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.VI: 6.5x54
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The 6.5 x 54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer
Classic African Cartridges Part VI
~If there was ever a cartridge whose popularity was almost instantaneous it was the 6.5x54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer becoming one of those “all the rage” rifles within a year of its release to the civilian market in 1903.~

.243 Win, 6.5 M-5, 7 x 57 Mauser, 30-60, .375 H&H.
Left to right - .243 Win, 6.5 M-5, 7 x 57 Mauser, 30-60, .375 H & H.

The professional hunters in Africa, prior to the first world war, sang its praises loudly. “Karamojo” Bell and Captain Stigand were two professional ivory hunters who used it with some success on elephant and wrote about their successes, whilst Banks (elephant control officer -Uganda) and Blaney Percival (first game warden-Kenya) were also enthusiastic proponents. The long 160 grain bullets had a very high sectional density, and in solid form penetrated adequately for brain shots on elephant or ‘through the shoulder’ shot on buffalo, whilst the frangible soft points gave lightning quick kills on small buck like impala or gazelles. Perhaps the greatest selling point though was the rifle.

The model 1903 Mannlicher has to be one of the sweetest handling rifles ever produced. Weighing only 6½ lbs and only 38" (97cm) long, it was the original “scout” rifle. In addition to its very portability and handiness, three other features endeared it to hunters: firstly the Mannlicher rifles (models 1903-1910) easily have the smoothest, slickest bolt action ever produced. Not even the high grade Mauser actioned rifles from makers such as Rigby or Holland & Holland ever equalled the smoothness of the Mannlichers; Secondly, almost all the civilian models came fitted with an excellent double set trigger mechanism giving a wonderful crisp 8 ounce pull when set and a tolerable 5lb pull unset; Thirdly, a perfectly servicable telescopic sight and mount were supplied with the rifle for only £3 (in 1910, £5 by 1939), and consequently many men gained their introduction to a 'scope sight in conjunction with the 6.5 Mannlicher rifle.

Article continues below.

It was the provision of the 'scope, combined with minimal recoil and tolerable muzzle blast that ensured the little carbine’s reputation as a ‘deadly’ killer. This was particularly true of working men who simply wanted a rifle as a ‘meat getter’. A small bullet of good sectional density is quickly lethal if accurately placed, and amongst men who are not particularly interested in marksmanship, light recoil, a light, crisp trigger pull and a 'scope are very, very significant aids to accurate shot placement.

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African Hunter Vol.5 No.1 February 1999
  .Home .Classic Cartridges .6.5 x 54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer
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