6.5x54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer

Apthorpe

Well-Known Member
Does anyone use one of these regularly?
I have a 1906 Mannlicher-Schoenauer with open sights and a diminishing stock of Kynoch ammo (also pretty antique) and am wondering what to do with it. It's not especially practical but is a wonderful gun to handle and so far anything I have shot with it dropped like a stone. However, it's not much use in low light, and while I can be acceptable accurate with it,
My questions to anyone willing to share their experiences are:
1. How much of a hassle do you find it getting ammo?
2. How confident do you feel in its/your accuracy with it at medium/longer ranges?
(3. If you know anyone who might want to sell some reloading dies for it....)

I suppose advice from anyone using express sights for stalking would also be most helpful.
 

Greener Jim

Well-Known Member
Unfortunately I don't have one of these lovely rifles but I figured I'd post anyway :)
As you hinted at in the latter part of your post, reloading will be the way forward for you regards getting ammo.
Hopefully the link works but dies are available here http://www.brownells.co.uk/epages/UK.sf/en_GB/?ObjectID=12314&ViewAction=FacetedSearchProducts&SearchString=6.5x54&ICShowAllFacets=1

Not cheap but it'll keep the old girl shooting and will add values the rifle if you chose to sell.

Regards the sights, I haven't used express sights in anger but have always loved the sight picture. Have you considered an aperture sight? A properly skilled gunsmith will be able to mount one to either the back or top of the bolt, although I am no expert on this. Find a smith who is and you will discover the best open sight known to man, although likely at a price.
Apertures are faster, more precise and easier on the human eye than any other non-optical sight; I love mine.

They're no better in low light mind as you will still lose front sight. A fibre optic front sight would fix that but they are ugly and you are still left with finding the rear sight. The human eye automatically centre the front sight in the centre of an aperture but it still has to be able to see the aperture!

Anyway, I've rambled enough.

ps. I would love to see the rifle in question
 

Southern

Well-Known Member
I had one of these 6.5x54mm MS in a stutzen, early 1950s, with a factory swing off mount and 4x Zeiss scope. It is a lovely rifle. I just bought it to keep any Philistine from despoiling it. I was really looking for a stutzen in .30-06 or .308 Win. I used it on deer with the iron sights and the scope, then was talking to a friend who was restoring a .318 Westley Richards and crying about how he had searched for a 6.5x54 MS to take to Africa along with his restored .416 Rigby. Once I hauled mine out for him to handle it, I knew I had to sell it to him, and he did take it to Africa.

Why don't you keep it, and just use it in good light, as you would with use some fine old rifle only in good weather. Get something in impervious finish, synthetic stock, and 6x42 scope for rougher weather and bad light.

If your eyeglasses are not working well for iron sights, get a pair with a single fixed prescription ( no bifocals or variable lens ) just for shooting with iron sights? Put those on when game is in range and make a good shot.
 
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Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
6.5x54 's are lovely rifles and close friend has several, including some with scopes mounted either on a side mount or a swing mount. Don't let it go - they do not make rifles of that quality now, and no reason not to continue using it as it seems to drop everything for you. All sights, whether they be ultra modern top of the range telescopic, or open sights have their limitations. I have open sights on two rifles and can quite happily shoot them well enough to hit clay pigeon sized targets out to 80 / 100 yds, so would have no issue using them on game. And 40 years ago nobody would think twice about using open sights on deer out to any sensible range - up the foreleg, slightly back and squeeze.

Kynochammo - http://www.kynochammunition.co.uk still makes 6.5x54 ammunition with a 140gn bullet at velocities that is legal in Scotland. Holland and Holland on Bruton Street stock it.
 
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bogtrotter

Well-Known Member
6.5x54 's are lovely rifles and close friend has several, including some with scopes mounted either on a side mount or a swing mount. Don't let it go - they do not make rifles of that quality now, and no reason not to continue using it as it seems to drop everything for you. All sights, whether they be ultra modern top of the range telescopic, or open sights have their limitations. I have open sights on two rifles and can quite happily shoot them well enough to hit clay pigeon sized targets out to 80 / 100 yds, so would have no issue using them on game. And 40 years ago nobody would think twice about using open sights on deer out to any sensible range - up the foreleg, slightly back and squeeze.

Kynochammo - http://www.kynochammunition.co.uk still makes 6.5x54 ammunition with a 140gn bullet at velocities that is legal in Scotland. Holland and Holland on Bruton Street stock it.
Are you sure the 140 gn reaches the legal velocity and muzzle energy for Scotland? The6.5 x54 was very popular at one time with professional highland stalkers, the change in the law bringing about its demise due to the unavailability of ammunition that met the legal requirements, some managed to keep legal by reloading but most gave up their rifles opting for calibers that met the legal requirements and had easily obtainable ammunition, this change in the law saw the rise in popularity of the .243 among Scottish professionals.
 

sikasako

Well-Known Member
My brother had access to one of these on an estate on the island of Mull.
lovely rifle from turn of century with an inbuilt rotary magazine.
i understand that this was the rifle of choice for big game hunters at that time, with many an elephant being taken with them. With some loads they fall below the minimum legal velocity for modern day uk deer use!
 

