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Thread: Advice Please – Old Cartridge, Modern Rifle

  1. #1
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    Advice Please – Old Cartridge, Modern Rifle

    Hello. We’ve been down this road before, but this time I have more information for you.

    The rifle is a modern Steyr SBS Ferdinand Mannlicher commemorative in 6.5x54 MS. This is essentially the same rifle as they are producing now in .300 Weatherby and other stout calibers, so strength is not in doubt.

    I have not been able to find any loading data for this caliber in a modern rifle so I would like to concoct some.

    I have tried the Buffalo Arms 160 grain loads and find them anemic, producing around 1950 fps. I loaded up some 120 grain Nosler Solid Base in new Norma brass with F210 primers and 41.1 grains of old stock IMR 4350, giving an average of 2420 fps out of a 21 inch barrel. I feel I can do much better than that.

    The chamber is rather generous. Once-fired loads show case expansion of .009 when measured .330 from the base (.205 from the groove). This may be in part because the Norma brass is undersized, measuring .441 at this point when new, whereas new Prvi Partisan brass measures .446 at the same point.

    The leade is long. No bullet even comes close to the lands, but the shoulder of the Norma brass did not move forward even .001 upon being fired once. The case length actually shrunk from 2.105 when new to 2.099 when fired, probably due to the take-up in the body.

    The closest modern case to this is the 6.5 Creedmoor, with 5 percent more capacity than the 6.5x54 MS. I’m thinking that the Creedmoor loads, reduced by 5 percent, should work OK, working up carefully, of course. Does that sound reasonable?

    I have an RDBS 3-die set with neck sizer. However, I’m thinking that I should have Whidden or Redding custom make a S-type bushing die for it. I just want to bump the shoulder .001 or .002 and not work the body too much. I use S-type dies a lot in other calibers.

    I’m thinking that despite the body expansion, I’m not in danger of case head separation because the shoulder is not moving forward at all. I’m thinking that the long leade is depressing pressures quite a bit.

    I’m hoping to get 2800 fps out of 120’s, 2700 fps out of 130’s and 2600 fps out of 140’s. Am I out of line in my thinking?

  2. #2
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    Diameter of chamber has absolutely no bearing on casehead separation. I've got chambers .009 over-sized ON PURPOSE where I paid a couple hunner't dollars to have the reamer made, 350 more for the blank and then a few hunner'dt more to have it chambered.......all's I'm saying is, I consider generous chambers to be a boon and they certainly don't hurt brass life.

    I don't think you'll get this thing up to Creedmoor velocities but you can safely go up until your primers get loose then back down a couple grains. That will be your MAX.

    Your own personal SAFE maximum load....

    I build all sorts of one-off stuff and work up loads from scratch, some of them using "inappropriate" powders even..... but if you find something similar, start with a mild load and STOP when you get loose primers and you'll never be unsafe.

  3. #3
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    American Rifleman did an article on loading this round in 2015. https://www.americanrifleman.org/art...er-schoenauer/ Hope this helps.

  4. #4
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    Thanks, guys.

    That's quite a mixed bag of results cited in that American Rifleman article. I wonder why he settled for such a low velocity with Varget and the 160 round nose when he had got substantially more with Norma MRP and the 156 Oryx? Maybe he was looking to stay within a particular accuracy window or maybe he was seeing pressure signs. I'm glad I don't have to worry about the metalurgy in an older rifle. I'm hoping for more consistent looking results.

    Any advice on having a custom die made? I should be able to get by for a while using a Lee collet die for a 6.5x55 Swede. That should size most of the neck. Since I've been using type S bushing dies on other cartridges, I have a real allergy to dragging an expander button back through the neck.

  5. #5
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    Your best option for a custom die is the Whidden, properly used. A Whidden die WILL give all the accuracy of which the system is capable.

    If you're a "set the die to touch the shellholder" guy, don't bother, you'll just hate all over the die and wreck brass.

  6. #6
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    Paul

    Quote Originally Posted by vtmarmot View Post
    Thanks, guys.

    That's quite a mixed bag of results cited in that American Rifleman article. I wonder why he settled for such a low velocity with Varget and the 160 round nose when he had got substantially more with Norma MRP and the 156 Oryx? Maybe he was looking to stay within a particular accuracy window or maybe he was seeing pressure signs. I'm glad I don't have to worry about the metalurgy in an older rifle. I'm hoping for more consistent looking results.

    Any advice on having a custom die made? I should be able to get by for a while using a Lee collet die for a 6.5x55 Swede. That should size most of the neck. Since I've been using type S bushing dies on other cartridges, I have a real allergy to dragging an expander button back through the neck.
    the 6.5x54 MA cartridge was not a high stepper. It used looooong bullets and modest velocity and has an excellent reputation for penetration.

  7. #7
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    I'm going to go with H4350 for loads with several bullets. 120 Nosler Solid Base, 120 TTSX, 120 Rem CL, 130 TSX and 140 Rem CL. I'm not going to bother with the 160 round nose. I don't need maximum penetration. I'm not going to be shooting elephants of even elk.

    I have a Pecar 4-10x scope on this rifle with the german number 4 reticle in the first focal plane, just for tradition's sake.

    I might load up some 160's if NH would make wild boar legal. We have a few, but they are assumed to have escaped from the shooting preserve on Croydon Mountain and are therefore property of the preserve. This makes no sense to me as they have been wild since the 30's or 40's and evidently have a breeding population outside the preserve. They sometimes tear up lawns over in Newport.

    So are they going to trap them and put them back in the preserve? Good luck with that.

    Boars are destructive vermin, period.

  8. #8
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    Boars- Your DNR needs some education on the reproduction rate of those destructive vermin. Particularly if they have interbred with domestic animals.

  9. #9
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    I have assembled some test loads with IMR4451 for the Barnes 120 TTSX, the 130 TSX, and the Rem 140 Core Lokt. I'm using IMR4350 for the Hornady 160 round nose. I'm waiting for the snow to subside before I go test. It will also be a test of my new Labradar. The long throat of this rifle should be friendly to the Barnes fodder. The short throat in my Rem 700 .264 Win Mag was not. Barnes bullets had to be seated very deep to acheive any jump at all.

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