6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser (using Sierra bullets)
Date: Jun 28 2016
The 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser dates back to around 1894 and was one of the earlier smokeless powder cartridges. Norway and Sweden adopted it for military service, a role that it served in until after World War II. The military load evolved with a 139-grain FMJ boat-tail bullet that offered an unusually high ballistic coefficient and was clearly ahead of its time. In spite of the 6.5x55’s comparatively humble ballistics, it has proven capable of outstanding long-range target work and is an excellent big game cartridge.
Although the “Swede”, as it is often called, is popular around the world for target and hunting applications, it was not as widely known to U.S. shooters until the 1990s when Winchester, Ruger (along and others) offered rifles and all major ammunition manufacturers began offering loads.
In spite of the 6.5x55 being 120 years old, it is an excellent design and can handle the same pressures as modern cartridges (up to 65,000 psi), providing it is housed in a modern action. However, due to the metallurgy and action design of many early rifles, including the Mauser Model 94 and 96 and Krag-Jorgensen, factory loads are generally loaded below its full potential. For example U.S. manufacturers generally hold factory load pressures to around 51,000 psi, while European ammunition approaches 58,000 psi. Most of the load data contained herein approximates U.S. pressure guidelines. If using an early military rifle, be certain to begin with “starting” loads and slowly increase the powder charge, watching for signs of excess pressure. If using ball (spherical) powders, do not reduce loads below suggested “start” loads or pressures can become erratic and may even cause hang-fires.
Many military rifles have a rather long throat and seating bullets out, closer to the rifling or leade will usually enhance accuracy.
Surplus military ammunition has appeared in the U.S. but, most of it is Berdan primed and cannot be reloaded. Cases from Norma, Hornady, Federal, Remington and Winchester are Boxer primed and reloadable.