6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser
Date: Aug 27 2014
Notes from the Lab: 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser
The 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser dates back to around 1894 and was one of the earlier smokeless powder cartridges. Soon thereafter Norway and Sweden adopted it for military service, a role it served in until after World War II. Like most cartridges, the military load evolved with the 139-grain FMJ boat-tail offering a high ballistic coefficient. In spite of its comparatively humble ballistics, it has proven capable for long-range target work and big game hunting.
Although the Swede is popular around the world, it was not widely known to U.S. shooters until the 1990s after Winchester and Ruger (along with 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 safely handle the same pressures as modern cartridges when housed in a modern action. Due to the metallurgy and action design of many of the 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, or exceeds it slightly. 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 a ball (or spherical) powder, 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 accuracy may be enhanced by seating bullets out, closer to the rifling or leade.
Surplus military ammunition has appeared in the U.S; however, most of it is Berdan primed and cannot be reloaded. Cases from Norma, Hornady, Federal, Remington and Winchester are Boxer primed and are reloadable.