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LONG RANGE HUNTING..paco
Itís not my kind of hunting anymore, but thatís all right many like it. And besides I did it this way for many years, in the wide valleys, distant ridges and open mountain slopes of my past. I was seated under a fairly thick ScrewBean Mesquite tree with heavy branches draping downward. Anything looking in my direction would find it hard too see me, in itís shadows. Especially with the morning sun coming up over the ridge behind me. I was glassing the far ridge across a wide valley in front of me. It was from 350 yards at itís nearest spots jutting toward me, to 450 yards at the furthest.
It was exactly the set up I needed to test the sniperís rifle we built. I know that in Sweden and surrounding countries the 6.5MM and 7MM calibers have been used extensively on all kinds of game...including moose. For years the Swedish Government loaded ammo and gave it free to itís citizens. They had learned in the First World War they needed a nation of civilian riflemen because they had so few citizens....the citizens had to be a Citizen Army. In the Second World War, this national call to arms and training paid off. They drove the German Armies crazy...both the 7X57s and the 6.5X55s were used very effectively against the Germans. After the that war, from the 1950s to late in the 1980s, Swedenís citizens carried on the tradition with ammo from the Government...rifle practice was a national pass time, target shooting contests were held in every village and town...as was hunting a national sport, 6.5X55 also has a reputation as a target round...many European biathlon shooters use it.
I felt at ease about using the 6.5X55 at these long ranges. Knowing deer are relatively soft animals and that the heavier bullets like the 140 grainers, the 154 grain round nose and the various 160 grain bullets would not give the expansion and damage needed for a quick harvest...especially at these extended ranges...that left me with the 95 thru 120 grain bullets to choose from. The Hornady V-Max 95 grain boat tailed spitzer with itís neat red plastic tip is 1.02 inches long and the 120 grain Sierra Spitzer soft point is only .08/100ths of an inch longer with a B.C. of .433. So the V-Max has to be near .390 to .400 B.C. and with 54.5 grains of ReL#19 for 3340 fps from my Ď96 Swedish Mauserís 28 inch barrel...the lack of bullet drop was outstanding.
With a three inch high impact at 100 yards, in actual tests it was almost four inches high at 200 yards! That was a surprise...but followed by more, it was a still a half inch high at 300 yards...seven inches down at 400 yards and just under 22 inches at 500 yards! The group for five shots at 400 yards was under eight inches...long range ballistic tables state at 400 yards the 95 grain BT is still doing over 2400 fps, so it is generating over 1200 lbs of impact energy at that range...and at five hundred yards, itís still giving over a thousand ft.lbs of energy.
Thatís why I used the 95 grainer, which is usually a varmint bullet, And out to near 275 yards with that initial muzzle velocity, 3340 fps, it still is. But at four hundred and beyond it acts like a violently expanding, but holding together, game bullet. How do I know...first by shooting into very wet phone books and wood at 50 yards with the bullet loaded to 2400+ fps. Rotational speed isnít as high as it would be at 2400 fps coming down from 3340fps...but I didnít think at 2400 fps it would make that big a difference, and it didnít. I got over 13 inches of penetration in wet books and a piece of 3/8 ths plywood placed between the books after the first two inches.
After the stress tests at fifty yards and the fine performance of the 95 grain BT at 2400 fps (loaded down for the tests). I set out to try it at various distances also into wet newsprint and phone books. Both for distance and accuracy...and performance at long range. Ballistic tables may be fine for comparisons of various loads, but getting out there and shooting over very long range is the only way to test....It appears that my military 96 barrel has a very quick twist around 1 in 8 Ĺ....so bullet yaw in the direction of the rifling would probably not be a problem, that it is with some slower twist barrels in calibers up to around the .358 bores at extended ranges. The 30 calibers with a one in twelve twist, like my old trusty BSA in 308 Norma magnum out at 300+ to 500 yards, with a 168 grain BT will go from 2 inches to five inches in the direction of the rifling....velocity of course has a good deal to do with this also. The 308 Norma magnum round is a short magnum designed to fit 30-06 length actions...so the velocities are not up around those of the 300 Winchester/300 H&H/ 300 Weatherby levels. More to the point of being around 10 to 15% better than the 30-06.
