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In the last installment… I guess that would more correctly be the “prior installment” as “the last installment” would suggest this one would not exist… the Ruger Hawkeye African was deemed to be an excellent rifle and images and detail were offered up in evidence. Not perfect; not enough to satisfy Diogenes, but clearly more than Congressional rhetoric. I’d give it a 75% correct with 25% subjective bias attributed to my love of blued steel and walnut stocked rifles and the 6.5×55 Swedish cartridge. So here we are, less subjective and with a chronograph and targets to define performance.

Component selection…

Bullet Type Weight In Grains Selected
COL
Sierra Varminter HPFB 100 2.850
Sierra Pro-Hunter SPFB 120 3.000
Nosler Partition SPFB 125 3.025
Hornady SST PTBT 140 3.030

Four bullets were selected that cover hunting applications from varmint to deer and black bear. This is not to suggest that the 6.5×55 Swedish can’t be used for larger game. It if reported, ad nauseam that Swedes hunt Scandinavian moose which grow to a weight of 850 kilograms, or roughly 1870 pounds with this cartridge. However, as a non Swede, I believe there are better choices.

The cartridge overall length is as recommended by each respective component manufacturer, with the exception of the Hornady bullet. The 6.5×55 design, and the Ruger Hawkeye’s freebore, permit preserving case capacity by seating out the bullet while retaining more than enough bullet shank engagement. Hornady recommends a COL of 2.905″ to bring the bullet cannelure to the case mouth. The difference between the 2.905″ and our choice of 3.030″ preserves two grains of useful powder capacity without compromising the assembly.

A Lee factory crimp emulated a factory stab crimp. Normally, neither a bullet  cannelure or Lee factory crimp are necessary as neck tension will do just fine, but some bullets at the recommended cartridge overall length were a little light on seating depth. Left to right, seating depths are, respectively: 0.235″, 0.245″, 0.310″, 0.445″ net of the boat tail. Seating depth can be increased, but then powder charges must also be adjusted to compensate for the reduction in net case volume.

 

Handload specifics

Cartridge
6.5×55 Swedish
Firearm Ruger Hawkeye
Barrel Length 24″
Min – Max Case Length 2.165″ +0.000″/-0.020″
Min – Max Cartridge Overall Length 2.750″ – 3.150″
Primer CCI 200 Large Rife
Bullet Diameter 0.2642″ +0.000″/-0.0030″
Reloading Dies Redding Full Length Sizer

 

Bullet Type  Bullet Weight
Grains
Net H2O
Grains
Capacity
COL” Powder Type Powder Charge
Grains
Muzzle Velocity
fps
Muzzle Energy
ft/lbs
100 Yd
3 Shot
Group “

Sierra Varminter 100 53.7 2.850 H414 49.0 3257 2356 0.9
Sierra Varminter 100 53.7 2.850 Win 760 49.0 3227 2313 0.6
Sierra Pro-Hunter 120 53.6 3.000 Re19 50.0 3056 2489 0.6
Sierra Pro-Hunter 120 53.6 3.000 IMR4831 48.0 2909 2255 1.0
Nosler Partition 125 52.7 3.025 Re19 48.0 2884 2309 0.9
Nosler Partition 125 52.7 3.025 H4350 45.5 2914 2357 0.8
Hornady SST 140 49.6 3.030 IMR4831 46.0 2785 2412 1.1
Hornady SST 140 49.6 3.030 Norma MRP 48.0 2788 2417 0.8

The handloading process was routine. Some loads had slight compression, but none significantly so. CCI. The Redding die set came with both neck and full length sizer dies, but full length was used so the ammunition would work reliably in multiple firearms of the same caliber. Brass was new Norma, sized and trimmed.

The more things change, the more they look different… not Alphonse Karr

I like to examine brass after shooting a round of handloads, just to check for bolt face indents, pierced or popped primers, neck splits, etc. and to check headspace and adjust sizer dies for the next round of reloading. The following is a single round check of each of the table handloads in the order they appear.

Sample # A” B” C” D”
Unfired 0.472 0.435 0.290 2.160
1 0.477 0.440 0.300 2.150
2 0.474 0.440 0.299 2.149
3 0.475 0.438 0.300 2.150
4 0.473 0.438 0.299 2.152
5 0.473 0.438 0.299 2.150
6 0.474 0.439 0.300 2.149
7 0.474 0.438 0.298 2.150
8 0.474 0.439 0.300 2.149

Nothing extraordinary in change from new brass to chamber forming and, yes, cases get shorter as they get wider. A second round of handloads showed minimal change after being only neck resized, particularly at case heads.

Summary

The Ruger Hawkeye African and 6.5×55 Swedish combination makes for excellent hunting rifle performance. I did not spend a great deal of time developing handloads specifically for the subject rifle, but it responded well to my favorite handloads and delivered very good accuracy. The 24″ barrel tacked on considerable velocity for the cartridge and the handloads were by no means pushed to their potential. Again as a caution, these may very well be top loads in another firearm. Shooting was done from a sandbag rest and with a scope in place. I am too old to squint that long at 100 yards but, based on some metallic sight shooting I would not hesitate to go deer hunting without a scope mounted.

The rifle is not a lightweight, but then it isn’t a hefty load to carry in the woods. The balance with the longer barrel is exceptional. It is a really good looking firearm that would stand up to a lot of use. I’m really glad that Ruger makes this type of quality firearm. I believe it speaks well for the brand.

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