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?


Well-Known Member
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?

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.
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.
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.

[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.


Active Member

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.



Active Member


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?
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)


Active Member


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.

paul k

Well-Known Member
I have never shot a 6.5 x 55 but have heard good reports from almost everyone who has one.

The business about recoil is interesting. When I went stalking for boar last year I was handed a .458 Heym by the stalker and I said that I had better wear another jersey for protection from the recoil. His response was that it was such a well balanced rifle that I would not notice it kick any more than my own .270, probably less.


Well-Known Member
I swapped to a 7mm08 a couple of years ago from a .243, the felt recoil is far less, and lots less than my mates .308.

so much that two locals are swapping to 7mm08 now.
That's really interesting. The 7mm08 is said to be a shooter-kindly round. My table gives the recoil at 12.6 lbs @ speed of 10.1 fps (quite slow). The .243 at 8.8 lbs @ 8.7 fps. The .308 at about 15 lbs @ 11.7 fps. But the Swede is 10.6 lbs @ 8.7 fps. The Swede is also pushing along a 140gr bullet, compared to the 100gr of the .243 so it's a lot of bang for your buck (oh dear – a pun). It seems that the recoil slowness of the 6.5x55SE is part of its perceived beautiful manners, despite the fact that it seems to do all jobs in the British Isles to perfection.

I've tried all sorts of calibres over the years, up to .375 H&H. It may be that I am unduly sensitive to recoil, but I have to say I've HATED the rifles that have recoiled hard. I just don't see the need for it. My chum's .270 was even more of a clouter than my .308, and a 30-06 I tried for a morning at Bisley gave me a headache. I know it's considered fun to shoot fire-breathers, and I'm sure many members will say that the .270. .308, and 30-06 are total pussycats - indeed I've shot .308 since the 1980's without being so concerned that I could be bothered to change, so maybe they're right. All the same, I've got to the stage where if I can do the job reliably with something that does not make me THINK I'm paying a too-high price for it, then that's where I'll be laying down my money - and indeed I have.

Telling any man that his rifle is less than perfect is a sin second only to telling him you don’t like his dog. We all become defensive about our choices. To each his own – obviously, and for each job, the correct tool. If and when I’m fifty yards from a Cape buff who is ****ed off at me, I shall not be toting a 6.5x55SE.


Well-Known Member
(Watermain, If your Fity yards from a ****ed off Cape Buff with a 6.5x55SE best save the last round in the magazine for yourself or do a 100m faster than lynford Christie.)

I think recoil is a strange thing, personally I think the recoil from a 30-06 is less harsh than that of a .308 rifle however the physical make up of the two rifle which were shot were very different. I think the physical size of the rifle and design and weight of the stock has an effect on the the amount of recoil the shooter fell's.

Bambi Basher

Hi guys nice to find another stalking forum, I notice one or two guy from other forums on here and some of you may recognise me from Passion for stalking or Modern Stalking. This site looks a good one. :lol:

So for my first post I am going to be a bit controversially, and criticize the 6.5X55. I am fully aware the criticizing a stalkers calibre of rifle is tantamount to calling his wife a prostitute. So here goes:- :evil:

I aim this not a you guys who have a 6.5X55 as if you are happy with it then fine but to anybody that is looking for a new rifle calibre, also to try and give some of these threads a bit of balance.

I am not anti the 6.5 bore size and would consider a 6.5-284 or a 6.5-06 for a one rifle does all. But as this government still allows us to have more that one rifle I will use the most appropriated “tool for the job”.

The trouble with the Swede is that it was designed over 100 years ago and the maxim pressure that it can be loaded to is modest compared to more modern cartridges this leads to low muzzle velocities.

A number of comments have been made on here in various posts in favour of the 6.5X55 I will counter some of these.

The 303 does kick more than a 6.5 sure but the military loaded it with 174gn or even 210gn bullets put a 210gn bullet in a swede and tell me it don’t kick. The other problem with the Enfield is poor stock design (a good stock can make a big difference to felt to recoil.) I have shot a sporterized .303 using 150gn soft points and found it’s recoil very acceptable. The British military had a prototype small bore rifle before the start of the First world war the P14 in .276 cal (a .270 or 6.8mm bore) the start of the war meant it was never introduced in to service, and we still had the .303 to after Korea.

The Japanese used a 6.5mm rifle at the start of WW2 they found it performance lacking and then in the middle of a major conflict changed to 7.7mm (.30 cal) cartridge. This lead to supply problems as you could imagine, good for us Tommys though. :D

If I was facing a Jap doing his Banzi bayonet suicide charge I would be looking for some big 210gn round nose bullets with plenty of knock down power, not a small bore 6.5 that just puts knitting needle hole though him.

Someone mentioned that it was flat shooting round and that is why it is used at 1000yrds.
It is not Flat shooting, it drops a third more at 300yrds than a 270 using top reloads in both calibres and 130/129gn bullets, moving up to 140gn bullets does not help it ether.

When shooting at a 1000yrds the amount of bullet drop is not a issue. You just have to dial in the right elevation so long as the bullet stays supersonic. It will reach the target. To win you need to be able to read the wind and having a bullet that is less effected by wind is a big advantage. Bullets with high BCs are less effected by wind hence why the 6.5mm bullets were used. But remember that the target shooter will reload his own cartridges and often will not use the reloading manual but will load until he see’s signs of high pressure then back off a bit. In a single shot modern target rifle with a something like a RPA quad lock action and good quality brass, his reloads will be well hot compared to the manual recommended loads. :eek:

I know of one guy who run his so hot that I would not dare put that load on a open forum, as some dim wit would try it in his old military 6.5X55.

