July 28th, 2016

Norma Cartridge of the Month: 6.5×55 Swedish

6.5x55 Swede Swedish Norma Cartridge of the Month Norma USA

Cartridge of the Month Norma USAIf you haven’t checked out NormaUSA’s website, you should. There you’ll find Norma’s Cartridge of the Month Archive. This great resource provides a detailed history of popular cartridges, along with a discussion of these cartridges’ hunting and target-shooting uses. There are currently 26 Cartridge of the Month articles, the latest featuring the mighty .500/.416 Nitro Express cartridge.

Also on Norma-USA.com you’ll find information on Norma cartridge brass, bullets, powder and factory ammo. The site also offers a video archive plus links to Norma Reloading Data.

Here is a selection from 6.5×55 Swede Cartridge of the Month Article:

History of the 6.5×55 Swedish

A mild cartridge by modern standards, the 6.5×55 has impressive credentials in both the hunting field and in competition. It was developed jointly by Sweden and Norway in 1894 – one of the very first smokeless, small-bore rounds for military rifles. When Sweden boosted 6.5×55 performance in Mausers, Norway stayed with original loads in the less robust Krag. The 6.5×55 defended Scandinavia for most of a century thereafter. In 1990 the National Rifle Association of Denmark, Norway and Sweden renamed this cartridge the 6.5×55 SKAN and standardized its specifications. Still hugely popular among moose hunters there, it has also excelled in 300-meter free-rifle competition.

The long tenure of this cartridge spanned the post-war wildcatting era. Unfortunately for shooters keen to make something new of the 6.5×55 hull, its head diameter is .01 greater than that of the 7×57 (and the .270 and .30-06). The rim is thicker too. At 2.16 inches, cases mike .15 longer than the .308’s and .08 shorter than those of the 7×57 – though as originally loaded, its overall length (3.15 inches) exceeds that of the 7×57. In fact, it falls just 0.1 inch shy of the finished length of the 7mm Remington Magnum! In my view, the 6.5×55 merits at least a mid-length action, such as on Melvin Forbes’s New Ultra Light rifles. Shorter (typical .308-length) actions require deep bullet seating that throttles performance.

6.5x55 Swede Swedish Norma Cartridge of the Month Norma USA

You’ll look hard to find a better deer cartridge than the 6.5×55. Francis Sell, woodsman and rifle enthusiast whose book on blacktail deer hunting has no peer, favored the 6.5×55. Hunters coming of age in a magnum culture might question the round’s bona fides on animals as stout as elk and moose. But at modest ranges, with bullets like Norma’s factory-loaded 156-grain Oryx, it’s a sure killer. Modest recoil makes rifles pleasant to fire (read: accurate in hand!) and fast on follow-ups. In Africa the 6.5×55 – and similar 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer – felled much bigger game than moose long before anyone necked down the .375 H&H! While its compact case won’t let the Swede match the likes of the .270 ballistically, it is a fine all-around choice for big game in the Lower 48.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
October 22nd, 2014

Quick Comparison of Popular 6.5mm Rifle Cartridges

6.5 Cartridge Guide Eben Brown EABco e. arthur brown 260 rem 6.5x47 6.5 creedmoor 6.5x55
Chart created with Ammoguide’s Visual Comparison Tool. Visit Ammoguide.com to learn more.

by Eben Brown, EABCO.com, (E. Arthur Brown Co. Inc.)
The current popularity of 6.5mm cartridges in the USA has been a long time in coming. I won’t go into my opinions on why it took so long to catch on. The important thing is that it finally HAS caught on and we’re now so fortunate to have a wide selection of 6.5mm cartridges to choose from!

6.5mm Grendel – Developed by Alexander Arms for the AR15 and military M4 family of rifles. The Grendel fits the dimensional and functional requirements of these rifles while delivering better lethality and downrange performance. There are now similar cartridges from other rifle companies. We chamber for the Les Baer “264 LBC-AR”. Designed for velocities of 2400-2500 fps with 123gr bullets, it shoots the 140-grainers at about 2000 fps (for comparison purposes).

6.5mm BRM – Developed by E. Arthur Brown Company to give “Big Game Performance to Small Framed Rifles” — namely our Model 97D Rifle, TC Contender, and TC Encore. Velocities of 2400-2500 fps with 140gr bullets puts it just under the original 6.5×55 Swede performance.

6.5mm x 47 Lapua – Developed by Lapua specifically for international 300m shooting competitions (with some interest in long-range benchrest as well). Case capacity, body taper, shoulder angle, and small rifle primer are all features requested by top international shooters. You can expect velocities of 2500-2600+ with 140 gr bullets.

6.5mm Creedmoor – Developed by Hornady and Creedmoor Sports, the 6.5mm Creedmoor is designed for efficiency and function. Its shape reaches high velocities while maintaining standard .308 Winchester pressures and its overall length fits well with .308 Win length magazines. You can expect velocities of 2600-2700+ fps with 140gr bullets.

.260 Remington – Developed by Remington to compete with the 6.5mmx55 Swedish Mauser that was (finally) gaining popularity in 1996. By necking down the 7mm-08 Remington to 6.5mm (.264 cal), the .260 Remington was created. It fit the same short-action [receivers] that fit .308 Win, .243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem, etc. You can expect velocities of 2600-2700 fps with 140gr bullets in the 260 .Remington.

