View Full Version : Has anyone hunted large big game [ELk & above] with a 6.5x55?

March 27, 2001, 08:57 AM
Or with the 260 rem or similar cartridges? If so what bullet/load did you use and what where the results?

Al Thompson
March 28, 2001, 09:12 PM
A good friend killed an elk year before last with a 6.5 x 55 loaded with a 160 grain bullet. Can't recall the brand - probably Sierra, may have been Hornady. He was gunning for mulies and got lucky. No problems with performance, but the 160 in that caliber has over .300 SD. I'd look for a weight that gave me at least that SD regardless of caliber.


March 28, 2001, 11:16 PM
Gizomo99: Do you recall the target angle? [broadside hit? Raking shot?] Did he get an exit? I would be interested in talking to your friend about the 6.5, if he has email could you ask him to email me?

As to bullets with SD of ~.330 go with 7mm/175 grain; 308/220 grain; 416/400 grain; 458/500 grain.

El Rojo
March 28, 2001, 11:51 PM
I just purchased a Swede 6.5x55 and have been doing a bit of research on it. From my understanding this bullet is a deer killer! I guess the sectional density is so great that it just dives deep when it hits and really takes deer down. I would think with that logic and within acceptable ranges, it should be able to take down elk as well. In fact in the American Rifleman I was reading today, it said that people have taken elephants with the 6.5 before!

I would think the 140 gr would probably take deer and probably elk at just about any distance. Sierra makes a round nose 160 that doesn't have the range, but I guess will take down just about anything within range. Good luck with your search.

Al Thompson
March 29, 2001, 06:41 AM
Glamdring - I'll get the exacts at work today. This guy used a sporterized Swede. One note, this guy is a serious hunter/shooter and can flat put a bullet where it should go.

El Rojo - the "rule" on good big game bullets was to always use a bullet with an SD of .25 or better. I think that with the increases in bullet design, that's a bit dated. I still adhere to it though. The 140 grain bullets in 6.5 have an SD of .287 and the 160 is .328. Obviously those weights will give good penetration, is the bullet is up to it.


March 29, 2001, 11:22 PM
I know the 6.5x55 has been used in Norway/Sweden for Moose hunting for a long time. These are not Alaskan sized Moose though.

Gizmo: I have a M38 & haven't yet been able to bring myself to sporterize it, afraid it won't shoot as well as it does now [1.3 MOA with issue sights and Federal Classic ammo or military ball].

March 30, 2001, 03:38 PM
Glamdring, although you know of my love affair (obsession?) with sectional density, there are a few drawbacks about taking the 6.5x55 on an elk hunt.

Shots at over 250 yards (even out to 450) are not at all uncommon when you are out for the mighty wapiti. Notwithstanding the truly excellent penetration of which the 6.5x55 is capable, this cartridge just lacks the initial velocity to carry the necessary punch at such distances. The result of being thusly undergunned is a frustrated (yet espensive) hunt and perhaps even lost game.

When you are out for elk, unless you know you are going to be hunting in very thick stuff, you should bring something that will pack enough punch out to roughly 300 yards.

You can either achieve this by equipping yourself with a flat-shooting classic such as the 7mm Rem or 300 Win (or any of the STW or Ultramags, of course); or you can do like I do and take a big thumper (338 Win or, in my case, 375H&H) and still whack them hard in spite of the more curved trajectory.

The question is not whether a certain caliber is excellent per se. The 6.5x55 certainly is, and it has plenty of historical aura, deserved accuracy reputation, good design, amazing SD, low fuss and low recoil. But the price you pay is in distance - and distance you will need if you want to hunt elk successfully.

Karamojo Bell, my idle, was considered a "long range marksman" in the heyday of the 7x75 and the 6.5x54MS. Yet, he would not pot his elephant at any greater distance than 100-150 yards.
Nowadays, such a shot at elk is considered short-range. The disappointment of losing a perfect trophy-class rack because you used a caliber that was only marginal is something I have experienced, and that I really do not wish upon any of my friends. And it more than offsets the sense of pride you have in a certain caliber as your "pet".

Although I have shot pretty much every caliber on the market - from the old 577-450 Martini Henry to the ultra-modern Lazzeronis, from the tiny .223 to the mighty Nitro Expresses, from the short 6mmPPC to the long 338 Lapua - I have my pets and I stick to them. The 6.5x55 is one.

But fortunately, so is the .375H&H.

A pet is a pet - no buts about it. If you own a lively, smart and fieldworthy Fox Terrier, let him make you happy with the game he will be most able to take. This way, he'll never let you down. Bf you want to run Brown Bears, get yourself a nice Irish Wolfhound. You can still love the terrier......

March 30, 2001, 11:23 PM
416Rigby: I am not a trophy hunter, so I am not to concerned about seeing the "trophy of a lifetime" just out of reach of whatever weapon I am carrying. Or of making long range shots on game. If that was my goal I would probably pick a 300 or 338 Ultra or GA with 26" brrl for portable weapon along with bipod and laser range finder, or a 30-416 or 338-416 with 28 to 32" brrl for a semi portable rifle.

I enjoy being out simply enjoying the outdoors with the option of shooting game if I want to. Because of game laws though I need to be "hunting" to be able to shoot big game.

I am not to likely to pick a 6.5 for an Elk hunt, but if I was there and had the opportunity I would like to know what to expect from the cartridge. Like Gizmo's friend who was hunting for mulies but got an Elk instead.