The 6.5x65 and 6.5x65R RWS

By Chuck Hawks

The German firm of RWS introduced this pair of European 6.5mm cartridges in 1988. They are identical except that the "R" is a rimmed version of the basic design intended for use in single shot and double-barreled rifles, or combination rifle/shotguns.

These are large, modern, bottleneck rifle cartridges with sharp shoulders. Here are some basic specifications: Rim diameter .470" (6.5x65), .531" (6.5x65R); Head diameter .474" (6.5x65), .475" (6.5x65R); Shoulder diameter .430"; Neck diameter .296", Bullet diameter .264", Case length 2.56"; Cartridge overall length 3.15".

Factory loads appear to be available only from RWS. The two 6.5x65 loads I was able to discover are a 108 grain soft point spitzer bullet at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 3460 fps and muzzle energy (ME) of 2260 ft. lbs., and a 127 grain soft point spitzer bullet at a MV of 3313 fps and ME of 2442 ft. lbs. These ballistics put the 6.5x65 (rimless--for bolt action rifles) in the same general category as the 6.5x68 Schuler and .264 Win. Mag. Note than the 6.5x65R (rimmed case) is somewhat less powerful than the 6.5x65 (rimless), as the 6.5x65R is intended for use in break-open rifles.

Judging from the claimed ballistics and the case capacity of the 6.5x65 (rimless), those RWS factory loads must be loaded to very high pressure. They equal or exceed the velocities possible at SAAMI maximum average pressure (53,000 cup) in the .264 Win. Mag., which has a larger case.

The 6.5x65R is loaded to more moderate pressures. Here is some ballistic information specific to the 6.5x65R (rimmed) contributed by Enrique Feduchy, who wrote the "Spanish Game Animals" article on the Hunting Stories and Articles Page.

6.5x65R RWS Ballistic Data (Barrel length 25.5 inches):

Cone point bullet KS 127 grains (.264 ") , 8.2 grams
Velocity (ft/sec.) - MV 2,855, 100 yards 2,602; 200 yards 2,362; 300 yards 2,136.
Energy (ft. lbs.) - ME 2,298; 100 yards 1,909; 200 yards 1,573; 300 yards 1,287.
Recommended zero distance = 200 yards.
Trajectory (inches) - +1.6" at 100 yards; 0 at 200 yards; -7.9" at 300 yards.

With this particular bullet point and load, and adjusting at +1.6 inch at 100 yards, we can assure a MBPR (+/- 3") of 280/285 yards.

I could not find any reloading data on the 6.5x65/6.5x65R RWS cartridges in my collection of North American reloading manuals (they may well be included in European reloading manuals). However, I see no reason why the North American handloader with supply of 6.5x65 or 6.5x65R brass and an experimental turn of mind could not work up loads that would essentially duplicate the 108 grain 6.5x65 factory load using any of the common 100 grain .264 bullets. I suspect that a careful reloader could come within about 200 fps of the 127 grain 6.5x65 factory load using the 125 grain Nosler or 129 grain Hornady bullets. It may well be possible to equal the 6.5x65R factory load using these bullets.

Note: A full length article about the 6.5x65 and 6.5x65R can be found on the Rifle Cartridge Page.

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Copyright 2004, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.