All my reloading stuff is boxed up and I don't recall most of the loads offhand that I was using for my 1896 in 6.5x 55. I do know it won't handle the pressures of more modern actions. I was shooting the 129 grain, the 140 grain, and the 160 grain. Was using 4350 and 40grains with the 129 bullet. That's the only one I recall from memory. I also used 4831, had some problems working up loads from the books with a lot of cratered primers even with the lowest loads in some books. If you can find any old Norma ammo; they made some really good rounds for the '96 as well.
Good luck. My '96 is fairly worn and it's only a 100yd rifle at best, mostly carry it around in summer for bear protection with the 140s and 160s.
The '96 is a strong action made of good steel but it is old. The newer M38's are every bit the equal of the M98 Mauser in strength and superior in quality. The SAAMI spec for pressure for the cartridge is 46,000 psi.
For the 96 to load the 140 grain bullets I use 45.0 grains of H4831 or 35.0 of H4895. These loads will keep pressures below the SAAMI limit, and velocity will be about 2650 fps from the 29" barrel.
Primers will not show signs of excess pressure until the pressure is in excess of 60,000 psi. The brass will show signs before then. I have loaded the newer model 38 Husqvarna rifles quite warm but don't think I would push the old '96. Most of my experience with this caliber has been with the M38 or modern guns or my custom rifles. I have loaded them hotter and they had better barrels and accuracy was very good. Typically the Swede is an extremely accurate round but the 96's aren't usually found with good barrels.
The swedish mausers had a very high quality of both material and manufacture. I believe that the actions were factory proof tested in excess of 60,000 psi. I load 43.5 grn IMR 4350 to around 2700fps with Hornady 129 grain sp. I plan to use 140 Nosler Partitions on mulies later this season but have no data yet. M96 and M38 actions are the same, I hope that I don't tread on Murphys toes, he might have been referring to the m94 and m95 mausers which are a different design and as he says, shouldn't be loaded hot at all.
A number of individals report loading the M96 much hotter for silhouette comps etc with no adverse affects although I wouldn't do it.
There is a lot of information on SurplusRifle.com in the handload forum
Yeah, I know they are the same and both very well made, it's just some of the M96's are, you know...old. Where as the M38's are...well younger. I just thought if there is such a thing as metal fatigue the older guns would suffer most. Also, the old long tom 96's have seen two wars and hard use and the M38's are hardly scratched. I happen to think the Husky's are better quality than the Gustof's. I'm not sure if I have reason to think that or it just came to me in a vision. (?!) I also just like the 23.6" barrell of the 38 compared to the 1/4 mile barrel of the 96.
Use the 140 Partitions with 48.0 grains of H4831 and see what the old Swede thinks of that. That's a pretty nice load.
When I had a strain gauge set up on my Remington classic 6.5 x55 and loaded 140 partitions, from 44.0 to 52.0 grains of H4831 (not sc, but I don't think it makes a difference) the pressure calculation was grain of powder charge * 1000 = pressure. It just worked out that way. Pretty cool, huh?
There is not a better and more predictable case to charge with powder than the 6.5 Swede. I will say that Lapua or Norma brass are superior to all the rest and they are very uniform from lot to lot. Lapua is worth it's weight in gold dust. The cartridge can be loaded light or heavy and still give gilt edge accuracy, even in a Remington.(!#?) I love the old Swede. It is not only useful and a good hunting companion but just a great warm fuzzy, love to shoot it kind of round. If you'll excuse me I'm going to go hug my Swede.
We may disagree a tad on the quality of Gustaf vs Husky but other than that, I'm with you all the way. The realtively small number of swedes from the Obendorf factory are apparently the best, but I cannot attest to that as the only ones I have seen have spent too many years behind the seats of pickup trucks. I was lucky, I picked up a pristine matching numbers 1908 Gustaf from an estate sale for 180 bucks. When my eyes are up to it I have shot 5 shot 1 inch groups at 100. If i were to comit the sin of scoping it I am sure that it would be my most accurate rifle. You're right, that 30 inch barrel and full length stock are not the greatest when hiking in the woods, but I get that fuzzy, nostalgic Daniel Boone feeling which is ridiculous as it was built 60 years before I was born and has nothing to do with Daniel Boone. That aside, the metal to wood fit, and the attention to detail on the metal parts are way ahead of any modern over the shelf firearm and the 6.5 is just a beautiful cartridge.
ps. none of that answered the original post. Concensus here in Northern BC. For hunting 125 or 140 Nosler partitions and 4350 or 4831. For plinking 129 Hornady and 4350. Norma load a 154 0r 156 in factory ammo that is apparently very good but rare as rocking horse poop.
"The realtively small number of swedes from the Obendorf factory are apparently the best"....
What do you base this statement on? I have looked at/held but not fired several pristine Obies, and must say of the ones I have seen I would prefer the Swede-builts hands down! I believe this is a common belief only because they were branded Swedish MAUSERS here in the sates.
"If it is a Mauser, the German ones must be the best". Hastgodsel!!
anyone ever read Ludwig Olsens book on the Mausers?
This guy is beyond just being 'an authority', he IS the authority.
Also, will pull out the reference binder for the loads, way too many loads.
Bottom line, any load, 140 grain load; 2500-2600 mv. Accuracy is unbelievable.
I have actually shot .50 inch groups with the 85(?) grain hp , talk about bullet jump from case to grooves/lands.
Love the swede, Remington factory is m.o.a. or less for three round groups out of the military swede.
I'm glad we've resurrected this thread and this old caliber, one of my favorites. We could split hairs and argue about the quality, fit and finish of the old Swede Mausers, Husky, Gustof or Mauser but anyone who has examined one of them will agree they are nice.
As a caliber, the 6.5x55 is top notch, whether for target or the game fields. I have used it quite effectively with 125-129 bullets or 140 grain on deer sized animals with equally pleasing results. I Also have used the 155 grain Lapua Mega bullet. This one is priced right, about $25/100 and will do all the 140 partition can do. At Swede velocity it will retain 90 % or better if you can recover it, it does tend to makes very big exit holes. Truly an elk bullet from such a small-fry caliber. This 6.5 Swede kicks like a 243 and kills like an '06. How much better can it get.
And, Corjack, I'd prefer the 202, the Blaser is just too non-traditional. I have owned a few 202's one in a 7x64 and one in a 6.5x57, nice calibers but I've never seen the 202 in a 6.5x55. I'll try that one.