More 6.5x55 Rifles

Discussion in 'Sako Long/Magnum Actions' started by icebear, Oct 28, 2020.

  1. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    While the Sako Classic I recently posted was my first Sako in 6.5x55, it was far from my first rifle in that caliber. (Here's a link to that thread: https://sakocollectors.com/forum/threads/av-classic-in-6-5x55.15714/) I also have a Tikka 695 in 6.5x55, as well as a modest collection of Swedish military Mausers, which I have been accumulating since the 90's. The 6.5x55 cartridge was developed for the Swedish military in the 1890's and remains a superlative cartridge for hunting. Following below are photos and notes on my Tikka and the Swedish military Mausers.

    First, a Tikka M695 with aSwarovski 3-9x scope. Tikka actions are famously smooth and this one is no exception. It's fussy about ammo. It doesn't seem to like any factory ammo I've tried; the only load I've been able to get under 1 MOA was a handload.
    Tikka6.5-1.JPG Tikka6.5-2.JPG Tikka6.5-3.JPG Tikka6.5-6.JPG

    Next, the pride of my Swedish Mauser collection, an M41B sniper rifle. It's all original (as arsenal rebuilt in 1955), matching except for a few small parts, and has a matching scope and can and a correct Swedish sniper sling. The scope is a German made Ajack in a Jackenroll side mount. The rifle was handpicked from the importer's stock when these rifles were imported about 20 years ago. Accuracy is around 1 MOA with Swedish service ball ammo. It had a truly amazing amount of copper in the barrel when I got it; I've spent a lot of time over the years with copper cleaner and I don't think I've gotten it all out yet.
    Sniper 1.JPG Sniper 2.JPG Sniper 3.JPG Sniper 4.JPG Sniper 5.JPG


    The 1894 carbine was the first Swedish Mauser built for the new cartridge. This example is modified to a model 94-14 with the addition of a bayonet lug. The bayonet is almost as long as the barrel. This carbine has all matching numbers and the original sling. The decal on the buttstock is a sight calibration chart. The sights are set for the original 160-grain roundnose cartridge; the decal tells the shooter how to get correct elevation with the newer 139-grain pointed bullet. The brass disc identifies the unit the gun was originally issued to; these discs were later replaced with discs indicating the condition of the bore.
    M94 + Bayonet.JPG

    The next two rifles are standard-issue M96 infantry rifles. Both are stamped SA for the Finnish army (Suomen Armeija). The one on top, which has been refinished, was my first Swedish Mauser and the one that got me interested in collecting them. At the beginning of the Winter War, Finland was desperate for rifles and the Swedes helped out with a few thousand M96's. Because they did not use the same ammo as Finnish rifles, the Swedish guns were mostly issued to rear-echelon and reserve units.
    SAx2.JPG

    The FSR was a Swedish volunteer shooting club associated with the military. Members were allowed to modify their rifles for target shooting, and the result was a proliferation of different sight combinations. Here are three FSR rifles in different configurations. On top is a custom gun built by the famous Swedish builder Folke Dahlberg. It appears to be the barreled action of an FSR rifle with an Elit rear sight put into a custom stock. Dahlberg worked extensively with Husqvarna. I have never seen or heard of another Folke Dahlberg rifle on a military action, but the design and the iconic asymmetrical diamond inlay mark it as his work.

    The second rifle is somewhat unusual for an FSR gun. The modified bolt handle is atypical; most just have the original straight bolt handle. The rear sight is unknown; I have been unable to find it in any of my reference books or online. It basically works like the Elit sight but the elevation knob is different. If any of you recognize the sight, please post.

