Kimber of America Sporterized 6.5x55mm Mausers

Jon Y. Wolfe

I recently stumbled on a Swedish Mauser 6.5x55, sporterized by the original, now defunct, Kimber of America, out of Clackamas, Oregon. Because of the price, condition and a bit of curiosity I decided to bring it home.

Kimber of America sporterized many Swedish surplus rifles, purportedly as a way to pay their way out of financial distress. These rifles show up at gun shows, pawnshops and gun stores in my area from time to time. A search on the Internet will yield guns for sale at various locations throughout the country. Kimber of America would import these military rifles and rebarrel them to more traditional American calibers, or if the barrel was in good condition and the rifle had acceptable headspace, the original barrel and 6.5x55 chambering was left intact.

The rifle I have still has most of its original parts, including the barrel, receiver, floor plate, trigger, bolt and other small parts. The barrel was turned and shortened to 22 inches to remove the step down and then finished with traditional high gloss bluing. The bolt was also turned down and scalloped-out to provide clearance for the scope.

A two-position Buehler type safety was added and material removed from the cocking piece to make room for the Buehler safety Allen screw. The trigger was also fine tuned to about four pounds, but I intend to replace it with a Timney to remove the two-stage pull that is standard for military triggers.

The original military stock was replaced with a Ram-Line synthetic stock. The butt stock terminates in a one inch rubber recoil pad, with the stock inletting having an exceptionally tight fit with the receiver. It has detachable sling swivel studs, checkering and is well shaped for use with a scope. The total weight of the rifle without the scope is 6.8 pounds.

The rifle was drilled and tapped for scope mounts, as the iron sights were removed during the sporterizing process. The barrel is free floated in the stock with a reasonably even and consistent gap down the barrel channel. The barrel tapers to .68 inches at the muzzle, which is fairly thick for a sporting rifle, but this diameter has proven to be very accurate and the muzzle is crowned at roughly 15 degrees.

These modifications would easily cost in excess of $300 if done by a competent gunsmith and Kimber did a good job. Rifles sporterized by Kimber are usually priced between $300 to $400, depending on condition. In my opinion, they represent a very good value.

I chose to write this short article describing my experience with this rifle, because after mounting a scope, sighting-in and hunting with it this past season I discovered it was a real gem. Not only is it lightweight, accurate and handy, but it is an ideal hunting rifle for the various game and conditions I encounter while hunting.

At the bench, I had little difficulty holding 1.5 to 2.0 inch groups with Winchester Power Point and Sellier & Bellot hunting ammunition using 140 grain and 131 grain projectiles respectively. I also noticed that barrel heating caused little change in the point of impact. In fact, my last three shot string with a warm barrel produced the best group of the day, measuring .75 inches center to center.

This rifle has become my main deer hunting rifle and it has proven to be one of the finest hunting rifles I have ever owned. The 6.5x55 Swedish cartridge is one of the most sensible cartridges for hunting North American non-dangerous game and more information on this cartridge can be found on the Rifle Cartridges page. I have taken two large bodied white tail deer with this rifle this year and I can attest to the fact that penetration is exceptional with bullets ranging from 129 to 140 grains and the exit wound is not excessive.

There is little more to say, except that this little rifle has turned out to be a very pleasant surprise and will continue to be my first choice for both short and long range deer hunting for years to come. My hope is to find an accurate handload using the Hornady 129 spire point or SST bullets at a velocity of at least 2700 fps.

With that load, I should have a maximum point blank range of roughly 260 yards with the bullet striking 2.7 inches high at 100 yards, 1.3 inches high at 200 yards and 1.9 low at 250 yards. This does not leave a lot to be desired, delivering excellent sectional density, plenty of downrange energy, ideal bullet weight, low recoil, limited muzzle blast and reasonable velocity.

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Copyright 2007, 2015 by Jon Y. Wolfe and/or All rights reserved.