Southern

Well-Known Member
I bought my 6.5x54 MS from its original owner, and it came with RWS 120-gr ammunition and, IIRC, some Kynoch or something in 129-gr. The 120-gr was about 2,700 fps from my 20-inch rifle, which is like a .257 Roberts standard factory load, both of them great deer rifles. I would not hesitate to shoot some large game with something like a 130-gr TSX.
 

bogtrotter

Well-Known Member
Seems like there is more ammunition available now than there was in this rifles hay day.
I was brought up with this rif!e as it was my fathers go to rifle ,this was in the 50s and early 60s 160gn and 180 gn being
the on!y ammunition I can remember being available!e at that time , 180gn being my fathers choice.
 

deeangeo

Well-Known Member
I have a Mod. 1903 MSch Takedown in 6.5x54. Made in 1922, I had it scoped earlier this year and it's a super rifle finely engineered.

Shoots RWS 160gn factory ammo to approx 3/4" MOA @ 100yds.
Currently I reload the Hornady 160gn RN bullet to shoot similar.

Not legal with that weight bullet in Scotland as it doesn't achieve min. Legal MV.
It's not a long range rifle really though, more 120-150yds. Max.

Keep it as they get harder to get hold of at reasonable prices.
I'd love to get hold of a stutzen in 7x57.... Been trying a while now. Rare as rocking horse poo!

Shot three feral goat with it on its' first serious outing earlier this year.
Good clean kills each one @ approx 80/85 yds.
 
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deeangeo

Well-Known Member
Are you sure the 140 gn reaches the legal velocity and muzzle energy for Scotland? The6.5 x54 was very popular at one time with professional highland stalkers, the change in the law bringing about its demise due to the unavailability of ammunition that met the legal requirements, some managed to keep legal by reloading but most gave up their rifles opting for calibers that met the legal requirements and had easily obtainable ammunition, this change in the law saw the rise in popularity of the .243 among Scottish professionals.
Yes, it's quite easily possible to reach the Scottish legal MV and ME with a 140gn bullet...need to use the correct propellant though. Luckily there's a decent selection that will permit legal loads.
 

Apthorpe

Well-Known Member
Deeangeo,
That's very interesting. I've enjoyed checking out the photos you posted of yours. A lovely gun and very informative photos of the scope mounts. I've been thinking about getting mine scoped and have held back so far - partly because I was worried about it looking wrong and not knowing what to put on it - and partly budget. Would you mind if I asked who did the work on yours?

Mine is a Mod 1903 from 1906 with a large round bolt handle. I doubt it's a collectors piece, it's pretty well used and there are two or three different serial numbers on it.

I'm not sure how accurate it is since I can't tell from shooting over open sights whether the size of the groups are down to me, the ancient Kynoch ammo I have for it (160gn RN), or the rifle. I/ it shoots groups of around 3-4" @ 100yds. I'm not sure that the 500yd leaf on the rear sight is a practical feature.

I very seldom practise with it because I have little ammo left and no availability of factory ammo. I'd like to be more confident about my limitations with it beyond 80-100yds and ideally hope to be able to shoot acceptably to 150 or 200yds. I'm on the point of taking the plunge and trying reloading for it, but am a bit hesitant about buying all that kit and it turning out to be an unsuccessful experiment.

7x57 seems a very tempting alternative calibre. Have you seen this one up for sale next week? http://auctions.holtsauctioneers.com/asp/fullCatalogue.asp?salelot=A0916+++1115+&refno=++104722&saletype=

The only thing I've shot this year with it is a fox and a target. Two out of three shots were very gratifyingly accurate. Now fluke is feeding enthusiasm....
 

Apthorpe

Well-Known Member
Jim,
Thank you very much for the advice and info. I haven't considered an aperture sight. I'm inclined either to fit a scope or to leave the rifle alone. I'd like to be able to use it in poor light. I'll throw this into the mix though and think about it.

PS I'm away from home for a while but will post some photos when I get the chance.It came from South Africa and has had a "well looked after working life".
 

deeangeo

Well-Known Member
That's a nice rifle at Holts Apthorpe, but too rich for my blood in value. Hey ho!

It's very very difficult to find the 'right' gunsmith to do this work. It's also very expensive, just the parts (The correct ones for the scope you choose being essential) were £400 & another £500 to have the bits put on..+ of course the scope you choose.
The finished result well worthwhile though.

You can check out more information on how I went about it on the NitroExpress website.

http://forums.nitroexpress.com/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=265388&an=0&page=1#Post265388
 
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Apthorpe

Well-Known Member
Thank you very much for that. It'll be an enormous help and save a hell of a lot of research if I decide to go down that route later. For now, I'll content myself with finding a die set, trying out reloading and seeing what accuracy I can get without spending any more than I have to.
It may turn out that it's not versatile enough and I'd need to get another rifle - but that would be difficult domestically.
 

deeangeo

Well-Known Member
Thank you very much for that. It'll be an enormous help and save a hell of a lot of research if I decide to go down that route later. For now, I'll content myself with finding a die set, trying out reloading and seeing what accuracy I can get without spending any more than I have to.
It may turn out that it's not versatile enough and I'd need to get another rifle - but that would be difficult domestically.
Not sure, but I think Brock & Norris had a set of Hornady 6.5x54 dies...but be careful ..!
Those dies are designed to seat pointy nose bullets like the 140gn Hornady SST...if you want to seat Round Nose bullets like the 160gn Hornady Interlock, you'd do well to check out a Redding die set with the wide RN seating cup.

The seating cup/plug in the seating die is important for the type of bullet you want to seat.
I bought the Redding for RN & RCBS for pointy bullets.

If you don't use the rifle too much, RWS (May) make the ammunition.
Good luck.
 
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Apthorpe

Well-Known Member
From what I've been able to find out only Kynamco make the ammunition. Holland & Holland seems to be the only London stockist and they say that they can only get it by special order of at least 200 rounds. That's not really what I call a practical supply of factory ammo.
 

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