    The only modification on the third rifle is the substitution of the M42 open rear sight for the original. The M42 sight has much superior elevation control compared to the original battle sight.
    3 Target Swedes.JPG
    Custom Target3.JPG
    Rear Sight 1.JPG

    In the late 1930's, the Swedish army decided that it needed rifles in a shorter, handier size than the M96, but not as small as the M94 carbine. The result was the M38 carbine. New guns were made by Husqvarna and featured a low bolt. Some older M96 rifles were also modified to the new configuration; most of these retained their straight bolts and were fitted with Vasteras wheel-adjusting sights. These converted guns are known to collectors as the M96/38, but that is not an official designation. A few converted rifles have low bolts, but this is rare. In the photo, the top rifle is an original Husqvarna M38. The middle rifle is a converted M96, unissued after an arsenal rebuild. The rack tag is still on the buttstock. The bottom rifle is an 1898 Oberndorf-built conversion with a low bolt and a very nice walnut stock. It's one of my favorites.
    M38x3.JPG

    This photo shows the three lengths of the Swedish Mauser compared: the M94 carbine, the M38 short rifle, and the M96 long rifle.
    3 Sizes.JPG
    And finally, here is the last Swedish military rifle designed for the 6.5x55 cartridge, the AG42B semiautomatic. The AG42B is often called the Ljungmann after its principal designer. It is considered to be an ancestor of the M16/AR15 design because it uses a direct-impingement gas system rather than an operating rod like the M1 Garand. It has a 10-round detachable magazine and a built-in muzzle brake. The mag is not intended to be changed in the field; it is reloaded from 5-round stripper clips like the bolt-action Mausers. After production ended, the machinery was sold to Egypt and used to produce the 8mm Hakim.
    AG42B -1.JPG
     

  2. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Impressive!

    How about the Mauser 96 strength? Ever since I was little more than a child reading various gun magazines I've always seen cautions about not loading ammunition for Mauser 96's to "modern" pressures. The various gun writer "experts" would issue this caution like they were peering over their glasses condescendingly at naughty boys and agreeing with each other with a chorus of harrumph, harrumph!

    But I see nothing "weak" about the 96's design, and Swedish steels have always been regarded as among the world's best. I'm sure you don't hotrod your 96's (and may not even shoot some of them). However, since you have so much experience with them how do you regard them in terms of action strength?
     
  3. RangerAV

    RangerAV Well-Known Member

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    I got an M96/38 from Frankonia Jagd for hunting when I lived in Germany during the early '80s... Very smooth action, although I sort-of remember the low-power variable scope had to be mounted higher than I would have preferred... mostly due to the safety. I kinda think it had been restocked and maybe already drilled/tapped (by Frankonia; they did that sort of thing), but my memory is a little hazy.

    Factory ammo. Worked great on roebok.

    -Chris
     
  4. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Kimber used to build sporters on 96 actions, chambered for .308. As far as I know there were no pressure problems in those guns, and I have not heard of any problems shooting modern hunting ammo such as Norma in a 96. The Swedish military also built versions of the CG-63 target rifles in 7.62 NATO and other more modern rounds, again without known pressure issues. I have heard of problems with some US-made ammo being undersized - the case head diameter of 6.5x55 is slightly larger than that of .30-06, etc. The difference is only 0.01", though - not a big worry. Modern CIP and SAAMI standards for the standardized 6.55x55SE are quite a bit hotter than the original military standard, CIP being somewhat higher than SAAMI. Again, I've never heard of any problems with properly dimensioned modern ammo in a 96.

    Personally, I've never fired anything other than Swedish military "Prikskytte" ammo in my M96 rifles - it's great Norma-made ammo, and I had the good luck or good judgment to lay in a supply back when I got most of the rifles. It's now quite hard to find. I wouldn't hesitate to fire good-quality commercial ammo in a 96, or to handload up to published maximums, but I can't imagine wanting to build extra-hot handloads for it. If I do ever run out of Swedish military ammo, I plan to either find commercially made ball that duplicates its performance, or handload to that standard. I've heard that PPU ball is a decent quality load at an attractive price. Unfortunately, Swedish military cases are Berdan primed and therefore not reloadable without a lot of hassle.
     
