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Discussion Starter #1
Due to an injury sustained at the tail end of summer I have been restricted to pistol-packing and horse-tradin', i.e. selling off unused guns and replacing with more useful tools. The end result of this jostling around is that I now have three 6.5x55's instead of my just one.

It may be true that I have tons of fun with the 9.3x57, but the truth is from a all-round standoint I continue to be growingly amazed at the utility and effectiveness of the 6.5x55.

In past years I've killed elk, deer and yotes with the 6.5, shooting relatively light loads, which prompts this post...

My standard is the Remington 140 grain PSPCL loaded to just shy of 2600 fps. This is using H4350 at what are listed as top loads in most load manuals but which in my opinion might be light, beings that I am shooting in modern bolt guns. It seems that all US load books that I've seen hold pressures to the mystical "44,000 cup" range in deference to the 96 action rifles and Krags. This seems to create a similar situation to the .45-70, where factory loads are typically kept low-pressure for Trapdoors but handloading in a strong action can in effect create a different level of performance entirely.

I already HAVE experienced this phenomenon of sorts not only with my .45-70, but with my 7x57, a Ruger which I use to shoot a 150 grain bullet to 2800 fps with no pressure problems. Checking out most 7x57 loads in the load books indicates levels of performance similar to the 6.5x55. In other words, seemingly underpowered for modern-action rifles.

So, I'm wondering what speeds the 6.5x55 can or is being used at in modern rifles, that is, with 140 or 160 grain bullets? All three of my 6.5's are off-topic here and the factory that made them can only be mentioned in hushed terms, but there are other legitimate "modern" makers of a Fenno-Scandinavian origin that commonly are chambered in cartridges that generate pressures in excess of common 6.5 loads.

What levels of performance are you guys using in them? I would think, but do not know, that a 140 grain bullet should be able to be pushed at something like 2800+ fps, and in fact...I believe said bullet MUST technically be pushed that fast to be legally eligible for use on big game in Norway and yet I don't see published loads that do it.

And before someone reminds me, I am NOT saying that adding 100-200 fps is going to make a 155mm Howitzer out of my 6.5, all I'm saying is that I am curious and wondering what the experience of others is with this cartridge, in said modern action guns...

Thoughts???
 

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I have had the same thoughts myself with the various cartridges that, as you point out, tend to be "downloaded" in the American reloading manuals. The 6.5x55 in a 1640 or 1900 model HVA, or Sako, Tikka, S&L barreled 98 Mauser, M65 S&L should be able to have some appreciable increase in fps without getting into a danger zone. But, I guess I'm lazy and still lacking a working chronograph have never attempted to go beyond what is listed in Hornady or Sierra manuals.
 

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6.5X55 SE in modern guns

Hi Lee,

Yes! I am using a modern bolt action rifle with the 6.5X55.
I use a Tikka T3 HB SS Varmint and it shoots right with different loads. What I found is the average speed for accuracy (that's what I am looking for with this rifle) is always between 2550-2680 fps... with any powders.
The best speeds I got were in the 2750 range, but I did not push over that, for personal choice. Some friends have reach higher speeds than that. Personally, I am concerned about throat erosion since I shoot many rounds by sessions.
Sometimes, with different powders, you will find two points of accuracy; one in the ranges above, the other one around 2700 plus fps... Very interesting ammunition.
If you molly coat your bullets (I don't like doing that for different reasons) you can reach around 2800-2900 fps with a 24 - 26 inches barrel.

My favourite powders are;

H4831
IMR 4831 (++)
RL 19 (+)
H1000 (for hunting loads, especially winter)

Ishoot those bullets;
Lapua Scenar (139 grns, HPBT) - best accuracy, sitting .010 jump
Sierra MK HPBT (140 grns) very good accuracy but ballistic coefficient seems not matching the data book (less than announced) 0.010 jump.
Nosler Partition 140. Very accurate hunting loads. Jump is 0.035

hope it's in line with what you asked for....
 

