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Thread: 6.5x55 vs 7x57 Why?

  1. #1

    6.5x55 vs 7x57 Why?

    This isn't one of those which is better posts. Each is a great cartridge. I own a 7x57, but have owned two 6.5x55s. Although it may be slightly better than the 6.5x55 on most of my hunting (wild pigs w/175gn,) it's not as flat shooting as the 6.5 w/129s. Maybe its just me, but in reading this board the 6.5x55 seems to be more popular. Why? My question has to do with tradition. It seems to me that the 7x57(275) was the traditional stalking rifle cartridge. It was also by two of the greatest Brit hunters of all times, Bell and Corbett. Thanks for your opinions, capt david

  2. #2
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    My take on this is that its the result of fashion and circumstance.

    As fashion and economics started to move people towards American rifles, the likes of .243 and .308 started to eclipse the 7x57/.275, and it began to fall out of fashion. 6.5x55 seems to have been rediscovered fairly recently...I remember maybe 5-6 years ago as I was getting into CF rifle shooting people were waxing lyrical about it on message boards and in gunshops and it seemed to be a very in vogue; everyone was saying it was the perfect middle ground between .243 and .308. There was also the issue that the 6.5mm calibres are/were the largest that the Police guidance allowed to be granted for fox shooting; so 6.5 x 55 made a sensible choice for people who wanted a dual use rifle or a foxing rifle they could later use for deer. However, things have moved on a bit now and more Police forces are allowing 6.5 + calibres for "all legal quarry".

    Of course, now the problem is that few new rifles are chambered in 7x57 and ammunition is harder to come by; unlike .243, .308 and 6.5x55 which can be found in pretty much every little gunshop in the country.

    Personally, I went for a 7x57; I wanted something that would work as a sensible moderate stalking round 99% of the time, but would also be suitable for a range of other hunting tasks around the world. It seemed to fit the bill very nicely!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by captdavid View Post
    This isn't one of those which is better posts. Each is a great cartridge. I own a 7x57, but have owned two 6.5x55s. Although it may be slightly better than the 6.5x55 on most of my hunting (wild pigs w/175gn,) it's not as flat shooting as the 6.5 w/129s. Maybe its just me, but in reading this board the 6.5x55 seems to be more popular. Why? My question has to do with tradition. It seems to me that the 7x57(275) was the traditional stalking rifle cartridge. It was also by two of the greatest Brit hunters of all times, Bell and Corbett. Thanks for your opinions, capt david
    Speeds for the 6.5x55 129 and 130 grain 7x57 are virtually identical so maybe you should try adjusting bullet styles. Or are you comparing 175 grainers to 129's?

    If early Brit gunmakers had opted for the 6.5x55 instead of the European offerings the story would be different. They didn't so history followed it's course. There is no reason for it. People buy what is sold to them.

    As to popularity, the 6.5x55 has been quietly killing deer in the US for three decades. A huge number of surplus rifles were imported and sporterized for hunting use and got put to it. I've been using them since the late 70's. The 7x57 has a similar tale here. Lots of surplus rifles=lots of low cost sporters being built. Unfortunately, the good ones -built on M98 actions- were usually rebarreled to hotter calibers. The M-1895s remained as 7x57's and so fell out of use due to the relatively weak actions. The Swedes were always popular and remain so. There were tens of thousands of "sporters" built around the Swede 1896's but they are scarce on 2nd hand shelves. People are keeping them.~Muir

  4. #4
    I think the above is correct.

    The 303 British and the 7x57(275 Rigby) where probably the most used rounds for deer in the UK until the US rounds appeared from the 60's onwards. The 243 270 and 308 became very popular as the old Enfields and Mausers were retired. So it stood until maybe 10 -15 years ago. The 270 seemed to drop of a cliff in the mid to late 90's and the 6.5 Swede has gained a lot popularity. I think the 6.5 has been taken up by 243 owners who felt under gunned and 270 owners who felt a little over gunned. It is hard to argue against the Swede for much UK stalking - but that will not stop the storm you have just started. We have one every month or two....
    Brian.

    Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you......

  5. #5
    David, the 6.5x55 is readily available in good rifles like the T3, the new Steyr etc and in stainless/ synthetic style. And given that it is a good allrounder that is probably most of the reason for it's popularity. Given it's popularity ammo is readily available as well.

    But the 7x57 is only available as special order or in top end rifles such as the Heym Sr30 etc. If the T3 was readily available in 7x57 I bet it would be a lot more popular.

  6. #6
    I think it is just fashion, at the moment the 7x57 and the .270 are out of favour with the buying public.

    I hate to thwart Muirs theory about the 6.5 as Jim Corbett's friend "Ibbotson" used a Rigby .257, unfortunately it never became quite as popular over here.

    Simon
    Blindness to suffering is an inherent consequence of natural selection. Nature is neither kind nor cruel but fiercely indifferent.

  7. #7
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    The culprit is our own law!

    As the Firearms Acts destroyed the "mass" UK market the volume UK sporting rifle makers - effectivelyBSA and Parker Hale - had to look to the US. So most of their chamberings were what sold in the US (rather than Europe).

    Thus the nonsense that even PH rifles on Mauser actions were chambered in 243 Winchester and 308 Winchester rather than the more suited 6mm Remington or 7mm Mauser or "the Swede".

    The same reason for all that faux *******ised Weatherby look and awful skip line chequering!

    I think that the Knibbs book gives figures for how many of each BSA were chambered in what cartridge too.

    But yes for UK conditions - as Rigby made a good living from - 7x57 is pretty much ideal. And 6.5 x 55 ditto.

    But...the other Parker Hale and BSA markets were? Scandanavia. Where 7x57 just isn't popular but 6.5 x 55 is.

    So therefore IMHO the reason why you'll see PH and BSA rifles in US calibres and 6.5 x 55 but less often (although it was an available option) 7x57 except in BSA.
    Last edited by enfieldspares; 21-03-2011 at 18:25.

  8. #8
    Muir,
    We Have a saying in Texas "It's about like picking fly turds out of a pepper shaker," the difference in the 7x57 and the 6.5x55. I'm a reloader and they really are quite close. Its just that the most common bullet loaded in the Swede is the 129gn and the most common in the 7x57 is the 140gn although I load and shoot a 150 Partition for general game (deer and pigs.) The swede with most loads is marginally flatter than the 7x57. I hunt feral pigs regularly and kill 4-8 each year. The 175gn, which I use when pigs are my only game, I believe is a better bullet for that than any 6.5. That said, I doubt that any animal that I've shot with my 7x57 would be less dead if shot with a Swede using the right bullet. capt david

    Just an aside, but Im considering using the 175, this year, for my deer hunting, if I'm relatively sure the shots will be under 150yds. I wonder if it might damage less meat.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by flytie View Post
    I think it is just fashion, at the moment the 7x57 and the .270 are out of favour with the buying public.

    I hate to thwart Muirs theory about the 6.5 as Jim Corbett's friend "Ibbotson" used a Rigby .257, unfortunately it never became quite as popular over here.

    Simon
    I'm pretty sure the Rigby 257 isn't the 6.5x55 Swede? Isn't that the same as the 6.5 Mannlicher? ~Muir

  10. #10
    The Rigby 275, was in fact the 7x57 or 7mm Mauser, but was loaded and regulated(sighted) with a 140gn bullet at 2,800fps, whereas the 7x57 had a much bigger 173gn bullet. The 6.5x55 was the Swedish Mauser. The 6.5x54 Mannlicher or 256 Mannlicher was the calibre for majority of Mannlicher rifles that were frequently sold by lots of different British Makers and others around the world. This used a long 160 gn bullet at 2,350 fps and is thus technically now illegal for use on Deer as it is below minimum muzzle velocity of 2450 fps, but this canbe rectified by loading a lighter bullet.

    Most 7x57 and 6.5x55 came in Mauser actioned rifles, whilst the 6.5x54 was in mannlicher with bolt handle half way down the action and Very smooth rotary magazine.

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