Today's cartridge is the 6.5x55 Swede (also known as the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser). It was developed in 1891 and adopted in 1894 by the Swedish and Norwegian military. This cartridge was chambered in both Mauser and Krag/Jorgensen Rifles. It is possible that most of the world recognizes this cartridge as “The 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser” because of the popularity of the Mauser action rifle that it is chambered in. Whatever the case may be, this is a remarkable cartridge.
Typical of the cartridges developed during this time period, the original loading propelled a 156 grain “round nose” bullet at roughly 2,300 ft/sec. However, this cartridge seemed to quickly stand out from the rest and become a favorite of almost anyone who fired it. Low recoil, great accuracy, good bullet weight and mass retention made it an excellent performer. Modern loadings provide bullet weights from 85 – 156 grains at a range in velocity from 3,410 – 2,400 ft/sec. Current loadings provide a max power potential of 2,505 ft-lbs of Energy (139 grains @ 2,850 ft/sec) and 57 lbs-ft/sec of Momentum (156 grains @ 2,560 ft/sec).
The Cartridge Comparison Guide describes shooting this cartridge is like “shooting a cartridge with the recoil of a 243 Win, the accuracy of your best 308 Win and the target destruction and penetration expected from a 270 Win.” One of the most notable features of this cartridge is the “long and skinny” bullet provided by the 140 -156 grain loadings. The sectional density of these bullets can be as high at 0.32. Anytime you have a sectional density of that magnitude, penetration in a soft target will be excellent!
For almost 120 years, the 6.5x55 has survived the on slot of modern bigger, fatter, faster and possibly “sexier” cartridges. Some may say this is because of those hunters who are steeped in tradition and will not let it die. However, over 100,000 Scandinavian Moose tags are filled each year by hunters carrying the 6.5x55. They (Hunters and Moose alike) will attest to the potency and versatility of this great “mid-sized” cartridge.