[Editor’s Note: In the .260 Rem, try the Lapua 120gr Scenar-Ls and/or Berger 130gr VLDs for great accuracy and impressive speeds well over 2900 fps.]

6.5mm x 55 Swedish Mauser – This was the cartridge that started the 6.5mm craze in the USA. It is famous for having mild recoil, deadly lethality on even the biggest game animals, and superb accuracy potential. Original ballistics were in the 2500 fps range with 140gr bullets. Nowadays handloaders get 2600-2700+ fps.

[Editor’s Note: Tor from Scandinavia offers this bit of 6.5x55mm history: “Contrary to common belief, the 6.5×55 was not developed by Mauser, but was constructed by a joint Norwegian and Swedish military commission in 1891 and introduced as the standard military cartridge in both countries in 1894. Sweden chose to use the cartridge in a Mauser-based rifle, while Norway used the cartridge in the Krag rifles. This led to two different cartridges the 6.5×55 Krag and 6.5×55 Mauser — the only real difference being safe operating pressure.”]

6.5-284 Norma — This comes from necking the .284 Winchester down to .264 caliber. Norma standardized it for commercial ammo sales. The 6.5mm-284 was very popular for F-Class competition and High Power at 1,000 yards. However, many F-Class competitors have switched to the straight .284 Win for improved barrel life. 6.5-284 velocities run 3000-3100+ fps with 140gr bullets.

.264 Winchester Magnum – Developed by Winchester back in 1959, the .264 Win Mag never really caught on and may have delayed the ultimate acceptance of 6.5mm cartridges by US shooters (in my opinion). It missed the whole point and original advantage of 6.5 mm cartridges.

The Original 6.5mm Advantage
The special needs of long-range competition have skewed things a little. However the original advantages of 6.5mm cartridges — how deadly the 6.5mms are on game animals, how little recoil they produce, and how easy they are to shoot well — still hold true today.

6.5 Cartridge Guide Eben Brown EABco e. arthur brown 260 rem 6.5x47 6.5 creedmoor 6.5x55

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo 7 Comments »
April 5th, 2014

Norma Website Now Offers Cartridge Histories

NormaOn the Norma website, in the products area, you’ll find dozens of illustrated cartridge profiles. Many of these have been augmented with “Caliber Histories” providing background information, both historical and practical. These entries will benefit those interested in the origins and development of popular hunting and match cartridges. Many of the “Caliber Histories” also include information on bullets and twist rates.

CLICK HERE to access the Hunting Products page on Norma’s website. There, on the left, you’ll see a vertical list of 58 different cartridges. Click on any cartridge name and you’ll see an illustrated “overview”. For most (but not all) listed cartridges, there is also a gray tab labeled “Caliber History”. Click that tab to see a cartridge diagram and a few paragraphs explaining the cartridge’s lineage and design features. For example, the .280 Remington Caliber History explains: “This cartridge was constructed in 1957 for Remington’s model 740 Autoloader. It is basically a .30-06 necked down to accept 7mm bullets, but the shoulder was moved forward a little in order to prevent the cartridge from being loaded into .270 Win. rifles by mistake.” Many of the Caliber History entries offer recommended bullet weights and barrel twist rates. Shown below is the 6.5×55 Swede’s Caliber History:

Norma 6.5x55 Swede Cartridge History

Norma 6.5x55 Swede Cartridge History

Article tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo No Comments »
January 29th, 2013

Vintage Military Rifle Match Ammunition from Hornady

Vintage Military Rifle

Vintage Military Rifle

Vintage Military Rifle Matches
Across the country, vintage military rifle matches are growing in popularity. It’s easy to understand why — the matches are fun, the rifles are affordable, and the rules discourage the use of expensive aftermarket sights and fancy triggers. It comes down to good marksmanship… and good ammo.

To help competitors in the Vintage military rifle game, Hornady has devleoped a line of Vintage Match ammunition. Currently available in four cartridge types, Vintage Match ammunition replicates the original military performance specifications of older military rifles. To function safely and reliably in older guns, this Vintage Match ammo is loaded to pressures well below CIP max.

Vintage Military rifle 7.62x54R Moisin Nagant
Vintage Military Rifle Match photo from CMP Zenfolio Image Archive on the web.

Hornady Vintage Match ammunition was developed for shooters involved in the increasingly popular CMP Vintage Rifle and Vintage Sniper Matches. This “Vintage Match” product offers an off-the-shelf, match-grade alternative to surplus or hand-loaded ammunition. The four varieties of Vintage Match ammo are: 6.5×55 Swede, .303 British (Enfield), 7.62x54R (Moisin Nagant), and 8×57 IS/JS (Mauser)*.

Vintage Match Ammo Hornady

*From Norma Website: The “J” in the name originated with confusion over the word “Infanterie”. English translators mistook the Gothic “I” for a “J”. The “J” has no significance as to proper bullet size. In 1905, Germany increased working pressure of this cartridge and switched from a 226gr, 0.318-inch, round-nose bullet (2095 fps) to a 154gr, 0.323-inch, spitzer bullet (2880 fps). The “S” in the designation stands for “Spitzer” and also indicates that the bore was either originally made for, or was altered for, 0.323-inch bullets. It is extremely rare to find a sporting rifle chambered and barreled for the original 8×57 J (0.318-inch groove). However, this is possible. So, if in doubt, have the bore slugged to determine if it is safe to fire loads using 0.323-inch bullets.

Match photos © Civilian Marksmanship Program, used by permission.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 7 Comments »