260 or 6.5X55

Discussion in 'Big Stuff--7mm, 30 Cal, .338+' started by summitsitter, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. summitsitter


    Jun 26, 2009
    I'm getting ready for another build to start in a month. I've narrowed it down to these to calibers I think. From what I can tell they are pretty much identical. I'm using a long action. I would like to shoot 100-120gr bullets out of it. Just another thought would it be worth the hassle and extra expense to to with a 260AI. What Twist for the 2 calibers. Which would you choose base on brass, accuracy and volicity. It'll be for whitetail and paper punching.
  2. Laurie


    Oct 27, 2009
    The 6.5X55mm case has 6 or 7% more capacity than the .260's, even more in practice when both are loaded to standard COALs with heavy bullets, which sees them having to seated very deep in the .260 Rem using up quite a lot of powder capacity. So loaded up for reasonable pressures in modern actions, the 6.5 will give a bit more performance

    The issue for many is what action length is available or wanted, the 6.5 requiring long. So sniper rifle / tactical rifle competitors will go for the .260 with the option of the many good short bolt throw designs around with detachable box magazines. If a bit more performance is needed, the .260AI gives another 100-150 fps depending on bullet weight.

    You've got a long action to play with, so have a real choice. I was in this position myself and went for a .260 long-throat (really a 6.5-08) that allows 140s to be seated with their bases just below the neck-shoulder junction. This is for solely target shooting, and this throating places constraints on the use of lighter bullets for varmints and small deer if I were in that business.

    Brass wise, you've got really good Lapua 6.5X55 off the shelf that needs minimum preparation, and it's strong and long-lived. There is an Ackley version too that was popular in F-Class in Europe for a while that isn't too far short of 6.5-284 performance. If you go for .260 Rem, the American brass isn't as good but you can neck Lapua or Norma .243Win cases up and trim them (or .308Win down). This has the downside that doing so usually creates a noticeable 'doughnut' at the case-shoulder junction, that may cause problems depending on how deep bullets are seated.

    For purely target shootingf, I think I'd go with 6.5X55mm if I was making the choice again today for performance and brass preparation reasons. In fact, I've considered going back to the gunsmith to have the barrel rechambered.

    You want a multi-purpose rifle though and that makes things trickier depending on the bullet weight(s) you want to use. The 6.5X55 and 6.5-08 throats are really designed for 140s, so 90-120s make a long jump into the rifling. If you're always going to use 130s and up, it's less of an issue. If you want to use the lighter stuff, I'd say go for .260 Rem and discuss the reamer with the gunsmith to come up with as good a compromise as you can depending on the mix of shooting.

    Over here in the UK, in Scotland to be precise, we have a top sporting rifle builder (Callum Ferguson of Precision Rifle Services) who almost specialises in .260 Rem usually built on Borden actions. He throats the barrel 'short' so it's suited to varmint bullets, but will still handle the 100gn Nosler Partition which he says is more than adequate for any British deer species including Scottish red stags. He has plenty of satisfied customers with these rifles - so that's an alternative approach for a multi-purpose rig.

    1-8.5" twist is the norm and handles all the usual sporting and match bullets; you can go for a little slower twist if you won't use the heavies.

    Accuracy wise, I don't think there's anything between them if everything else is equal - the 6.5 has a reputation for superlative accuracy, but that was high quality Swedish military rifles and ammunition matched against often not so high quality military stuff from elsewhere. Put the pair in custom rifles and use equally good brass and bullets and you'll be hard pressed to tell them apart.

  3. olympian


    Oct 31, 2005
    From what I know, everything Laurie says is correct. To me, the .260 Remington has no advantage over the 6.5x55 if one is going to use a long action. Likewise, the only advantage the .260 has in a modern rifle is it can be used in a short-action.

    There is more powder capacity in the 6.5x55 so you have the potential to get more velocity plus there is a lot of reloading data available to you for loading at lower velocity/pressure if you choose. The Lapua brass is great and Winchester brass is pretty good at low pressures. Having loaded a good bit for both, the 6.5x55mm would always get the nod from me. To me, if someone wants to use a short-action, the 6.5x47mm is even a better option than the .260 for a target rifle. The .260 Improved is certainly not worth the time or expense in a long action.

