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Safety of 6.5 X 55 Swedish ammo in Norwegian Krag? (Read 4453 times)
Dec 13th, 2009 at 7:45pm

dmg4   Offline
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I've received advice from several folks in Norway NOT to use 6.5 X 55 Swedish milsup ammo in my M94 Krag long rifle.  Several other users at Surplusrifleforum apparently use the hotter ammo without incident (yet?).  Is there a source for downloaded 6.5 X 55 ammo in the US?  I'm looking for something pushing a 140 gr bullet at around 2,500 fps, with pressures near 40,000 psi or less.  What's the opinion of folks here?  Is this like the safety of "low-numbered" M1903 Springfields (not likely to blow, but it only has to happen to YOU once).

Should I simply resort to exclusively handloading for Norwegian Krags?
 
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Reply #1 - Dec 14th, 2009 at 9:20pm

Bob_S   Offline
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dmg4 wrote on Dec 13th, 2009 at 7:45pm:
Should I simply resort to exclusively handloading for Norwegian Krags?


Short answer: yes.

Resp'y,
Bob S.
 

USN Distinguished Marksman No. O-067
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Reply #2 - Jan 2nd, 2010 at 3:22am

stevie   Offline
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Apparently this is controversial.

I've seen a Boer-Krag (Boer Krags are Steyr-made 1896-1897 Norwegian M1894-like rifles having 2 or 3-digit SNs falling outside the Norway contract SN ranges and usually lacking Norway acceptance stamps; some are documented as used by ZAR in Boer-war) chronographing 3200 fps with 85 grain hollowpoints....and surviving Norma 139-grain softpoint factory loads

BUT

I found the following on another site:

You should not shoot full power Norma 6,5X55 hunting or match ammo in your Norwegian Krag. It is weaker than Swedish mausers and newer rifles. After the war (WW2) we had some blown up krag actions in Norway, and the pressure of the 6,5 Krag ammunition was set down to approximately 3000 BAR, later(in the 70s) it was even sat down to 2800 BAR (before WW2 pressure on Krag ammo was the same as pressure on swedish mauser ammo, approx 3100 BAR). Today 6,5X55 Swedish has a max pressure of 3800 BAR.

2800BAR = 40600PSI
3100BAR= 45000PSI
3800 BAR=55000PSI

 
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Reply #3 - Jan 3rd, 2010 at 9:53pm

cdagnese   Offline
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A couple of things to consider and differences between the U.S. and Norwegian Krags.  The Norwegians actually had two locking lugs: the one on the front of the bolt face and the guide rib which contacts the rear ring of the receiver (unlike the U.S. model which does n0ot make contact).  Also, the metalurgy on the later (after 1910 or so) Norwegians is vastly superior than the steel used to make the U.S. model, which went out of production in 1903.

SAAMI Specs for U.S. made 6.5X55 ammo is 46,000 cup/51,000 psi.  European 6.5X55 is loaded quite a bit hotter (too hot for the Norwegian Krag and maybe even the Swedish Mauser).  If reloading, I'd stay 20% below any max load shown in a reloading manual and stay away from fast powders except for cast bullets.  My own personal favorite is a Hornady 140 gr SP ahead of enough 4350 to make it go 2400 fps.  I wouldn't worry about occasionally firing U.S. Mfd ammo in 6.5X55.  But I don't think I'd want to fire off 5 boxes every week.  Reloading this cartridge for a Norwegian Krag is a good example why you should use a chronograph when working up loads.


Carl D.
 
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Reply #4 - Jan 5th, 2010 at 11:23am

dmg4   Offline
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Metallurgy and design considerations aside, the recommendation in Norway is to stay on the low side of 40,000 psi in all Norwegian Krags.  That's the pressure manufacturers load to in "Safe for Krag" ammo over there.  That will still push a 139 gr bullet to near 2,200 to 2,300 fps in the rifle, maybe a tad less in the carbine.
 