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One of our members, Larsluthor, has extensive experience handloading the 6.5 in 1900 actions, and I know he probably has just what you are looking for Leespeed. He has also worked up a very accurate and fast load for my 1640 action fullstock rifle in 7x57. I will dig out that load data for you. Now we just have to get you back into a "proper" rifle in 6.5x55!
 

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If I remember correctly, Norma factory ammunition from the 1960''s and 1970's used to list a velocity of around 2800 fps for the 139 grain bullet in 6.5x55.
 

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I have done alot of loading for 6.5x55 in both m70 winchester and m96 actions.

Powders:
R22
R19
H4831
H4350
imr 4350

Bullets:
sierra 160,140,120
hornaday 160,140,129
speer 140,120
nosler 140 partition
Lapua 155

Brass, Lapua, norma. primers WW, CCI

Generaly with 140 gr bullets I load around 47 gr of H4831 and R22, but have used 48gr of both also

Just worked up a new 129 hornaday load with 45.5 h4350 .

About to test some powder weights with 160 hornaday. Also have a lapua 155 load with 45 gr of H4831 and 45.5 of r22

Rick-GSP7
 

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Be careful with Remington and Winchester Brass

If you plan on using Remington and/or Winchester brass, verify the base diameters... All those I measured (NEW Brass) were .469 in. well under the .473 in of my Lapua, Norma, S&B, PPU, Gevelot.... So, be extremely careful in looking at it.... especially when loading for higher pressures.
 

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I load for both the 96 and a Winchester Model 70. I use the method Ken Waters uses: fire 10 rounds of factory ammo and measure across the head for expansion, taking note of the average measurement. Now consider that maximum pressure. Full length resize (or start with new virgin brass) and make sure that your reloads never exceed that measurement. This makes sense as munition makers usually load to SAAMI maximum for performance.

An expensive alternative is to buy a "Pressure Trace" system and obtain a direct chamber pressure reading. I have one of these units but have not used it on the 6.5x55. The sensors are expensive @ $67 a piece. Frankly, I've found that with a sectional density like the 6.5 carries, squeezing an inch or two of trajectory out of the gun seems a poor excuse for loading hot.

A chronograph is vital these days. JMHO, of course...~Andy
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Tak so mycket, gents.

Yes, a "proper" 6.5 would be a fine find, but a find I haven't yet found...

I do have a chronograph and it is extremely useful. I need to spend some time creeping loads in the winter.

With all this new site business, I've been playing with the photo attachments.

Mmm,

Must get the chronograph oout and test the shorty and the longy's...
 

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I remember a guy that a 6.5x55 Sporter. I think a company (was it Kimber) converted a bunch of Military 6.5x55's to a sporter. He only used the Norma Ammo, as he said everything else didn't really perform. This was his main rifle too. I about died when I saw him paying $35 for Norma circa 1990.

I agree LeeSpeed, the 7x57 is underloaded in the US, and good quality action, it can perform better.

JW
 

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A good question Lee. I am hoping to have my Steyr 6.5X55 ready to go soon. I just need a scope for it now. If I have read the factory info correct the SBS rifles are rated pretty high on pressure. The exact number escapes me but I want to se it is over 80,000 psi. If so you could push a 140 gr pill pretty hard. Don't know what accuracy would be.
 

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p230,
If you get a response from Steyr recommending loads over the CIP working pressure of 55k psi for 6.5x55 or any cartridge over 64k psi in their rifle, let us know. Maybe the 338 Lapua, and one or two others since they Max working pressure at 68k psi, but I doubt they'll ok any standard cartridge over 58k or standard magnum over 64k. I think the 120k psi test was to show that the rifle is safe, not to suggest one can load to 80k!:eek:.
Dennis
 

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I agree with Ordtech,
80 000 PSI is even alot higher than what CIP are looking at...
In standard small to medium calibers, the maximum pressure level (MAP) in the CIP is 4700 bar (about 68 000 PSI) with PK max 1.15 and PEmax @ 1.25 times the MAP pressure...
Normally, manufacturers are loading the cartridges to about 85% of the MAP, over that, the loads are considered HOT. They keep it lower because they want to have some lattitude regarding the temperature (ambiant and the temperature of the gun itself) the condition of the barrel, action etc assembly and all other little details that can make the pressure to rise.
I don't think that when using the 6.5X55 SE (MAP of 55 000 PSI) you can reach much higher than it's real maximum, means the 55 000 PSI, in the best cases a big maximum of 60 000 PSI... considering that factory loads (the best ones, not the low velocity ones) are loaded around 47 000 PSI (85% of 55 000), just increasing a bit the pressure will make a big step... in pressure at least... the pressure rise is the square of the speed... means for every X2 of speed rise, you will get X4 of pressure rise...
But then still, you wont gonna be able to reach the 6.5-284 ballistics with the 6.5X55 SE cartridge...
 