    For whitetails, they will both work equally well. 6.5mm-284 is the only short-action round worth using in a long-action. If you do not intend to use 130-140gr bullets, I would get a 1-9" twist.
  4. jlmurphy


    May 5, 2009
    I have a LA Winchester Model 70 chambered in 6.5x55, 1 in 8 twist, I may be biased, but I have found this cartridge very forgiving and unusually accurate in any of the bullet weights and styles I have tried. This same rifle had been chambered in .308, there is simply no comparison. I compete against .308's in local tactical matches, it almost seems unfair.
  5. summitsitter


    Jun 26, 2009
    thanks Laurie for the comment as well as the others. I'm pretty set on the 6.5x55 after yall and other post I've read. I'm going to set the throat up to shoot the 120 bergers seated just below the neck-shoulder junction. I already have a 6.5-06 AI to shoot the 140's in so looking for something to shoot the lighter ones in. Thanks guys.
  6. Moderator

    Moderator Administrator

    Nov 18, 2004
    Laurie has given you very good advice. I would only add a couple things, based on shooting a 260 Rem for a couple of years. First, I did experience serious doughnut issues after necking up both Lapua and Norma .243 brass. Ultimately I had to inside ream AND outside neck-turn the brass. My problem may have been more acute because I was dealing with a factory chamber with a lot of slop in the neck-shoulder junction area.

    After much experimentation I think the best solution, considering cost and labor time, was to use necked-down Winchester-brand 7mm-08 brass. You'll want to sort this brass and skim-turn the necks.

    My second observation is that guys are now getting velocities with the 6.5x47 in a 28" barrel that were matching the best I could do with a Rem 260 and a 24" factory tube. That's really remarkable and its something you should consider. My best 260 load was a 123gr Scenar at 2950 fps. That load can now be duplicated in a 6.5x47, or pretty darn near.
  7. Raptor


    Feb 24, 2005
    You have recieved excellent advice and I would also add that I have both and shoot both rifles a lot. I am on my 4th 260 barrel and I went with a 6.5x55 a few years back to see if I could get better barrel life by using a slower powder and shooting the 140s at the same speed as the 260s.

    The 6.5x55 will nearly shoot with the 6.5x284 in a modern action but the barrel life will be short. (I had one load that was with in a half MOA of my 6.5x284 data out to 1000yds.)

    So far I only have around 1800rds through it but time will tell. I shoot the 139s in the 6.5x55 and the 123s in the 260s. This really works well for me. Both are very accurate but with a long action I would go 6.5x55 and never look back. You won' t be unhappy with either round.
  8. alf

    alf Silver $$ Contributor

    Apr 7, 2007
    Not quite a fair apples to apples comparison. 24" to a 28" tube.

    When looking at case capacities in 6.5x47, 260, 6.5x55, 6.5-284, each with progressively larger boiler room and with all things being equal (good luck with that), what you can boost one to, should still be beaten by the next larger case doing the same, in respect to pressures and velocity. Yes?
  9. 1000yardstare


    Jan 20, 2009
    Ten years ago the Tikka Varmint in 6.5x55 was THE F Class rifle in Canada. The 6.5/284 came in and won some matches so now everyone has swung to the 6.5/284. Sometimes I think that if I won a match wearing a pink ribbon everyone would be wearing a pink ribbon at the next match.

    Anyway, the most accurate sporter weight rifle I have ever owned is a 6.5x55 Tikka T3 Lite stainless/synthetic. It`s 8 twist barrel will put any bullet weight into 3/8 inch three shot groups at 100 metres. Hard to beat.
  10. shootsanything


    Jan 16, 2009
    There is just one small item that has been missing from this conversation - the 6.5x55 has a non standard rim diameter of .479 vs. the standard .473 of a .308 and all of its varients. Depending on your bolt this may be an issue, or it may not.

    Having said that, I would go with the 6.5x55 of the 2 choices.

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