Should a novice choose a flatter shooting calibre for their one and only rifle???


Well-Known Member
Once again I'm looking to learn from the collective wisdom of SD members, please help?

I have been looking at the 6.5x55 SWE as an all round calibre (will probably only ever have one stalking rifle) and know this is a bit of a hot potato on SD forum and it is often a lively debate that follows when someone stirs the pot
:stir:. As calibre has been discussed lots I don't want to start another thread on that issue. I am however interested in whether the more experienced shots would recommend a flatter shooting calibre to novices, I have shot three bucks with an estate rifle in .243 which was zeroed to an inch high at 100 yards and dropped an inch at 200 yards, so whilst out stalking, the advice was aim at traditional heart and lung shot and as long as it was in range you hit the 'engine room' without to much bother or getting to hung up on 'holding over'. Is a 6.5x55 Swe a bit 'loopy' for a novice, do you think that this is probably an unnecessary added complication. Happy to hearing your opinions.... ready, steady, GO..
Look at how little difference there is in trajectory between the .243 with 85 to 110 grain bullets, versus 6.5x55mm with 120 to 140-gr bullets, out to 300 yards ---> less than you can see, smaller than you can probably hit.

If you are restraining your shots to well under 200 yards, you cannot tell the difference in trajectory.
Anyone good enough to ethically shoot deer at 300 yards is going to be able to do so with a .303 Brit or .300 Win Mag, 7x57R or 7mm Rem Mag.

Concentrate on developing your shooting skills. The recoil is light on either cartridge. My personal opinion is that the 6.5x55, being in a whole next class of lethality over the .243, offers a bit of forgiveness for a less-than-perfect shot placement. And it will kill moose, red deer, wild boar, etc.
A novice should get the rifle he wants. Then he should go out and shoot it and get proficient with it and not fill his, her novice head with faster, flatter and all the other bollox that is talked on here
I'm honour bound to say that you need a 7x75R Vom Hofe Super Express. Now that's out of the way, I'd say that a "flat-shooting" round may make no practical difference under 200 metres, but it may perhaps boost your confidence to know that if you put the crosshairs in the right place, you'll hit the deer near enough where you meant to without having to think about holdover and such. I use a 7mm-08 zeroed an inch high or thereabouts at 100m and I don't give drop a thought. That wasn't always the case though, it came with a bit more experience.

Essentially a 6.5 Swedish will be just fine and do the same. It's just a matter of confidence through practice. Go with what you fancy! And if that's a 7x75R SEVH, so be it.
A novice should get the rifle he wants. Then he should go out and shoot it and get proficient with it and not fill his, her novice head with faster, flatter and all the other bollox that is talked on here

Also, flatter-shooting is no substitute for closer and steadier.
i would concentrate on developing your stalking skills rather than thinking to much about flatter trajectorys , any legal deer calibre zeroed an inch high at 100 yards is going to do what you want it to at novice distances , ie up too 200 yrds , shooting a live animal in a position that isnt bench rest conditions with your adrenalin rushing is going to test your nerve enough , keep it real and dont run before you can walk , just get out ,enjoy the stalk , if you fluff it so what , its there for another day , you will get more enjoyment doing so , happy stalking ,arron.
Bladerunner, I use one rifle for every thing from fox to reds and also one round. 6.5x55 140g soft point. I didn't need to get too hung up on drop I was advised as a novice should not be "pushing" the range at which shots are taken. With experience and familiarity with one round and practice confidence and ability grows. This combination serves me well to 250yrds in the appropriate conditions with the vast majority of shots between 60 and 160. Buy the best you can practice and get closer !
Such a shame some idiot has filled the OP's head with flat shooting BO****.
If you like the 6.5x55 then go with it.And enjoy it !
Rifle shooting is all about putting your bullet where you want it and learning where that is at distance.

Unless your shooting mice you have a good sized target !
A novice should get the rifle he wants. Then he should go out and shoot it and get proficient with it and not fill his, her novice head with faster, flatter and all the other bollox that is talked on here

I like your thinking, 'beware the man with only one rifle'. Get one rifle and learn to shoot it well very much the keep it simple stupid theory, I agree maybe I'm over thinking it
Do most of you experienced stalkers zero a inch high at 100 yards and just get on with it??

thanks for the patience and taking the time to respond, I do find myself reading a lot of things in books and online then get confused and over think it, then I come onto SD and I get straight answers and it really does put my mind at rest thanks again guys :lol:
Most of what is talked and written is just that - talked and written. Everyone on the internet shoots half inch groups and 600 yards and has a load that is so flat that it only drops an inch before it falls off the end of the earth.