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p230,
If you get a response from Steyr recommending loads over the CIP working pressure of 55k psi for 6.5x55 or any cartridge over 64k psi in their rifle, let us know. Maybe the 338 Lapua, and one or two others since they Max working pressure at 68k psi, but I doubt they'll ok any standard cartridge over 58k or standard magnum over 64k. I think the 120k psi test was to show that the rifle is safe, not to suggest one can load to 80k!:eek:.
Dennis
Yup, I have not heard anything and probably won't. I would think running pressures that high could bet pretty exciting.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I am not encouraging anyone to practice unsafe handloading. My observations were merely aimed at the disparity of loads that seem to exist on opposite sides of the pond. Others have commented on this also over the years. Norma seems to operate without the fear of an onslaught by trial lawyers.

I SUSPECT but do not know that were 6.5x55 loads in reloading manuals developed to the same pressures as modern "high intensity rounds" {.308, .260 Rem, etc} commonly used in some of the same modern rifles as the 6.5x55 has "recently" been chambered in {HVA 1900, Steyr, Ruger, Winchester, Remington, etc} the 6.5x55 would look quite different than what it has been presented to be over the years.

But here is the kicker; the round has developed its sterling reputation for killing big game and small AT THE OLD TYPICALLY LOWER-PRESSURED LOADINGS.

Which of course begs the question as to whether the round needs to be bumped to pressures commonly handled by the modern rifle...
 

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Lee,
It's kind of like the 45-70 and the three levels of loads commonly published for it. If I had a Ruger or Winchester 6.5, I'd be thinking along the same lines. With Norma brass, I might work up incrementally. You're experienced enough to stop before you create a bomb.:D
That's quite different than reading an advertisement and trying to load up to 80kpsi! Some people do things like that, and then we read about them.
 

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Anyways, the main limitation is case capacity.
I don't believe even Norma makes loads over the 55 000 PSI CIP specifies. They have to follow the CIP standards, but they may approach the MAP...
If you want to increase speed, you have to use slow burning powders. The best velocities I got were when using H1000. But, I could not reach the same precision as I have with RL19 and IMR4831, wich are the best powders for my Tikka T3... Even there, the hottest loads are not the most precise....
 

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How much is enough?

6.5x55 is so incredible in its ballistics that there is no practical reason to push the limits with high pressure loads. Game isn't going to tell a difference and paper won't object that the round is too light. In terms of real life, how much improvement has been made on the 6.5x55 in the last 100 years? Sure there are number crunchers who will point to some magnum long or short that out strips the Swede or a sporter that can take higher pressure... but for what? Don't you wish there were more modern guns chambered for this classic Swede? I do. But I still come back to loving the ole Swedish rifles that I first fell in love with as a young fella. It is enough.
 

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There are a number of people shooting F Class, with custom actions, that pushing the 6.5x55 to 3000-3100 fps using the Lapua 139 Scenar or Sierra 142 SMK.

I have a long range rifle built on a Tikka 695 action, with a 28" medium Palma contour, Tru-Flite barrell. Using RL22 and the 139 Scenar I regularly shoot them at 2950-2975 fps. No loose primer pockets, no case head seperations, no abnormal case head expansion. Mind you this rifle also has a tight match chamber. 800+ rounds so far and everything looks good.
 

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There are a number of people shooting F Class, with custom actions....Tikka 695....800+ rounds so far and everything looks good.
Outstanding. See, a true classic cartridge in modern "dress" can accomplish amazing feats, too. Congratulations.
 
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