In testing the 140 thru the 160 grain 6.5 mm bullets in the 6.5X55, I thought at first I would get the same kind of yaw paradigm, happily I was wrong, the fast twist did take care of the problem. One of the surprises I did get from the 55mm case was itís internal capacity. Thinking the 57mm case is longer, I figured the internal capacity was more in the 57mm case. But the 55mm case is not the same design or parent case, it is larger at the base with less taper to the shoulder, a fired and neck sized only 55 mm case was .480 at the base where the 57 mm case has the 06 base of .470. From the neck/shoulder juncture to the base the 57 mm case is 1.87 inches long...and the 55mm case is 1.86 inches long. The 55mm case is .435 inch shoulder wide, the 57mm case is .429 wide. And the shoulder angle with the 55 mm case is sharper....all these numbers is to point out that the interior case capacity of both cases, are almost equal. The length of case difference is really in the neck. With the 57mm case neck .369 inch long and the 55mm case shorter at .307 inch. But still the 55mm case holds 51.5 grains to the base of the neck...and the 57mm holds 52.3 grains....my-my.
Also the late manufactured 1896 Model Mausers are as strong as needed, with two locking lugs and modern steel, modern non magnum rifle pressures are taken in stride. With thousands of rounds thru this 96 now....most at 52,000+ to 55,000 psi, with nary a sign of pressure problems..so Iím not worried over itís ability to take modern pressure loads. With all this why shoot a deer with a 95 grain bullet when many fine game bullets come in 120 to 140 grains?
Easy, even downloaded at 2400 fps like with the 95 grainer, my tests showed the 120 grain spitzers not to have the violent expansion qualities I wanted. At the ranges I intended to shoot I wanted the deer to go down as quickly as possible, not run for several hundred yards. The 120 grainers...the best at 2400 fps in my tests was the Sierra ProHunter 120gr. spitzer soft point, but still it wasnít enough...their 120 gr. HPBT gave exceptional accuracy but not the impact performance of even the spitzer soft point, it seems to be more of a target bullet. Hornadyís 129 gr Spire soft point #2620 was the second best after the Sierra 120 Spitzer. Now remember I am talking of violent expansion at 400 to 500 yards here, not the normal performance of game bullets. These other 6.5 bullets are absolutely excellent game bullets made for deer, black bear, and antelope hunting when loaded to their potential. I was just looking for other criteria. Hornadyís 100 grain Spire Point soft nose was actually more of a hunting bullet than some of the heavier 6.5s. Speerís 120 grain gave outstanding accuracy, but again was a game bullet. So the Hornady 95 grain V-Max Boat tail was my choice.
Now before my critics yell itís a stunt...and it shouldnít be done! The 6mm Remington and the .243 Winchester rounds, both take more deer in Texas alone than all the thirty caliber rifles put together do there.. When I lived there for a few years, the .243 was like a Texas State caliber...and the 95 thru 105 grain, 6mm bullets took tons of deer meat every year.
An old range measuring device, told me the group of deer that came out in the sun to warm themselves were 430+ yards from me. Holding very steady over a branch in the ScrewBean tree, on a spike buckís back line...I never felt even an indication of recoil...recoil is modest with this load and bullet weight anyway...but I donít even remember modest. The little buck walked 20 to 25 yards and lay down. The others milled around but obviously they werenít spooked enough to run, the sound of the rifleís report was so far off.
It took me awhile to get to him...but he was long dead. The bullet went in low in the right side destroying the lung and crossing over forward some and destroying most of the front of the left lung....it shed itís jacket but had reached the size of a nickle..other than the jacket not much lead was left...about 30 grains of lead in a unrecognizable lump...I have no intentions of hunting like this in future seasons...I just wanted to prove my sniper rifle and get a little winterís meat...the spike field dressed wasnít over 100 lbs...didnít weight him, just carried him out. Of course by the time I got to my Ford Ranger...he felt three times that weight...never the less not over 100 lbs.
It was an enjoyable testing and hunting experience...but when I hunt now it is really with handguns and leveraction rifles....