All this is utter rubbish. Almost all stalkers shooting in the field shoot 3 inch groups at 100 yards (look at the Black Dot of Doom threads if you doubt this) repeatably and reliably. Many good stalking scopes have cross hairs that cover an inch per 100 yards or thereabouts, so 3 inches at 300 yards. At normal stalking ranges with normal cartridges and loads the difference in bullet drop between different cartridges is a fraction of what the shooter can hold and is less than the area that his cross hairs cover on the deer. The only thing that having a flatter shooting cartridge does, in this context, is give you something to talk about on the internet.

One big factor in accuracy, especially with new shooters, is recoil and a flatter round will often have more recoil as it is putting the bullet out there much faster plus heavier bullets would be preferred for maintaining long range velocity. So the real truth may be that most people may shoot better with a less flat cartridge with less recoil than with a "flatter" one that might give them a fraction of an inch less drop but will also give them more recoil and a flinch.

With this in mind you should get a rifle and cartridge that you like. My advice when making the choice is always to buy something that is common as muck and for which there is a ready supply of ammo and reloading supplies at your local gun shop as you want to spend your time, and money, on going stalking and not on driving around gun shops begging for someone to sell you ammo. Take a look at the ammo selection your local gun shop has in the cartridges you fancy, ask him what he sells the most of and what he has the most reliable supply of and use that to help make your decision.

As for where you zero, well that is pretty much personal choice but a very many people don't zero dead on at 100 yards. I use a 308Win and tend to zero 2 inches high at 100 to be dead on at 200 and this suits me and is what I'm used to. There is certainly nothing wrong with 1 inch high at 100, or even my 2 inches high at 100, but in the end you've got to go with what suits you and your shooting and only you can decide what your personal preference is. If the 1 inch high zero has worked for you then I'd go with that and be confident that there is no wrong answer to this and you are doing the right thing for you.
Get any deer legal stalking rifle. Zero an inch and a bit high at 100 yds. Cross a third and a bit up the body, tight behind shoulder at any where out to 200 yds. Squeeze trigger, deer falls over dead. Works starts. End of story.

If deer looks to far it is too far and half the distance - the do the above.

Look ok at the ballistic charts of all the commonly used calibres and all pretty much of a muchness, and not many in real life can tell the difference. The 6.5x55 is to my mind a very easy to shoot all rounder that does the job very well. Probably a better choice than the 243, but 243 is not a bad choice if mainly used on smaller species.
My calibre choice was driven by chatting with trusted friends and I was ultimately swayed to a 308 by a comment on meat damage from a butcher. I've not regretted it, although I now also own a 6.5x55. I agree with all comments posted, forget flat shooting, forget "rainbow trajectories", all you need is a rifle (and a technique) that reliably and repeatably puts the bullet in the vital area at 1-200 yards (1" and a bit high at 100 for me).
Recently had this chat with a mate who is new to centrefire. All of the previous comments reinforce my advice to him.
In the end he chose .243 as it's mainly roe and munty on his land and he wanted minimal recoil. He wanted fast and flat but upon showing him the differences in trajectory he acknowledged they are much of a muchness. Even my big 45 is 'only' about 12" low at 200 when zeroed at 100. More than manageable. The more modern rounds are much less and easily learnt.
I'd go 6.5x55 just for the heavier bullets but either are decent choices with negligible recoil.
My calibre choice was driven by chatting with trusted friends and I was ultimately swayed to a 308 by a comment on meat damage from a butcher.

I also came to the conclusion that a 6.5x55 is the calibre for me based on trusted friends recommending it, interesting comments from Caorach, about choosing a common enough calibre so I don't struggle getting ammo, I will be looking to use factory ammo, home loading maybe at some point in the distant future, has anyone experience difficulty getting hold of 6.5x55 ammunition ???
so far no difficulty with buying factory ammo except for one occasion when I had to change brand for a couple of boxes

My folks are down in Devon so often down that way can I ask where you get your ammo from? Would you recommend a supplier, I'm in Southampton so its either Winchester or Salisbury for ammo and I'm in Devon more often than either of these?
Cannot over-emphasise the importance of choosing something that is unlikely to experience problems with ammo supply.

I have a few friends who shoot 6.5X55, and they have started to have problems with supply. In particular, they have had to change from preferred loads and makes increasingly often.

I have ended up with a .308 almost by accident, and am extremely glad I did - I have no problem finding ammo, and there is a huge variety of loads to try.

More broadly, as has been said, the real differences between all the standard stalking cartridges are utterly marginal: at normal stalking ranges, under normal stalking conditions, it will make no difference at all which one you choose.

Rather than picking a calibre, search for the best RIFLE you can find, and then apply for the relevant calibre.