The 8x56mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer

By Chuck Hawks

The 8x56 is based on a conventional rimless, bottleneck case 2.21" (56mm) in length. Its rim diameter is .470" and the rim is .045" thick. The cartridge overall length is 3.04". European cases are Berdan primed with large rifle (.217" diameter) primers. Bullet diameter is .323" (8mm).

Traditional RWS 8x56 factory loads drove a 200 grain round nose (RN) bullet at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2170 fps with 2105 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy (ME). The Western and Kynoch factory loads were similar.

I visited the WebSites for some of the best known European ammunition manufacturers, but was unable to find anyone listing 8x56 M-S factory loads. I suspect that they are no longer offered.

I did find that Old Western Scrounger in the U.S. loads 8x56 M-S ammunition, although it is expensive, and C-H offers reloading dies. The OWS loads come with 170 grain soft point bullets, ballistics unspecified.

A reloader with an 8x56 M-S rifle and a supply of brass should have no serious problems. A couple of reloads (enough to get started) are provided in Cartridges of the World, 9th Edition by Frank C. Barnes.

According to that data, 44.0 grains of IMR 4895 powder behind a 170 grain bullet gives a MV of 2260 fps and ME of 1935 ft. lbs. The trajectory, using the Speer 170 grain semi-spitzer bullet (BC .354), looks like this: +1.6" at 50 yards, +2.9" at 100 yards, +2.2" at 150 yards, -0.9" at 200 yards, -6.7" at 250 yards, and -15.5" at 300 yards. The MPBR (+/- 3") is 220 yards.

Alternatively, 40.0 grains of IMR 3031 powder behind a 200 grain bullet gives a MV of 2050 fps and ME of 1875 ft. lbs. That would seem to be a reasonable starting load for the hunter favoring heavy bullets.

The 8x56 Mannlicher-Schoenauer was available in the fine Mannlicher-Schoenauer sporting rifles, perhaps the smoothest bolt action any factory has ever turned out. It provided sufficient killing power for hunting all European and most North American game.

Note: Another article about the 8x56 M-S can be found on the Rifle Cartridge Page.

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