  5. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Right you are. The .308 has a higher SAAMI maximum average chamber pressure (52K) than the .30-06 (50K) and several other "standard" cartridges. The MAP for the 6.5x55 is listed as a paltry 46K. But obviously, Kimber had no misgivings with chambering the M96 for a cartridge which boosted the MAP by 8,000 CUP.

    I can't remember, but Kimber may have modified their M96 sporters from cock-on-closing to cock-on-opening? Which, of course, would have nothing to do with the action's strength.

    Regarding the very slightly wider rim of the 6.5x55: Many, many years ago Herter's had one of their massive closeouts on particular calibers of brass. I bought five boxes of 6.5x55 thinking that I would reform it to .243 or some such. I found that the rims were both thicker and larger in diameter than normal brass heads and wouldn't easily enter my shell holder, and even when forced, were too fat at the base to chamber once FL sized to whatever caliber it was I was trying to make. Thus the huge brass bargain turned into an albatross. A little while later a good friend mentioned that his uncle had a 6.5x55 and was looking for a few rounds of ammunition. So I cobbled the remaining 95 rounds or so together with some bullets I had for my .264 Win and presented them to him. He was overwhelmed by the volume and passed on long before ever shooting up even the first box. But I was happy to have salvaged some use for the odd-sized brass. Herter's claimed that the brass was "Made in Sweden", presumably by Norma. I think that currently-made U.S. brass probably has the same rim and head as .30-06/.308, etc.
     
  6. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    I was out in the shop earlier today and miked a few rounds for rim diameter. Norma, PPU, and PMC all measured around 0.477-0.480, which is nominal for the cartridge. A Remington case was around 0.474, and a Federal .30-06 case measured 0.470, also nominal for that cartridge. So the Remington case was about halfway between a .30-06 case and a correct European 6.5x55.
     
  7. Lars Pyykkønen

    Lars Pyykkønen Active Member

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    In the early 90's I spent a few years working in Northern Ontario. The Canadian 6.5x55 loads we bought at the store were pushing just over 3000 fps. In 1991 I watched an 86 year old man take a bull moose with a M96 using iron sights. He was using these store bought loads. The shot was between 300 and 400 yards. We practiced with our own M96's at around these distances and no-one ever saw a failure. We were young, bored in the bush and shot a lot. No failures ever. I still have and shoot the same M96 today. When we crossed the boarder, the fastest loads we could get in the states were just over 2500 fps. I'm glad to see appreciation for this caliber. It has always served me well. I never understood the Creedmoor Craze.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  8. Lars Pyykkønen

    Lars Pyykkønen Active Member

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    Icebear,

    Gorgeous rifles, maybe a bit jealous. Great to see them.
     
  9. P04R

    P04R Well-Known Member

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    I have a faint memory that the problem with the 96 was related to the bolt or the receiver being too hard and brittle. No idea if it was an issue on just one of the three manufacturers or on all of them or just some period of the production.

    Vihtavuori has split off and renamed the reloading data for modern rifles to"6,5x55 SKAN" with a big warning not to use the data on old Krags and Mauser 96's. According to QuickLoad the "normal" 6,5x55 SE max loads have Pmax of ~3000 Bar. Even the SKAN loads stay below the CIP max pressure of 3800 Bar, while the Pmax for 308 Win is 4150 Bar. In this sense the 6,5x55 is handicapped from the start, but I know people that do load it to 308 Win pressures for their Sako's. The only point of concern for them is that it is conceivable some manufacturer might some day seek cost savings and thin out the case head because of the low Pmax stated by CIP.
     
  10. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    That is excellent information, thank you. I don't recall the details of the hardening issue on some M96 rifles, but I think it was confined to a relatively small number of guns. The US had a similar problem with early production of the 1903 Springfield (basically a copy of the 98 Mauser), which was corrected on later production rifles.

