The 5.6x50R and 5.6x50 Magnum

By Chuck Hawks

The 5.6x50R and 5.6x50 Magnum were designed to be legal in Germany for use on medium game animals like chamois and reh deer, which weigh about 50 pounds. The 5.6x50 Magnum is based on a rimless, bottleneck case 50mm (2") in length. The rim diameter is .378" and the shoulder angle is 23 degrees. It looks very much like a .222 Remington Magnum case, although it is .118" longer and has slightly different body dimensions. The overall length of loaded 5.6x50 cartridges is about 59mm. The 5.6x50R is a rimmed version of the same cartridge. Both use standard .224" (5.56mm) diameter bullets, and loads for both are identical.

Information about European loads is, naturally, expressed in European standards of measurement. For the edification of my American readers 2.54 cm = 1 inch, 1 meter = 3.25 feet, and 1 gram = 15.43 grains.

European factory loads using a 3.24 gram (50 grain) expanding or FMJ spitzer bullet are available at muzzle velocities (MV) of 1050 meters/second (3413 fps) and 1095 meters/second (3559 fps). The faster 1095 meters/second load has muzzle energy (ME) of 1942 Joule. These are fine varmint loads for the 6.5x50 Magnum.

The most popular European factory loads use a heavier 3.6 gram (55 grain) expanding bullet at a MV of 1000 meters/second (3250 fps) and ME of 1780 Joule. I would think that this would be the preferred load for game larger than varmints. However, some of the European factory loads use 55 grain bullets made by Nosler and Sierra, which are considered varmint bullets in the US.

Reloaders can duplicate these European loads, but not exceed them by much at permissible pressures. The Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading, Sixth Edition shows maximum loads using their 55 grain bullets in front of 27.7 grains of W748 powder or 26.8 grains of IMR 4064 powder at a MV of 3200 fps.

Hornady's 60 grain bullets can be driven at a MV of 3300 fps with a ME of 1451 ft. lbs. with maximum loads of 27.8 grains of IMR 4064 powder or 28.7 grains of W748 powder. These Hornady loads used RWS brass, Federal 205 primers, and were tested in a 23 5/8" barrel.

The trajectory of that load looks like this: +1.4" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, -6.7" at 300 yards. This would seem to be a better load for 50 pound game.

Note: A more extensive article about the 5.6x50 Mag. can be found on the Rifle Cartridge Page.

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Copyright 2005, 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.