The 6.5mm-284 and 6.5mm-06
By Chuck Hawks
This pair of cartridges have recently been standardized, the 6.5mm-284 by Norma and the 6.5mm-06 by A-Square. Factory loads and brass are now available from Norma and A-Square and Nosler also loads for the 6.5mm-284. However, both cartridges are better known as wildcats. They are similar in performance and use the same bullets, but are based on different cases, albeit of the same capacity.
The 6.5mm-06 basically duplicates the ballistics of the factory loaded 6.5mm Remington Magnum cartridge, but requires a standard length action. It is nearly identical in appearance and performance to the .270 Winchester and works in the same rifles.
The 6.5mm-284 is in-between the .260 Remington and the 6.5mm Rem. Mag. in powder capacity and like those cartridges will fit into a short (.308 Win.) length action. The 6.5mm-284 has made its biggest impact in the long range sport of F-Class shooting, where it is the preferred 600-1000 yard cartridge.
European hunters would almost surely choose among the many fine European 6.5mm cartridges, rather than purchase a rifle chambered for a rather obscure American cartridge. These European 6.5mm numbers include the 6.5x55 SE, 6.5x57 Mauser, 6.5x65 RWS and 6.5x68 RWS cartridges, which completely blanket the performance capabilities of the 6.5mm-284 and 6.5mm-06.
That said, there is nothing wrong with the performance of the 6.5-284 and 6.5mm-06 cartridges. Like most 6.5mm cartridges, they kill well, due at least in part to the excellent sectional density of the popular 6.5mm big game bullets.
In 6.5mm caliber, the 87-100 grain bullets are generally for varmints and small predators. The 120-130 grain bullets are the popular choices for CXP2 class game, while the 140 grain bullets are probably the best choice for mixed bag hunts and all-around use. European hunters use the heavy 150-160 grain bullets for CXP3 class game, although in North America we do not usually think of 6.5mm cartridges as suitable for large game such as elk and moose.
However, the record clearly shows that 6.5mm cartridges on the order of the 6.5x55 on up will cleanly take such game, as long as the hunter puts the bullet into a vital spot. As always, bullet placement is the key factor in killing power, and bullets of great sectional density, such as the 140-160 grain 6.5mm bullets, generally provide the kind of penetration that gets deep into where big animals live.
The 6.5mm-284 Norma
The 6.5-284 is based on the .284 Winchester case necked-down to accept .264" (6.5mm) diameter bullets. This is a unique, rebated rim case used for no other factory produced cartridge except the .284 Win. and 6.5mm-284 Norma. Here are the 6.5mm-284 specifications provided in the sixth edition of the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading: Bullet diameter .264"; Maximum case length 2.170" (trim to 2.160"); Maximum cartridge overall length 2.80"; Rim diameter.473"; Base diameter .500"; Shoulder diameter .475"; Shoulder angle 35 degrees; Neck diameter .295". The .284 is a 7mm caliber, so one pass through a 6.5-284 resizing die should do the job.
The Hornady Handbook is a good source for 6.5mm-284 reloading data. They recommend VIHT N-165, IMR 4831, Winchester WMR and AA 3100 powders with the heavier 6.5mm bullets for which a cartridge of this capacity would seem best suited.
WMR powder gave top performance with both the 129 and 140 grain Hornady bullets. With the Hornady 129 grain bullets, 44.8 grains of WMR powder gave a MV of 2500 fps. A maximum load of 52.9 grains of WMR drove the same bullets to a MV of 2900 fps, the only powder listed that exceeded 2800 fps at safe pressure levels in Hornady's testing.
Using Hornady's 140 grain bullets in front of 43.6 grains of WMR yielded a MV of 2400 fps. And a maximum load of 49.7 grains of WMR gave the 140 grain bullets at a MV of 2700 fps. These Hornady loads were developed in a 24" rifle barrel and used Winchester brass and Federal 210 primers.
The 6.5mm-06 A-Square
The 6.5mm-06's parent cartridge is the .30-06, identical to the parent case of the famous .270 Winchester, one of the most popular all-around big game cartridges in the world. 6.5mm-06 brass is easily formed by simply necking-down the .270 Winchester case to accept .264" (6.5mm) diameter bullets and trimming to length. .270 brass is very widely distributed. Alternatively, .25-06 Remington cases can easily be necked-up to accept .264" bullets and .25-06 cases are also readily available. The .270 uses .277" bullets and the .25-06 uses .257" bullets, so one pass through a 6.5-06 resizing die should do the job for either.
These are the 6.5mm-284 cartridge dimensions provided in the sixth edition of the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading: Bullet diameter .264"; Maximum case length 2.494" (trim to 2.484"); Maximum COL 3.340"; Rim diameter.473"; Base diameter .470"; Shoulder diameter .441"; Shoulder angle 17 degrees, 30 minutes; Neck diameter .298".
Anyone with a 6.5mm-06 rifle, especially if using .25-06 or .270 brass to form 6.5-06 cases for reloading, should be very careful not to mix cartridges for the two calibers. Firing the larger caliber cartridge in the smaller caliber rifle will cause dangerously high pressure that could blow up the rifle.
The Hornady Handbook is a good source for 6.5mm-06 reloading data. It recommends VIHT N-165 and H4831 powders for their 129 and 140 grain bullets.
42.6 grains of VIHT N-165 powder gave a MV of 2600 fps with the 129 grain Hornady bullets. A maximum load of 52.9 grains of VIHT N-165 drove the same bullets to a MV of 3000 fps.
Using Hornady's 140 grain bullets in front of 43.6 grains of VIHT N-165 yielded a MV of 2500 fps. A maximum load of 50.4 grains of VIHT N-165 gave the 140 grain bullets at a MV of 2800 fps. These Hornady loads were developed in a 24" rifle barrel and used Hornady brass and Winchester WLR primers.
The performance of these two cartridges is excellent and I am a fan of 6.5mm cartridges in general. These are good all-around hunting cartridges. For the person who owns a 6.5mm-284 or 6.5mm-06 hunting rifle, these fine calibers will serve them well.
Copyright 2005, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.