    One point to consider is that the 96 Mauser is a MUCH stronger action than a Krag, and does not need to be restricted to loads that are safe in a Krag. A Mauser has two main locking lugs, a Krag only has one. No sane gunsmith is going to convert a Krag to .308, as has been done with the M96. The US Army abandoned the Krag after only a few years because American troops learned in the Spanish American War that the Mauser was much superior as a military rifle. The major point of superiority was the stripper clip loading, but the 7x57 cartridge was also better than the .30-40 cartridge used in the US version of the Krag.

    Another consideration is the different number of rounds fired through a rifle in military service vs. the same rifle in the hands of a civilian shooter. The army may fire many thousands of rounds through each gun, and damage from rounds that are even slightly over-pressure can be cumulative. A civilian collector is unlikely to fire more than a few hundred rounds a year, unless the rifle is being used for target competition every couple of weeks. Several thousand rounds of CIP maximum ammo might well wear out a rifle much faster than ammo loaded to military spec, while a couple of hundred rounds would not do any noticeable harm.

    My personal opinion is that, although a Swedish Mauser rifle in good condition is safe to fire with higher-pressure modern ammo, the best ammunition for the M96 is Swedish military issue, or commercial ammo loaded as closely as possible to military specifications. Most M96 rifles are over 100 years old, except for the guns built by Husqvarna in the 1940's. We know from experience that the 139 grain (9.0 gram) spitzer bullet is extremely accurate when fired at standard velocity from an M96, and we know that a soft point bullet of the same weight performs well for hunting medium to large game. To borrow an old saying, why mess with success? A modern Sako or Tikka rifle is another matter - those actions are brand new and designed for much higher pressures than the old M96.
     
  11. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    All one has to do is look at the market forces & demand that the manufacturers are trying to meet & it becomes quite apparent why the Creedmoor has become such a sales success story. You don't see M96 Mausers with open sights flying off the shelves. I can't remember when I saw a rifle in 6.5 Swede on a shelf at a gun store. Ballistically the Swede & the Creedmoor are twins. The difference is in the platforms they can be fired from & what platforms are preferred by the shooters in the various "long range" shooting disciplines that are trying to take advantage of the 6.5mm bullet's ballistic qualities. The Swede's OAL doesn't allow it to be offered in the short action bolt & AR 10 magazine lengths. In fact, even finding any rifle chambered in the Swede is problematic. The Swede don't fit & the Creedmoor does. It's that simple. I love both cartridges but, because it has been difficult to find a Swede of my liking, I only own a Creedmoor. It's one a the best rounds I have ever had in almost every respect. BTW, it's a custom barreled L57 Coltsman & my current "most favorite" hunting rifle.
     
  12. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I never understood why the .260 Remington languished into obscurity while the 6.5 Creedmoor became such a raging success. The explanation has to lie in how much money was spent promoting the latter, and that it was marketed to the black gun crowd instead of to hunters.
     
  13. RangerAV

    RangerAV Well-Known Member

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    At least some of Remington's first .260s were rifled with 1:9" twist... and while that may not have been devastatingly important, some of the newer crowd may have shied away from it for that reason, too.

    I expect the "improvements" in case and chamber shape, specifically for longer bullets, resonates better with the long distance and benchrest folks... much like the PPC cartridges, and the PRCs. And the .260 was actually one of the stepping stones toward the Creemoor too; I think David Tubb was involved in some of that...

    That said, I have a .260 700 Titanium and it shoots really well... I have a Creedmoor inbound I think... and I'd expect the 6.5x55, 6.5x57, and 6.5 M-S to pretty much work identically at all the ranges I'm likely to shoot. In fact, my reasons for the Creedmoor buy has nothing to do with the cartridges; it's more about the action and the barrel length.