The favour cartridge coming to the fore now is the 7mm WSM for long range shooting. This cartridge is every thing the 6.5 swede is not. ;)

The 6.5X55 is soft on recoil because it pushes it bullets slowly, if you were to down load a 270 or a 308 with the same bullet weight to the same velocity as the swede you would find the same level of recoil.

Unfortunately for every reaction there is a equal and opposite reaction, and even the “mighty” swede can’t beat science. With this low recoil comes poor down range effectiveness of its bullets. A High velocity bullet kills in two ways one is by the tissue damage and bleeding and secondly by hydrostic shock. The hydrosic shock is what drops a deer on the spot with a heart shot, the bullet passing though the heart sends a shock wave down the major arteries to the brain cause instance death. This phenomena can be seen when looking at the shock waves in ballistic gel, or think of the bow wave of a boat as it pushes though water.

The low velocity of the swede means that it has to rely more on tissue damage that producing hytrostic shock. Remember as you local Camera Safety Team (tax collection unit) keeps telling us “Speed kills”. ;)

You will hear people extort the penetrative properties of the 6.5 this is because it drives it bullets slowly so they are not expanding correctly, this leads to over penetration. Seeing that I have shot Sika stags face on in the chest and it has exited out it’s a**e how much penetration do you need for UK deer species. :p

Moving to subjective evidence after using his 6.5X55 on Red stags for a number of years my mate has had enough of having to give them more that one bullet to put them down. The final death nail for the 6.5 was watching the 270 dropping even the largest rutting stag on the spot.

For a “light” deer rifle I would pick a 243 not for any ballistic performance this round may or may not have, but because I find that it is the largest calibre I can shoot and providing the rifle is a good fit I can still see the bullet strike.

To summarize the 6.5x55 produces slightly more power than a 243 after all it’s modern equivalent the 260rem is only a 243 necked up, with this in mind and don’t make it your first chose for Red or Sika stags ect.

Could somebody explain what science makes a bullet perform better at 140yrds than a 50yrds?

Now digging a deep foxhole and putting on tin hat to wait for incoming but hey you lot only have 6.5X55s so should be pretty safe. :p



Well-Known Member
Ouch! harsh words indeed, but then this site is very pro 6.5x55 so someone needed to chip in.

I would agree the 6.5 is NOT a flat firing round, whoever said that must be shooting 95 grns or something very light. Federal 140's drop 4" at 200 yards and a whopping 16" at 300 if zero'd at 100. Once you are aware of it's limitations you take your shots accordingly.

Having said that, speed isn't everything, I like the fact it is slow, that is why is a joy to shoot and it will still take down anything in the UK with correct placement. We went Boar shooting in Europe in November and it killed them too!


Bambi Basher said:
The trouble with the Swede is that it was designed over 100 years ago and the maxim pressure that it can be loaded to is modest compared to more modern cartridges this leads to low muzzle velocities.

You have made this statement before and the same answer you received then still applies.

Modern manufactured rifles can and do withstand higher pressures than those manufactured 100 years ago.This applies to the 6.5X55 just as it applies to the 30-06 and the rest of the long established calibres.

I could go on but seeing as this subject matter has been done to death on more than one occassion on various shooting and stalking sites over the last 2 years, I shall refrain.

Bambi Basher

Bradley said:
Bambi Basher said:
The trouble with the Swede is that it was designed over 100 years ago and the maxim pressure that it can be loaded to is modest compared to more modern cartridges this leads to low muzzle velocities.
Modern manufactured rifles can and do withstand higher pressures than those manufactured 100 years ago.This applies to the 6.5X55 just as it applies to the 30-06 and the rest of the long established calibres.


The problem with the fact that it was designed 100 years ago means that rifle ammunition manufactures have to produce cartridges that are safe to use in all rifles be it a new modern rifle or a 100 years old classic. By the same token reloading data has to be written for all rifles.

Just because a cartridge was designed a long time ago does not necessarily mean that it was designed to operate at a low pressure, the old .270win is over 80 years old but runs a 65,000psi there are not many non-magnum cartridges that operate as high as that even though they have been designed in the latter half of the 20th century.

Therefore do not equate old with running at low chamber pressures the 30-06 runs a extra 20,000psi over the old Swede.

There may be a case for a new definition for a modern rifle of “6.5X55 Plus.” (Rather like the old .38 special revolver round and the .38 special plus revolver round.) This would have to be standardized with the proof houses. Then all new rifles could be proofed to lets say 60,000psi. This would allow the 6.5X55 to perform almost as well as the 6.5-06.

The only problems with this is then your 6.5X55 would kick like a 25-06 no free lunches remember for every action there is a equal and opposite reaction and if somebody mixed up the new 6.5X55plus with the old standard 6.5X55 and put it in a old Swedish Mauser it could cause injury or death to the owner. :eek:




Ammunition manufactures produce products that comply with the SAMMI specification for that particular calibre. Age of the design has nothing to do with it. The standing caution observed by all those who choose to use older rifles is to be wary of using modern day products loaded with modern components in an antiquated weapon.

Why try and achieve 6.5-06 performance from a 6.5X55, it serves no purpose. I have used a 25-06 I didn't find that it suffered from excessive recoil.

We already have a 6.5X55plus available its called the 6.5X55AI Granted its not running at 60,000psi but its hot enough for my requirements. Plus trying to jam it into a standard 6.5X55 chamber is rather futile.

A degree of standardisation between proof houses already exists, in countries that have proof houses of course. The USA stands outside the circle of course.