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.
|Bullet||Type||Weight In Grains||Selected
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.
|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
|COL”||Powder Type||Powder Charge
|Sierra Varminter||100||53.7||2.850||Win 760||49.0||3227||2313||0.6
|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.
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.
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.