    -Chris
     
  14. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    Several nuances in case design is some of the reason, but it was really a matter of Remington being Remington. Like many other good innovations they came up with, like the 221 Fireball, 17 Fireball, etc. etc. Remington didn't follow up with marketing & support. There's a reason they went bankrupt. The 260 had very little choices in factory ammo & rifle options. Remington pretty much ignored the "long range" target crowd, as well. Hornady, on the other hand, designed the case to accept the longer heavy bullets to be seated without going past the bullet shank & not robbing case capacity, while at the same time staying within the OAL to function through the desired platforms. Hornady also knew how to market & support their product with a VAST array of loaded ammo options to the people that shoot a lot of ammo, not just hunters. In fact, the Creedmoor evolved into the hunting market from the "target" round market. The initial use was in the bolt action chassis rifles the 1000 yard crowd was using, but Hornady knew if you want to have market success it better be able to fit in an AR magazine of some kind. If one looks at ALL the details involved & ALL the different nuances between the 260 Rem, the 6.5 Swede, & the Creedmoor, even though they are ballistically identical, the Creedmoor is the better choice, IMHO. Which is why it is so popular! Hornady didn't invent the wheel, they just knew how to make it roll better. I get 6.5 Swede factory ballistics (155 grain Lapua Mega- Bullet) from my Creedmoor with a shorter, lighter rifle with .3 MOA. That's hard not to like! Lots of Creedmoor haters out there, but I think it's more from a lack of understanding & personal prejudice than from experience. Just my two cents.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  15. Lars Pyykkønen

    Lars Pyykkønen Active Member

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    I don't think there are a lot of Creedmoor haters. It's just tiresome to see more new cartridges introduced. Some great ones never took off here. And here we have seen some flops introduced. I feel the ammo manufacturers keep trying to produce something more shiny and alluring. Usually accompanied with an expensive marketing campaign. Rarely do they produce something new, just different. It usually comes with a greater barrel burn, recoil, etc. Paulsonconstruction offers the best explanation for the Creedmoor Craze. When I was a kid, I remember avid hunters taking two calibers to travel the world. A 6.5x55 and 300 H&H, to Africa, New Zealand and everywhere. I don't know anyone my age or younger that even own these calibers.

    The Creedmoor will be the Millennials 30-30 or 30.06, every hunting party will have one and ammo will be available everywhere. Most shooters I talk to that are in there twenties own one. Creedmoor has become a buzz word. The kids won't understand ballistics, ballistics coefficients or have any hunting skills but if you own a Creedmoor your cool. I think thats where the hate comes from. I believe its a Millennial thing. Too privileged, too lazy to hunt, its just too much work for them to do anything right. Its a generation of snipers using thermal and night vision scopes.

    OK. I'm off my soapbox for a couple days. Off to camp on the Ontonagon Coast.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
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  16. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Providing a soap box for thoughtful comment is exactly why the SCC forum is here. I enjoy reading the opinions of others, so long as they are based in reality and expressed civilly.

    The wheel is constantly being re-invented. Sometimes a designer insists on trying to use four square sides. Advocates of that design who have invested a lot of emotional capital in it will claim it rolls really smoothly and want to fight you if you say it doesn't. But every now and then someone gets it perfectly round with a little lube on the axle and it works pretty well -- even if they call it by another name.
     
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  17. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    That's what the old timers with their 30-30 lever actions said about me when I showed up as a kid with my "new fangled" 243 Win bolt action to hunt deer. "Anybody knows that no gun is better at shootin' deer than a 30-30 lever". Firearms have been in a constant state of change & innovation since the first "handgonne" was fired. Change & innovation is what keeps the industry healthy & vibrant. I'm lucky enough to know & associate with some of those "Millennials". They have the same enthusiasm & love for the shooting sports as any generation & I have learned a thing or two from them as well. It's worked out better for me to mentor rather than ridicule.
     
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  18. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    I must be showing my age; I have two sporting rifles in 6.5x55 (a Sako and a Tikka) and three in .300 H&H (a Sako L61R, an FN-Sako, and a Model 70).

