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No free man shall ever be de-barred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

- Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, Proposed Virginia Constitution, 1776

6.5 x 55mm

The 6.5x55mm or 6.5x55mm SE (C.I.P.) rifle cartridge (also known as 6.5 x 55mm Krag, 6.5 x 55mm Swedish Mauser or 6.5 x 55mm Mauser) was developed in 1891 for use in the new rifles then under consideration by the Swedish-Norwegian Kingdom. The two nations had independent armies and the normal procedure by that time was that the respective MOD's agreed on using the same ammunition and then purchased small arms or ordnance by their own choice. For this cartridge Norway adopted the Krag-Jørgensen rifle, while Sweden adopted a Mauser rifle design.

6.5 x 55mm rifle cartridge.

6.55 x 55mm cartridge.

Early ammunition was loaded with a 156-grain (10.1 gram) long round-nosed bullet (B-projectile) with a muzzle velocity of 2300 fps (700 mps), while later rounds used a 139-grain (9 gram) spitzer bullet (D-projectile) with a muzzle velocity of 2854 fps (870 mps).


The 6.5x55mm cartridge was used by Norway in the Krag-Jørgensen rifle and in the Madsen machine gun, as well as in several prototype self-loading rifles.

Krag-Jorgensen M1912 Carbine in 6.5 x 55mm.

Krag-Jørgensen M1912 Carbine in 6.5x55mm


In Swedish service, the 6.5x55mm cartridge was used in the Model 1894 carbine, the Model 1896 and Model 1938 rifles, the Ag m/42 semi-automatic rifle as well as in several light and medium machine guns, like the Browning BAR, Kg m/40,
Bren Gun, FN MAG, Browning M1917, Browning M1919 and Schwarzlose.

Swedish Model 1896 rifle in 6.5 x 55mm.

Swedish Model 1896 rifle

Sedish AG-42 rifle in 6.5 x 55mm.

Swedish AG-42 rifle

Sporting Use

The 6.5x55mm cartridge is highly esteemed as a hunting round in Europe, Scandinavia, and North America. Hunters use the 6.5 x 55mm for harvesting most kind of game including elk, moose and brown bear in Sweden and Norway.  In Canada and the United States the 6.5 x 55mm sees use taking deer and other medium-sized game. Sportsmen favor the combination of low recoil coupled with the cartridge's inherent accuracy and superb penetrative qualities.

European rifle makers, such as CZ, Steyr and Mauser, offer sporting rifles chambered for the 6.5 x 55 mm cartridge, as does the Finnish arms manufacturer SAKO/Tikka. Ammunition manufacturers, such as Norma, Lapua and Hornady, offer loadings of the 6.5x55mm round designed for use only in modern hunting rifles that can tolerate higher chamber pressures.

Shooters also use the 6.5 x 55mm cartridge in the Sauer 200 STR (Scandinavian Target Rifle) and biathletes used the cartridge biathlon competition until 1975 (when it was replaced by the .22 Long Rifle (.22 LR) rim-fire cartridge).

Due to different interpretations of the standard, i.e. the standards of manufacturing using maximum chamber in the Krag vs. minimum chamber in the Swedish Mauser, a small percentage of the ammunition produced in Norway required a heavy push on the bolt handle to chamber in the Swedish gun. After the rumor of this difference first surfaced in 1900, it was examined by the Swedish military. The  Swedish Military declared the difference to be insignificant and confirmed both the Swedish and Norwegian ammunition was within the specified parameters. Despite this finding, the Swedish weapon-historian Josef Alm repeated the rumor in a book in the 1930s, leading many to believe that there was a significant difference. The CIP MAP for the 6.5 x 55 SE is 380 MPa (55000 PSI). SAAMI MAP for this cartridge is 46,000 CUP or 51000 PSI.[2]

6.5 x 55mm

Type                                                      Military Rifle
Place of origin                                   Norway/Sweden

Service History

Used by                                               Norway, Sweden

Production History

Designed                                            1891
Produced                                           1894


Bullet diameter                               0.264 in (6.71 mm)
Neck diameter                                 0.299 in (7.60 mm)
Shoulder diameter                        0.435 in (11.04 mm)
Base diameter                                  0.480 in (12.20 mm)
Rim diameter                                   0.480 in (12.20 mm)
Rim thickness                                   0.059 in (1.50 mm)
Case length                                        2.165 in (55.00 mm)
Overall length                                   3.150 in (80.00 mm)
Case capacity                                    3.75 cm³ (58 gr H2O)
Rifling twist                                       1-8.66 in (220 mm)
Primer type                                        large rifle
Maximum pressure                        55,000 psi (380 MPa)

Ballistic Performance

Bullet weight/type                      Velocity(MV)                         Energy(ME)
100 gr (6.5 g) HP                                    3,183 fps (970 mps)                        2,250 ft·lbf (3,050 J)
120 gr (7.8 g) BT                                     2,812 fps (857 mps)                        2,108 ft·lbf (2,858 J)
140 gr (9.1 g) SP                                     2,651 fps (808 mps)                        2,185 ft·lbf (2,962 J)
160 gr (10 g) RN                                     2,524 fps (769 mps)                        2,264 ft·lbf (3,070 J)
Source: Hodgdon

[1] 6.5x55 load" data from Hodgdon
[2] "6.5 x 55 Swedish Mauser data" from Accurate Powder

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I recently ordered a couple of new guns from my local gun shop. It may be a while until they come in, from what I am told. I ordered a 3 inch Ruger SP101 in the new .327 Federal Magnum caliber and a Ruger Hawkeye African in the .375 Ruger caliber. The seller tells me that the SP 101 in that make up is just now trickling out of the factory and that distributers are having a hard time stocking them for retailers, so I may be waiting a for more.