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Reply #5 - Jan 5th, 2010 at 9:06pm

cdagnese   Offline
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From the Nationmaster Encyclopedia:  Part 1 of 2

6.5x55 (also known as 6.5x55 Krag, 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser, 6,5x55 Mauser and 6.5x55 Scan), was developed by a Norwegian-Swedish committee in 1891 for use in the new rifles then under consideration in the United kingdom of Sweden and Norway. Norway adopted the Krag-Jørgensen, while Sweden adopted a Mauser rifle. Sweden and Norway 1888 The Union between Sweden and Norway refers to the kingdoms of Sweden and Norway between 1814 and 1905, when they were united under one monarch in a personal union, following the Convention of Moss, on August 14, and the Norwegian constitutional revision of November 4. ... The Krag-Jørgensen is a repeating bolt action rifle designed by the Norwegians Ole Herman Johannes Krag and Erik Jørgensen in the late 19th century. ... Mauser is the common name of a German arms manufacturer, maker of a line of bolt-action rifles from the 1870s to present. ...

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. They declared the difference to be insignificant, and that both the Swedish and Norwegian ammunition was within the specified parameters laid down. Despite this finding, the Swedish weapon-historian Josef Alm repeated the rumour in a book in the 1930s, leading many to believe that there was a significant difference between the two types of ammunition.

 
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Reply #6 - Jan 5th, 2010 at 9:10pm

cdagnese   Offline
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From the Nationmaster Encyclopedia:  Part 2 of 2

The 6.5x55 Swedish cartridge is highly esteemed as a game hunting round in Europe, and enjoys a stable following of devotees in North America. It is used for harvesting game as large as moose in Sweden and Norway, while in Canada and the US it is used for taking deer and other medium sized game. Sportsmen who favor the round laud the combination of low recoil coupled with the cartidge's inherent accuracy and superb penetrative qualities. European rifle makers including CZ, Steyr and Mauser all continue to offer sporting rifles chambered for this potent cartridge, while ammunition companies such as Norma, Lapua and Hornady offer "hot" loadings of the 6.5x55 Swedish round that are designed for use only in modern hunting rifles that can tolerate higher chamber pressures. These "souped-up" loadings should never be used in older military rifles.

Early ammunition was loaded with a 156 grain long round nosed bullet (B-projectile) had a muzzle velocity of around 2300 ft/s, while later rounds had a 139 grain spitzer bullet (D-projectile) and offered a muzzle velocity up to 2854 ft/s.
 
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Reply #7 - Jan 6th, 2010 at 10:28pm

dmg4   Offline
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The above information is spot on, but the fact remains that in Norway, ammunition specifically designed to be used in Norwegian Krag rifles is loaded to a maximum pressure of 40,000 psi.  The stretched bolts and fractured receivers that prompted this policy often were not apparent until many years and rounds had passed.  This topic has also been discussed extensive on Surplusrifleforum.com.  To my knowledge all 6.5X55 ammo commonly sold in the US exceeds this maximum pressure by nearly 25%.
 
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Reply #8 - Jan 7th, 2010 at 12:18am

cdagnese   Offline
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SAAMI Specs are developed in a custom made pressure barrel, for their standards.  Each ammo mfr. has their own pressure barrels to test their own ammo.  Whether the chamber size on these pressure barrels uses the dimensions of the loose Norwegian Krag chamber or the tighter chamber dimensions of the Swedish Mauser is unknown.  It makes sense that the larger chamber dimensions of the Krag chamber would tend to lower the pressure relative to the tighter Swede chamber for a given cartridge loading.  However, the difference is also unknown.  Looking at fired primers is not altogether accurate in determining pressure either.

So, as Bob_S said, looks like your only option is to handload and invest in a chronograph - and, even then, you won't know precisely what chamber pressure you're developing.  Develop a good slow load, go to the range and shoot the damned thing.
 
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