    But seriously, allow me to sing the praises of two more little-known 6.5mm cartridges, the 6.5x57 Mauser and the 6.5-06 wildcat. The 6.5x57 is basically just a necked-down 7x57; it's also available in a rimmed version for break actions. I used to have a Sauer 200 in 6.5x57 that was shockingly accurate. On a good day it shot cloverleafs at 100 yards; on a bad day it shot 3/4". Ammo was expensive and hard to get, but what a shooter it was! I eventually sold it to a friend. Ballistically the 6.5x57 is identical to the 6.5x55, the .260, or the Creedmoor. The Sauer 200 is equally little known. It's a rather odd-looking piece with interchangeable barrels. It is claimed that you can switch barrels and scopes on a 200, shoot it, then switch back and it will hold a zero. As I understand it, there are plenty of owners who will attest that it's true. I wouldn't know, since I only had one barrel for mine. The Sauer 200 was replaced by the slightly modified 202.

    The other unsung 6.5 is the 6.5-06. The round is just what you would expect, a .264 bullet in a .30-06 case. Brass is usually formed by necking up .25-06, but headstamped brass is sometimes available from Quality Cartridge. The 6.5-06 has a solid edge in velocity over the other 6.5mm cartridges, and is in fact very close to the .264 WinMag in performance, especially in a 22-24" barrel. It is a near clone of the old .256 Newton, developed by Charles Newton, the designer of the .250-3000. Newton at one time had a gun company and a whole line of proprietary cartridges, which have now sunk into obscurity. Based on its performance and the ease of making the ammo, the 6.5-06 deserved to become a production item, but it never did. I think there are two reasons for this - first, the aversion of American shooters to metric cartridge designations (at least until recently), and second, a feeling that there would not be a market for a cartridge in the narrow space between .25-06 and .270. I have a rather nice 6.5-06 custom on a Yugoslav Mauser action, but I've never fired it. It has a fairly minor problem that I haven't gotten around to fixing or finding a gunsmith to fix for me. I do have dies and Quality Cartridge brass, but I haven't loaded any ammo yet.
    Semmel Custom 1.JPG
     
  19. Lars Pyykkønen

    Lars Pyykkønen Active Member

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    There is no intent to be ageist. These have been two of my favorite calibers for years. Between the two they have taken nearly every game animal on earth. These are both proven calibers and have been proven for close to 100 years now. Both are known for deep penetrating bullets and extreme accuracy. Also the perfect example of two great calibers left behind. The .300 Win Mag replaced the 300 H&H. I believe the H&H does nearly everything the WM can and does it with more civility. Less bang, less recoil, less meat damage and a better outcome.

    I have never had the extra money whenever I came across a 6.5x57. I have read about the 6.5-06 but I have never even seen one. The .264 Win. mag., 6.5-300 Wthby. have reputations as barrel burners and most 6.5-284 Normas I come across have aftermarket barrels on them. Is the 6.5-06 plagued with the same issue? I would be happy to have enough time to put 300 + rounds through a rifle to burn up the barrel.

    BTW, very nice rifle. I've seen very little so far here, but it appears you have a very nice collection.

    The .25-06 to .270 opens another can of worms. The old-timers, who have all long since passed, carried one of following calibers for whitetail in Upper Michigan. The 25.06, 257 Roberts, 6.5x55 and of course the .30-.30. When guys started showing up with Magnums they would just shake their heads. These guys would actually hunt. Back then the DNR actually went into the woods now they are just road warriors. Its a different era of hunter.
     
  20. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    As far as I know, the 6.5-06 cartridge wears barrels at the same rate as a .25-06 or a .270, its bookends on either side. It is a much more efficient cartridge, in terms of turning the energy of powder into energy of the bullet, than the magnums of the same bullet diameter The magnums burn a lot more powder for a little bit more velocity. There are a lot of reasons why the .264 WinMag and 6.5-300 Weatherby have a reputation for rapid barrel wear, and I will leave that discussion to the experts.
     

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