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Thread: Why less recoil?

  1. #1

    Why less recoil?

    Can anyone explain why a 308 firing 120grn bullets with a muzzle velocity of 3000 should produce more recoil than a 6.5x55 firing the same bullet at the same speed.

    Someone from the BDS tried to explain it to me and it all got very confusing. You do hear people say that the 308 'kicks like a mule' and the 6.5 is 'very sweet'. Why is this?

  2. #2
    Recoil is a function of the weight of the bullet and it's velocity applied to Newtonian physics in that every reaction must have an equal and opposite reaction. But recoil also has something to do with the weight of the rifle as well.

    Haven't got a clue why the 6.5x 55 is sweet as apossed to the .308 which kicks like a mule. Personally I agree .308 kicks like a mule. It could be how the charge is made up and how the pressure builds up in the cartridge and breech of the rifle.

    The other question to throw into the pot is. Why is it when a rifle is moderated the recoil from it is decreased when the bullet travels at the same velocity from it?

  3. #3


    Hi Jason

    Now the question about the recoil from a moderatored rifle being less is easier to answer I think - it weighs more, therefore absorbs more of the energy (inertia etc) and cuts down on muzzle flip.

    Shooting my moderatored 6.5x55 with 120g bullets is like firing a .22 now. It's great for the children to use as they don't flinch too much.

  4. #4
    Felt recoil is different from actual recoil and is influenced by many factors. For two loads as you described, I would suspect the differences in felt recoil would be due primarily to rifle weight and stock design. The other factors are too similar to produce much difference. I have noticed many times that a cartridge that should be "milder" than another can feel very violent in specific rifles.

    With heavier bullets the .308 will produce significantly more recoil than the 6.5 with lighter bullets; hence it's reputation as a heavier "kicker".

    Moderated rifles (I'm Canadian, so I assume that is what we call a muzzle brake) use the escaping gasses from the muzzle to actually provide thrust in the opposite direction to the recoiling action. The slots or holes in the device are designed to blow gasses up, sidways and backward to help control muzzle jump. The net effect is two fold. You get less felt recoil, but the noise level increases dangerously. Shooting at a range beside someone who is shooting a large caliber rifle with such a device is not pleasant.

  5. #5
    It's interesting to see the 6.5 x 55 Swedish come up again. I've yet to see anything bad written about this amazingly efficient Victorian era round.

    I've just been through the process of selecting a replacement for my .308. I loved it for its beautiful twisted barrel, and wonderfully patterned stock. I never once lost a beast, so it worked well enough - BUT it was a sod of a kicker. So, I'm replacing with a Sako in the Swedish round.

    I've poured over the stats for weeks, and now ordered the rifle, so we'll see. What seems clear to me though, is that the British army got it absolutely wrong when it selected the .303 round a hundred years ago. My father used to say it kicked like a bucking mule. All the foot-soldier Tommies were frightened of it, and they must have all had terrible flinches as they pulled the trigger. The Swede would have killed just as certainly, but would MUCH more likely to have been on the target. I really don't think the later (allegedly ‘mild’) 7.62 Nato/ .308 is actually much kinder to the shooter than the .303 round. The .303s we had at school were bloody ferocious.

    If you look at all the calibres available in the world it's positively bewildering, and most of them appear to be unforgivably pointless. We just need them to do a job, and to do the job we have to be in command of our rifles, rather than frightened of them.

    Advancing age and reducing testosterone levels seem to have tamed the belching hellfire out of my shooting requirements. It would now be pleasing to achieve what has to be achieved, and not rattle out any more of my teeth.

  6. #6


    [Responding to Watermain]

    If you're as happy with your Sako 6.5 x 55 as I am with mine, you'll be a very, very happy man.

    I've only tried a few of the calibres available, .243, .270 etc, but I went for a 6.5 and it would take a lot of convincing me to change now.

    I also recently switched from partition to ballistic points and have been very pleased with the results. I know people talk about increased carcass damage, but I want my deer to drop everytime and even a marginal shot (yes, I'm sure we all produce them from time to time) now does so much damage that they seem to go over very quickly.

  7. #7

    Thank-you. That's JUST the sort of confirmation I needed to receive. It was quite a nerve-racking business, choosing a single deer calibre.

    Let's see if anyone else has opinions on fodder for the 6.5x55.


  8. #8



    You will never regret arming yourself with a swede.

    I had 3 over the years and only changed to a 25-06 when my last 6.5 blew up (debris in the throat of the action) because I could not get a replacement quick enough.

    nobody has really explained why, but it has the most penatrative power of any round, apparently its down to hydraulics!

    It is sweet to shoot, with or without a mod, and you can get a fantastic range of bullet weights, especially if you homeload.

    It hasnt been altered since 1894 ish when it was developed as the standard military round for the swedish army.

    Karamojo Bell has shot more elephants that any person living (hes dead now) he used a 6.5*55 and most were brain shots.

    Should do for most beasts we will see in the UK eh?

  9. #9
    I do hate to put a slight downer on the 6.5x55 love in, though Karamojo Bell did shoot over 800 Elephants to his own gun it wasnt with a 6.5x55 but a .275 Rigby built by Rigby on a mauser action and a foresight of warthog ivory ( Ref. "Safari" by Bartle Bull ,Viking 1998)

  10. #10



    You are right, it wasnt Kara Bell who used the 6.5, have to get the old books out again and find out who it was, but there was a PH who used the 6.5 to kill hundreds of elephants.

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