The 6.5x47mm Lapua

By Chuck Hawks

6.5x47 Lapua
Illustration courtesy of Lapua.

Lapua of Finland developed this new and rather obscure bench rest cartridge in 2006. It uses an almost standard .470" rim/head diameter and is similar in overall length to the .308 Winchester so that it can be used in standard short rifle actions.

Lapua, in their English language promotional material, call the 6.5x47 a "novelty cartridge," a rather charming description, but probably not exactly what they intended. Finnish doesn't always translate directly into English. They go on to say that the new cartridge was developed for serious long-range target shooting in conjunction with rifle manufacturer Swiss Grünig & Elmiger AG.

Standardization is by CIP at a maximum average pressure (MAP) of 63,090 psi. The case uses small rifle primers, apparently at the request of American bench rest shooters, as Lapua had originally intended that it use standard large rifle primers.

Here are some salient facts about the cartridge courtesy of Lapua:

  • The cartridge chamber dimensions are optimized for target bullets
  • High pressure level (4,350 bar / 63,090 psi) and optimized powder capacity enables high velocity and flat trajectory
  • Low wind drift makes the shot especially accurate
  • Reduced barrel wear compared to eg. 6 mm BR Norma
  • The 6.5x47 Lapua has base diameter and overall length similar to the .308 Win., allowing it to accept the same bolt heads and fit into similar actions and magazines
  • CIP approval process ongoing

The 6.5x47 case is 1.845" long with a .470" rim diameter, a .451" shoulder diameter, a .295" neck length, and a 30 degree shoulder. (These are preliminary dimensions, as at the time of this writing the cartridge has not completed CIP standardization.) It uses small rifle primers and .264" diameter (standard 6.5mm) bullets.

The ballistics are not exceptional, but they are adequate for a bench rest cartridge. Lapua quotes a muzzle velocity (MV) of 3084 fps with a 108 grain Lapua Scenar bullet, 2887 fps MV with a 123 grain Scenar, and 2690 fps with a 139 grain Scenar. These are, of course, target loads using target bullets.

The 6.5x47mm Lapua is probably not going go be replacing the .260 Remington or 6.5x55 SE in hunting camps anytime soon, particularly considering the very high MAP at which the cartridge is loaded. It offers Weatherby Magnum pressure without Weatherby Magnum performance. The primary advantage of the 6.5x47 for long range target shooters seems to be that it offers less wind drift than the 6mm BR Norma and .308 Winchester for 600 and 1000 yard matches.

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Copyright 2007, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.