps meets the energy requirement (by a couple hundred Joules). A woodleigh 160 at a very modest 2400 fps also meets that energy requirement.
 

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I now have a HOWA 6,5 Creedmore and have used it successfully for PG up to Kudu... Using Factory ammo Remington Corelokt in 140g.
Generally, I will use my 30-06 or 375 H&H for bigger PG, with the CM for accurate head/neck shots to minimize meat danage.
 

Shootist43

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Ilcapo, seeing that you are already thinking about taking a plain old 1896 Swedish Mauser with handloads, let me say from experience that it will work just fine. Especially if you intend to use it on the smaller Plains Game. My normal load is a 140 Gr. Nosler Partition at 2775 FPS. That is what I used in Africa, however recently I purchased some 156 Gr. Norma Oryx dirt cheap. They too should work just fine. Some of my Swedes sport Ramline stocks, in this guise they make a great working rifle that doesn't break the bank.
 

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